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Related: Mondo Cane (1962) - Mondo 2000 (1990s) - Mondo Bizarro - Italian cinema - Gualtiero Jacopetti

Mondo Cane (1962) - Paolo Cavara, Gualtiero Jacopetti, Franco E. Prosperi

Mondo films

Mondo film is a type of quasidocumentary, usually depicting sensational topics and scenes.

The fad started with Mondo Cane (1962) and proved quite popular. Over the years the film makers wanted to top each other in shock value in order to draw in audiences. Cruelty to animals, accidents, tribal initiation rites and surgeries are a common feature of a typical mondo. Much of the action is also staged, even though the film makers may claim their goal to document only "the reality".

The Faces of Death series is probably the best known example.

Killing for Culture: An Illustrated History of Death Film from Mondo to Snuff, by David Kerekes and David Slater, ISBN 1871592208, paperback, 1996

--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mondo_film [Mar 2005]

Death has become the sole subject of an entire cinematic sub-genre: the 'mondo' film. Mondo films are documentaries presenting compilations of exotic tribal rituals and other sensationalistic 'othering' material, such as Gualtiero Jacopetti's anthropological/exploitative Africa Addio (1966) which depicts rituals such as circumcision and animal sacrifice. Mondo cinema's fascination with death reached its zenith with a series of videos called Faces Of Death (1979), mind-numbingly relentless montages of executions, war atrocities, and fatal accidents. In 1995, a mondo film became legally available in Britain for the first time with the release of Executions, a video compiling footage of state executions from around the world. The makers of Executions (David Herman, Arun Kumar, and David Monaghan) stressed that their aim was to highlight the barbarity of capital punishment, though many commentators disputed their sincerity. --Matthew Hunt http://www.matthewhunt.com/censorship.html [Sept 2004]

Pimpadelic Wonderland [...]

It's a Sick, Sick, Sick World.....

In 1963, MONDO CANE became a huge international sensation even garnering an Academy Award for Best Song. A collaboration between Italian directors Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco Prosperi, it was an unprecedented collection of footage depicting taboo behavior from around the world. Shock after shock, real and staged, filled the screen appealing to voyeurs of the Now Generation. Mexican cops dressing up like hookers -- cut to backwards footage of a pig's journey in a German slaughterhouse, and so on. For years from all over the world countless freak shows followed. By the late '60s, the Mondo Movie was a firmly established, money making genre. Many were sexy travelogues like SWEDEN HEAVEN AND HELL 1969. Some were phoney exposes of the alluring world of the occult like WITCHCRAFT '70 (ANGELI BIANCHE...ANGELI NERI) 1969. Rolling into the '70s, mondos were getting progressively grimmer. More often they reveled in the specter of gruesome death. The infamous, much copied FACES OF DEATH 1978 is the nadir of this trend. Germany took a peek at strange behavior in the East with SHOCKING ASIA (ASIA PERVERSA) 1974 an often gruesome travelogue bouncing us from India to Japan and all points in between featuring the genre's standard pompous and condescending narration. We start at a Hindu ceremony where the faithful walk on fire and pierce themselves. Next up, odd culinary habits are on display as we see bats and snakes skinned for the hungry Hong Kong consumer. In Thailand, we witness an excruciatingly graphic documentation of a sex change operation. This scene reportably sent 42nd St crowds screaming for their mamas. Later we check out the more amusing, intriguing quirks of Japanese society. Japanese phallus parade. Japanese Love Hotels with mirrors, love swings, live video capturing the action for narcissistic thrills. From the land of the rising sun, we see Japanese underground S/M performance art with large plastic bubbles and a Japanese cult of goosestepping Nazi worshippers in full Third Reich regalia. The Temple of Health where thousands of Japanese men frantically flail around in a huge waterway. Woman and midget wrestling are shown as examples of “mass vulgarity.” Amazing, horrific figurines of torture and mutilation like folks being sawed in half. “pain is but the birth of superhuman natures.” A sex museum with model displays of Leda and Swan, sex torture, more huge phalluses, animal copulation, Nazi genital electrocution devices, nude woman on water wheels, lotsa dildos, and a sculpture college of sex parts. Another German-produced mondo JOURNEY INTO THE BEYOND exposes the then popular psychic phenomena fad with psychic surgery, bent spoons, ectoplasm spewing and various occult hokum with narration by John Carradine. What maybe the only narrative film to follow the mondo road all the way to end was AUTOPSY (AUTOPSIA) 1973. This Spanish oddity starts off with actual My Lai massacre footage intercut with fake scenes of a reporter pondering the devastation around him. Back home in Spain, he interviews a Krishna, a daredevil, a bullfighter, a scientist and a philosopher about their thoughts on death. He wants to document an autopsy to force people to face their own mortality. He feels everybody's "living life like a holiday," keeping death, pain and war distant from their consciousness. To photograph the procedure he brings a goof ball friend, who gets queasy and gives the flick some "comic" relief. Brains and guts are graphically shown, as doctors cut up a real corpse. Between these gruesome scenes, are fictional flashbacks set up to look like moments from this actual dead guy's life in which an actor portrays him as a famous soccer player. In the end, the dorky shutter bug winds up freaking out in a discotheque, seeing autopsy footage flashing in the strobe lights. This is a revelation for him making him feel truly alive for the first time in his life! What the FUCK!

