Taxidermia is the sophomore feature film from Hungarian filmmaker György Pálfi, though his filmography is nearly as difficult to categorize as this film is. The entire film feels like a freak show handled with artistic care that could be displayed inside of a museum. It is a carnival of grotesque human horrors, inexplicable and common. Through the lives of three generations of men, each with their own individual sins of the flesh, Pálfi displays the bizarre weakness of man. Taxidermia is a film which has achieved great levels of nausea-inducing entertainment, and somehow still managed to retain a certain level of fascinating beauty in the filmmaking achievements.
The film begins with the brief tale of a sexually deviant underling soldier in World War II; a man who also has a fascination with inhaling the flames from his candles to shoot fire from his penis. This oddity does not threaten him near as much as his sexual fantasizing, which endangers the foolish man’s safety. The next generation, somehow conceived, is an obese boy who finds he has a talent for eating quickly. He grows to become a champion speed eater, living in a world of extreme obesity. This man survives to see his son grow, though he is a skinny and pathetic disappointment. This odd man works as a taxidermist, and his body abuse comes in one final achievement.
It is difficult to tell whether this film is meant to be horrific or humorous, though the style certainly seems to fit in with many European classics in dark comedy, including Delicatessen. Pálfi just manages to push the envelope further, though this certainly risks making the film less accessible. The visual style and boldness of the film ensure a viewing that will leave an impression, though it may not be positive for all viewers.