Posted 04-20-2009 at 04:48 PM by Sam@Cult Labs
I've always loved extremity when it comes to cinema. Not for me the pale bloodless horror of mainstream multiplex horror movies. I'll happily sit and watch movies that offend me. I think I want to be shocked, to shake myself out of my jaded cinematic reverie. From the hideous experiment camp horrors of 'Men Behind The sun' to the brutal flip-flop of Rape-Revenge conventions in the French art-shock movie 'Irreversible', the power of film to shake your soul with offensive imagery and dark subject matter will always drag me back to the DVD player in the hope that something will grab my attention and push my boundaries.
Taxidermia is such a movie. a film that is at once extraordinarily beautiful and grindingly repellant. A film which revels in perverse sexuality, horrific surrealism, vomit and gluttony.
The film tells it tale across three generations of a Hungarian family, relating three distinct stories. In the first act we meet an orderly. He's a hare-lipped outcast, whose desperate quest for physical love leads him down the path into twisted perversion. He lives under great repression from the army officers and family members that he serves. Skulking around in a freezing shed, he spies on young girls and pleasures himself by attempting to **** a greased knot hole in the wooden walls of his dwelling. His surreal masturbation techniques see him inhaling flames from a candle then shooting fiery blasts from his penis. Later, in a frantic dreamlike sex sequence, he ruts with the obese matron of the house, before awakening to find himself lying naked in the butchered remains of a slaughtered pig. His commanding officer shots him in the head but he's already fathered a child...
His son becomes one of the Eastern Bloc's speed eating champions in scenes that will challenge the strongest of stomachs. A riot of sick making greed and torrential downpours of forced vomiting, I haven't had my guts churned so effectively since I watched the gourmet suicides of 'La Grand Bouffe' or the repellent obesity horror of 'Feed". Our hero marries another eating athlete but affairs of the heart and changes in the sport see him downtrodden. Gross delights in this segment include a factory where young boys are trained in the art of forcing grim slop into their gullets. Kneeing at a large trough, the boys chow down after an industrial pump fills the long basin with a kind of ugly soup. The film is a masterpiece because despite all this horror, you are totally captivated by the dark visions being presented by the filmmakers.
Horror is all about taboos. Italy responded to it's dark fascist history and it's deeply ingrained Catholicism in the 70s with a rash of Nazi and Nun based sexploitation horrors. Similarly, in the US grindhouses and Drive-in's, it's common knowledge that the darkness of the violent 1960s and the Vietnam war caused a mass of realist, grisly and violent horror films to appear, reacting against the shocking truth of real life and the Gothic horror fantasies that had filled cinemas before then and became a rather pale irrelevance in the face of the true terrors being broadcast on the evening news. If the seven deadly sins are the ultimate list of moral taboos then this film takes the sin of gluttony and runs with it.*
The third act jumps forward in time again and shows us the life of the speed eater's son, who is a fine example of how the apple can fly many miles from the tree. His father lives with the skinny man, who is repelled by the now immobile blimp who begat him. The young man is the Taxidermist who gives the film it's name and he cares for his father though there is no love lost between them. His father's vile diet includes thirty kilo meals of butter and chocolate bars eaten while still in their wrappers.
Taxidermia was directed by Gyorgy Palfi, who brought us the equally mystifying and magical Hukkle, and is that rare thing, a film with imagery that is fresh and mind blowing. This is a very graphic film and viewers who don't think they can cope with nudity, graphic animal slaughter, oceans of sick and taxidermy may want to steer clear. For every one else, Taxidermia offers a unique abstract vision that will see you return to the film again and again...
* Reading this back it occurs to me that I've reiterated this point on numerous occasions... I have certain obsessions when it comes to movie blogging. You'll find a lot of stuff about censorship, taboos and extremity as well as a great love of terrible 80s metal!
Postscript: I thought I'd lost a lot of content due to Myspace deleting me. 'Why didn't you back up your writing you idiot?' I hear you cry. I did, but due to personal issues that I won't go into, i lost a lot of content. The big mass of blogs I posted a few weeks ago were all I thought I had left on my newer laptop then I remembered, when I was working for the man (HMV) I was a Beta tester for their site Getcloser and I posted a loads of pieces there. Now their going to live on Cultlabs, where they belong...
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