Death By Cinema – 21 – Mondo Cane

“If I must just choose the method of my demise, I choose…

Britt

Death By Cinema!” -Britt Rhuart

Day 21 – Mondo Cane

I know it’s not good form to quote one’s self, but I’m going to borrow what I said about Mondo films last year from my review of Mondo Balordo. “Let me talk about Mondo films really quick. A Mondo (Italian for world) is a type of exploitation documentary which depicts random, sensational, over the top scenes of perversity, whether it be nudity, racism, death, etc. all in documentary form. It first came to prominence in the film Mondo Cane, which was actually nominated for an Oscar for Best Song.” So, yes, the film I’ll watch today is the only film I’ll be reviewing this month that was up for any Oscars… Come to think of it, are there any other actual exploitation films with Oscars or Oscar nominations? Other than Roger Corman’s honorary Oscar, I mean. I’m blanking on this… Anyway, here’s Mondo Cane.

Random Thoughts While Watching the Film:
I just ran Mondo Cane through a translation thing… It’s A Dog’s World.
Speaking of dogs we open on a kennel, where a dog is being forcefully dragged along. I feel really bad for this dog. It’s being dragged in a very cruel way. The dog is then thrown into the kennel, apparently to be killed by a large group of other dogs.
We then go a memorial service to Rudolph Valantino… What is this 1926? No, this film came out in the inverse of the last two numbers 1962. All of the Italians in this look really angry as opposed to being sad or whatnot… Some of the cinematography and framing is really weird.
Wait… that’s Rossano Brazzi! How has he shown up twice this month’s reviews?!? A bunch of women mob him for autographs and eventually tear off his clothes like he’s Don Lockwood in Singin’ in the Rain.
We now cut to a group of natives in Papua New Guinea swimming in the ocean. The ladies look for men, and their chirping sound a lot like those of their American counterparts.
Now we cut to a group of Navy men lusting after some girls on a motorboat.
Back in New Guinea, we see a woman breastfeeding a wild pig whose mother has died. The tribe then dances as they prepare to slaughter the pigs for a feast and- Oh, Jesus! They’re literally beating the pigs to death with clubs! Dude, that’s harsh!
The narrator is not kind the the New Guinea people, calling them savages. While they did just butcher a pig, cook it, and toss the entrails to the kids (which they in turn made into footballs), but still, that’s not cool to say about people.
The tribesmen are then showed with their dogs and for a second I was worried they’d kill them, but nope, they love ‘em like we do. And speaking of how we love dogs, we then move to a Pasadena pet cemetery (or semetary). Some of these dogs are peeing on other dogs graves. Kinda messed up, but also pretty funny.
Oh, God, now we’re in the Asian country of Formosa and they’re cooking dogs. We see people eating them and we see them dead, but hopefully we don’t see them killed. Come on they’re dogs!
In Rome, we see baby chicks dipped in colored liquid and shoved into an oven to dry. They’re then put into Easter eggs. According to the narration, about 70/100 “meet with unpleasant accidents.”
In Strasbourg, we see guess being overly fed to be made into foie gras. We see them abused in small cages and the narrator brags they are not treated into a more “humane” method. BS.
In Japan, we see people massaging cows and force fed beer to prepare to be good beef. The cost of the beef was $5 a pound, but that’s in ’62 dollars. According to an online calculator, that’s about $39!
Next, we see women put in cages to be sold off as wives to a reigning dictator in some South Sea island. There is so much wrong here.
Now we go to the US where we see rotund women trying to lose weight through aerobics.
Now we see people eating in Hong Kong… once again the animals are mistreated and… aw, that’s a Chinese Raccoon Dog, which I think is one of the cutest dog species. It’s in a cage and likely to be eaten. Boo!
In New York, we see a high end restaurant serving “fried ants, stuffed beetles, butterfly eggs, worms, rattlesnake, muskrat, and so forth.” Jeez, the only one I’d like eat would be rattlesnake. According to the narration, the meal costs $20, which is $157.58. Damn, son. Also, the food looks terrible.
Next, a Malaysian woman prepares to eat snake, which is killed brutally (surprise, surprise). Can we stop with the animal torture already?
After a scene where people follow a saint statue through the streets carrying snakes, we see a scene in Calabria, Italy, where the people severely wound their legs to walk the streets where a Christ statue while later pass by. It’s pretty bloody and messed up. Superstitions can be gross, kids.
