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TAXIDERMIA

This Hungarian freak-out isn’t really a horror movie, yet I believe it will be best appreciated by horror fans--matter of fact, horror buffs may be the only ones who truly “get” this film, a weird and perplexing exercise in sheer grossness.

The Package
     TAXIDERMIA, adapted from stories by Lajos Parti Nagy, was completed in 2006 and released in the US three years later--where it briefly took the place of INSIDE and MARTYRS as the gross-out spectacle of the moment. Its gifted director Gyorgy Palfi is best known for HUKKLE (2002). That film is an oft-kilter modern fairy tale, and the highly fanciful TAXIDERMIA appears to have similar aims.

The Story
     The 1940s: Morosgovanyi, a military man stationed in a rural environ, finds he can shoot flames from the tip of his penis. That’s on those rare occasions when he’s not being tormented by his sadistic superior or spying on some women living nearby. Eventually Morosgovanyi’s is caught screwing a pig carcass by his superior--and pays a harsh price.
     Following this a woman living nearby gives birth to a baby boy (presumably the offspring of Morosgovanyi) with a pig’s tale. The tale is snipped off and Kalman, as the child is named, grows up to become a competitive eater in the 1960s. He pines over a curvy woman who, visiting Kalman in the hospital after he develops lockjaw in the middle of a competition, drips sweat from her armpit into his mouth. The two get married shortly thereafter and father a child.
     The creepy Balatony is that child, who in the 1980s becomes a taxidermist. He also takes care of his father, who’s become a massively obese blob. Kalman’s spouse has long since left him and his life is clearly at an end, yet, in a pathetic effort at regaining his former title, the old man trains a couple house cats to be competitive eaters. He despises Balatony, and the feeling is mutual. As for the cats, it seems Kalman has trained them a bit too well, as they wind up killing him and ripping out his insides. Upon finding his father’s corpse Balatony is inspired to undertake his grandest project yet, building a machine that will allow him to use his taxidermy skills on himself.

The Direction
     What precisely is the point of this crazy film? Frankly I’m not sure. It may be an “outrageous ode to flesh,” as one reviewer claims, or an absurdist rendering of mid-20th Century Hungary, or possibly just an eccentric family saga.
     The film is weird and often confusing in its free incorporation of hallucination and surrealism into an otherwise straightforward three-part narrative. That narrative doesn’t follow any conventional storytelling rules, yet is quite rigorous in its construction--indeed as much so the tightly controlled filmmaking.
     Imagine the films of France’s Jean-Pierre Jeunet (DELICATESSON, THE CITY OF LOST CHILDREN, AMELIE) with the outrageousness amplified a thousand-fold and you’ll have the gist of this project. Director Gyorgy Palfi has a vision as distinct as that of any modern filmmaker, and the talent to bring that vision to fruition. The images are tightly and impeccably composed, with an austere beauty that nearly offsets all the vomit, viscera and assorted vileness. The art direction conveys a vast and ambitious fantasy universe that comes complete with copious special effects of every conceivable variety. Confounding and possibly pointless TAXIDERMIA may be, but as a visually stunning work of demented imagination it has few equals.
 

Vital Statistics

TAXIDERMIA
Regent Releasing/Frotissimo Films

Director: Gyorgy Palfi
Producers: Peter Miskolczi, Gabor Varadi, Gabriele Kranzelbinder, Alexander Dumriecher-Ivanceanu, Emilie Georges, Alexandre Mallet-Guy
Screenplay: Zsofia Ruttkay, Gyorgy Palfi
(Based on stories by Lajos Parti Nagy)
Cinematography: Gergely Poharnok
Editing: Reka Lemhenyi
Cast: Csaba Czene, Gergo Trocsanyi, Marc Bischoff, Istvan Gyuricza, Piroska Molnar, Gabor Mate, Geza Hegedus D., Istvan Hunyadkurti, Zoltan Koppany, Adel Stanczel, Istvan Znamenak, Peter Blasko
 

     

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