Mondo, American Style.....

In JABBERWALK (THIS IS AMERICA) 1976 [Romando Vanderbes] the Italians take a humorous look at American social mores, circa 1975. Electroshock junk food aversion therapy, a drive in church and a porno awards ceremony are highlights. As is a visit to a dildo factory guided by its owner, a greasy mustachioed used car salesman type. Essential viewing. The French rarely stepped into the mondo arena, but the X rated SEX O'CLOCK USA 1976 [Romando Vanderbes] more than makes up for it with vagina mold sculptures and nude gold body painting. They cover much of the same territory as JABBERWALK, even visiting the same L.A. dildo factory and it's oily proprietor. A major focus is on the underground NYC sex scenes from S/M parlors to a nostalgic look at The Golden Age of the Gay Leathermen. Whips, chains, and enemas galore!

300 Years of Hate Explodes Today.....

Many years after making MONDO CANE, Jacopetti and Prosperi teamed up again for the notorious FAREWELL UNCLE TOM (ADIOS, TIO TOM) 1971. Not really a documentary, the premise finds filmmakers documenting the slave trade in the American South. Truly one of the most outrageous films you'll ever see, the very definition of what makes '70s cinema so unique. This lavish look at the Southern slave trade doesn't shy away from any of the grotesque details involved in this practice. In fact, it revels in it's sleazier aspects. At the end, the action shifts from the mid-1800's plantations to Miami '71 as a pissed-off Black militant reads the Nat Turner Diaries watching some dorko honkys frolic on the beach. His fantasies of killing middle class Americans mix with re-enactments of Turner's bloody rampage against his slave masters. Outrageous! --Tom Fitzgerald ©1998-2002AD/Last updated Dec 26th http://www.pimpadelicwonderland.com/eye.html [2003]

This Is America (1977) - Romano Vanderbes

European poster for This Is America (1973) - Romano Vanderbes

American poster for This Is America (1977) - Romano Vanderbes

Almot impossible to establish the background of this release. Indicated release dates vary between 1973, 1976 and 1977. No birthdate for director Romano Vanderbes.


Gualtiero Jacopetti

Having embarking on a successful career as a print journalist (Jacopetti helped found the magazine L'Espresso) and working on newsreels, Jacopetti teamed up with anthropologist Franco Prosperi, news cameraman Antonio Climati and composer Riz Ortolani, a unit that remained constant for all of Jacopetti's feature film output.

The impact of his first feature film Mondo Cane (1962) came from a side-stepping of documentary neo-realist principles in favour of a hyper-realism dubbed "shockumentary" because of its brutal edits ("shock cuts", Jacopetti once remarked), rapid zooms, extreme close-ups, heightened post-production sound effects and sharp contrasts between mis-en-scene and musical score (the much recorded ballad More comes from the film). Jacopetti's narrations were resolutely satirical, amusing, sad and at all times contemptuously despairing of humanity's failings.

The impact on audiences not yet seduced by cheap air travel or the pleasures of globalising capitalism - who were unprepared for Technicolor National Geographic style montages of ''primitive" rites and "civilised" wrongs - was such that an avalanche of inferior copies followed. Soon the 'mondo film' - the sensational treatment of documentary footage - became a fixture of transgressive film art.