Here’s a scene in the US featuring majorettes marching through the streets. Eventually, they get to the beach, now dressed in swimsuits where they reenact drownings, with males faking drowning and the lady lifeguards save them… what?
Now we see nuclear contamination on Bikini Atoll. Specifically, a sea turtle lays her eggs, then can’t find her way back to the sea, where she’ll die. Huge bummer.
In a Malaysian archipelago, we see a graveyard at sea filled with the bones of the dead, filling their own reef. We also see the sharks in these waters, which supposedly have become man-eaters, due to their diet of dead people. The fishermen are shown, both with an abundance of shark fins and missing limbs. It’s extremely shocking, like the rest of this film.
The fishermen catch a shark and let it go, but with a sea urchin in it’s throat, so it will suffer before dying. They justify it because a shark supposedly at a 12 year old kid that day. This is all kinds of harsh.
We see burial rights of various old Christian sects, some of whom lovingly take care of the bones. The kids even seem to play with them, which is freaky.
After some scenes of people around the world doing random things and acting weird, we go to Japan to see their citizens try to see better with those weird, vibrating exercise machines grandmas used to use back in the day. They then have a hangover cure of spraying them with hoses and some hardcore back walking.
Now we see corpses in China getting makeup putting on, as well as their families throwing money on the fire so the dead can take it with them. The narrator points out is kind weird, the dead being Buddhist.
And we just get a string of racism and false information about the Chinese in Singapore. “Untiring in the endless studies of ways of making money, they are also, at the same time known for their physical laziness.” “There is nowhere else on this earth that so much is eaten as in Chinatown, the Chinese quarter of Singapore. Just as there is no race as politic as the yellow race. Between one snack and another, the Chinese find time to fill their houses with dozens of legitimate and illegitimate children, thus assuring themselves a great number of birthdays to celebrate with heavy dinners.” Wow.
We then see a “house of death” in Singapore, where people literally go to die, as their families wait below, eating while their family dies alone. Very sad.
After some scenes of cars being crushed in a wrecking yard, then being displayed as modern art in Paris.
Well, here’s a painter conducting an orchestra (doing the theme to the film), as he has women dip themselves fully in paint, and he then uses the paint on the girls to make art.
Here are Hawaiians doing a hula and passing out leis.
Now we see a Nepalese soldier dressed as a woman for a celebration. He is joined by numerous friends. And now… Damn! They’re decapitating cows! With swords! In one swing! At least the bulls don’t suffer.
Now we see a Running of the Bulls style event in Portugal. Talk about a dangerous event. They actually wrestle the bulls to the ground!
We see the “last cavemen” which is really just an uncontested tribe in New Guinea. The narrator is really very intolerant. In New Guinea, we also see a tribe converting to Catholicism, which the narrator insists is the only thing that will civilize them. We finish on a tribe that basically worships airplanes.

Ok, so this film is a real mixed bag. This is a film that emphases it’s use of mies-en-scene. Scenery is important to every scene, as are the human and animal figures. These are far more important than the cinematography or editing, which ranges from decent to bizarre. Then again, they had a different film crew in each area they went to, so it’s understandable. The film mixes it’s music well, particularly it’s theme song “More”, which was nominated for an Oscar. I can see why, it’s a very good instrumental.

As to the content of the film, I am conflicted here. I firmly believe a lot of this needed to be exposed, but animal abuse and mistreatment is always hard to watch. Honestly, some of the individual short scenes that lead into others that could easily make their full movies. I know many scenes were actually set up ahead of time, which ruins the purity of a true documentary, but it’s still revealing real problems. However, this film falls under the problem of most Mondo films; it’s other content is unnecessary and awkward. Many scenes could have been removed and the film would likely have been better. This film also suffers from several cultural misunderstandings, innuendo, and blatant racism. That being said, this is the best Mondo film I’ve seen to date, so I’ll give it a recommendation, just to see it’s lunacy, history, and the vital message of several scenes.

Tomorrow, I’ll watch the second film in Jess Franco’s Dr. Orlof series, Dr. Orlof’s Monster. See ya then!

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