Sunday, January 16, 2011
The Grindhouse Experience Chapter 3: "Savage Man/Savage Beast"
The 3rd film in the Grindhouse Experience set is a 1975 Mondo film. Mondo films are exploitation documentaries that focus on wild topics ranging from murder to cannibalism. They are graphic, and often contain footage that is staged. They rose to prominence in 1962 with the release of Mondo Cane, still the most notorious and arguably the best of these films. They remained a staple of the grind theaters for most of their existence.
Savage Man/Savage Beast focuses on the relationships of man and beast, and man and fellow man in various aspects of hunting around the world. Directors Antonio Climati and Mario Morra went to seemingly all corners of the globe to obtain the footage of the hunt. Scenes range from Indigenous tribes hunting elephants with spears, to the traditional European fox hunt being interrupted by animal activists to mercenaries committing sadistic murder in the jungle and cannibalism.
This isn't for the squeamish and animal lovers be warned, even though much of this is people hunting for food for their survival as they've done for centuries, there is plenty of on screen animal death. There also an infamous scene shot in Namibia of a tourist on safari being mauled and killed by a lion. There is no shortage of blood and guts on screen, and had it been more exploitative than it was it could be nauseating, but there is a message in there. Its certainly not prevalent enough to have the film escape being an exploitation film, but it does have something to say about the natural instinct of all beasts, human and animal never escaping the natural instinct to hunt be it for sport or survival.
The film is well made, and even with quite a bit of it being staged and acted, and even more being suspected of it without proof. Its interesting to say the least and will get your mind turning at least a little. And it did have an influence on other exploitation films to follow. This is what the grindhouse was... excess in one form or another.
The 3rd film of this set has been the high point so far hopefully it keeps getting better.