Tuesday, July 17, 2007



The word "mondo" holds a special place in hearts of fans of extreme cinema. From the early 60's through the mid 70's a fantastic array of documentaries, later redubbed shockumentaries, splashed across the silver screen. These films, many of which originated in Italy, and lorded over arguably by the best of the best MONDO CANE, provided a lurid and shocking look at the extremes that both nature and society had to offer. The films often had raw and violent scenes of animals killing one another, primitive tribes holding taboo ceremonies and the like. The footage was always advertised as being authentic, and it was hard to argue otherwise. Many a filmmaker found themselves in a courtroom defending their freedom to produce such pictures.

These films paved way for the infamous FACES OF DEATH series, the Italian cannibal films of the mid 70's, and much like some dinosaurs evolved into birds, this cheap and exploitative programming that drew in the late-night grindhouse audience in droves later, would evolve into TV shows such as Cops.

Four years ago, director R.P. Whalen (aka Rock and Roll Ray) set out to create a documentary that would capture the essence of the Mondo documentary. The result is MONDO COLLECTO, a feature-length documentary aimed at bringing into the spotlight some of the more bizarre collectors that the (assumedly) mid-west has to offer.

The documentary starts off with a rousing interview and tour of cult director Ted V. Mikels' house and his impressive array of weapons and armor from around the world and throughout history. Mikels, who spends a great deal of his section shirtless, is truly enveloped in showing off his collection, telling tales from his past, and showing off his medieval warface. It is a solid start to what should be a very interesting ride.

From here, we are treated to several tours of what your man-on-the-street would think of when the word collectors are mentioned. These include several impressive toy collections, and horror and monster toy collection of the lead singer for heavy metal band Impaler. All the subjects, much like Mikels, are pleased of their collection, and eager to show off their prized collection. However, these segments are not that unique, and would easily fit into the "safe" collector shows seen on The Learning Channel or The Discovery Channel. Okay, maybe TLC would pass on the naked Pez collector.

However, at the forty-five minute mark, the documentary takes a skewed turn, and for the first time lives up to the Mondo moniker. For it is here that we are introduced to a lingerie wearing Jesus freak, whose home is adorned from floor to ceiling, and corner to corner with depictions of Jesus Christ. Not only that, but she has a cat-o-nine-tails with a crucifix tied to the handle, which she uses (a bit too willingly) to punish herself when she is bad. The segment finishes off with her drinking copious amounts of the Blood Of Christ, one communion sip at a time. It is by far the highlight of the documentary, and what encompasses what is probably the initial vision of the documentary.

From here, the documentary takes an interesting detour into a very strange man's home, which is perhaps an homage to the faked deaths in FACES OF DEATH, as it appears to be very staged. Next up is a tour through a collector's huge assortment of plants, wind chimes and bells which form a very earthy and organic collage of sounds. And of course, what documentary on collecting would be complete without a gun nut? This one has got one, and boy is he a deusy. We are treated to an assortment of automatic weapons, shotguns, pistols, and an unhealthy attitude toward the media. Many fruits and computer monitors were killed during this shoot.

MONDO COLLECTO is lovingly shot in glorious VHS-C, features go-go dancers between each segment and with credits painted on said dancers, and lovely little re-enactment of 60's black and white gothic horror, and some of America's more unique specimens. All in all, Whalen has successfully created a documentary that lives up to the attention-grabbing Mondo stamp, and much like any successful documentary, will soon become a series to keep an eye out for.

Click here for the Mondo Collecto Official Myspace page


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