So any movie that starts with a man giggling and singing his pubes off in an decrepit cabin and then somehow turning his erect dick into a penile-farting firework is probably going to hold one’s attention.
I’d like to get this out of the way now: this is truly one of the most fucked-up films I’ve ever seen. No, it’s not because of the unsimulated sex close-ups, or the penile pyrotechnics, or the furious wanking, or the cock zooms, or the strongly-implied/outright-said paedophilia, or the 360-degree-shot ofa bunch of competitive eaters throwing up, or the extreme zoom of the bird shitting, or the grossly-obese middle-generation patriarchm, or the utterly fucking horrifying, disturbing close. It’s all of it. ALL OF IT.
Hungarian body-horror black-comedy-drama Taxidermia (2006) follows three generation of men from WW2 through the Cold War to today: we have a bottom-feeding army orderly, a competitive eater, and the titular taxidermist. All three men are deeply flawed, perverse, downtrodden, desperate and oppressed by at least one authority figure.
Now I don’t know the rules of Hungarian cinema; for that I am both thankful and nervous, because I cannot even try to predict what might happen next, or what socio-theatrical conventions it adheres to (e.g., American horror films never dispatch children; Norway’s Dead Snow 2 didn’t give a shit about that). It’s even more of a ghoulish descent into madness once you pick up on just how fucking surreal the tone is (and it never lets up).
It’s visually-striking from the get-go beautifully-shot, with some oddly poetic sequences, one in particular showing the various uses of the army trough: first as a bathtub, then as a open casket; a baby is delivered in it; bread is baked; a slaughtered pig is stored; back to the bathtub use again. All of this is shown as the camera spins slowly on its head.
But back to the perversion. Highlights: Morosgoványi, our mild-mannered, bestial, paedophilic peeping tom, has a scene in which the sight of two women just having a snowball fight is enough to make his own makeshift fleshlight out of a hole in the wall, some thick ointment and a filthy rag. He doesn’t get far, though, because an actual cock wanders up to him and literally pecks him on his pecker. Later, we think he’s screwing the lieutenant’s portly wife because we see him imagining the snowball girls, but it turns out he was imagining both of those and was actually fucking the pig everybody had slaughtered earlier.
His progeny (how?)Kálmán grows up to become a competitive speed-eater, and he’s pretty damn good at it, because he knows just the correct amount of nauseous gas to inhale so that he can puke up more room for subsequent rounds. So impressive is his gorging and shitlog-retention (of which we get a money-shot of a close-up), that he manages to elope with one of his fans, with whom he licks the sweat from her armpits, and then later has a son, because Hungary.
Our final generation,Lajokska, is a meek taxidermist with a sizable studio. Oh, and he keeps his dad, who is now of Pearl-from-Blade-sized proportions, is completely immobile and can barely talk (other than to hurl abuse at him). And he has cats, who are really good IRL at hissing. Props to the animal wrangler on that one.
As I sat there watching this, it was pretty easy to get caught up in how fascinatingly, bizarrely, utterly insane and stunning and grotesque and just “WHAT AM I WATCHING??-ness of it all. It just gets increasingly fouler, bleaker, more fatalistic, and far more obsessed with zooming in on every (sometimes literally) visceral detail.
There are so many pausable, shareable moments (I guess this depends on what kind of person you are), that you might want to block out an extra hour on top of the movie’s 90-odd-minute running time. It also made me want to go back to Budapest. And it has a fucking awesome soundtrack.
Just watch something nice afterwards, like a sitcom or a classic cartoon. Maybe skip anything with a Rube Goldberg machine, though.