Wednesday, September 12, 2012

How Film Historians Erase Films - A Case Study: Let Me Die a Woman - Synapse vs Derann

In the liner notes accompanying Synapse Films' 2006 release of the 'Transgendered Edition' of Let Me Die a Woman (1978), Michael J. Bowen makes the claim that this version of the film "contain[s] footage never previously released on a video format". Unfortunately, however, Bowen does not then go on to explain exactly what this hitherto-unreleased footage actually depicts. In order to then attempt to ascertain precisely what footage is in the Synapse release but allegedly not in any other video release of the film, we thus decided to do a side-by-side comparison of said Synapse release and the earlier (1982) UK VHS release of the film by Derann Video.

What started out as a routine comparative expedition, however, soon inadvertently turned into a grim exposé of how film historians actively expunge films from cinematic record, literally striving to remove even the possibility of a film's existence, an astonishing ploy by which the film historian far surpasses the villainy of even the most diabolical film censor; for while the latter is generally content to merely snip out, here and there, portions of any given film, the former, operating under the veneer of seemingly benign cinematic scholarship, attempts nothing less than the excision of an existent film itself from the bowels of history by grandiloquently venturing to bend space-time to preclude the film from ever having been made in the first place.

But to return for the time being to the comparison at hand...


Monday, August 13, 2012

Slave Trade in the World Today - Intermedia/Woodhaven vs Mediaset

In 2004, Intermedia Video/Woodhaven Entertainment released a DVD* of Slave Trade in the World Today (aka Le schiave esistono ancora) (1975). The backside of the DVD sleeve curiously stated that the film had not only been "Digitally Remastered", but also "Re-edited & Color Enhanced", though unfortunately no additional information was provided. We thus decided to do a comparison of the Intermedia/Woodhaven DVD version (IWDV) of the film with an Italian TV broadcast version (IMTV), which aired on the Mediaset Italia 1 channel, so as to see if we could deduce precisely what had been re-edited and enhanced on the aforementioned DVD release.

*Woodhaven Entertainment also released the film on VHS in 2000, but alas we do not have a copy of said VHS to see whether or not it is identical to the later DVD release.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Who Are the Brutes and Who Are the Savages? An open letter to one Mark Goodall regarding his treatment of the film Brutes and Savages

Dearest Mr. Goodall,

We here at The Mondo Research Laboratories do hereby take issue with your treatment of the film Brutes and Savages (e.g. "a silly charade"), its director Arthur Davis (e.g. "the most monstrous, untamed ego in the entire history of the sub-genre"), and those within the film (e.g. "poorly staged and terribly acted") in your tome on mondo cinema entitled Sweet & Savage: The World Through The Shockumentary Film Lens (2006 [ISBN: 1900486490], pp. 35-38), and hold that through the withholding, manipulating, and outright lying about the various facets of the film you thus present a skewed and inaccurate portrait of the aforementioned director, the film, and the various peoples therein. Whether this is due to 'mere' gross negligence and ineptitude or intentional deception designed to unfairly and inaccurately disparage the film, of course cannot be known with absolute certainty by anyone but you, if anyone at all; nonetheless, the all-too-convenient case being that every time a fact is omitted, its omission serves to benefit your underlying thesis--that Davis is a "fraudster" and the film a "silly charade"--leads us to believe that said omissions, which serve to reinforce a consistent and malignant bias against the film and the involved parties, are quite intentional, indeed. But regardless of what the ultimate cause of these various argumentatively convenient factual gaps and manipulations (which you can find outlined at some length below) may be, if you cannot provide an honest depiction of the film you aim to discuss, then you sir have absolutely no business writing about it. Such despicably erroneous mudslinging masquerading as film critique has no place in a serious study of mondo cinema, and we will not sit idly by and let you attempt to steamroll the mondo landscape into acquiescence with your deluded, ill-informed pontifications on the subject we hold dear.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Mondo Magic - Intermedia/Woodhaven vs De Laurentiis Ricordi

Upon the 2004 Intermedia Video/Woodhaven Entertainment DVD release* of Mondo Magic (aka Magia nuda aka Naked Magic aka Shocking Cannibals) (1975), various mentions of the DVD being heavily cut surfaced online, though it seems that there were few details as to precisely which scenes were cut, and while there have been some brief discussions of the disparities between the cut/uncut versions, we couldn't locate a comprehensive listing of cuts. With this in mind, we thus decided to do a comparison between the Intermedia/Woodhaven DVD release (narrated in English) and the earlier Italian De Laurentiis Ricordi Video VHS release (narrated in Italian), which presents a longer cut of the film.

