The Wild Eye (1967)
Anthology Film Archives in NYC is currently running a series of films
under the umbrella title Mondo Mondo. A Mondo film is basically a
documentary, or faux documentary, that is also an exploitation film.
Here is a link to what wikipedia says :
This genre was made popular by the 1962 movie Mondo Cane, which was a
surprise hit and yielded a Grammy nomination for the theme song More,
from the Mondo Cane soundtrack. The song was covered by Kai Winding and
hit #8 on the Billboard Hot 100. Many other films with the word Mondo
(Italian for world) in their titles, including Mondo Topless, Mondo
Nudo, Mondo Bizarro, and even Mondo New York. There were also tons of
other movies that employed this shockumentary style over the years.
This was a mondo related title I had never heard of, and I am so happy I got the chance to see this one. The co-director of Mondo Cane co-directed this title as well, and it is a scathing satire on the mondo movie craze. It seems like he was not too fond of his old co-director and how he made his movies, so he made one that basically shows how they were done. So even though this is not a mondo movie, it is basically a tutorial on how they were made, with a lot of satire, dark humor, and hate thrown in for good measure.
The plot isn't very complicated, but it is exceedingly effective. A jeep is running through the desert chasing an animal, in the hopes of shooting it on cam for a mondo style documentary. One of the passengers protests and stops the car. The animal runs off and when they try to drive back, the jeep won't start. They walk and walk in the desert for a couple days, all thinking they might die, while the cameraman keeps rolling just in case. As the director is interviewing the passengers for their last thoughts before they die, someone comes and rescues them. Amazing? Nope, completely planned, but only known by the director and cameraman. Of course the passengers figure it out at that moment, but by then he has his shots.
The director decides he must use the girl passenger or the rest of the movie, to play the innocent that reacts to the horrors of the rel world. He goes off to pursue her, even though she is married. Somehow, by being a sexist pig and treating her like crap, he convinces her to leave her husband to come with him. At this point the movie was already amazing, and if it ended there I would have felt like this was money well spent. But it goes on! He takes her with him while filming horrific things, all the while she is freaking out. Half the stuff he is shooting is staged, or partially staged. He takes a small idea and runs with it, and if people are unwilling, he just pays them more money.
The plot continues in this fashion, and any more info would spoil the ridiculousness and insanity that abounds. Needless to say, they end up in Vietnam, and things start to get real, or as real as a mondo production can get. The amount of fake violence, staged scenes, semi-realistic romance, and blatant sexism is pretty amazing. I am shocked this is not on the feminists most hated list.
The film is shot just like a mondo film, but you see it as if you were behind the scenes of a mondo film. It is of course shot beautifully, the music is wonderful as always, and the situations are insane and a bit frightening. But the fact that this movie is a big fuck you to the other director of Mondo Cane is hysterical. I am not sure why this is not a classic in and of itself.
I was actually in awe throughout much of this film, and after I felt like I saw something that was much more special than most movies I see. I do not get that feeling often. I seriously feel honored that I got to see this film in this series.
8 out of 10 stars (might be upped to 9 on further viewings).
Location : Anthology Film Archives, main theater, NYC
Date and time : Sunday, July 24th, 2016 at 6:15 PM
Format : 35mm
Audience : Decent crowd, 20-50