"You can't just fall into taxidermy, you've really got to want it. 'I wanna be a taxidermist! I wanna fill animals with sand! I wanna get more sand into an animal than anyone's ever got, I wanna fill a rat with the entire Gobi desert!'"
"You eat like a bird."
So you're moving into a new place, taking a break between boxes to meet the neighbors. The guy from Apartment 4 down the hall seems nice enough, but for some reason you can't quite put your finger on, you feel there's something off about him. Maybe it's the glassy-eyed menagerie of stuffed animals he keeps in his study. Or the fact that he prepared all of them himself, including his late dog.
This trope is when taxidermy is portrayed as an innocuous yet somehow sinister hobby that provides a handy shortcut for writers looking to establish a character as strange or unnerving. The taxidermy-enthusiast isn't necessarily evil, per se, but this hobby doesn't help to assuage anyone's fears.
Subtrope of Pastimes Prove Personality
. See also Taxidermy Terror
. See Uncanny Valley
for one of the main reasons many people find taxidermy creepy.
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- In that HSBC ad, a woman ran away from a date's home, because of all the trophies of animals. And also because she believed that the mother was stuffed too.
- Chuck Testa likes to terroise people with life like stuffed animals, before revealing that NOPE its Chuck Testa. And can appear in your bed.
- In one issue of Tales from the Crypt, an old woman's husband decides to take up taxidermy as a hobby. Because this is Tales from the Crypt, you just know this is going to go horribly. After he stuffs and mounts her pet cat, she stuffs and mounts him.
- Human taxidermy is perfectly legal in Mega-City and is considered a valid alternative to cremation or burial. (Obviously, murdering people before you stuff them is still considered murder and thus illegal.) Some people find it disturbing nonetheless.
Films — Animation
- Coraline had Spink and Forcible and their wall of stuffed Scotty dogs. Every time one of their many Scotty dogs died, they'd have them stuffed and dressed in angel garb.
Films — Live-Action
- The killer protagionist in the Joe D'Amato (The Anthropophagus Beast) film, Beyond the Darkness, uses his taxidermy skill in preserving his dead girlfriend. The corpses is excavated in grisly detail.
- In Psycho, taxidermy is one of Norman Bates' hobbies.
- The landlady in Amélie keeps her cheating husband's loyal dog stuff and mounted on a table, staring at a picture of its old master. This is meant to show how pathetic the woman is. (It works.)
- Brad Wesley in Road House, so much so that Roger Ebert commented, "This guy went hunting in the zoo," while Mike Nelson instead ponders whether Wesley went on dozens of safaris to bag all those animals or simply dropped a daisy cutter on a watering hole.
- The B-movie Bloodlust, featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000, combines this with The Most Dangerous Game. Although it is the rich villain's lackeys who perform the actual taxidermy.)
- The villain of Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls has filled his office to the rafters with stuffed African fauna, which he seems to enjoy showing off, much to Ace's horror.
- In Book 6 of the Lone Wolf series, the hero can meet with Chanda, a taxidermist quite proud of his creations. He wants to test a new taxidermy technique with a subject worth of his talent: the last of the Kai lords. As he explains to Lone Wolf while serving him drugged wine.
- The landlady in Roald Dahl's short story "The Landlady" shows her guest the pets she has had stuffed, a parrot and a dachsund. It's heavily implied that she's poisoned his tea with cyanide and plans to stuff him next.
- Monday Begins on Saturday mixes this with Taxidermy Terror and plays for Black Comedy. Cristobal Junta is a nice man most of the time, but then there's this:
Almost no one was allowed in his office, and disturbing gossip went about the Institute that he had a multitude of intriguing items there. They said that the corner was occupied by a magnificently executed stuffed figure of one of Cristobal Joseevich's old acquaintances, an S.S. standartenführer, in full dress uniform, with monocle, ceremonial dagger, iron cross, oak leaves, and other such appurtenances. Junta was an excellent taxidermist. According to Cristobal Joseevich, so was the standartenführer. But Cristobal Joseevich was sooner. He liked to be the soonest in anything he undertook.
- In Harry Potter, Sirius Black's aunt Elladora started the family tradition of beheading the family's house elves when they got old, and put their heads on walls like hunting trophies. This is one of the many ways the Black family is shown to be deranged and seriously creepy.
- In Animorphs, the Nartecs kill and stuff shipwrecked humans, preserving them in a disturbing facsimile of their previous existence.
- In the P.G. Wodehouse story "Unpleasantness at Bludleigh Court", creepy taxidermy decorates the titular place throughout, since the residents are viciously fond of hunting.
- Happens in Robert Rankin's Garden of Unearthly Delights. It's not so much the extensive collection of small taxidermied animals that make the villain creepy, it's the fact that they are all positioned to act out various chapters of the Kama Sutra.
- Professor Elemental is a "mad taxidermist", who experiments with sewing parts of different animals together to create new ones (while they are living) in his song, "Animal Magic". The animals get their comeuppance in the end.
- Russel from the Gorillaz band has taxidermy as a a hobby. Specifically, sewing different animal parts together. Even Murdoc finds the results unsettling.
Russel: Since I got into taxidermy I find it's a great way to pass the time and also gives the animals a real dignified ending.
Murdoc: Are you in some sort of K-hole? There's nothing really dignified about the poses you set them in, Russel. They look really... startled.
Russel: I just wanted to break new grounds in that area, advance the tradition and bring a whole hip hop attitude to the taxidermy world. I've been cutting and pasting different animal styles together. Yaks with lizards, hogs and zebras... it keeps the whole thing fresh, y'know? Once they're done you can customize the animals with bass-bins, under-lighting, alloy wheels... a kinda "Pimp-My-Rhino" thing.
- In the point-and-click adventure game The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Serrated Scalpel, the taxidermist turns out to be the one who was hired to kill the victim, and is said to have frequently done odd-jobs of dubious morality in addition to his public profession.
- There is a DLC stand-alone adventure for Heavy Rain called "The Taxidermist", where Madison has to infiltrate the house of a man who stuffs the bodies of murdered women. It's probably scarier than anything in the actual game.
- In Resident Evil 2, Police Chief Irons has taxidermy as a hobby, and was planning on stuffing the mayor's daughter before his death.
- The villain in Brink of Consciousness: Dorian Gray Syndrome was fond of keeping the perfectly-preserved bodies of his victims in huge glass tubes all over his mansion and grounds.
- It turns out in Mad Father that Aya's father had taken an interest in taxidermy when he was a young man. For years, he had been experimenting in the basement trying to perfect his talents. What's even more disturbing was that he was obsessed with turning his own daughter into a doll with his taxidermy skills. If he knew anything about taxidermy as a child, he probably would have been willing to do the same with his mother. The man has some serious issues he has to work out.
- In Homestuck, Jade's grandfather was an adventurer and big game hunter. His hunting trophy room is her least favorite in the house, and she finds Grandpa Harley more difficult to face now that he himself is stuffed and mounted in the living room.
- In Family Guy, Brian the family dog is unnerved to discover the owners of his late mother (who seemed quite nice up until that point) had her stuffed and converted into a coffee table.
- Alan Alda's second memoir is entitled Never Have Your Dog Stuffed: And Other Things I've Learned, largely because he devotes a chapter to how, after his pet dog died and his parents had it stuffed, the poor work of the taxidermist made it a terrifying monstrosity that wiped out any good memories of the pet.
- Derren Brown's house is filled with such things, including an 8-legged mutated lamb and a still born giraffe. Creepy.