• Mondo Magic (Massacre Video) DVD Review



    Released by: Massacre Video
    Released on: August 12th, 2014.
    Director: Alfredo Castiglioni, Angelo Castiglioni, Guido Guerrasio, Oreste Pellini
    Cast: Marc Mauro Smith
    Year: 1976
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    Mondo Magic – Movie Review:

    Mondo Magic (or Magia Nuda if you prefer) opens with a boat cruising through Africa while the soothing sounds of ‘When A Child Is Born’ playing over top. The sophisticated narrator explains to us that the purpose of this serious documentary is to examine some of the more unusual tribal rituals still practiced today in various countries around the world. As our camera crew travels to Africa and into the Amazon jungle, and eventually to the Philippians they capture many bizarre and grotesque practices on camera while the narrator explains their significance.

    So what do we see on our journey through the most remote destinations in the world? Well, plenty – and most of it is pretty disgusting. We begin with an African tribe who bath in cow urine in order to keep the local insects at bay. Soon after, they ‘bond’ with their animals and dance around naked. When they elder men of the tribe instruct the children how to hunt, it’s here that the obligatory animal violence begins as we see them take down a buffalo in no small amount of gory detail. When this is all said and done the tribes-people pierce their cattle so that they can enjoy a cool drink of cow’s blood.

    Next, we head into the depths of the Amazon jungle where we lay witness to some bizarre sexual rituals of a remote tribe. Much nudity ensues and a woman breastfeeds a dog. Some tribesmen chow down on bugs, until it’s time to punish a local man convicted of infidelity. He gets beaten about the head with sticks and takes a few rocks to the face.

    With that out of the way, we head to the Philippines to see psychic surgeons dig their fingers into the exposed bodies of a few patients to remove whatever malady they may be afflicted with. A few natives take some drugs and trip out, and the narrator tells us that they may be cannibals.

    Once we leave the Philippines, we head back to Africa where things get a bit nastier. Many elephants are hunted down and brutalized on camera, natives pee on each other in some sort of bizarre medical practice, and some other more extreme shamanistic practices are exposed. We see some primitive exorcism rituals, some fire walking, and some more strange sex practices. As it all winds down, we’re left with some stoic narration as the camera shows us how civilization is beginning to encroach upon the wilds of the jungle, in some veiled attempt to put it all into some sort of perspective.

    Partially directed by Alfredo and Castiglioni (who would later cash in on the pseudo-revival that mondo films experienced in the early eighties with exceptionally graphic Shocking Africa), the film is an interesting entry in this most bizarre of sub-genres. From its opening serene moments to its obscenely gruesome footage of elephant mutilation, the film is always interesting, even if it is just for the shock value.

    Released under the aliases of Mondo Magic (as it is billed here), Naked Magic, and Shocking Cannibals, this is an interesting and above average example of the genre. While Magia Nuda, which is presented here by Massacre Video in its uncut form on home video for the first time, does have its share of obviously exploitative (and very fake) moments, it at least attempts to remain reasonably serious from start to finish and at least manages to have some sort of context, however thin it may be.

    Mondo Magic – DVD Review:

    Mondo Magic arrives on DVD from Massacre Video framed at 1.66.1 widescreen taken from a 35mm archival print that is in less than perfect shape. That said, it’s nice to see the movie in its proper aspect ratio and taken from a film source, rather than from the tape-sourced versions that were available previously (which were also misframed and heavily edited to boot!). The print is faded and shows some damage throughout but it’s watchable enough.

    The English language Dolby Digital Mono track is fine, but again, the limitations of the source are obvious so expect a bit of hiss and distortion here and there. The levels are balanced well enough and the score sounds good.

    Extras include a still gallery as well as trailers for a few other Massacre Video properties (The Changer, Nekro, Voyage To Agatis and Black Past) as well as menus and chapter selection. This release also comes with some cool reversible cover sleeve art.

    Mondo Magic – The Final Word:

    If you’re into mondo films then Magia Nuda/Mondo Magic is worth tracking down and if you’re not, well, this one won’t win you over. It’s hard to take some of it seriously, but as a curiosity piece it works really well and the film contains an interesting mix of shocking, authentic footage and its own fair share of bogus material. Massacre Video’s DVD release is light on extra features but it does present the film uncut and sourced from a print, which should definitely make fans of the film happy given its release history.