|Index||8 reviews in total|
MONDO BALORDO, whose tagline promises "intimate shocking scenes of love
- man's insatiable hunger.." was slightly reshaped for salivating
American consumption. A lively Boris Karloff provides the often
We travel with Boris to all sorts of hidden corners of our weird, kooky world. First we see an Italian rock group in full swing. Their lead singer is Franz Drago, a frantic, almost acrobatic 27-inch tall volcano of energy. Then it's off to Las Vegas, to see Beauty Pageant footage lensed by a boob-obsessed cinematographer. Next stop, a photo session of Asian girls in bondage. "This is for magazines for readers of special tastes..." Karloff purrs. Some of the footage, featuring natives tearing apart hunted animals may turn off some viewers. (Hey, the Mondo films were meant to shock.) An actual African exorcism where a live chicken is consumed, instructions on how to behave at a drunken transvestite party, and a poverty stricken Italian town where citizens visit the cemetery to ask the dead to cast spells on enemies and choose winning lotto numbers, fill the bill. After watching this film, you will think the world is filled only with chicken-eating, gambling drag queens! One scene in BALORDO shows a European freak show where Mr. Karloff tells us "Sometimes the people buying the tickets are the freaks." Tell it like it is Boris!
I saw Mondo Balordo ("A Fool's World") at the late, lamented Mid-City
Outdoor Theatre in 1964 (it closed in 1984) and at the time there were a
number of films copycatting the wildly-successful "Mondo Cane" ("A Dog's
World"). For the uninitiated, these are anthology documentaries of the
offbeat, bizarre, and often even disgusting, all supposedly genuine, with
unseen narrator (in this case, Boris Karloff, who's great in anything),
a musical score. As a shockumentary, although I really don't remember
one topic, I recall that MB was hardly as well done as Mondo Cane, and if
this turns up anywhere on video, I believe you'll be underwhelmed.
Except for Boris Karloff's narration, which is the best thing going for Mondo Balordo. I rated it a 5.
A footnote observation: it's amazing what little it took to shock the audiences of 1964. Nowadays ... hm.
The so-called “Mondo” exploitation documentaries weren’t the sole province of Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco Prosperi who made the first such film, MONDO CANE (1961), and several more thereafter. This is one of their imitations and it’s actually the first I’ve watched of the latter: while I can’t say that the ‘originals’ were exactly good to begin with, or even enticing to the undersigned, the films made by other hands (at least, judging by this title) are downright mediocre. Though each entry in the genre purported to tackle specific themes, they were mostly interchangeable, so much so that some of the idiosyncrasies dealt with here (say, the 'phenomenon' of transvestism or the dubious assertion that camel waste possesses beautifying properties) were also featured in WOMEN OF THE WORLD (1963), which I watched a fortnight or so ago! Among the wackier episodes here involves a midget pop-star; otherwise, the accent is on titillation (censorship hadn’t completely relaxed as yet) and, needless to say, there are the usual insensitive depictions of animal cruelty. Frankly, however, the single most notable thing about this particular effort is the fact that the narration for the English-language edition was provided by none other than horror icon Boris Karloff (clearly making for one of the lowest points in his generally respectable filmography).
"Mondo Balordo" is a typical and campy mondo flick from the 1960s. If
you're unfamiliar with this short lived but influential subgenre of
exploitation filmmaker, I'll, err, enlighten you. Mondo films were a
series of mostly staged "documentaries" that were extremely popular in
Italy at the time. Spawned by the massive worldwide success of "Mondo
Cane", they were a series of fake scenes from around the world that
showed the bizarreness of other cultures. They died out quickly, but
can be seen as the forefathers of "Faces of Death". While incredibly
politically incorrect and probably offensive to non-exploitation fans,
I often find them entertaining somewhat for how gonzo they can get.
"Mondo Balordo" is one of the tamer entries into the brief fad, but its
watchable if you've seen "Mondo Cane" and enjoyed it.
This time around, the bizarre scenes are narrated by Boris Karloff who manages to uphold some degree of dignity despite the lowly nature of the project he is involved with. His voice is elegant no matter how grotesque and exploitive the on-screen occurrences are. These include midget mambo singers, secret lesbian societies, wife swapping, and Japanese bondage. Ooh, shocking! Despite the politically incorrect nature of the project, its so dumb I wasn't really offended. The only time I actually was disgusted was the occasional animal slaughter (a hallmark of the mondo film), but the rest of the movie is enjoyably colorful and campy like you'd expect from Something Weird Video. (5/10)
Boris Karloff's lispy narration is spoken over "strange and bizarre"
clips of absurdity. This is totally value-less tripe, but it's amazing
to hear the seasoned horror actor saying words like "prosthitute" and
"transvesthtite". I thought that someone might have utilized some
innocent remarks that Boris may have been told to read and then play
them over weird scenes with totally different meanings -- but no, it's
incredible that Karloff actually reads sick and perverse words
specifically intended for the material! These days the "shocking
sights" are tame and quite dull; nothing as "weird" as they may have
been perceived way back in the 1960's.
0 out of ****
Mondo movies are a time-machine sending one back to a pre-politically
correct world. If you are sensitive, avoid them. But if you want to
know what amused, titillated and shocked western audiences in the
fifties and sixties, one may get much out of Mondo films.
As for Mondo Bolardo, relax and watch people do their own thing and enjoy the melodious tones of Boris Karloff's narration.
For example, note the goods for sale at the Italian black market. Those old electronic devices selling then for only a few million lire(!) would go for quite a bit on E-bay today.
(And, yes, a few animal slaughter scenes in this film are disturbing, but there is no reason not to fast-forward through those scenes and enjoy the rest of the show.)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I've never been real big into "mondo" films. I've seen a few over the
years, but they've just never really held my interest. I've had a bunch
laying around that I'd been given, and figured I'd give a few a shot to
see if my opinion has changed. Not knowing anything about MONDO
BOLARDO, I decided to give it a go. I wish I'd have never bothered. I'm
going to spend very little time summarizing this one.
Boris Karloff narrates a bunch of EXTREMELY boring and non-shocking stuff that shows no nudity, sleaze, or any of the other things that mondo-fans seem to dig. The most "shocking" scene is some African hunting footage...
I guess I should have done my research and realized that this film was made in 1964. Had I known that, I would have expected something about as exciting and sleazy as ANTIQUES ROADSHOW instead of something more akin to FACES OF DEATH. The only reason I was able to sit through the entire run-time of this one is because I was doing other things while it was on - namely, trying to pay as little attention to the film as humanly possible, while still retaining enough to advise that it sucks. I can recommend this film to...well...no one - unless you are suffering from severe insomnia - in which case, this one should do the trick nicely...2/10
Mondo Balordo (1964)
* (out of 4)
Yet another imitation of the MONDO CANE series, this one featuring narration by Boris Karloff (just think from this to The Grinch!). What we basically do is travel across the world taking a look at various strange rituals mainly dealing with sex. There's some dwarf love going on but of course the big highlight is the animal violence, which was rampant during this "period" of cinema. I know many people outright hate these mondo movies simply because they see them as nothing but trash. I wouldn't go to that level because there are some that were meant to shock but also they were well made. That's not the case here as this is clearly just an attempt to make some money and there's no question that it's poorly made and mainly boring. The one "highlight", if you want to call it that, is Karloff doing the narration but I'm willing to bet that he just signed the back of a check and didn't actually see what he was putting his voice to.
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