Mondo film


Mondo film

A mondo film (from the Italian word for 'world') is an exploitation documentary film, sometimes resembling a pseudo-documentary, usually depicting sensational topics, scenes, and situations. Common traits of mondo films include emphasis on taboo subjects such as death and sex, portrayals of foreign cultures that have received accusations of racism[1] and staged sequences presented as genuine documentary footage. Over time, the films placed more and more emphasis on footage of the dead and dying, both real and fake. The term "shockumentary" has also been used to describe the genre.[2]

Contents

History of the genre

Although there had been earlier films such as European Nights (1959) and World by Night (1960) that could arguably be pointed to as examples of the genre,[3] the origins of the mondo documentary are generally traced to the Italian film Mondo Cane (A Dog's World, a mild Italian profanity) that was made in 1962 by Paolo Cavara, Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco Prosperi and proved a commercial success.[4][5][6]

Documentary films imitating the approach of Mondo Cane in the sixties often included the term "mondo" in their titles, even if they were in English; some examples include Mondo Bizarro, Mondo Daytona, Mondo Mod, Mondo Infame and Mondo Hollywood.[7] Even films from outside the genre followed suit: Mondo Trasho, Mondo Weirdo: A Trip to Paranoia Paradise, Mondo Keyhole[8] and Mondo Brutale (actually a German release of Wes Craven's film The Last House on the Left[9]) all bill themselves as "mondo", although none are true mondo documentaries. Towards the seventies this naming convention began to fall out of favour and fewer mondo films identified themselves as such in their titles.[7]

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". Subjects covered by mondo films include sex (Mondo Sex and Mondo Sexualis USA); celebrities (Mondo Elvis and Mondo Lugosi); youth culture (Mondo Teeno) and homosexual subculture (Mondo Rocco).

The Russ Meyer film Mondo Topless was one of the few "documentaries" restricted to the old midnight movie circuit of the pre-VCR era, as it explored strip clubs in 1960s San Francisco, at a time when strip clubs were a novelty in the United States restricted to centers of port-city decadence such as San Francisco.

Other examples of movies in this genre include Mondo New York by Harvey Keith, Mondo di Notte by Gianni Proia and Mondo Balordo by Roberto Bianchi Montero.

The eighties saw a resurgence of mondo movies, though now they focused almost solely on onscreen death, rather than cultures of the world. The Faces of Death series is probably the best known example of this type of mondo, or 'death' movie. The producers at this time still used some faked footage, passed off as real, but the majority of the footage was legitimate. This includes scenes of real autopsies, suicides, accidents, and other curiosities.

The very rare 1985 film "Mondo Senza Veli" (World without Veils, aka Mondo Fresh) was purported, by those who had actually seen it, to feature at its end the very brutal execution of a young Arab rapist by public rectal impalement (see two web page links under References). This "episode" was, however, believed to have been a "staged" execution, by at least some viewers (as reported by "Someone Weird" in the first web page link).

The mondo film in the 21st century has transformed into a very 'in your face', gory spectacle, as seen in the Faces of Gore and Traces of Death series. There is considerably less fake footage and many of these use news footage of accidents from the far east.[citation needed]

A number of films have parodied the genre over the years. Examples include Ricardo Fratelli's Mondo Ford; Mr. Mike's Mondo Video by Saturday Night Live's Michael O'Donoghue and Is There Sex After Death? by Jeanne and Alan Abel. Mondo Beyondo spoofed the films' approach to titling but was actually a parody of satellite television.[10]

It could be argued that the Italian Cannibal Movie is an off-shoot of the mondo film.[8]

Mondo movies

The original mondo film series was the Mondo Cane series made by Gualtiero Jacopetti, Paolo Cavara, and Franco Prosperi. When this type of film proved successful, many imitators followed.

Jacopetti & Prosperi

  • La donna nel mondo (1963). Italy. Director and Screenplay: Franco E. Prosperi, Paolo Cavara, Gualtiero Jacopetti. Music: Riz Ortolani, Nino Oliviero. Uncut run time: 107 minutes.
  • Mondo Cane 2 (a.k.a. Mondo Pazzo) (1963). Italy. Director and Screenplay: Franco E. Prosperi, Gualtiero Jacopetti. Music: Nino Oliviero. Uncut run time: 95 minutes. R-rated run time: 76 minutes.
  • Addio Zio Tom (1971). Italy. Director and Screenplay: Gualtiero Jacopetti, Franco Prosperi. Music: Riz Ortolani. Uncut run time: 136 minutes. Unrated English version: 123 minutes.

