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Mondo Films

edited November 1999 in Movie Discussion
Mondo films, often called shockumentaries, are quasi-documentary films that focus on sensationalized topics, such as exotic customs from around the world or gruesome death footage. Similar to shock exploitation, the goal of Mondo films is to be shocking to the audience not only because they deal with taboo subject matter (for instance, foreign sexual customs or varieties of violent behavior in various societies), but because the on-camera action is allegedly real. Though some Mondo films contain certain amounts of educational material, none are completely educational, and most forgo any attempts at education and choose to merely shock its audience. This can be seen not only in the way the films are shot, but also by the fact that some of the most shocking footage has, in actuality, been staged.

The name "Mondo" itself comes from the first commercially successful film of this type, Mondo Cane (in Italian, this means Dog World or World as a Dog, a title meant to imply that the world, as showcased in the film, is a brutal, nasty place). Mondo Cane was followed by a number of sequels and spinoffs, many of which were also produced in Italy. Mondo films continued to be major staples in exploitation film culture through the 60s and into the late 70s, when the style of the films began to change. While at first these films contained similar content of exotic and bizarre customs, in 1978, the film Faces of Death took the focus less from worldly rituals and more on footage of human death. Since then, most of the Mondo films have been similar to death films, which, unlike their predecessors, are mostly comprised of genuine accident, suicide, and execution footage.
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