A tripartite set of grotesquerie that presents humans as tubs of goo and viscera with the single-mindedness of Tarantino defining them as armed chatterboxes, Taxidermia offers a menu of surreal gross-outs as three generations of Hungarian men pursue their extreme appetites for sex, food, and immortality. Adapted in part from short stories by Lajos Parti Nagy, György Pálfi’s sophomore feature moves beyond his nearly dialogue-free Hukkle to what strains to be an equally absurdist but more challenging immersion in vaguely political tragicomedy, but the march of sensation and disgust drowns out the themes. That Pálfi opens with a perpetually horny WWII grunt (Csaba Czene) engaging in frottage with a candle before shooting flames out of his dick is symptomatic of the wallow in coarse, freaky spectacle to come.
Cleft-lipped soldier Czene, who appears to share his barren outpost only with a sullen philosophical lieutenant (“Cunt makes the world go round”) and his family, is soon peeping on his superior’s daughters, drinking their bathwater, then mounting their mother for relief. Pálfi’s juxtaposition of loopy fantasy and low physical shtick seldom lets up; from masturbatory spooj reaching the stars to a pop-up book come to life, his mise-en-scène exhausts rather than bores. Set in the ‘60s, the second segment finds the soldier’s son (Gergö Trócsányi) grown to be a celebrated competitive eater who scarfs down horrific sausage concoctions for the greater glory of Cold War Hungary, and wins a female champ (Adél Stanczel) through a plus-sized courtship conducted on pedal boats. (The romance parody would make for the film’s sweetest chapter if the food-race sequences didn’t splatter gallons of vomit.) Forty years later, the eater is a morbidly obese couch potato cared for by his skeletal taxidermist son (Marc Bischoff), and to describe the climactic metaphors of exploding innards and self-transformation as reminiscent of Lovecraft or Cronenberg flatters this epidermis-deep creepshow finale.
Pálfi’s cracks a few sick jokes (engorged on energy bars he eats with the wrappers on, the huge old man groans, “They find a role in the body”), but the brevity of each overstuffed act shortchanges the characters that populate them. Taxidermia is merely slimy biological vaudeville.