A small film crew armed with infrared film and lights, along with a 1000mm lens. Set out to document some of the most bizarre and strange things that are going on in the world. They head to the Bahamas where every Thursday night voodoo rituals are performed, to Japan to find out what's so special about the "message special". Then it's off to Australia where Jack Schwartz puts on a display for scientists and doctors, about how his belief in mind over matter will help prevent him from bleeding while he lays on a bed of only 17 nails and has a 250 pound man stand on his stomach. Not to be outdone, we get to see the kinky-side of the American family has hundreds of orders poor in everyday for the lingerie shop Frederick’s of Hollywood, where real female models are happy to show off various garments available to order.
When you are looking at a movie and it has the word, "mondo" in the title, it's pretty easy for one to presume your going to be getting a shock documentary. Especially since the 1962 film "Mondo Cane" became infamous for being so shocking for its time, and naturally when anything becomes well known there will be plenty of knock-off's and cheap imitations. Though when it comes to the world mondo films, a majority of the knock-off's are completely fake, but still sell themselves as being legit documentaries on whatever subject matter they are trying to exploit. So incomes Something Weird Video's double-bill of two of those fake-mondo's, "Mondo Bizarro" and "Mondo Freudo". Since both are feature length films, each will get their own reviews. So let's get this ball rolling with "Mondo Bizarro".
While now a days we are well aware that "Mondo Bizarro" is fake, but knowing that it's fake helps add a charm to it, because while you watch the movie it really tries to sell itself as a shock-documentary. Even going so far as to start the movie off with a supposed hidden-camera in a women's dressing room, where an assortment of women try on various undergarments (just bras). Of course to help sell the idea that these women are unaware that they are the stars of our own personal peep show, the film has been scratched where their eyes are to help protect their identities. An early version of that little black censorship bar. Fake or not, the filmmakers definitely know how to grab the attention of the audience, well, at least the male audience members. We should be shocked by this invasion of privacy; but then again, we do get to see a bevy of bare breasts. Which man is really going to question the ethics of the situation? And don't even think about lying either.
This was just the opening segment, we then transition to what appears to be the world's cheapest looking globe. Ever. To act as a visual aid to show us our next destination of debauchery, which so happens to be Nassau in the Bahamas. Where our daring camera crew films a live voodoo ceremony, in which our lovely narrator talks about how these former African natives would take a white baby and sacrifice it to their god, by dismembering the baby and dancing around with it's severed limbs. Let me just say, I don't appreciate being teased, so if you're not going to show it don't mention it. It's just not cool. Instead we are treated to the typical decapitated chicken, chanting, beating of drums, and topless women having seizures. Or maybe they were dancing. I couldn't quite tell which one it was suppose to be.
This scene pretty much sets up how all the other scenes play out. The camera crew jet sets to some place in the world, and manages to arrive in an indoor location that is clearly a built set, but uses stock footage to establish it's location, as being real. Or in an outdoor location that takes place out in the middle of nowhere, so it can pass of as whatever country the narrator says the segment is taking place in. For instance the slave-trade segment. In which the crew perches themselves on top of a cliff in a mountainous area that is suppose to be the Middle East, and we watch as women are pulled from crates and sold to the buyer with the highest bid. So we have a vague-empty location that could have been filmed anywhere, a shot of a cheaply made globe that's about as vague as the location itself when demonstrating where we are heading to next. A narrator who mentions of the danger of filming such an invent in the Middle East, along with people dressed up in the most cliched looking Sheik outfits. So it must be real, right? Right.
While there are other shock-segments, that include heading down to Australia for a performance by Jack Schwartz of him laying on a bed of nails, having people spit on a needle then running said needle through his cheek and arms. There's even footage of a glass eater. Though the movie isn't just about shock, as it is more about the bizarre, just like the name says. So there are the less than shocking segments, but I guess were suppose to be unusual for their time. Which involved going inside Frederick’s of Hollywood (yes the lingerie store), which I'm still not exactly sure why it was suppose be bizarre or unusual. But, anyway, they also visit Japanese massage parlors, street corners with gay-male prostitutes. Even a place called Balboa Island, where overly hormonal teens gather every Easter week for a grope-fest. It even explores the bizarre side of the art world, that includes a large gathering of anti-war protests and artists exploiting the Vietnam War as a way of gaining media attention and hoping somebody will buy their crappy art. I'm not being cynical; the stuff really was lousy.
It's interesting though, while it's been brought up before, the similarities between the Iraq war and the Vietnam War. Watching actual footage of these so-called artists using art to protest the war, and then the footage of the typical anti-war protestors clashing with the pro-war protestors. It's amazing how in 33 years nothing has changed. The slogans, the signs, the people. It's all the same. The only difference would be the fashion; even then, fashion these days is often reverting back to that vintage-retro look. I guess that old saying really is true, the more things change the more they stay the same.
I find myself in a bind with "Mondo Bizarro". I mean I can't really treat this as a documentary like I normally would. Commenting on the footage and how it conveyed the message that it was suppose to, since it's fake, then again, I can't treat it like a movie. So I guess I'll just take it for what it is, a piece of entertainment posing as a documentary. Which is all "Mondo Bizarro" has to offer really, cheesy-entertainment that has this appealing charm because of it being composed of fake scenes and stock footage, combined with a a narrator who is just as cheesy as the movie. It's an amusing film that I think with the right viewer; it'll be a fun watch. It's just not something I would recommend openly; rather it's something that would have to be decided by the individual.