March 2, 2011

Taxidermia (2006)

"Gyorgy Palfi's grotesque tale of three generations of men, including an obese speed eater, an embalmer of gigantic cats, and a man who shoots fire out of his penis." (Note: this IMDb description is a little bit inaccurate concerning the role of the cats!)

Just in case anyone thinks that "A Serbian Film" is the most disgusting thing they've ever seen since "Salo" (1975), don't forget to check out this Hungarian film with a similar political message supposedly underlying it.

For those of you who have no interest in watching such arty pretentiousness, let me just say that you have really missed out if you haven't already seen "Taxidermia". I only remembered to watch it myself after browsing other foreign movie blogs since it has been largely overlooked by the horror community. I didn't even know that it had been released on DVD in America and I'm actually quite surprised that it was.

Although it isn't really a horror movie per se, "Taxidermia" has all the elements that are necessary for it to qualify as one including a plethora of taboo subjects brought to life through gory practical effects. It's all hardcore stuff in every sense of the word.

Basically there are three stories joined together by the men from three generations of the Morosgoványi family - Vendel, Kálmán and Lajoska. Each is as grotesque as the other and it's hard to say which is the more disgusting although morally it is probably Vendel.

Starting in wartime with the soldier Vendel Morosgoványi who can only really be described as a sexual pervert of the highest order, the story follows his son, Kálmán, who is a world champion in eating contests during what could be the 1960s or 1970s, to the present day where Lajoska, a taxidermist who looks after his now bloated and immobilized father, ends things in a less than credible but highly entertaining way. You can probably guess what will happen from the title but you'll still be amazed by how graphic it all is.

The cinematography is absolutely excellent as you would expect from a European film although it does lapse into unnecessary moments of arty-fartiness which could confuse a few people. If you stick with it though, "Taxidermia" really is worth the effort especially if you aren't such a desensitized horror buff as me. I'm not sure quite what emotional reaction other than nausea you will feel but I laughed my arse off.

The acting is pretty average as far as I could tell and "Taxidermia" reeks of the same overly pornographic scenes as "A Serbian Film". It isn't as polished as "A Serbian Film" but you have to bear in mind that it was made four years before and by filmmakers from an entirely different country.

Although the political agenda/social commentary that both films claim to have is much the same, it'll probably be wasted on most people as I know it was on me. I barely understood what "La Planète Sauvage" (1973) was about back in the day so anything political that I know about could be written on the back of a very small postage stamp.

The bottom line is that if you are looking for something really horrible to watch (or just feel like grossing out your friends) then you could do a lot worse than give yourself a double-bill of this with "A Serbian Film", "Salo" or "Irreversible". This is "shock cinema" at its finest whether it is truly meant to be "art" or not.

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