*Woodhaven Entertainment also released Mondo Magic on VHS in 1999, but alas we do not have a copy of the tape release to see if it is identical to the later DVD release (though the runtime written on the back cover of the VHS--"Approx. 85 Minutes"--does seem to indicate that it is the same length as the DVD).


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Primitive Love - Italian International Film vs Something Weird Video

Primitive Love (aka L'amore primitivo) (1964), the Jayne Mansfield vehicle that uses a flimsy Italian sex comedy backdrop as an excuse to showcase some wholly unremarkable mondo fodder, has been released on DVD by both Italian International Film (IIF) in 2006 and Something Weird Video (SWV) in 2001, the latter including the film as a mondo double bill with Mondo Balordo (aka A Fool's World) (1964).


The Web Viles 01 - "Snuff Films Do Not Exist"

It is a commonly held belief today that the Internet has ushered in an era wherein the shockumentary has become a largely superfluous enterprise. The grisly scenes of carnage that one previously had to hunt down on obscure tapes to enjoy/endure, the argument goes, are now widely available on a plethora of Internet shock sites, and we can thusly safely toss the tapes in the trash.  However, while today's greater availability of mondo/shocku footage is certainly undeniable, some of us nonetheless remain of the opinion that the shockumentary continues to have a key role in today's day and age. The shockumentary brings together 60 to 90 minutes of grueling footage in a deathly monotonous onslaught unparalleled by the superficially fragmented presentation of web clips. Watching one or two short Internet clips you chance upon is incomparable to immersing yourself in a feature-length presentation of unbridled doom and demise for hours on end.

The sickly slew of shockumentary fodder being distributed on the danker, darker corners of the web, while perhaps best seen as complimentary sample morsels served alongside the main mondo dish, nonetheless cannot be wholly ignored either. With this in mind, we thus present a new sporadic series entitled The Web Viles, wherein each time we will take a close look at a web-based shocku clip.

For this, our first entry, let us look at one of the oldest online death clips around (the earliest mention of the clip that we could find was in January 2000, although the clip itself was made in 1999). The clip in question does not possess any sort of formal title although it is sometimes referred to as the "'snuff films do not exist' video" (due to the woman in the clip yelling out said phrase prior to being shot) or simply as the 'shot in the head snuff video', and has surfaced under any number of filenames such as snuff.mpg, kidnap.mpg, isitreal.mpg, and real_snuff_film.wmv, to name a few. The extremely short clip of approximately six seconds depicts a woman sitting on a chair (in fact, it is a wheelchair) and crying out the aforementioned phrase about snuff films, only to have a handgun discharged at her head by an unknown assailant.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Curious Case of Shocking Africa

In 2007, a mondo released by a certain 'Substance' label (more on them in just a little bit) cropped up on DVD under the title Shocking Africa. Based on the title alone, it was perhaps not unreasonable to think that this was the Castiglioni's Africa Dolce e Selvaggia (1982) finally seeing the light of day as a DVD release, considering that Shocking Africa is a well-known alternate English title for that film. Some further examination of the release's box cover should have risen some red flags, however.

Death Scenes - Anthem vs Wavelength

When Anthem Pictures released the Death Scenes trilogy on DVD in 2005, various rumors of the discs being heavily cut started surfacing. We thus decided to compare the original Wavelength Productions VHS releases to the Anthem Pictures DVD reissues. In short, the result of the comparison was that--with only one notable exception, explained below--the DVDs otherwise possess no cuts or edits of any kind aside from alternate opening sequences which generally serve to alter the order of the series. 

The allegations of the DVDs being cut and edited down are likely due to rusty remembrances of the original releases combined with the fact that for some unfathomable reason Anthem Pictures decided to renumber each volume in the series.

The specific reordering of the titles goes like this (with the original Wavelength numbering on the left, the Anthem renumbering on the right):

Death Scenes 1 --> Death Scenes 3: Los Angeles
Death Scenes 2 --> Death Scenes 1: Manson
Death Scenes 3 --> Death Scenes 2: Uncensored Scenes of Death


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Brutes and Savages - Synapse vs Gorgon/MPI

When Synapse released the 'uncivilized' version of Brutes and Savages (1977) a few years back (2003), they wrote that this version was a whopping 15 minutes longer (for a total of 107 minutes) than the previous US release of the film (a Gorgon/MPI VHS, which clocks in at around 92 minutes). The fact that a version is longer, though, does not necessarily mean that it contains all of the content found in the shorter version and then some, as it is certainly possible for a longer version of a film to contain alternate scenes which take the place of scenes found in a shorter version.