This film had a confusing history with the Australian censors (OFLC). It was originally passed uncut (93 minutes) with an R18+ rating, but a video release (PAL running time of 81 minutes) was refused classification due to excessive violence. Other, various prints would receive R18+ and M ratings, but the only time it would ever be released in Australia was with an R18+ rating for an 87 minutes cut (PAL format running time). See more »
SWEET AND SAVAGE represents Climati and Morra's final attempt at Mondo cinema. Having been seriously stung by previous criticisms of their film-making and of the genre itself in the past, it's surprising to see that once again they happily exhibit scene after scene of almost unwatchable nastiness.
SWEET AND SAVAGE contains a large bulk of out-takes and reused footage from Climati and Morra's previous mid-70s Mondo efforts, and predictably follows the same format. Accompanied by a pretentiously epic sound-track, the beauty and the savageness of nature are juxtaposed in a vain attempt to justify the violence on display. However, the more pleasant scenes just come across as twee and make the disturbing footage even more distasteful. As usual, scenes of animal slaughter make up the majority of the movie, but there are also a few faked and unfaked sequences involving humans. Tightrope walkers and stunt-men fall to their deaths; a corpse of a Tibetan monk is hacked up and eaten by vultures atop a mountain (surprisingly, this footage looks genuine); and in the "stand out" scene, a man is tied to two trucks and has his arm torn away. The final scene is clearly fake but that didn't stop it (as well as much of the other footage in this movie) turning up in Damon Fox's appalling TRACES OF DEATH series...
For me, the aspect of the Mondo genre that is so fascinating yet also indefensible is the misrepresentation and misinformation that these supposed "documentaries" push on the viewer. SWEET AND SAVAGE is no exception. For instance, many of the scenes have been clearly over-dubbed using actors voices in hilariously un-PC ways. In one scene, Africans are shown snapping the necks of ostriches, but these men have been over-dubbed with ebonics-laden, deep South accents. I can't help but laugh at such moments, but it is one of the aspects of these movies that is the most distasteful.
So all in all, this is the close of a fascinating and controversial chapter in Italian exploitation cinema. Saying that, I doubt it is for everyone.
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