I love body horror. I managed to convince my Aesthetics and European Philosophy professor to let me write my final essay on Kristeva’s abjection theory purely because I wanted to talk about my favourite gross-out movies (I got 85%, not to brag). György Pálfi’s Taxidermia (2006) contains almost any bodily function you can think of distorted in the most horrible way and wrapped in the context of Hungarian history from World War Two until today. The film is revolting in the best way, visually striking and sure to turn stomachs as well as stimulate the senses.

Taxidermia (2006) Film Poster

A Man And His Pig

The film focuses on three generations of men with dubious genealogy. The first subject is Morosgoványi, a ward of a wealthy family during the second world war. He is riddled with paraphilia including but not limited to arson, voyeurism, self-mutilation and a very serious relationship with a dead pig. If you can’t stomach weird sex stuff (no kink-shaming but there’s some unmentionables with a chicken) then you probably won’t love this first act.

His son, Kálmán, becomes a competitive eater during the Cold War. He regularly puts himself through extreme and mostly disgusting feeding rituals in competition and training. Kálmán is extremely serious about his work, hoping competitive eating will become an Olympic sport and neglecting his new wife and son for his strenuous training. There’s vomit. And more eating. And more vomiting. This is where we lose people that hate bodily functions. Honestly, I found it harder to stomach these scenes then the aforementioned flaming penises but maybe that’s just me.

Kálmán’s son Lajoska, unlike his father, is pale and malnourished, running a successful taxidermist business filled with horrifying animals, even preserving a small human foetus for a sketchy client. This storyline has the most horrific and abhorrent conclusion that I’ll leave you to discover on your own.

Kálmán in the third act, demonstrating the limits of the human body in Taxidermia’s universe.

Taxidermia’s Gross Economy

Overall, the film is a testament to the power of the ‘gross out’ flick done artistically and with care. While other films of the bodily fluid and mutilation nature relies completely on the sickening of audiences, Taxidermia creates a sharp and witty commentary on the human condition. It is striking at the least.

I highly recommend this film for fans of the Eastern European flavour of foreign, arthouse horror. Fans of Midsommar, Border and Texas Chainsaw Massacre (the original) will enjoy the smooth injection of hard to swallow scenes. Three Cthulhus out of five.

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)
About the Author

I am a writer located in Melbourne, Australia that works as a freelance writer, artist, curator, historian and podcaster. I am interested in philosophy, sexuality, art history, curating and feminism. I write personal essays, academic reviews and studies as well as poetry and short fiction. My writing practice relies on passion, humour and vulnerability. I am an absolute horror movie nut. I believe it spawns from being an extremely scared child who could barely be around Halloween decorations let alone watch The Exorcist. But for some reasons I would still read the Wikipedia plots of these films as well as staring at the horror section at our local Blockbuster as if it could come alive and attack me as a singular genre. When I eventually watched Paranormal Activity at fifteen (my first watched horror movie), I realised that nothing in cinema could match my manifested childhood fear and instantly fell in love with the genre. My adult fears are far more abstract now like failure and dying alone. My favourite horror film is The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (which I've written entire academic essays on for my art history degree), with close runners up being The Exorcist, The Shining, Taxidermia and Train to Busan. I am also a true crime and conspiracy aficionado and the resident expert on all things spooky for my friends and family.

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