• Mondo Bizarro / Mondo Freudo (Severin Films) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: January 29th, 2019.
    Directed by: Lee Frost/Lee Frost
    Cast: Lee Frost, Claude Emmand, Frederick Mellinger, Bob Cresse, Baby Bubbles, Coleen O'Brien, Judy Adler
    Year: 1966 /1966
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    Mondo Bizarro / Mondo Freudo – Movie Reviews:

    Severin Films and Something Weird Video once again team up to bring us two Mondo films from Lee Frost and Bob Cresse containing scenes that are so shocking that they’d been deemed by the marketing department of Olympic International Pictures as “too real for the immature!”

    Mondo Bizarro:

    The first film starts off with something so shocking and so controversial that the filmmakers had no choice but to censor the faces of those caught on camera. What do we see as the opening credits play out? WOMEN TYRING ON LINGERIE! Is nothing sacred? This opening barrage of T&A purports to be shot with a hidden camera inside the dressing room of a lingerie retailer, which would be pretty damned illegal if it were true, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to learn very quickly that very little in Mondo Bizarro is true.

    From there? We bear witness to some shocking voodoo rituals, complete with some reasonably racist narration from Claude Emmand, where a chick is beheaded and some Bahamian practitioners of this dark art engage in ceremonial dancing. Not enough? We visit Japan and learn first of the empire’s business acumen and then of its mysterious massage parlors. Once again, through the magic of hidden cameras, we see an attractive young woman prepare to rub down a paying customer. When he asks for the ‘special massage’ advertised (in English, conveniently enough) on the wall, a second woman comes in, takes off her top… and then proceeds to rub raw eggs over his bare chest. Probably not the happy ending he was hoping for, but as Emmand tells us, it isn’t an experience he’ll soon forget.

    Other highlights include a visit to a press conference held by a Dutchman named Schwarz wherein we learn how his meditation techniques allow him to sleep on a bed of nails while some yahoo stands on him and then hits him in the chest with a sledgehammer. Schwarz is also able to pierce his cheeks using needles that he doesn’t even need to clean – in fact he asks an audience member to spit on one before using it – because he’s in such total control of his mind and body that he just doesn’t get sick. Later, a guy goes to a restaurant and eats glass for some reason. We check out some anti-war protestors in Hollywood (featuring music from someone who sounds a Hell of a lot like Randy Newman!), visit Balboa Island where anonymous teenagers talk about being hassled by cops and then get a look behind the inner workings of Frederick's of Hollywood’s lavish mail order lingerie business, complete with footage of yet more lingerie models showing off the goods and in interview with founder Frederick Mellinger himself! Oh, and at some point we visit a headbanging artist who takes pictures of topless girls in his studio where he makes bizarre sculptures and we peruse a collection of nude paintings hanging in a theater lobby.

    Before its all over we visit ‘Germany’ for a look at an anti-Semitic play that’s been selling out for fourteen years and involves guys in Gestapo uniforms abusing a pretty blonde Jewish lady. For the big finish, we travel all the way to Lebanon (clearly California standing in for the Middle East) where a crew of cameramen (led by Frost himself) use high tech lenses and audio to capture some nefarious Muslims auctioning off naked people. A curvy blonde woman proves to be the hit of the auction session, because, the narrator tells us, blondes are uncommon in the Middle East. OK, so at least that part of the movie is probably true.

    It’s all a bunch of not so elaborately staged bullshit but you’ve got to admire how dedicated Cresse and Frost were at this point in their respective careers to trying to fool people into believing that what was being shown to them was real. It’s never particularly convincing (we never once see the audience members in the same frame as the actors in the Nazi play footage, for example) but it is always entertaining. Politically correct it is not, but you have to accept this and other Mondo pictures as products of their time. For the most part, this one is reasonably cheeky, focusing more on naked ladies and beer swilling eighteen-year-olds as on anything else. If you’re one to appreciate the art of the con, you can have a lot of fun watching the movie and figuring out what the ‘tells’ are in regards to the staging of the various vignettes contained in the film.

    At eighty-minutes, Mondo Bizarro is paced well, never overstaying its welcome. Like the best of the shockumentaries that followed in the wake of Mondo Cane, it mixes humor, horror and titillation to varying degrees, really providing something for everyone!

