Ecco/The Forbidden - Ecco/The Forbidden(Blu Ray) [Severin Films/ Something Weird - 2019]Here’s as a joint venture between Severin Films & Something Weird- a doubled headed region free Blu Ray release bringing together two different sides of the infamous Mondo genre. We have the slightly more classy & varied Ecco, and the more flesh bound & decidedly scuzzy The Forbidden. Both films are presented fairly untouched & pock-marked in their scans, with a few worthy extras.
Ecco (aka This Shocking World, Il Mondo di notte numero 3) was an 1963 Italian production, which two years later got reissued in the USA with a rye, smokey & sarcastic voice over from Geroge Sanders. The film stands as one of the slightly more balanced, at times fairly atmospheric, varied & for the most part uncontroversial of the Mondo documentaries. It runs just shy of the one hour & forty minute mark, and while at times they do over linger on some subjects- for the most part, it moves fairly briskly from sight & place to another. It all begins in the moodily stark streets of bomb-damaged & walled Berlin- as we go inside a ‘secret’ club where the cities Youngman put on strange eye masks, and slash at each other face until one of them bleeds. From here we move to bearded mounting top priests been raised up by netted webs, daring motorcyclist riding on tight wires over ancient villages, and the initially quaint- then bloody naked breast action of a group of well-to-do English folk carrying out a satanic ritual. Later on, we get young women Alaska castrating reindeer with their teeth, and more. As with any Mondo docs, there are deliberate controversy baiting scenes like a lengthy & unpleasant whale fishing-yet gutting scene. Or a rather large eared Frenchman who puts spikes through his chest, neck & side. But really, by today’s standards, there’s nothing here too shocking or unsettling. On the whole, Ecco is eventful & varied enough trip around the world of 1960’s curiosity.
The Forbidden appeared in 1966- coming in just over the hour mark, and it’s a lot more sleazed, grimy & perverse in its leanings. This was a French production, which had extra scenes added for its American release- many of which were staged. The main subject/focus here are striptease acts & female nudity, with a few deviations like a car crash & its aftermath in the French countryside, Riots on Sunset boulevard , and badly recreated euro crime drama. The fleshy action moves from stipping mermaid action, lesbians performance clubs, virgin striptease club in London- where apparently the owner regularly checks the virginity of his performers. Onto swastika crotch covered & tassel titted german strippers, though to leering shower scenes that see bolded headed perverts attacking. The pace here is a lot slower, lingering & decidedly grimy & rough- so for quirky entertainment/ shifting bizarreness, this doesn’t work. But as sleazy & decidedly leery fun it’s not bad, though it does often over dwell on some subjects- I suspect this was down to trying to please the dirty trench-coat crowd that would have gone & seen it back when it was originally released.
On the extras side, we a thirty-two-minute archive film entitled I want More- I’m guessing this is from the early to mid-’60s too. And it supposedly, focuses in a group of sleazy & unusually characters living in LA found in the back pages of contact papers- the short finds a male reporter interviewing first one person after another- with footage of their distinctive kink going on top- so first we get a couple from the south, who moved to Hollywood trying to get work- but landed up making love to each other while others watch. Next, we get a biker gang that has taken over an abounded house- and are making love in beds with their motorbikes laid down beside them. Next, we get the self-proclaimed ‘Beaver barber’ who offers up a series of different pubic hairstyles for women. Then most surreal & without an interview, we get supposable shots of an orgy from with-in a heating vent- we get to see various nude limbs & mouths- all soundtrack by this low-fi chatting & talking looped college. All in all this short was a very worthy & bizarre curio. Next we get an interview with Swedish producer David Goldstein talking about sleazy American producer & director Bob Cresse- who imported these two films & adjusted them for the US market, he also directed grim sleazy classics like Love Camp 7- this interview runs for fifteen minutes, and is a real eye, to say the least- Goldstein discusses Cresse's penchant for more violent sleaze, filming his girlfriend pleasuring him, his grenade & gun bunker in his Sunset boulevard offices- and more. Lastly, we get a US trailer for Ecco.
So, in conclusion, this is worthy double-headed release of worldwide bizarre-ness & sleaze- with two enjoyable, equally bizarre, and jaw-dropping extras. It’s a pity the prints couldn’t have been cleaned up a little on both features- but I guess in a way the low grade & warped quality of them adds to the whole grimy grind house feel of the set.