Mondo Weirdo/Vampiros Sexos
Released by: Cult Epics
Released on: March 14th, 2017.
Director: Carl Andersen
Cast: Soledad Marceignac, Jessica F. Manera, Jasmin Bevilaqua, Ruby Tuesday, Carl Andersen
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Cult Epics pairs up two of late Austrian underground filmmaker Carl Anderon’s bizarre and transgressive pictures in this double feature release.
Dedicated to Jess Franco and Jean-Luc Goddard, the first feature puts all its cards on the table right from the start. We’re alerted to the fact that we’re about to experience “one of the most bizarre cases in history of disturbed sexuality.” From there, a naked woman writhes about in the shower, experiencing both her first encounter with menstruation and some very vivid fantasies. This woman is Odile (Jessica F. Manera) and we basically see all of this play out from her point of view.
She heads to a nightclub to take in a concert and sees some lesbians going at it. From there, she wanders around until she’s picked up by a man in a van who brings her back to his place. Here he coaxes her into bed until things are… interrupted. Later there’s a vicious mugging and then a strange scene where a woman plays a saxophone and then slits her throat open. From there, two guys go at it, we get some Countess Bathory inspired Sapphic bloodletting, bathroom sex and more.
Fantasy and reality seem to collide throughout the film, leaving both Odile and the viewer wondering what is real and what is the product of the young woman’s hyper-sexual imagination. The whole thing is artsy and strange but compelling in that it keeps you guessing and assaults us with so many confrontational images that you can’t help but keep watching, if only to see where it’ll go next. The influence of the two director’s that the film is dedicated to is clear at times, the Franco lineage more obvious in the nightclub scenes and lesbian scenes while Goddard’s influence creeps in for moments of stylish surrealism.
The whole thing is set to a pulsing, grinding and utterly strange soundtrack. There’s very little dialogue here, the images do all the talking instead. The film ‘goes there’ more than once, working extremely fetishized imagery and hardcore sex into the narrative in interesting ways. The performances are nothing if not bold, the various characters play their parts with some obvious dedication. This is pretty insane stuff, not for the faint of heart.
The second feature (which is actually the director’s inaugural effort and is also known under the alternate title of I Was A Teenage Zabbadoing) introduces us to Jasmine Strange, the supposed Queen of the vampires. She’s been sent to Earth from her native planet of Arus to deal with two police officers, Adolf Clouseau and Inspector Heid. Why? Good question. Something to do with oil. She needs to make sure that it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Sadly for her, there’s a guy named Van Helsing out to stop her – guys named Van Helsing rarely get along with vampires, after all.
This one makes even less sense than Mondo Weirdo but again, Anderson throws so much at the screen that it hardly matters if all of it sticks. Again, there’s not much in the way of dialogue, instead things are communicated once more through music and also through some charmingly primitive intertitles. The soundtrack here is even better than the one employed in Mondo Weirdo, and the pace is off the hook. Anderson clearly had no trouble peddling confrontational imagery and ideas, so sit back and let the good times roll with another bizarre mix of arthouse style, transgressive imagery, strange music and hardcore bumping and grinding in various hetero and homosexual flavors. It’s also interesting to see how Anderson would take and shape some of the ideas and themes in this film and work them over a second time in his next feature.
Mondo Weirdo arrives on Blu-ray for the first time in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer taken from the film’s original 16mm negative on a 25GB disc. The disc is well encoded and framed at 1.33.1 which would appear to be the proper aspect ratio. As to the quality of the image, it’s a bit rough, but given that this was a low budget 16mm production that shouldn’t surprise anyone. Some shots are jittery thanks to some camera movement and the editing at times is pretty blunt, but this is what it is and you can definitely make out more detail here than you would be able to on DVD. Contrast can vary a bit from scene to scene depending on lighting but black levels generally stay strong and there are no issues with noise reduction, edge enhancement or compression artifacts.
Vampiros Sexos is presented on a DVD, also in a black and white fullframe transfer, taken from a tape source, all that was available, sadly. It’s watchable enough if you keep that in mind. Contrast blooms a bit here and there and the black levels are closer to dark grey but it’ll have to do, there are no other elements available.
Both Mondo Weirdo and Vampiros Sexos are presented in Dolby Digital 2.0. Neither movie is heavy on dialogue but there are occasional intertitles that pop up in the movie here and there. These movies rely more on the soundtrack work for their effectiveness than anything else. Like the video presentation, it’s a bit rough around the edges at times but this all sounds true to source. The music comes through clear enough to work and there are no major problems here.
Extras for Mondo Weirdo start off with a quick video introduction by Erwin Leder (the star of Angst) that runs two minutes and allows the actor to express to the viewer what he digs about this completely bizarre film and his thoughts on Carl Anderson. We also get a fourteen minute featurette called The Making Of Mondo Weirdo. This piece is made up of archival interview with Anderson in which he talks about how and why he came to make this picture, where he took some of his inspiration from, casting the film and more.
On the Vampiros Sexos DVD the supplements include a featurette called The Making Of I was a Teenage Zabbadoing aka Vampiros Sexos that runs fourteen minutes. Like the earlier featurette, this one is also made up of archival interview with Anderson talking about the origins of this film and telling some interesting stories about getting it made (including some interesting stories about how the film was received after it played). Also included on the DVD is a nine minute short film from Anderson entitled What's So Dirty About It?, made by the director in 1990. This is fairly plotless – it’s basically sex scenes all cut together quickly and somewhat haphazardly set to some grinding, unsettling music to create a bizarre strobe-like effect on the view. It’s strange.
On top of that, Cult Epics has also included a bonus CD containing the complete soundtracks for both Mondo Weirdo and Vampiros Sexos by Model D'oo as well as four unreleased bonus tracks. This edition is limited to 2000 pieces.
The Final Word:
Cult Epics’ release of Mondo Weirdo/Vampiros Sexos is a good one. If the presentation quality is less than ideal, it’s likely the best we’re going to get and there are a few solid bonus feature thrown into this mix as well. The two main attractions are essential viewing for fans of transgressive and outre cinema.
Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!
And some caps from the Vampiros Sexos DVD!
jessica f. manera,
what's so dirty about it?
- DVD And Blu-ray Reviews G-M