    Mondo Freudo:

    The second film, as you might assume from the ‘Freudo’ in the title, spends less time on international oddities and more time on the world of horribly perverse sex! We first dip our toes into this most sordid subject when we witness… some teenagers cruising around Los Angeles looking for a good time, only to wind up at a go-go bar! From there, we dive head first into this pool of perversion with a journey to an esteemed gentleman’s club where we see first hand a stripper (semi-famous Baby Bubbles) practicing her trade for a group of leering patrons.

    After that, we learn the sordid details behind the women in Tijuana and London that pose as dancers but actually practice the world’s oldest profession. It has to do with a loophole in the laws regarding their attire, we’re told. From there, we see Frost and Cresse once again return to the world of blatantly fake slave auctions, although this time it takes place in Mexico, rather than in Lebanon. The rarity of blondes doesn’t seem to have as much impact at this particular fire sale.

    The movie then heads into some darker territory as, like in Ecco, we manage to peek in on the proceedings of a Satanic black mass ritual where a woman in black undergarments gyrates wildly before inducting a second women into the cult. From there, Bob Cresse himself poses undercover as he interviews a few more hookers and, as the movie approaches its big finish, we see some kinky slap and tickle going on at a Japanese club and then, saving the best for last… some girls mud wrestling in ‘Germany.’

    It’s all just as goofy as it sounds, not particularly well-staged and never really convincing but like the first feature, amusing in its own kooky way. Much of this material seems pretty tame by modern standards but there’s definitely enjoyment to be had if you’re a fan of trashy ‘documentaries’ and lower tier Mondo Cane knockoffs. Again, Frost paces things pretty well and you’ve got to give he and Cresse credit for stacking the film with attractive women.

    Mondo Bizarro / Mondo Freudo – Blu-ray Review:

    Both films are presented on the same 50GB disc and in AVC encoded 1080p high definition, framed at 1.33.1 fullframe and taken from new 4k scans of the original 35mm negatives. The transfers here are solid. Yes, the source material shows some wear and tear and the colors aren’t always as eye-popping as other films are when transferred to Blu-ray but if you’ve seen either one of these features before you’ll notice the increase in detail and clarity right from the start. Both transfers look nice and film-like, showing the expected amount of grain and zero evidence of noise reduction or edge enhancement. There are no noticeable issues with compression artifacts and the transfers allow as much detail, depth and texture as the original photography likely allows for.

    DTS-HD Mono tracks are supplied in English for each film with optional subtitles available in English only. No problems here, the tracks are both pretty clean. You might pick up on the occasional pop on the soundtrack and a bit of hiss here and there if you’re specifically listening for that for the purposes of writing an anal-retentive Blu-ray review but otherwise, the audio is fine. Levels are balanced and the tracks are more or less pretty clean.

    Extras start off with audio commentary tracks for both pictures featuring Johnny Legend and Eric Caidin, carried over from the older Something Weird Video DVD release. Both tracks are quite enjoyable, with the two men offering up their thoughts on the merits of the two pictures, discussing much of the Los Angeles location work, telling some interesting stories about the filmmakers and adding their own specific insight where applicable. These guys are having a great time enjoying these films and peppering them with plenty of wacky anecdotes, and it’s hard not to appreciate their enthusiasm for the two features.

    From there, dig into The Cadaver Is Infinity: Bob Cresse, Lee Frost And The Birth Of American Mondo, a new twenty-eight-minute interview with Chris Poggiali. Here we learn how Cresse got his start in the film business, how he was inspired by Russ Myer’s The Immoral Mr. Teas to get into nudie cuties, the founding of Olympic International Pictures, how his advance notice of Mondo Cane led to his cashing in on the Mondo movie craze before many of his competitors, his distribution deal with AIP, and of his working relationship with Lee Frost. We also learn about Cresse’s acting and a bit about his personal life as well.

    Rounding out the extras are trailers for each film, menus and chapter selection.

    Mondo Bizarro / Mondo Freudo – The Final Word:

    Severin’s Blu-ray release of Mondo Bizarro / Mondo Freudo is a good one, presenting two more ‘classic’ American Mondo movies in very nice shape and with some decent extras too. The movies might be more fiction than truth, but if anything, that just adds to their screwy entertainment value. Recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized Mondo Bizarro / Mondo Freudo Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Toyboy's Avatar
      Toyboy -
      So, here's proof of how dumb I am...the dancer in the black mass scene...Baby Bubbles! How did I never notice that she's in the movie TWICE!