The international success of Mondo Cane resulted in several follow-ups and allowed Jacopetti the freedom to embark on a more ambitious project Africa Addio (1966). This portrait of a continent writhing in the agony of decolonisation was so frank that accusations of racism and complicity were levelled at Jacopetti and his team. An infamous court case in Italy damaged Jacopetti's reputation but he emerged with Zio Tom (1971) determined to expose the violent perversions of the American slave trade in his trademark unblinking style.

After completing the more satirical Mondo Candido (1975) Jacopetti retired from filmmaking to continue as journalist and writer leaving a memorable and unique film legacy. We are delighted to welcome him to BFF2003.

Mondo film

One of the primary missions of this site, and one of my own personal missions, is to expose the public to films and genres that they otherwise would not come into contact with. A good and efficient way to present the largest amount of material is in a generalized format, giving short glimpses into many titles. Thus the "Not Coming Genre Guide" was born. In this and future editions myself or a fellow staff member will present a particular genre, timeperiod, actor, director, etc.. and basically give a quick and dirty guide to the films encompassed by that theme. The goal is to pique at least one reader's interest enough to give something a look that they might have ignored previously. Let's begin, shall we?

Since the dawn of filmmaking, the documentary has been a consistant source of groundbreaking cinema. This type of "non-fiction film" while not commercially as successful as standard fare is often much more powerful than its fictional counterparts. While the subjects of documentaries range from baseball to the life of Christ to agrarian economics in 16th century Britian, I'm going to focus on one particular sub-genre within documentaries. Although called "the unblinking eye", "exploitation documentaries", "Shock-umentaries", or in some cases even "pornography", the range of documentaries that focus on the more obscure and often brutal or taboo parts of humanity has a name: Mondo. The name is derived from what is arguably the most famous film of the genre, the 1962 Italian feature Mondo Cane. Mondo Cane was a huge hit on the drive-in circuit. The posters described its content much better than I could: "THE WITH-IT SEX HIGHS! SEE THE CHICKEN THAT SMOKES! NAKED WITCHCRAFT MURDERS! THE MOST SENSASTIONAL EXPOSE OF THE FREAK SIDE OF LIFE!" Its name when translated from Italian oddly means "Dog World. Despite a silly name, the impact of this film without a doubt cannot be underestimated. Like Deep Throat would later become, it was one of the first films that EVERYONE, regardless of age or moral inclination, went to see, whether they admitted it or not. More so than the often gross scenes, the real show was the underlying black comedy of this film. Despite the snide, cynical narraration (which would become a trademark of the genre) the subjects of the film aren't judged. The information is presented very even handedly in a way which does not overly exploit the subjects.

Imititation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but Cane did more than spawn imitators. It practically created the technique of "cinema voyeur", glimpses into lives and customs that would never been seen in any other medium. The heyday of the "mondo" genre was in the mid to late sixties, which may have been the secret to their box office success. At the time, nudity was still strictly taboo except for the X-rated circuit. The "mondo" films used an racist double standard to circumvent this roadblock. At the time though nude caucasians were considered "pornography," nude Asians and Africans were still considered "anthropology." The loophole that Mondo Cane had walked through was increasingly widened by future "mondo" films, to the point where the nudity and depictions of sexual taboos quickly became the sole focus of most of the films. That's not to say that all of the films were merely nudies desguised as science. Some of the better mondo's kept the focus on the outlandish behavior, but quite often nudity happened to be a large part of these. For these reasons, the majority of this first wave of mondo was regulated to the "Adults-Only" or late night drive-in circuits. They walked the thin grey line between profane and the sacred and therefore, pushed the cultural moral envelope the way few other styles of film have.

One spliter of the mondo genre went into slightly tamer territory. As with any groundbreaking cultural event, the Mondo Cane formula was watered down, repackaged, and sold to mainstream America. Late Sixties teen culture became the subject of many mondo films. Most were cheaply slapped together footage of dancing teenagers with rock music in the background, which was then hyped as "SHOCKING!" Some however drifted into Reefer Madness territory. These films were often intended as warnings (usually more to parents than teens) about the dangers of the rising drug culture. Bad trips on LSD and stoned teens getting into trouble made up the largest chunk of these films.

