As the title Mondo cane oggi indicates, this was an attempt to bring the mondo film up to date for the 1980s, representing as it did the first time the name had been used since 1963's Mondo carne 2
As the sometime subtitle l'orrore continua indicates this also entailed a recognition that the nature of the form had changed since the 1960s, to become closer to the horror film with Faces of Death and Snuff.
Although Mondo cane oggi has a number of unpleasant images, it is debatable whether these qualify it as a horror film, especially as they lack the shock value of their counterparts in Africa Addio.
Specificaly, there is hardly any real human on human violence while much of the animal killing, which includes some snakes and a small turtle, is contextualised as being for food.
This said, there is other footage, most notably of two dogs fighting as the credits play, but also perhaps a Spanish bullfight, which would likely fall foul of the censors insofar as it lacks this defensible context.
The film also exhibits that classic mondo racism, insofar as the majority of the ‘outlandish’ and ‘bizarre’ practices shown are presented as the province of the non-Western other, particularly in India, Japan and the Far East.
In one scene, for instance, we see traditional irezumi tattooing practices associated with the yakuza, along with the ritual amputation of a finger segment. What is lacking, however, is a consideration of what mainstream Japanese society thinks of tattoos through their criminal subcultural associations.
With the softer material being represented by the likes of bodybuilders (!) and joggers (!!) the main harder moments pertaining to man are a couple of autopsies, one which reveals the cadaver as having been filled with bags of heroin; a man being subjected to electric shocks in a bid to ‘cure’ his homosexuality (“donne si, uomini no” explains the narrator) and some time-honoured sex change surgery footage.
The authenticity of much of this footage is questionable, in a classic case of “if it excites you pretend it’s real, if it disturbs you pretend it’s fake”
Accompanied by voice over or vaguely scene setting music throughout, the film has something of a music video quality to it – apt insofar as one of the mutations of the mondo was into the music performance backdrop/accompaniment, as with SPK’s Despair.
Stelvio Massi hides as director and cinematographer behind the Max Steel pseudonym.