Monday, 13 July 2015


‘Brutes and Savages’ is a mondo film, so you’ll know what to expect: dusky foreign breasts and repulsive animal cruelty.

The clearly Italian ‘Arthur Davis’ leads an expedition into Africa and South America to document the primitive rites of the indigenous people, the titular brutes and savages. His modus operandi is to tip up to a remote village and ask for the head man’s permission to film some notorious ritual that the tribe are famous for. When the chief refuses (perhaps because he is frightened of Arthur’s salmon safari suit) Arthur makes the culturally insensitive decision to go ahead and film it anyway, at which point we cut to some faked footage that goes on for ages. Don’t worry though:  ‘all scenes, whether actual or simulated, represents actual truth’.

This truth includes a turtle having its throat cut, a goat being decapitated, a llama having its heart removed and numerous scenes of birds and animals killing and eating each other. 

Oh, and a monkey gets put on a fire. 

The whole thing peaks very early on, with a bizarre sequence in which African tribesmen are forced to wade through a river as part of their initiation into manhood. Using stock footage, blatant re-enactment and a series of unconvincing models, the film makers stage a fatal crocodile attack, including jump cuts to footage featuring a different man battling a plastic croc in what looks like a California swimming pool. It’s pathetic, especially the fake hands and fake head stuffed in the fake reptiles fake mouth. Worryingly for the viewer, this is the highlight of the film, and there is still an hour and fifteen minutes left to run.

It's a long haul to the end, although we do get to see men simulate sex with llamas and get a sneak peek at South America’s most important collection of ‘erotic pottery’ (Arthur takes great pleasure in pointing out the penises). Mostly, however, it’s quite boring, interspersed with uneasy moments of graphic nastiness. On the plus side, the music is by Riz Ortalini, and is excellent, although sadly unavailable at present, which is just fucking typical. 
In the end analysis, the narrator (the recently deceased Richard Johnson, slumming it to the extent that he is virtually a homeless, meth addicted derelict) asks if these ‘brutes and savages’ are really any worse than us so-called sophisticates. Is slowly sawing out the throat of a turtle any different to killing a chicken? Does having deep freezes and TVs make us better people? Aren’t we all really brutes and savages at heart?
He’s got a point.
But, unfortunately, he chose to make it in this film.

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