Max Steele

In the late 80s, Stelvio Massi, a.k.a. Max Steele, made two spin offs of the original Mondo Cane series with two more films, which are also known as Mondo Cane 3 and Mondo Cane 4 on various video releases.

  • Mondo Cane Oggi (a.k.a. Mondo Cane 3) (1986). Italy. Director and Cinematography: Stelvio Massi (Max Steele). Screenplay: Stelvio Massi. Uncut run time: 78 minutes.
  • Mondo Cane 2000, l'Incredibile (a.k.a. Mondo Cane 4) (1988). Italy. Director and Cinematography: Stelvio Massi (Max Steele). Screenplay: G. Crisanti

The Castiglioni Brothers

In 1969, the brothers Angelo and Alfredo Castiglioni began to make a series of their own Mondo films that lasted into the early 80s. They made five films in all, tying Jacopetti and Prosperi as the most prolific Mondo film producers. Each film examines brutal and bizarre behavior on the African continent. Their films are also known for being some of the most graphic Mondo films ever made.

  • Africa Segreta (a.k.a. Secret Africa) (1969). Italy. Directors: Angelo Castiglioni, Alfredo Castiglioni. Uncut run time: 103 minutes. Music: Angelo Francesco Lavagnino.
  • Magia Nuda (a.k.a. Mondo Magic) (1975). Italy. Directors: Angelo Castiglioni, Alfredo Castiglioni. Music: Zacar.
  • Addio Ultimo Uomo (a.k.a. The Last Savage) (1978). Italy. Directors: Angelo Castiglioni, Alfredo Castiglioni. Music: Franco Godi.
  • Africa Dolce e Selvaggia (a.k.a. Shocking Africa) (1982). Italy. Directors: Angelo Castiglioni, Alfredo Castiglioni. Music: Franco Godi.

The Savage Trilogy

Antonio Climati, cinematographer to Prosperi and Jacopetti in many Mondo films, teamed up with Mario Morra in 1974 to produce their own string of Mondo films, aptly named the "Savage Trilogy". Franco Prosperi also went on to produce these films. Climati and Morra were notorious for staging several scenes of their documentaries.

  • Ultime grida dalla savana (a.k.a. Savage Man Savage Beast) (1975). Italy. Director and Screenplay: Antonio Climati, Mario Morra. Music: Carlo Savina. Uncut run time: 94 minutes.
  • Savana violenta (a.k.a. This Violent World) (1976). Italy. Director and Screenplay: Antonio Climati, Mario Morra. Music: Guido De Angelis, Maurizio De Angelis.
  • Dolce e selvaggio (a.k.a. Sweet and Savage) (1983). Italy. Director and Screenplay: Antonio Climati, Mario Morra. Music: Daniele Patucchi.

John Alan Schwartz

In 1978, Faces of Death popularized a new Mondo style called Death Films, which consisted completely of humans or animals dying in graphic ways.

Uwe Schier

Uwe Schier bought the rights to the Mondo Cane and Faces of Death titles and released his own entries in both series, consisting largely of footage lifted from other mondo films: Faces of Death 5 draws heavily on Death Scenes; Faces of Death 6 consists almost entirely of Days of Fury; and Mondo Cane IV (not to be confused with Mondo Cane 2000, l'Incredibile, Schier's Mondo Cane IV is in fact the fifth film in the series) lifts from films including Death Scenes and Death Faces IV[11]. In 1993, Hurricane Pictures edited a mix of scenes featured in Addio ultimo uomo and Shocking Africa, labeling it fifth chapter of the saga (teil V in German language).

  • Mondo Cane IV (1992). Germany.
  • Mondo Cane teil V (a.k.a. Mondo Cane 5) (1993). Germany. Producer: Uwe Schier and Gian Carlo Rossi[citation needed].
  • Faces of Death 5 (1995). Germany.
  • Faces of Death 6 (1996). Germany.