By the late 1970's the gas was starting to run out of the Mondo genre. In 1978 all of that changed and the Mondo genre was reborn with a much darker face. Faces of Death was first an international then an even bigger hit in the states on the new medium, home video. The basic framework established by Mondo Cane was present; the documentary format, the (often phony) "Doctor" narrarator, and the footage of wild scenes most from outside the USA. However the humor was gone. The fun and often innocent views into other cultures were replaced with death and gore. Additionally, a large part of the film was fake, made by the Make-up Effects Lab of Hollywood. No one really minded that most of it and subsequent sequels were faked, in fact, most people didn't notice. To this day, 23 years after it was made many people still swear that everything in Faces of Death is 100% real. In the series' defence, it has been reported that numbers II and IV have more authentic footage than the others, but I really couldn't tell the difference either. The Faces of Death series goes up to about #5 or #6, but many of the later are actually re-used footage from earlier sequels. Like Mondo Cane, Faces of Death inspired its own crop of imitators. The lamentably title Traces of Death has as much in common with Cane as it does Faces since some of the dark humor is retained. Death Scenes is mostly crime footage from the 30's and 40's but it is hosted by Church of Satan founder Anton La Vey. In the 1990's films with titles such as Facez of Death and Tracez of Death (note the important "z") and others were so scares than they were only available through mail order from the back of magazines like "Fangoria."

"Mondo" films aren't for everyone. Many of the scenes depicted in even the tamer entries are too strong for the faint of heart. However, these films shouldn't be viewed as oddities. They have a long pedigree. In 1903 Thomas Edison made the films Electrocution of an Elephant and An Execution by Hanging, an acutal snuff film! These films have now become useful historical records of times and people that have long since vanished. While not viewed in the same light as a Gone with the Wind or even a Star Wars it should be know that Mondo films are an important chapter in the history of film and moreover, the history of society. Look around at modern society. "Cops", Jerry Springer, "Girls Gone Wild", and countless others have taken the mondo formula into the 21st century. Mondo has moved from the fringes of film to be an accepted aspect of modern culture.

Mondo Films of Note:

Mondo Cane: 1962, the original

Mondo Pazzo, aka Mondo Cane II: 1963

Mondo Balardo (also spelled "Balordo"): 1963, hosted by Boris Karloff

Mondo Macabro, aka Macabro: 1965, early incarnation of the gory mondo, originally titled It's a Sick, Sick World

Mondo Freudo: 1966, introduced the "hidden camera" technique

Mondo Topless: 1966, Russ Meyer's "chesty" entry into the genre

Mondo Hollywood: 1967, featuring LSD and then Govenor Ronald Reagan

Mondo Teeno, aka Teenage Rebellion: 1967, "World Youth in Revolt!"

Mondo Daytona: 1968, Spring Break hi-jinks set to rock music

Mondo Magic: 1975

Mondo Violence: 1977, "Banned in 40 Countries!"

Faces of Death, 1978

Faces of Death II, 1981, blamed for a suicide in 1994

Faces of Death IV, 1990, one of the few films to make the claim that actually was banned in a country, Germany.

How to find Mondo Films: Depending on your location, you may be able to find some of these or other Mondo titles in your local video store. Un-edited copies of the Faces of Death series should be in almost every Blockbuster or Movie Gallery nationwide. For the older films, try the internet or mail-order.


"Grindhouse: the Forbidden World of "Adults Only" Cinema" by Eddie Muller and Daniel Faris is very well done and contains a chapter on Mondo.

Both volumes of Michael Weldon's "Psychotronic Guides" have entries for Mondo.

For info on the "Faces of Death" series and its imitators, check out www.losman.com.


*The them song of Mondo Cane, the song "More", won an Oscar!

*The film Mondo Daytona features The Swinging Medallions, Birmingham, Alabama's greatest (read:only) Sixties rock band. Both they had a hit with "Double Shot (of my baby's love)" my parents would go see them play at the Oporto-Madrid Amory. The mother of my first girlfriend was acutally the girlfriend (coughGROUPIEcough) of the lead singer briefly.

