More exciting than you can imagine. More sensual than you dare hope!
A great many things make up our bizarre world circa 1966. Like Japanese massage parlors where, for 2000 yen, topless Geisha babes will scramble eggs on your sunken, scaly chest (gasp!). Or how about the fickle fashion fiascos of Fredrick's of Hollywood, the only lingerie shop in America than treats the female breast like a cast iron torpedo, requiring a flamboyant metal framed clothing hanger to properly house it (eep!), Let's not forget the odd exaltation of peeping on persons as they change clothes in an underwear store (shudder!). And who could forget the unbelievable enchantment and mystery of a bunch of suburban housewives painting nude canvas studies of a beefy black man (shock!). Yes, all of these mischievous misdeeds and many more—like a man who collects oil paintings of naked women (the cad!), the freaked out art photographer who fancies himself a better go-go dancer than his nude model and a scene from a play highlighting the Nazi's interpersonal skills with a bullwhip, all of which help to round out the reckless reality of our pre-Nixon era global detente. Add to this the everyday details of a woodoo witch doctor doing the wicked watusi (ho hum), creepy kids on spring break (bad news—even in 1966 they were incoherent retards), and a real live illegal Arabian slave auction (zzzzz), and you have, as Topo Gigio would say, a true look at our way-out, wacky Mondo Bizarro, Mr. Eddie. [Bat creepy puppet eyes]
And if that was not bad enough, old Sigmund gets his fifteen microns of post-mortem motion picture fame as we wander through a Freudian world of prolonged toplessness. We witness women bare-chested on the beaches of Malibu and nightclubs along the Sunset Strip (scandal!). Dentally challenged strippers and hookers drop shirt in merry, murky old England (bloody 'ell!). Another round of Asian actresses unfurl their upper torso lotus leaves for a strange exotic dance/bondage show (ah so!) and balding, profusely sweaty businessmen eat cheese sandwiches and drink 7-Up (yum! yum!) in an "upper class restaurant" that features a revealing ladies' linen show (hmm…). Even more foreign flesh is exposed in a sleazy Tijuana nightclub where men pay plenty pesos to sample the in-house taco. And just to guarantee that we haven't forgotten about the fiend factor in this trip around the unclothed universe we live in, there is a horribly blasphemous Black Mass featuring a practicing witch's unbelievably possessed breasts (egad!) and a virgin sacrifice that is neither (huh?). Heck, they even throw in teenagers cruising the Sunset Strip ala American Graffiti (idgits!). But leave it, once again, to those international party people, the Germans, to show us a good time by having their frail fraulines slap each other like stormtroppers in a big thick pool of decidedly "blond" looking mud (yavol!). Yes, it is one crazy, prefabricated Mondo Freudo that we live in.
Here's the dilemma with Mondo Bizarro, Mondo Freudo, and frankly, any of the Mondo style movies that have been made in the last 30 years. Your enjoyment of these faux photologues will be directly linked to the amount of acceptance you give them. You either buy the artifice, which means you will believe in the "behind the scenes," "candid camera," "people caught in the act of being perverted" approach offered and spend several minutes in mild shock as "real" sexual sensationalism unfolds before your beleaguered eyes. Or, you could see through the setups and find the whole "actually happened" pretense hilarious, in which case you giggle along with the staged sin shows and slave auctions and wonder if the early '60s audience (mostly men in raincoats) took time from their personal "fiddling" to notice how boldly fake most all of these movies are. True, the guy who pushes needles through his cheeks and sleeps on a bed of nails is as outwardly legit as Kreskin, but his skills are given a definite John Edwards tarnish in the presentation here. Perhaps you will be like the majority, and find Mondo Bizarro and Mondo Freudo exceptionally trashy and tasteless. Even without the usually standard animal mutilation and gore footage, the notion of spying on hapless women as they change clothes or poor Mexican girls (even if they are obviously off-market models) being sold into slavery looks more sleazy than spicy. As the forerunner to the far more reprehensible Faces of Death and Caught on Tape category of exploitation exposés, these innocent attempts at shirking indecency laws are like visual versions of a double dare. Here, fortunately, you only have to put up with distorted mammaries and the occasionally unfortunate mouth of teeth.
