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March 21, 2017

Mondo Weirdo

mondo weirdo blu ray.jpg

Mondo Weirdo / Jungfrau am Abgrund
Carl Andersen - 1990
Cult Epics BD Regions ABC

Vampiros Sexos / I was a Teenage Zabbadoing
Carl Andersen - 1988
Cult Epics DVD

There isn't much written about Carl Andersen, and virtually nothing substantial in English. It turns out that the Austrian born filmmaker was originally named Karl Brazda. As indicated by the titles, Andersen's work has been inspired by the less critically reputable films from Hollywood and Europe. Mondo Weirdo carries a dedication to Jean-Luc Godard and Jesus Franco. Anyone who finds that odd is forgetting that Godard dedicated Breathless to Monogram Pictures, and that Godard and Franco have a few collaborators in common, including screen writer Jean-Claude Carriere and actor Howard Vernon. I would place Andersen as part of a list of so-called experimental filmmakers like the Kuchar Brothers and Ron Rice, whose films would serve as homages and parodies of the kind of films frequently dismissed as schlock. This is a subject may be in need of some deeper research, as the relationship to commercial cinema was not entirely one way: Ron Rice was able to make his film, The Flower Thief with 16mm film cartridges contributed by Monogram alumni, schlockmeister Sam Katzmann.

Neither of these films are truly narrative, but more of series of images of transgressive sex and violence, no budget cinema in 16mm black and white. Andersen even reveals that prior to making Vampiros Sexos, he was supporting himself working in an insurance office, while keeping his dream of making films alive. And the film themselves might be described best as dream-like, in that dreams are made up of a continuity of images that connect with each other even when there is no other logic to those images.

Vampiros Sexos benefits from having English subtitles, so there is some sense of what people are saying to each other. It's starting off point is that there is some contaminated olive oil that turns people into vampires. The title is clearly taken from Franco's Vampiros Lesbos, but the sex here gets even raunchier and more explicit. Unlike Franco, it's not just a combination of women or men and women, but also two guys very much together. The ending is quite funny and self-referential with the cast and crew declaring the filmmaking concluded.

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Mondo Weirdo

I would think that what Andersen took from Godard was the sense of permission to shoot film out on the street of Vienna, at least that's what struck me a mostly Godardian. Mondo Weirdo might also be dubbed "Alice in Sappholand as a young woman, Odile, falls down a rabbit hole featuring a lesbian couple performing in a bar, and encounters with Elizabeth Bathory. Odile is played by an actress billed as Jessica Franco Manera, one of several creative pseudonyms used by some of Andersen's cast, although my favorite is the actor known as Pal-Secam. Andersen makes interesting use of dividing the screen into three parts with three different images simultaneously.

The most substantial writing on Andersen that I found was from a German retrospective. The Cult Epic collection, which includes an Andersen short, What's so Dirty about It?, also has parts of filmed interviews Andersen made with Anneliese Holles in 2012, prior to his death. Also included here is a CD of music by Modell Doo, the band contributing most of the soundtrack to the two films. While some of the music is quite melodic, there are also industrial sounds. The band's website has this wonderful cartoon of a couple dancing on the street to the sound of jackhammers, which says it all.

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Vampiros Sexos

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at March 21, 2017 08:23 AM