Faces of Death imitators

Several imitators followed the Faces of Death series, and many used (or were composed entirely of) footage from other mondo films.

Others

  • Mondo Nudo (1963). Italy. Director: Francesco De Feo. Screenplay: Gian Carlo Fusco, Giuseppe Marotta. Music: Teo Usuelli.
  • Il Pelo nel Mondo (1964). Italy. Director and Screenplay: Antonio Margheriti, Marco Vicario. Music: Bruno Nicolai, Nino Oliviero. (released in the USA by ABC Films as Go, Go, Go World!)
  • I Malamondo (1964). Italy. Director: Paolo Cavara. Screenplay: Guido Castaldo, Paolo Cavara, Ugo Gregoretti, Francesco Torti. Music: Ennio Morricone.
  • Le Schiave Esistono Ancora (a.k.a. Slave Trade in the World Today) (1964). Italy. Directors: Maleno Malenotti, Roberto Malenotti, Folco Quilici. Screenplay: Baccio Bandini, Gianfranco Calderoni, Roberto Malenotti. Music: Teo Usuelli.
  • Mondo Balordo (1964). Italy. Director: Roberto Bianchi Montero. Screenplay: Guido Castaldo Francesco Torti. Music: Coriolano Gori, Nino Rosso.
  • Mondo Freudo (1966). USA. Director: Lee Frost. Music: Rodney Lee Bermingham, The Duvals, Chuck Morgan, Bill Wild.
  • Mondo Bizarro (1966). USA. Director and Screenplay: Lee Frost. Music: Lawrence Von Lattman.
  • Shocking Asia (1974). West Germany. Director: Rolf Olsen. Screenplay: Rolf Olsen, Ingeborg Stein Steinbach. Uncut run time: 94 minutes.
  • Notti Porno nel Mondo (a.k.a. Mondo Erotica) (1977). Italy. Director and Screenplay: Bruno Mattei. Music: Gianni Marchetti.
  • This Is America (a.k.a. Crazy Ridiculous American People {UK}, a.k.a. Jabberwalk) (1977) USA. Directed by Romano Vanderbes.
  • This Is America - Part 2 (1977) USA. Directed by Romano Vanderbes.
  • Brutes and Savages (1978). USA. Director: Arthur Davis. Screenplay: Jenny Craven. Music: Riz Ortolani.
  • Des Morts (a.k.a. Of the Dead) (1981). Director and Screenplay: Jean-Pol Ferbus, Dominique Garny, Thierry Zéno. Music: Alain Pierre. Uncut run time: 105 minutes.
  • The Killing of America (a.k.a. Violence U.S.A. {Japan}) (1982). USA. Director: Sheldon Renan, Leonard Schrader. Screenplay: Chieko Schrader, Leonard Schrader. Music: W. Michael Lewis, Mark Lindsay. Uncut run time: 90 minutes.
  • Mondo New York (1988) USA. Director: Harvey Keith. Screenplay: Harvey Keith and David Silver. Uncut run time: 83 minutes.
  • Mondo Ford (2001) USA. Director: Scott Calonico/Ricardo Fratelli. Screenplay: Scott Calonico/Ricardo Fratelli. Uncut run time: 7 minutes.
  • Mondo Sexxxx: The Terry Kobrah Story (2011). USA. Director: Logan Myers.

See also

Bibliography

References

  1. ^ Kerekes & Slater, p. 108.
  2. ^ Mondo New York (1988) The New York Times,
  3. ^ Kerekes & Slater, p. 102.
  4. ^ Mondo Cane (1962) The New York Times
  5. ^ Revisiting a Cinematic Smackdown, and Other Avant-Garde Pleasures The New York Times, October 1, 2009
  6. ^ Mondo Cane Variety Reviews, December 31, 1961
  7. ^ a b Kerekes & Slater, p. 107.
  8. ^ a b Kerekes & Slater, p. 109.
  9. ^ Kerekes & Slater, p. 315.
  10. ^ Kerekes & Slater, p. 155.
  11. ^ Kerekes & Slater, pp. 156-158.
  • Killing for Culture: An Illustrated History of Death Film from Mondo to Snuff, by David Kerekes and David Slater, ISBN 1-871592-20-8, paperback, 1994
  • Vomit Bag Video

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