31 Days of Horror – Days 5 and 6

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Hey guys sorry about the delay I’ve been super busy the last few days. I’m going to try to fit in days 5 and 6 tonight, 7 and 8 tomorrow, and then I should be on track Tuesday with days 9 and 10. Should be. Who knows. I have no responsibilities tomorrow so I should be ok.

So I want to preface this first entry with the fact that it is not specifically a horror movie. It’s more of a “shock-doc” or “shockumentary,” a “real” film that is meant to introduce people to aspects of our world that they don’t know and are probably not comfortable with. In fact, this is the first of many “Mondo” films to be made. Mondo Cane (1962, directed by Gualtiero Jacopetti, Paolo Cavara, and Franco Prosperi) features an announcement at the beginning of the film saying everything you are about to see is in fact real. This is the first of many bold-faced lies found throughout the film, but more on that later.

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This is not quite a horror movie, but there are certain scenes in the film that are quite shocking, real-life horrors. The closest to traditional horror would probably be the scene where the kids are cleaning bones and the one with the people in Italy slapping themselves with glass-filled cork pads and running through the streets for Good Friday or something. It’s super gross but also cool. That can describe a lot of the movie.

Oh also a bit of a trigger warning here, there are animal deaths shown in the film. Wild pigs, to be specific, and many other animals aren’t treated super great either. So if you’re sensitive to that, then yeah maybe don’t watch or be prepared to look away. I’m sensitive to that actually so don’t feel like I’m judging you.

This movie, to me, is very interesting. Not necessarily because of the contents, but more because of what it is, what it created, and its lasting legacy. We basically wouldn’t have the exploitative reality show without Mondo Cane. I think, at least many humans, have this weird obsession with what other people are doing. But in like a creepy way. We want to see the daily lives of celebrities, we want to see totally fabricated instances of people dying on islands or in the woods, and maybe we even want to see the Taipei dog restaurant where you can pick out a live dog that they’ll cook up and serve to you. Who knows?! But Mondo Cane was one of the earliest and most popular examples of that exploitative side of “reality,” where we gaze confused and fascinated at a group of “bizarre” indigenous people, or we just accept everything we see on TV as fact (don’t get me started on the Lungfish scene). And for that, I think it should be viewed and remembered.

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My next movie is another Lucio Fulci classic. If you read my blog last year, you’ll know Lucio Fulci is one of my main inspirations as someone who makes movies, and is easily one of my favorite directors. His film Don’t Torture a Duckling (1972) is probably his most straightforward, serious, emotional horror movies (that I’ve seen anyway). It’s a classic example of a giallo film, which is a mainly Italian genre of film that combines horror, mystery, slasher, and erotic elements, sometimes also mixing in the supernatural. Famous giallo directors are Dario Argento, Mario Bava, his son Lamberto, Umberto Lenzi, and Antonio Margheriti. Most of Fulci’s films don’t quite fit the giallo bill, but this does.

Don’t Torture a Duckling is about a small Sicilian town host to a series of bizarre child murders. A colorful cast of characters include a very serious priest, a mysterious woman from Milan, a witch, a journalist from Rome, the local police chief, and a mentally handicapped peeping tom. All of these characters are interesting. That’s the thing about most of Fulci’s films. Despite being occasionally cheesy, silly, and gory, he writes some really great, memorable characters.

One thing that I hope I have accomplished through my blog and continue to accomplish is to spread the GOOD NEWS of more obscure horror, foreign horror, indie horror, etc. I want to share with people the idea that, just because the Netflix horror selection is not always excellent, there are other places you can go. Check your local pawn shop or used DVD store and just grab something you’ve never heard of that might look interesting, or at least stylish and fun. Troll around those free streaming websites that I’m sure all of you are aware of. Do like. Ten minutes of research into subgenres and find the right ones for you. I’m so sick of hearing people complain that there are no good horror movies or that horror sucks. Yeah, most of what hits theaters is crap. But go to your local art house theater and check out a midnight movie, you know? Or accept subtitles (good lord it takes like a hundredth of a second to move your eyes an immeasurable distance and absorb the single line of dialogue on your screen, you’re not “reading a movie” you just sound like a dumbass). Some of the greatest horror movies of all-time aren’t in English.

Anyway enough with my soapbox. Please, reach out to me if you watch anything I recommend and let me know what you think! Agree or disagree, I love to talk about movies.

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