May 27 marks the 25th anniversary of the premiere of “Mondo New York.” This cinematic disaster was given more attention than deserved here.
So, if May 27th was the opening date, then the closing date was what, May 29th? Were you one of the unlucky few who wasted your shekles on this 83 minutes of misery? Was nothing else on your dance card? Anything this side of a colonoscopy would have been a more pleasurable way to spend your time.
— Salvi C.
The summer of 1989 found a commercial in heavy rotation on the local “alternative” radio station. WFNX was playing the bejeezus out of a spot for a movie called “Mondo New York.” It started out as a backbeat-heavy thing, interspersed with quotes from the film, but then a very familiar riff came roaring out. “Holy Cow – is that the DICTATORS??” was my reaction the first time I heard it. Close enough, it was actually the debut recording on Manitoba’s Wild Kingdom, with an un-credited RTB on lead, blasting their way through “New York, New York.”
The very cool radio spot played incessantly for 2 weeks, leading up to the movie’s debut weekend. Which, by the way, was also its closing weekend. The reviews for the film were uniformly savage, with “pointless, pretentious, and puerile” being my favorite, and pretty much chased the flick out of town and into oblivion, where it’s remained for the last 20 or so years. Rumors of the film containing some footage of our boys went unconfirmed.
I recently saw a VHS copy on Amazon, and thought to myself, “Well, the reviews were terrible, and the soundtrack LP was worthless. But the commercial was great, so surely the film it came from has to have some small degree of merit, right? Right?” Well, $20 later, I’m here to tell you that MNY is every bit as putrid as the critics said it was.
I love bad movies. Stupid story, bad acting, lack of continuity, zippers showing on the monster’s costume: To me, these are all assets, as long as the movie itself is entertaining. A good bad movie is much more enjoyable than a bad good movie.
On the surface, 1976’s “Jabberwalk,” AKA “This Is America,” an ITM (International Talent Marketing) production, has all the ingredients for a classic bad movie. The film is a series of vignettes about the American Way, with footage of NYC from its grimiest era, female wrassling (featuring the Fabulous Moolah), demolition derby, geriatric prostitution rings, junk food addictions, drive-in churches and other assorted weirdness. There’s plenty of nudity and explosions, and, most importantly, it has a few seconds of priceless footage of the Dictators circa 1975. This thing should rock, right? So how come it’s such a stinker???