Mondo Bizarro

Mondo Bizarro (1992) - Ramones [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Mondo Bizarro (1966) - Bob Cresse
A faux travelogue that mixes documentary and mockumentary footage. The camera looks through a one-way glass into the women's dressing room at a lingerie shop, visits a Kyoto massage parlor, goes inside the mailroom at Frederick's of Hollywood, watches an Australian who sticks nails through his skin and eats glass, checks out the art and peace scene in Los Angeles, takes in Easter week with vacationing college students on Balboa Island, observes a German audience enjoying a play about Nazi sadism, and, with the help of powerful military lenses, spies on a Lebanese white-slavery auction. A narrator adds gravitas: "To the worm in the cheese, the cheese is the universe." --http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0188909/ [May 2005]

see also: mondo - bizarre - Ramones

Il Mondo di notte (1959) - Luigi Vanzi

Il Mondo di notte (1959) - Luigi Vanzi

What if Ed Sullivan had taken his "Really, really big shew" show on the road to Amsterdam, Blackpool, Buenos Aires, Copenhagen, Hamburg, Hollywood, Hong Kong, Honolulu, Las Vegas, London, New York, Paris, Stockholm and Tokyo? The result might have been similar to this duller-than-dirt travelogue featuring dancing whales, stripping females and a non-performing performing dog. Not to mention the Kim Novak look-alike Ricky Renee, the Bluebell Girls of Paris, strippers such as Feline and Rapha Temporel (the houri of the hammock); juggler Marco of Stockholm, Wild Willie Harris and the Tiller Girls of London. Come to think of it, this looks more like the State Fair of Texas than The Ed Sullivan Show. Plus, the Fair also offers Fletcher's Corney Dogs and three-pound turkey legs... --http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0057022 [May 2005]

Italia - anno: 1959 - Technirama in Technicolor - regia: Luigi Vanzi -Interpreti: attori ed attrici di varietŕ di music-hall, di night-club, di strip-tease e attrazioni - produzione: Julia Film - distribuzione: Warner Bros.

Seguendo la moda inaugurata da Alessandro Blasetti con Europa di notte, il film si articola come un documentario, girato nei locali di attrazione delle principali cittŕ del mondo, insistendo in particolare sul pubblico, sul colore locale, sull'atmosfera dei night club o degli altri ritrovi caratteristici (ad esempio quello delle balene danzanti di Hollywood, o la taverna newyorkese dove si esibiscono le vecchie glorie del music-hall americano). Fra gli interpreti: Alfredo Alaria e i balletti Macumba e Malambo del Lido di Parigi; Dodň d'Hambourg e Rapha Temporel del Crazy Horse, Feline, i Fraternity Brothers, il Gospel Show dell'Apolle Theatre di Halrem, i campioni di catch con Maschera Rossa, l'opera Cinese di Hong-Kong, le Rhythmettes di Las Vegas, le balene di Marineland a Hollywood, la casa delle geishe Kiyckawa, Wee Willie Harris e la Rockett's Orchestra, il Queen Bee Cabaret dl Tokyo, con Iuki Rosa, Mara Krup, le Tiller Girl, The Nitwits Band, Ricky Renče la donna mistero, la Spada di San Marco, il Luau di Honolulu, il balletto Tahiti, le Blue Bell Girls del Lido di Parigi, ecc. --http://www.crispinomoto.it/BRAND_VESPA/VESPA_ATTRICE/PAGINE/FOTO_25_IL_MONDO_DI_NOTTE.HTM [May 2005]

Svezia, Inferno E Paradiso (1968)

Svezia, Inferno E Paradiso (1968) - Luigi Scattini (director) Piero Umiliani (music)[Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Album Description
This soundtrack for the so-called „documentary" on the decay of morals in Sweden from 1968 is a long lost jewel of Easy Listening. Properly released for the first time ever it brings us 28 cute little songs called „Photo Models", „Topless Party" or „Beer , Vermouth & Gin" - plus the superhit „Mah Na’ Mah Na’" (as known from „Sesame Street" and many TV-ads). Oh yes - and the soundtrack also features Mr.Gato Barbieri on sax.

