Mondo Cane (1962)

Review

‘Cannibal’s macabre tribal rituals, pig killing in New Guinea, dog eating on Taipei, blood rites of secular Italian Catholics!’

Never mind the cannibals: There’s Catholics in this movie!?

Kidding aside, Mondo Cane (literally Life of a Dog) was once a notorious documentary and a forerunner of Faces of Death, which would arrive 16 years later. But putting aside the shocking box cover, Mondo is awfully tepid today. Sure, cameras capture the bludgeoning of a pig and the force-feeding of a goose, but most of the scenes of ‘shock and horror’ border on stupid. We’re talking scenes of drunken Germans staggering home the morning after a bender, a car crushing junkward, and old women dancing. This is not Faces of Death. Some of this is documentary footage, some is re-enacted. God knows why.

Shock cinema historians may find some amusement here (and in the umpteen sequels that followed — an eight-disc DVD collection is available), but average cinemagoers will be confused and bored, while shock seekers will come away deeply disappointed.

As a side note, believe it or not, the film is an Oscar nominee: for Best Song. The DVD case conveniently says it’s an Oscar winner, just a slight exaggeration in a film that’s full of them.