Of the double feature, Mondo Bizarro is the better film if only because it broadens its focus to feature more "outrageous" incidents beyond women of many races exposing their tits. The aforementioned yoga master at least provides some philosophical bric-a-brac to support his sideshow geek demonstrations. And we do occasionally move beyond the boob to see a couple of male hustlers chasing tricks and critical deliberations on modern art. The overall tone of Bizarro is light and fluffy, not taking itself or its subjects too seriously. The film finally bogs down in the far too detailed description/depiction of the supposed trials and tribulations the filmmakers experienced to capture, on camera, a supposed Middle Eastern slave auction. A close look will tell you the nearest many of these "Arabs" got to a "desert" was a sand trap at Pebble Beach. Most of these nomads are as Lebanese as Peter O'Toole. The fact that this scene takes up the last twenty minutes or so of Bizarro turns what would have been a pleasant way to past the time into a chore of Herculean endurance as second after second of the awful auction crawls by. Freudo, on the other hand, is determined to be a more serious, sensual escape behind the seemingly sanguine outer layer of society and into its reprobate nether regions. Candidly, this film is exactly like one of Uncle Siggy's obsessive phases. It is totally taken with the teat. The female fleshbag in its many (mal) forms is showcased here so often and up close that you'd wear you were watching La Leche League: The Movie. Eventually, the film implodes under the burden of its repetitiveness, so that by the time we reach the end we feel like we've seen half the planet's population in the altogether. Both Mondo Bizarro and Mondo Freudo suffer from a strange sameness syndrome. Even vignettes proclaiming to be odd and unique have a familiar, formulaic feel to them.
Thanks to wonderful colorful transfers from Something Weird Video, everything in Bizarro/Freudo, from the suave glass eater to the painting and sculpture based Vietnam War protest, are presented in exceptional full screen images. There are no blemishes or fading here and even the mixing of black and white, infrared (yeah, right), and full color stock is pristine. Sound wise, these films both offer wild garage punk songs that really revel in their rock and roll raunchiness only enhanced by the Dolby Digital Mono. Along with a slew of "Mondo" style trailers and a totally unbelievable bit of softcore S&M starring the world's shortest dirty old man (its called Dungeon Party), SWV pulls out the big guns for the final bonus feature. Alas, there is good and bad news revolving around the extra commentary tracks by Johnny "Mr. Mondo" Legend and Hollywood Book and Poster Store owner Ed Calidini. "Mondo" must be a family name since neither Johnny nor his fellow observer knows anything about these movies. Aside from recognizing a few filmmaker names, they're clueless and have to repeatedly deduce what's happening in the movies. Thus begins and continues throughout the running time a hilariously frustrating game of "Guess what's going on now" for the DVD viewer to laugh/pity over. These '60s savants do occasionally let their freak fact flag fly when they see something they recognize (mostly clubs in LA) but overall, the commentary tells you nothing about the movies except that they somehow skimmed under Legend and Calidini's usually impressive radar. And that's really too bad, because oddball entries like Mondo Bizarro / Mondo Freudo need contextual background to support their place in the lexicon of exploitation. Sure, nothing is more manipulative than ersatz entertainment revolving around the man and wo-man, but did the skin starved really need the artificial angle to enliven their libido? Like most of the moments shown here, the Mondo movies offer ambiguities that most will find frustrating. Just like life in the Mondo Reale.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Other Reviews You Might Enjoy
Scales of Justice
Studio: Something Weird Video
• Mondo Style Trailers
Review content copyright © 2003 Bill Gibron; Site design and review layout copyright © 2013 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.