Edmund Purdom narrates a documentary about Sweden. It shows contraceptives for teen girls, lesbian nightclubs, wife swapping, porno movies, biker gangs, and Walpurgis Night celebrations. It also examines Swedens drug, drinking and high suicide problems. It featured the Swedish nonsense song "Mah-Na Mah-Na" later used on the "Sesame Street" Show. --http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0063660 [May 2005]

It’s impossible to discuss Svezia without mentioning the fantastic soundtrack by Piero Umiliani. Many of the readers will be familiar with it through the excellent Easy Tempo release. Mah na’ mah na’ is of course the most well known piece of music from the film since it went on to be used on the Muppet Show (For those who wonder, it’s played during a sequence with 20 odd girls in a sauna and then running out in the snow, most of them chastely covered by their towels). There’s also the excellent vocal number You tried to warn me sung by Lydia McDonald and further tracks using Alessandro Alessandroni’s I Cantori Moderni. Even Anna Lena Lövgren’s Lyckliga Gatan turns up during a party scene.

I’d wanted to see this for years and had more or less given up hope of coming across an English language copy. Then my Japanese friend Tomomichi advised me that Japanese company Avanz Entertainment had released the English language version as a limited edition DVD in November 2004. It went out of print just after release and is sadly already virtually impossible to get hold of. --http://www.cinema-nocturna.com/swedenheavenorhell_review.htm [Dec 2005]

see also: soundtrack - mondo

Mondo films and travelogues

All the scenes that you are about to see are real and were shot as they were taking place. If sometimes they seem cruel it is only because cruelty abounds on this Planet. And anyway, the Duty of the reporter is not to make the truth seem sweeter but to show things how they really are. --from the opening of Mondo Cane (1962)

Soundtrack to Mondo Cane (1962)

One of the earliest examples of mondofilm, in my opinion, is J. Stuart Blackton and Albert E. Smith's film about the battle of Santiago Bay. These gentlemen where among the first to carry a camera into battle and did successfully capture Theodore Roosevelt's attack on San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American war on Cuba in 1898. But safe at home in New York they read in the newspapers that a big battle had been fought in Santiago Bay. Annoyed that they had missed this historical battle, they came up with a brilliant idea. They bought some books about ships, some cigars, and gunpowder and turned an upside-down table filled with water into Santiago Bay!

They had cut out ships from the book, and pulled them into the scene with strings. A local boy helped blowing cigarsmoke into the set and gunpowder was fired. This innovative film, together with the not-so-great quality of the film stock, fooled a whole world and this was probably the first re-enactment in cinema history.

As time went by, the audience found a new genre to love, the travelogue. The travelogue was documents from, let's say, Africa and Papua New Guinea. Exotic beasts side by side with the wild bushman, and if you where real lucky, the bushman could also practice the noble art of cannibalism. Several of the daring and in some cases foolish, photographers made this into an art. Some of the finest films where made by Osa and Martin Johnsson with films with exiting titles like Head hunters of the South Sea and Among the Cannibal Isles of the South Pacific (1918).

The crux of the biscuit for many was that traveling across the world cost an awful lot of money, but that they REALLY wanted to cash in on these kinds of films. And why not? Many big cities have a zoo where you can film some animals and later cut into some exotic tale. Even big events like the Boer war in Africa and riots in China were produced and filmed in Europe and America. And no one seemed to care.

The producers certainly got their money back and the audience got the action they craved. And this went on, it really never stopped, but it wasn't really until 1962 it all took a new turn. --Christer Persson via Google's cached page [May 2005]

Mondo di notte oggi (1976) - Gianni Proia

Mondo di notte oggi (1976) - Gianni Proia

A rather dull shockumentary dealing with nightlife in different cultures around the world. Probably as a statement to show how liberal the world has become the film kicks off with a nice cosy scene of a family having dinner around a table with an erotic film showing on the TV in the background. No-one bats an eyelid. These days it appears that the average family are not shocked so easily. Out of boredom the young boy in the house switches over. To my surprise (and horror it has to be said), the program on the other side features the favourites of '70s British children's TV, Rod Hull and his hand puppet bird Emu. Who'd have ever thought they'd make an appearance in a mondo film?

