in 1975, John Lamond’s debut feature is a late entry into
the Mondo movie genre, aping 1962’s Mondo Cane
– or perhaps more accurately, the sex and shocks of other
mid Seventies entry into the genre like This Is America.
Unfortunately, Lamond’s film lacks both the jaundiced view
of filmmakers looking at another country – the thing that
made This Is America and similar films so entertaining
– and is far too dull to compete with even mid-level Mondo.
Lamond follows the Mondo Cane structure of sex,
shocks and sadism, flitting from the lightweight to the serious,
the raunchy to the fluffy, as his cameras roam around Australia
looking for oddities and nudity. Much of this is overly familiar
to the Mondo enthusiast – body painting, BDSM clubs, massage
parlours, ‘exotic’ food (in this case, grubs and snakes),
Satanist and strippers. The sobering part comes from a look at
aborigines struggling with alcoholism and lack of purpose, though
the sequence lacks the genuine indignation found in the best Mondo
films – ironic, given how close to home this problem was
to the filmmakers.
The film really needs some editing – there’s a lengthy
gay marriage ceremony, which might have seemed sensational in
1975, but even then didn’t need showing in its entirety,
and equally dull sequences covering Australia’s obsession
with gambling and beer, and UFO fanatics. These might be suitable
subjects for a less sensationalist film, but here, they simply
cause the movie to grind to a crashing halt. A lengthy sequence
with godawful performance artist/comedian/cock Count Copernicus
will also test your patience.
is, at least, a copious amount of nudity, as the film visits nude
beaches and looks at ‘food sex’, porno film production
and assorted types of erotic art in a sterling effort to cram
as much bare flesh as possible into the proceedings. There’s
rarely more than about five minutes of footage without a naked
girl, and the film ends with an underwater sequence showing Gina
Allen snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef – an attempt
to wrap things up that doesn’t quite give the film the philosophical
ending that the best Mondo films manage so effortlessly.
In the end, Lamond’s film is a good attempt at copying the
Mondo film style, but it doesn’t quite hit the mark. The
pacing, the content, the narration and the music fail to create
a sense of being taken on a journey that the best films in the
genre have. Instead, it seems to be clutching at straws. Perhaps
Australia just wasn’t that exciting a place in the mid-70s.
Mondo completists will, of course, want to see it – it’s
shameful how few of the classic films of the genre are out on
DVD, so every hole’s a goal so to speak. But this is strictly
second division stuff, and anyone expecting something like 1970s
Mondo classics such as Savage Man, Savage Beast
or This Violent World will be very disappointed.
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