Wednesday, July 22, 2009

bongo in the congo.

I've been putting it off for years but due to a few begging emails I've decided to rewatch and review this infamous shocked up exploitation crassic.

And please, no death threats this time, remember I only watch this shite so that you don't have to.

Addio zio Tom (AKA Goodbye Uncle Tom. 1971)
Dir: Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco Prosperi.
Cast: Some fat, bad toothed Italians, some thin, bad toothed Italians, some black folk and a butchers dog.


We're gonna go back, way back in time to the groove-tastic year of 1971 and whilst we're enjoying Slade and Love Thy Neighbour our America cousins are caught up in a terrifying race war.

African Americans, tired of the evil white man and empowered by the words of Malcolm X (tho' luckily not Jason X) and LeRoi Jones, are rising up to make one final bloody stand for justice.

Or something like that, I'm assuming the film isn't entirely truthful.

Deciding to explore the origins of all this race fueled badness (and having nothing to do till the pubs open) a group of brave documentary filmmakers decide to travel back in time for a close-up look at the slave trade, its bosses and the slaves themselves.

In an totally non exploitative way of course.

Next stop....nineteenth century New Orleans!

Less Doctor Who, more
Doctor whatya talkin' about Willis?

Arriving at a convenient plantation and at a time when the place wasn't full of tragic Anne Rice fans, the crack camera crew happen across a huge dinner party hosted by none other than (the neither fat nor Italian) Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin (which scarily had a pub in my home town of Sedgley named after it, fact fans).

Sitting around a table eating veal and drinking cheap port, her guests enthusiastically defend the slave trade whilst tossing food scraps to a group of wee black boys hiding under the table.

After stuffing their faces with food (well this time travel lark is hungry work) and obviously bored with the after dinner entertainment (which involves watching one of the boys reading from the Bible whilst wearing a tie) our merry band decide to visit a slave ship fresh from the dark continent (Africa not Birmingham) and stuffed full of malnourished and abused soon to be slaves.

Hmmm....could this slavery thing be bad?

The crew still need convincing.

"Laugh now!"

Wandering around the docks and killing a few minutes shooting footage of big fat greasy Italian men licking their lips whilst eying up young boys as a lady in boots whips a black man with a riding group they soon come across (not literally but you never know, I mean she looks up for it) the local House Momma (not top comedy star Martin Laurence but a humongously breasted big black woman whose job it is to 'supervise' the slaves).

Genuinely intrigued as to what this entails (other than standing on a chair shouting 'Thomas!' by the look of her) she happily lets them follow her about for the afternoon as she physically and mentally abuses both her black and white charges (not to mention the viewer with her hellish voice) before sending off a group of bounty hunters to catch a few runaway slaves.

Still not entirely convinced they head off to visit the local doctor for a dose of much needed 'science'.

Using only a chalkboard, an eggcup and a handkerchief he explains (in simple terms) how black people don’t have any feelings and therefore it’s okay to make slaves out of them.

Phew, glad that's all sorted.

"Shite in mah big racist mooth!" and
yes that is the horse from Emanuelle in America.

Needing a break to get their heads round all the scientific 'facts' flying about our heroic news hounds head over to the local whorehouse just in time to see a gaggle of young black women dressed up in a variety of starched undies and bonnets being paraded around for the enjoyment of a group of overweight horny extras waving their (somewhat surprisingly) flaccid cocks around whilst leering in much the same way as your dad does when the papergirl arrives on Saturday morning.

The angle you always saw your local priest from.

And the film carries on in this vein for what seems like days, only stopping for the occasional quick glimpse of bush or copious amounts of close-ups of fat men eating with their mouths open.

Luckily, it has an ace up it's sleeve (and a neck of pure brass) when at the films climax we're 'treated' (if that's the right word) to a gore-rious modern day re-enactment of the story of Nat Turner.

For those of you not up to speed on your American history (tho' if you find books without pictures a challenge - which if you're here probably isn't surprising - there is a comic adaptation of the story by Kyle Baker available), Turner (no relation to Truck or Ted) infamously led a slave rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia that resulted in the slaughter of fifty five white people.

This is shown in the movie by having Turner sitting on a beach watching a nice, middle class family at play before he violently bursts the sons beach ball and slaughters the family in their kitchen whilst loud Wah Wah guitar music plays on the soundtrack.

"Leathery balls.........yesch!"

Art or complete and utter arse?

YOU decide!

Actually don't bother because if I'm honest it's complete and utter arse.

Goodbye Uncle Tom is the defining moment in the sleazy and sordid careers of those idiotic Italian ignoramuses of the mondo movie scene, Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco Prosperi.
The universally derided duo that single (or is that double?) handedly kick started the cycle of 'mondo' shockumentaries of the sixties with the joyless (or is that Godless?) Mondo Cane.

Don't all thank them at once will you?

Knowing a good thing (and a fast buck) when they saw it, the pair followed this up with the (oh so slightly) contraversial Africa Addio, an allegedly hard-hitting look at life in Africa that seemed to consist only of gratuitous scenes of animal cruelty and a bunch of people getting violently killed (onscreen of course) in a variety of painful ways.

Worried that they were begining to be seen as talentless hacks pandering to the voyueristic tendencies of humanities baser elements Jacopetti and Prosperi decided the time was right to bring a big budget adaptation of Voltaire's Candide to the screen.

Unfortunately they only had about twenty Lire to their name so had to make do with unleashing Mondo Candido, the clap riddled whore of exploitation cinema on an unsuspecting public instead.

Which was very nice of them.

As a plus point tho' the movie did give it's name to a rather fine compilation CD of hip n' happening lounge Nu-Jazz and electronica tracks (with a fairly attractive lady on the cover) a few years back so I guess we should be kinda grateful.

She may look happy now but just
you wait till the dirty Gypsy fisting starts.

But all this fades into oblivion when compared to Goodbye Uncle Tom. Although some people will try to convince you that it's an unflinching look at the real horror of slavery (you can tell these folk, they're the ones who've never had to sit thru' it) both you and I know that this is utter bollocks because it's really just an excuse to watch a load of corpulent red faced old men chasing young black girls around a variety of hastily constructed sets before dribbling all over them whilst squeezing their breasts.

I'm not saying this is a bad thing (well I guess I am, sort of) but it'd be nice if they'd be honest about it.

I feel all dirty now, gonna haveta cleanse my soul with Porno Holocaust before bed....damn you Gualtiero and Franco.

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