After this rather surreal start the film gets bogged down into the usual excuses to show sexy Las Vegas night acts and Paris can can dancers. It all starts to wear thin very quickly. Perhaps at the time all this was considered scandalous but with stronger stuff shown on late night TV it seems so tedious nowadays. There is a bit of gay bondage, towards the end of the film that may shock some people.

The gay club scene is very funny, everyone looks like refugees from "The village people". In London, we are shown clips from a Paul Raymond sex comedy stage show and later in Japan there's some naked soapy massages. That's about it really, not much to recommend for thrill seekers I'm afraid. --http://www.so-sweet.cwc.net/Films/mondo_di_notte_oggi.htm [May 2005]

Mondo Cane (1962) - Gualtiero Jacopetti

  • Mondo Cane Collection [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco Prosperi are widely considered to be the creators of the "mondo," the cynical and often exploitative '60s-era cousin of the documentary and the template for today's reality TV. Blue Underground compiles five of the pair's most controversial films in an eight-disc set (which includes uncut versions of two titles) that proves their images have not lost their power to shock and amaze. Journalist-turned-director Jacopetti and former naturalist Prosperi first teamed for 1962's Mondo Cane (A Dog's Life), which explored strange customs around the world. The film (co-directed with Paolo Cavera) balanced its humorous and repulsive images with some genuinely beautiful ones and captured audiences' imaginations worldwide as well as an Academy Award for composer Riz Ortolani's theme, "More." Many critics decried the film, but a fleet of copycat mondos appeared in its wake. Enough footage was shot during the making of Mondo Cane to allow for a sequel (also known as Mondo Pazzo) in 1963; it was quickly followed by Women of the World, which explored women's roles around the globe.

    Tiring of the travelogue approach, the pair headed to Africa to document the unrest that had erupted in the wake of colonial abandonment. The result, 1966's Africa Addio, was acclaimed for its disturbing images but also earned the duo charges that they had orchestrated on-screen executions. Though they were eventually acquitted, Jacopetti and Prosperi's reputations was irreparably marred. They attempted to amend the situation with Goodbye Uncle Tom (1971), an overripe fantasy that transported them to the pre-Civil War South to explore slavery. Unfortunately, its horrific violence further turned off audiences, and the duo split soon afterwards. Though the early titles are somewhat dated, and the later films are often overwhelmingly grotesque, the Mondo Cane Collection is a powerful visual experience that avoid the sheer exploitativeness of other mondo and their modern offspring. --Paul Gaita for Amazon.com

    Mondo Cane (A Dog's Life) is a semi-documentary movie made in 1962 by Italian filmmakers Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco Prosperi. The film consists of a series of travelogue-vignettes providing glimpses into strange cultures and practices throughout the world, most memorably a look at a practicing South Pacific cargo cult. Mondo Cane's shock-exploitation-documentary style was the inspiration for numerous imitations, including Shocking Asia and the Faces of Death series of movies.

    The movie's theme song, "More" was written by Riz Ortolani & Nino Oliviero and was translated into the English language by Norman Newell. In 1963, the song was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Song and was recorded by Roy Orbison on his 1969 album, Roy Orbison's Many Moods.

    The film started a fad known as "Mondo films." --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mondo_cane [Apr 2005]

    Mondo Trasho (1969) - John Waters

    Mondo Trasho is a 1969 film by Baltimore, Maryland filmmaker John Waters starring Divine, Mary Vivian Pearce, David Lochary and Mink Stole.

    Platinum blonde heroine Mary Vivian Pearce begins her day by riding the bus and reading Kenneth Anger's Hollywood Babylon. She is later seduced by a perverted 'shrimper', hit by a car driven by Divine and visited by a vision of the Virgin Mary amongst other terribly dramatic and trashy situations.

    The film was considered very shocking at the time of its release, particularly because of a strange encounter between Divine and Mink Stole in a church pew.

    Waters was arrested during the film's production for illegally shooting a scene involving a nude hitchhiker on the campus of Johns Hopkins University.

