Ecco/Review

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

< Ecco
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"The globe has spun around many times before the probing eye of the motion picture camera. So many times, in fact, that you may wonder if there's anything left to discover. But, the the persistently curious, the world continuously reveals new secrets and sights."

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So starts off the Mondo that brought Bob Cresse and Lee Frost outside of the Adult world of Olympic International Films, only for this one film, before their split in 1969 and Frost's continuing notoriety in Exploitation through The 70's. Working with Exploitation legend Dick Randall, who's future contribution to the Mondo world would be the very infamous The Wild Wild World of Jayne Mansfield, and Howard Smith, Cresse and Frost turned the Italian Mondo Mondo di notte 3 (World by Night 3), with a couple of bits and pieces of other films thrown in, into a major Exploitation extravaganza in The States that would be seen as the next best thing after the world of Jacopetti and Prosperi's definitive Mondos. Adding the voice of George Sanders (Psychomania) was the right choice to voice Cresse's script that has moments of his dark and sarcastic humor mixed in with his translation of the original narration.

After the credits, we head off to East Germany to view a Dueling competition that sees the competitors in blindfolds and aiming for the face. The Gentleman's Club looked like that it was having a wild time while drinking beer which flowed like water and singing, while the match shown resulted in a couple of "Battle Scars." The cinematography of this scene already shows that everything was taking the advantage of the wide screen with plenty of care and getting the highlights very well.

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Next, possibly through a different film, we head to a nursery in Japan to see babies taken care of as light music and pleasant messages play. The light music, with it's pleasant touches, may remind the Ortolani fan of some of the music in Addio Zio Tom. Next up is a demonstration of Karate, then starting to spring up as a trend in The States. In true Exploitation style, the settings remain a bit on the light side before they turn to the more infamous parts that make this Mondo well known, but the quality of the cinematography remains strong, keeping the viewer interested in every turn the travels take.

After a first "compare and contrast" moment is provided with a rich ball in Paris shown together with a party in one of the ran down districts: "The same night, the same Paris" comes a motorcycle stunt show appears in a small French village that suspends the risk takers, one on a motorcycle and two others hanging underneath, way above the town, and then we view a priest heading off to a Monastery in Greece far above and away from civilization (Ortolani's music is epic here!). The next highlight comes from a Black Mass in England, complete with chanting followers (The "Ecco! Ecco!" that starts the trailer), chicken, and some topless movement during the explosive final moments of the scene looking like the kind of like the Horror movie moment that was hard to come by in the Early 60's.

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The film continues it's impressive show as the cameras go to Rio for it's festival. the Nairobi to see dancers entertain tourists and then having fun dancing in a nightclub later in the night (Another classic compare and contrast moment), a game reserve with a fancy outside bar, a bodybuilder competition in Reno, a body building showgirl performance in San Fransisco complete with cheesy song and ripping up a phone book, a whale hunt in Portugal, a Teddy Boy motorcade in Sweden that results at an attack in a carnival. Nest up is a well known moment as we see the Japanese Festival of Saidachi featuring a huge crowd of guys trying to bring a "Ritual stick" to a priest in what looks like a very dangerous challenge of excited people that would fit perfectly in an epic production. Things move to the final performance of the Grand Guignol, a solid entertainment for Horror fans for years resulting in another highlight while next is a Buttock Competition in a bar, and then we move to a sexy show in Paris, which looks like it's from another film or specifically staged for this, but still great to check out.

Following an LA Roller Derby comes the best known moment featuring Evon Evah with the scene copied many times over in Mondo films as he pierces his body with sharp objects in front of an audience. Here, Ortolani's music reaches another highlight with a strong Bass line and some Electronic sounds. Another controversial moment follows as we go to Lapland's reindeer round up and observe a rather unique form of reindeer castration, a scene that must have sent a few audience members screaming for the exit doors (The power of Mondo!). It's in these two scenes, twelve minutes of great cinematography, which offer the best known examples of the film's reputation as one of the most noted Mondo films of the era after Mondo Cane.

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From there, the show drops the level of intensity, but never lacks in the quality. A lesbian nightclub, a popular singer in Argentina, a look at an artificial insemination doctor, and a lady climbing the stairs of a church in Rome on her knees with a photographer interrupting the long climb wind up the show, all with the great music which characterizes the film. Following the film's release in The States, AIP took care of the film, placing it in many of it's Mondo themed Drive In shows and turning it into a hit, as Cresse and Frost would create their own little warped Adult Mondo world of their own through 1966, with Mondo Bizarro being a highlight. As the final words (and the trailer's main words) claim - "There are more things in heaven and earth and between sunset and dawn than are dreamed of in our philosophy."

Reviewed by Screen13

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