05 January 2007

Sweet & Savage

Sweet & Savage
Sweet & Savage by Mark Goodall is the first book-length study of mondo cinema. Mondo films, starting with Mondo Cane in 1962, are sensationalist documentaries, often featuring exotic tribal rituals and/or Reality TV clips of bizarre/violent imagery.

This book discusses mondo thematically, with chapters devoted to shock scenes, sex, animals, and rituals. Each chapter begins with a short introductory essay, followed by detailed critiques of selected mondo films.

The book's main asset is its in-depth film reviews. Mondo milestones such as Mondo Cane and Africa Addio receive extensive and original discussion. However, while the key films are covered in-depth, there are many films given only cursory mentions or even omitted altogether.

Before Sweet & Savage, the only previous book to present a detailed account of mondo cinema was Killing For Culture. This earlier title [which is one of my all-time favourite film books] included a chapter giving a chronological history of mondo cinema and another chapter concentrating on death in mondo films.

Killing For Culture has almost 100 pages devoted to mondo, approximately one third of the book's total length. Sweet & Savage has only 160 pages in total. Sweet & Savage provides original insights into the most successful mondo films, though it does not have the sheer density of research displayed by Killing For Culture.