Dante’s Weekend Double: Family Edition With ‘Taxidermia’ And ‘Basket Case’

Oh no - so sad
Gergely Trócsányi in Taxidermia (2009), Amour Fou Filmproduktion & Kevin Van Hentenryck in Basket Case (1982), Basket Case Productions

This week it’s a theology of the body – as in horror – exploring the psycho somatics of one of the most notorious low-budget horror comedies ever made, and a lesser-known Eastern European import. What do they have in common? They keep it in the family.

Taxidermia (2009, La Cinefacture/Amour Fou Filmproduktion)

The first half of this week’s double is a Hungarian family saga from 2006. Based on a story by Lajos Parti Nagy, Taxidermia (directed by György Pálfi) tells an epic tale that spans over three generations of a bizarre bloodline.

This one really puts the ‘f-u-c-t’ in ‘dysfunctional’ with such shameless audacity, but without the humorous endearment like Frank Gallagher’s brood. It starts with a Hungarian soldier who’s stuck at an isolated outpost with his hardcase lieutenant, the lieutenant’s wife, and a slaughtered pig.

After getting caught with the wife (and, apparently, the pig too) the soldier is executed by his commanding officer. From this pork party comes the curly-tailed offspring of the wife, and the deceased weirdo that the lieutenant decides to raise as his own little oinker.   

This little piggy goes on to become a champion speed-eater. Because there is no greater accomplishment in this life than being able to shove more junk down his Hungarian food hole than anybody else. Despite this, the lucky swine finds love with a fellow speedster, and the next generation is born…without a tail this time.

Competitive eating in Taxidermia (2009), Amour Fou Filmproduktion

The son grows into a skinny, sickly-looking chap who practices taxidermy while caring for his father who is now morbidly obese (shocker, right?). He tries to lead a regular existence, but family’s gotta family. So he decides to apply his taxidermist methods to create a grisly work of art for everyone to see.

The film is a metaphorical retelling of Hungary’s history from post-WWII to modern times. The surreal imagery is combined with body horror, and dark humor even though it might not make anyone normal laugh. It’s gross, it’s odd, and it’s unforgettable.

Balotony (Marc Bischoff) hones his craft in Taxidermia (2009), Amour Fou Filmproduktion

Taxidermia can be found on Prime, if you have the stomach for it.  

Basket Case (1982, Basket Case Productions)

We leave the country of Hungary with its macabre art exhibits and arrive in the dark, gritty streets of New York City in 1982 to meet another family.

Duane Bradley (Kevin Van Hentenryck) has just arrived to town carrying a wicker basket containing his hideously deformed twin brother, Belial, and they are on a mission.

Conjoined at birth, along with being telepathically linked, the Bradley Bros. were surgically split at a young age, and now they want revenge on the doctor who separated them.

But then Duane meets someone, and a ray of normalcy comes into his life for the first time, but the jealous Belial will have none of this. He intervenes and tries getting Duane’s head back on business no matter how many people die.

Considered by some to be the final Grindhouse feature, Basket Case (directed by Frank Henenlotter) is low-budget horror at its best. Even the bad stop-motion sequences have their charm.

Bringing humor, fun, and gore to a squalid early 80s NYC that has been swallowed by time, the movie gained popularity and became a staple on after-midnight cable in the 90s. It also spawned two sequels that are even weirder – but a lot less watchable.

Wha's in the basket
Kevin Van Hentenryck answers questions about his baggage in Basket Case (1982), Basket Case Productions

Basket Case can be found hiding in the TUBI app.

NEXT: Dante’s Weekend Double: A Tribute To The Master Of Low-Budget Cinema Roger Corman With ‘The Terror’ And ‘The Masque Of The Red Death’

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