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Yet another Tribeca dud, Taxidermia is one of the most unpleasant movies I’ve ever sat through. György Pálfi (Hukkle) directed this Hungarian Grand Guignol grotesquery that riffs on exactly three ideas: pig fucking, speed eating, and self-taxidermy. Based on short stories by Lajos Parti Nagy, the movie presents the fable-like history of a freakish family. In the first section, a harelipped country pervert who can shoot fire from his dick is looking for ever-new kicks in well-lubricated glory holes and Hans Christian Andersen tales that turn into their porno versions. Imaginative camera work and extreme close-ups create an intense physicality, but they don’t lead to a place you want to follow: by the end of the segment, butchery, adultery, and shocking acts of bestiality and necrophilia sent waves of nervous giggles through the audience. The walk-outs started.

The remainder of the movie tells the stories of the pig-fucking pervert’s offspring. His son, born with a curly tail (ha ha!), becomes one of the Eastern Bloc’s most successful “sport eaters,” an obese guy in a wrestling leotard wolfing down chunky soups and Russian horse sausage from troughs. Between rounds, the competitors power-barf and chat about the groupies in the audience. Like an SNL sketch that stretches its conceit well past the breaking point, Taxidermia milks the “sport eating” joke for more than its worth: there’s the cross-swallow, the hollowed out red star filled with caviar, the threat of lock jaw. It’s as if Pálfi had decided to take the “mint leaf” sequence from Monty Python’s Meaning of Life and turn it into a feature film. There seems to be some satirical intent, but it’s not pointed enough to sting.

The third section is the most repulsive: close-ups of taxidermy in progress were never on my must-see list, and the skinning, gutting, and sawing is made worse by the fact that the pervert’s ghoulish grandson is operating on himself. And I haven’t even told you about the gutted fetus, to be filed under “sights that cannot be unseen.” Not every movie has to be a pleasant experience, but Taxidermia struck me as a pointless gross-out, inventive but without sufficient character or story to support its grotesque excesses.

Taxidermia. György Pálfi, 2006. *

  • Filmbrain finds Taxidermia “a fascinating treatise on excess, desire, and the politics of the body.”
  • The trailer: