Written by: George Pacheco on October 15th, 2014
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1975
Directors: Alfredo Castiglioni, Angelo Castiglioni
Writer: Alberto Moravia
Cast: Mac Mauro Smith (Narrator)
DVD Release Date: August 12th, 2014
Approximate Running Time: 100 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Massacre Video
Region Encoding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.99
The infamous reputation associated with most Italian “mondo” documentary films is common knowledge for many fans of the country’s exploitation cinema industry, a legacy which was earned via inventive, dubbed narration, staged scene reenactments and notorious animal death.
Mondo Magic is no exception, and it has, until now, remained one of the most difficult Italian mondo films to locate uncut, other than its VHS release in the 1980s. Massacre Video has rescued this documentary obscurity from public domain hell, however, giving the film its first proper DVD release in its uncut form.
Shame, then that Mondo Magic-titled Magia Nuda, a.k.a. “Nude Magic” in its home country of Italy-is so damned boring and tough to sit through, particularly when compared to other, more well known mondo films of the day, such as Mondo Cane, Africa Addio and Goodbye Uncle Tom. The film’s directors were known for their mondo output, to boot, as both Alfredo and Angelo Casiglioni were responsible for such “savage” mondo docs as Shocking Africa (1982), Africa Uncensored (1971) and The Last Savage (1978).
It’s no surprise, then, that Mondo Magic deals primarily with tribal customs, lifestyles and ritual behavior, coming across more as a National Geographic piece than anything designed for entertainment. Sure, much of this footage-particularly the animal slaughter-can be difficult to watch, but Mondo Magic never really feels exploitative or sleazy, but rather a matter of fact expose into the day to day lives of the Savana and Amazon tribes. It isn’t until the film’s final act where the pacing and variety of scenes begins to pick up, but by then it’s a case of “too little, too late.”
Perhaps this is due to the dry, monotone narration of Mac Mauro Smith, who delivers his lines with all the passion of television’s Ben Stein, or even the fact that Mondo Magic moves at a snail pace, without even the benefit of a groovy De Angelis or Riz Ortolani score to carry it along for the listener, only utilizing its Cannibal Holocaust-esque main theme at sparing moments. Mondo Magic may be gross and difficult to stomach at times, but this dry-as-dirt mondo flick was probably better off lost to the mists of time: skip this one.
Massacre Video presents Mondo Magic in an anamorphic widescreen presentation, culled from the original 35mm camera negative. There is some noticeable print damage-particularly at the beginning and during the scenes which were clearly cut on previous releases-but overall the image looks good, when considering the film’s age and scarcity. A stills gallery, trailer and collectable poster are among the extras included for this release, making Mondo Magic a well put together package (for a sub-par film) from Massacre Video.