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.
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.
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 / 5)