    The film's title refers to a series of semi-related quasi-documentary films that were popular during the 1960s: Mondo Cane, Mondo Freudo, Mondo Bizarro etc. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mondo_Trasho [Apr 2005]

    Mondo 2000

    Mondo 2000 : A User's Guide to the New Edge : Cyberpunk, Virtual Reality, Wetware, Designer Aphrodisiacs, Artificial Life, Techno-Erotic Paganism, ... (1992) [Amazon.com]
    If you have read Mondo 2000 magazine before, then nothing in this book will be much of a surprise. In fact in 1998 this book is clearly retro. Still, to the new reader you will find much of the information interesting. The format is basically an A-Z of popular memes and cultural phenomena with a pseudo hypertext interface. High gloss and flashy. Suitable for a coffee table, but you might want to keep it on your reference shelf. Limited availability. Mentions Gilles Deleuze and Georges Bataille in bibliography. Bataille in the 'meat' section. Wired magazine came one year later.


    1. Mondo Macabro : Weird & Wonderful Cinema Around the World - Pete Tombs [Amazon US]
      "Sometimes it feels like there's nothing left to discover. Bookshelves bend under the weight of tomes devoted to all things 'cult,' 'B,' or obscure. Films you might once have crossed town to see now turn up on new video labels every week. [But] for those who still value the shock of the new, the special kind of thrill that comes from confronting previously unsung greatness, ... there are plenty of strange new worlds left to explore.... Mondo Macabro is a peek into the treasure trove of fifty years of film from around the world. We've sifted through the dross and picked out the dusty jewels."

      Those who enjoy horror movies, and bizarre movies of all types, will find Peter Tombs's Mondo Macabro: Weird and Wonderful Cinema Around the World a welcome companion on the shelf next to their (and Cathal Tohill's) Immoral Tales: European Sex & Horror Movies 1956-1984. With the help of three other writers (Giovanni Scognamillo, Diego Curubeto, and David Wilt), Tombs gives us an overflowing cornucopia of well-written descriptions of movies made in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Turkey, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, and Japan. Each section provides film-historical background on the individual countries and studios, a handy folklore primer on the indigenous monsters and myths that appear in the films, plenty of movie stills and poster art, and portraits of important personalities such as Brazil's José Mojica Marins (creator of the infamous evil persona Zé do Caixăo, a.k.a. Coffin Joe).

      As horror-fantasy writer Ian McDowell writes, "The sheer range of bizarre cinema that Tombs covers is amazing. My only serious cavil involves his first chapter, one of three on Hong Kong cinema. I know that he leaves the mainstream fare to others, but he still makes some odd statements about the timing of the golden age of Chinese martial arts films."

      Best of all, Tombs prizes the pungent, if sometimes raw, flavors of individual creativity and local traditions, so his book is especially helpful for distinguishing between horror films that are unique to a country or region, those that are hybrids of Western models and local themes, and those that are mere copies of Western films. Mondo Macabro also includes top 10 lists from five world cinema experts, tips on where to find the videos, and an index of film titles. --Fiona Webster

    2. Killing for Culture: An Illustrated History of Death Film (1995) - David Kerekes [Amazon.com]
      A captivating read...Creation's most accomplished film publication so far. This study on the way death has been treated on film is cleverly structured, well researched and lucidly written. It comprehensively covers films made as fiction - e.g. "Peeping Tom", "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer" - films purporting to be real - e.g. "Faces of Death" series - and material that is all too real, such as car-crashes, autopsy films and news footage. --amazon.com

      Included is a radical critique of feature films which have incorporated a „snuff“ element; a comprehensive history of „Mondo“ movies and „shockumentaries“; analysis of the validity or otherwise of supposedly real-life „snuff“ footage, and its links with certain individuals and organisations; a summary of other real deaths captured on film suchas live-TV suicides, executions, news-reel footage etc; and also a comprehensive filmography. The whole book is profusely illustrated with rare and extraordinary photographs from both cinema, documentary and real life.

    3. The Psychotronic Video Guide to Film - Michael J. Weldon [Amazon US]
      As Michael Weldon says in the foreword to his Psychotronic Video Guide: "Unlike other movie guides, nothing is omitted because it's in bad taste." Bad taste barely begins to cover the 3000 resolutely grade-B movies (some with grade-A aspirations and budgets) and the odd TV show included here. Weldon, who invented the word "psychotronic" and compiled The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film, includes horror (there are 15 movie titles beginning with the word "zombie"), science fiction, Blaxploitation, porn, spaghetti westerns and "anything that Roger Corman had anything to do with" in his purview. --Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc., amazon.com

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