From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The fad started with Mondo Cane (1962) by Gualtiero Jacopetti and proved quite popular. Mondo films are often easily recognized by name, as even English language mondo films often included the term "mondo" in their titles. Over the years the film makers wanted to top each other in shock value in order to draw in audiences. Cruelty to animals, accidents, tribal initiation rites and surgeries are a common feature of a typical mondo. Much of the action is also staged, even though the film makers may claim their goal to document only "the reality".
The Russ Meyer film Mondo Topless was one of the few "documentaries" restricted to the old midnight movie circuit of the pre-VCR era, as it explored strip clubs in 1960s San Francisco, at a time when strip clubs were a novelty in the United States restricted to centers of port-city decadence such as San Francisco.
Other examples of movies in this genre include Mondo di Notte by Gianni Proia, Mondo Balordo by Roberto Bianchi Montero, and Mondo Ford by Ricardo Fratelli.
The eighties saw a resurgence of Mondo movies, though now they focused almost solely on onscreen death, rather than cultures of the world. The Faces of Death series is probably the best known example of this type of mondo, or 'death' movie. The producers at this time still used faked footage, passed off as real.
The mondo film in the 21st century has transformed into a very 'in your face', gory spectacle, as seen in the Faces of Gore and Traces of Death series. There is considerably less fake footage and many of these use news footage of accidents from the far east.
- RE/Search No. 10: Incredibly Strange Films: A Guide to Deviant Films. RE/Search Publications 1986, ISBN 0-940642-09-3