Mr. Mike's Mondo Video
Mr. Mike's Mondo Video Directed by Michael O'Donoghue Written by Michael O'Donoghue
Starring Michael O'Donoghue
Cinematography Barry Rebo Editing by Alan Miller Distributed by New Line Cinema Release date(s) 1979 Running time 75 min Country United States Language English
Mondo Video was a spoof of the controversial 1962 documentary Mondo Cane, showing people doing weird stunts. The logo for this film copies the original Mondo Cane logo. Also, since Mondo Cane featured the hit song "More," which was initially an instrumental song with words added later, O'Donoghue and writer Emily Prager (who also acted in the film) took the instrumental song "Telstar" by Joe Meek and wrote lyrics for it, to create "The Haunting Theme Song." It was sung by crooner Julius La Rosa, who had also recorded "More." The song is sung in English during the opening credits, and in nonsense Italian over the closing credits.
Many cast members of Saturday Night Live, including Dan Aykroyd, Jane Curtin, Laraine Newman, Bill Murray, Don Novello and Gilda Radner appear. People who had previously hosted SNL, or would go on to host (such as Carrie Fisher, Margot Kidder and Teri Garr) made cameo appearances in this film. Others who appeared in the film include musicians Sid Vicious, Paul Shaffer, Debbie Harry, Root Boy Slim, and Klaus Nomi; and model Patty Oja.
The film is largely plotless; a series of vignettes linked together by interstitial pieces featuring Mr. Mike discussing how upsetting and odd the sequences were. He introduces some of the pieces via voice-over, and some open with no introduction.
- Aykroyd displaying his webbed toes which he prodded with a screwdriver to prove they were not make-up.
- A church that worships Jack Lord as the one true god (also featuring Dan Aykroyd.)
- A French restaurant that prides itself on how poorly it treats American patrons.
- "Dream Sequence", a series of surreal film pieces bracketed by large light-up signs reading "Dream Sequence" and "End Dream Sequence" that tracked towards and away from the camera. One of these was merely performance footage of Klaus Nomi, while another featured home movie footage shot by Emily Prager intercut with stop-motion animation.
- Short films made by other directors. "Cleavage" by Mitchell Kriegman, was a closeup of a hand working its way out from (what was implied to be) between a large pair of breasts, feeling around gently, realizing where it was, and working its way back in. "Crowd Scene Take One", by Andy Aaron and Ernie Fosselius purported to be a director guiding background actors for a disaster movie scene. "Uncle Si and the Sirens" was an anonymously-directed silent-era "nudie-cutie" short found by SNL alumnus Tom Schiller.
- The presentation of a classified government weapons project, "Laserbra 2000". This piece was the last of a triptych of sequences that chronicled the attempts to obtain the classified footage. In the first, the film (secreted in a violin case) was in fact someone's home movies; in the second, the violin case contained a violin. National Lampoon writer Brian McConnachie appears in the footage as a scientist.
It was originally produced on videotape as an NBC television special that would have aired in place of SNL during one of its live breaks. Because of some of the racier elements of the show, NBC declared it inappropriate for the network (in the wake of a ratings slump they experienced at the time) and promptly canceled it.
Shortly thereafter, independent studio New Line Cinema acquired the rights to Mondo Video, and converted the videotape master to 35mm film for theatrical release. To pad the program to feature length, filmmaker Walter Williams created a special Mr. Bill Show episode, combining footage from his past Mr. Bill shorts from SNL with new wraparound scenes, to present at the head of the film as a short subject. Also, cowriter Mitchell Glazer stated in the DVD's audio commentary that many scenes were added to pad the film's runtime to the required 90 minutes for theatrical releases.
The film would eventually be seen on television, albeit on pay cable and syndication with several cuts, such as the non sequitur "Dream Sequences". It would also show up on home video in the early 1980s through Mike Nesmith's Pacific Arts label.
In January 2009, it was released on DVD by Shout! Factory. The DVD release mutes the infamous[clarification needed] "My Way" segment, and removes Mr. Mike's lead-in to the "Church of the Jack Lord" segment due to the inability of Shout! Factory to get the rights to use the Hawaii 5-O theme song.
Sid Vicious appearance
Mondo Video featured Sid Vicious performing the classic song "My Way" from The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle, which had not yet been released in America at the time. On the initial Pacific Arts home video release, the audio is muted before Sid begins singing. A crawl appears onscreen explaining that the owners of the song's copyright wouldn't permit audio of the performance to be included on the tape: "It wasn't a case of money," the crawl explains, "They wouldn't even discuss it." The sound returns when the performance switches to a heavy punk rock guitar riff, and Sid pulling out a gun, firing (presumably blanks) into the audience, flipping them the bird, and walking off.
The muted audio and explanatory crawl were carried over on the 2009 Shout! Factory release, despite the fact that the Sid Vicious version of the song can be seen and heard, in its entirety, in the DVD release of The Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle, also released by Shout! Factory.
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