Tuesday, January 21, 2014

2,300th Post Celebration: Mondo Bizarro (1966)...Again

My how time flies.  Way back in July of 2009, I reviewed a film called Mondo Bizarro.  I had no idea when I started a website of the same name that it was a movie and a Ramones album.  Hell, I barely knew that it actually translated into a real expression: weird world.  The movie- which comes bundled with Mondo Freudo- is a curious one.  In case you're new to this, here's a quick summary of what Mondo Films are.  Mondo Cane was a big hit that 'showed people the World.'  Remember that this was in the very early '60s and long before National Geographic had its own Channel (or three)!  'Mondo Cane' translates to 'A Dog's World' and was apparently what the film was showing you (allegedly).  After the film was a hit, a lot of imitators jumped on board- in addition to the successive films made by the Directors.  That is how we got such classics as Mondo Magic, Mondo Topless and *arguably* Faces of Death.  This film is notable because it clearly is not what it claims to be.  It claims to be a look at real, weird facts and behavior around the globe.  What it actually is however is a film shot almost entirely in Los Angeles that is full of mostly-fake, mostly-staged events.  It is films like this that have given Mondo Films their alternate meaning- faked Documentaries.  Depending on your point-of-view, many films from recent times could be considered to be 'Mondo Films,' usually political films that don't align with people's own opinions.  That's far too serious to be talked about side-by-side with this film.  To see if I named the site after a terrible, terrible film, read on...
This is a globe.  This is a globe in a terrible movie.  Any questions?
Our first scene is a bunch of women being filmed by a 'hidden camera' in a 'real changing room.'  Some poor guy had to spend hours (possibly days) physically-scratching the film's negative to 'blur out' the eyes of these women.

You'll learn later that it has nothing to do with them suing.  I'm 99% sure that doesn't work that way anyhow.
The first real segment is about how people practice Voodoo in the Bahamas.  To maintain the 'this is real' illusion, they shot from about a mile away...at night...in the dark.  Enjoy.
In the next bit, we see a man going for a 'special massage' in Japan.  In one shot, it appears to be a Japanese man (who signs in the log book in Japanese), but suddenly becomes a white guy who speaks no Japanese for the scene.  Weird.

Oh and it's a joke bit.  The special massage: it's just being rubbed down with egg yolk.  Ha ha?
The next segment is informative.  In it, we learn that boobs exist and that bras hold them in.

It's actually about Frederick's of Hollywood, but...just look at this shot.  Russ Meyer approved!
This guy supposedly is a Yogi and can do ridiculous things like sleeping on beds of nails.  The scary part isn't when he drives nails through his body.

No, it's his freaky, super-thin, attached to his lip mustache that makes him look like a massive pedophile.
We next see a play allegedly being performed in Europe.  It's mostly an excuse to have a woman whipped and naked on stage.

Apparently plays like this were a thing.  I still 100% doubt that what they were showing was real though.  Could you imagine a Stage Show about Naziis whipping a 'young girl' would play to an audience of middle-aged couples?
The big finale takes place 'in Lebanon' (they even thank the Bureau of Lebanese Affairs).  Naturally, this film spends a good five minutes SHOWING YOU HOW THEY SET UP THEIR EQUIPMENT.

This film was ahead of its time.  It included a Making Of Featurette...only they put it into the film itself.
The big scene worth all of this build-up: illegal slave trade in Bronson Canyon...I mean, Lebanon.  The evil Arabs sell three ladies and a young man...which our Documentary Crew do nothing to stop.

Now here's the real reason for that 'eye blurring out' bit from the beginning- they use the same ladies.  Only this time, they blur out their genitals.  That's...good.

One awkward wrap-up and shot of that stupid globe again...and we're out.  The End.
This film has not aged well (in the four years since I saw it last).  Oh and it definitely hasn't aged well in the forty-eight years since it was made too.  As a product of its time, it is mostly an excuse to show Hippies, boobs and more boobs.  As a film viewed in a modern context, it is a stupid and shallow experience.  I'd love to know if someone saw it long ago and actually bought into it.  I really do.  As a modern viewer, this film has no real plot and just panders.  It is ironic that a film with 'Mondo' in the title never leaves the State of California!  The segments are mostly-silly and ridiculous.  A man eating 'glass' for dinner?  Sure.  A freaky man poking needles through his cheek?  Alright.  All those shots of women in bras- Damn!  There is a certain air of ironic hubris about the film too.  Like I said, they 'Thank' all of these places like Japan and Lebanon for their assistance, while clearly never needing to renew their Passports.  If nothing else, these people had cajones!  If you are a more forgiving viewer and want to see what people thought the 1960's looked like, this film does that well.  If you're looking for a real film about the world, look elsewhere.  This film has such a one-track 'mind' that they even find a way to include nudity in their B-Roll of Los Angeles...
Next up, I actually cover that Norwegian film that I promised.  It sure is...a movie.  Stay tuned...

1 comment:

  1. This movie looks like a trainwreck. Thank you for watching it and reviewing it.. twice!