(a.k.a. This Is America)

Director: Romano Vanderbes           
Nobody you've ever heard of

No doubt inspired by the legendary Italian schlockumentary Mondo Cane, which can be said for a number of other movies in this vein. Emphasis of these movies is usually to gross out the audience by showing gory practices around the world. This time, it's different; the emphasis is on grossing out the audience by showing sexual practices in the United States!

I can't be sure what audiences thought of the happenings in this movie in the 70s. But it's reasonable to assume that since this was a low budget independent movie, the filmmakers decided to get as much outrageous footage as they could to drag in the crowd. With this theory in mind, I then have to confess that much of the events shown here are no longer shocking, which says a lot about how our society's beliefs have changed in just over two decades.

The movie begins with a montage of clips from what we are about to see, with a punk version of the song "America The Beautiful", performed by the Dictators. Then we begin. The narrator makes some inane comments about how the car has become such a big part of American life, etc. Then, to shock us into believing him, they show....gasp!....a demolition derby! We watch cars making the most unspectacular crashes for several minutes. Next, we see actual footage from the Indy 500 held a few years earlier, and the narrator makes some inane comments about how popular auto racing has become and we witness the announcer yelling, "Gentlemen, start your engines!", then a few minutes later, one of the race cars has a spectacular wipeout. The race is then restarted, and a few minutes later, another race car crashes! The announcer yells, "Gentlemen, start your engines!" for a third time (though at least every time he yells it onscreen, they have a different camera angle), and guessed it. Nothing of real interest is here, since I have seen an endless amount of crash footage on those sport network blooper shows, and it's just the same as what is shown in this film.

We cut from this car-nage to a nude beauty pageant. Huh? Anyway, it's the 1975 Miss All Bare American pageant, and it's exactly what you think it is. Except that the editing suggests that the women at one point in the pageant put their clothes on for one segment. Don't worry, they are naked at the announcement of the winner.

To be fair to the audience, the next segment is about exotic male dancers. The narrator mentions that ordinary women from all backgrounds go to these clubs to get some excitement in their lives. I wish I could talk to one of these women to discover why they get so excited, because, frankly, the dancers shown here have pretty ugly bodies. Add to the fact that these dancers never go the "full monty" - all they do is boogie in one place on the stage in their trunks. However, we do find out why they have such large bulges in their trunks - it's where they stuff the money.

Next is a short segment about the legal Nevada whorehouses. Save the fact that supposedly some of these businesses have private airstrips for the modern ranchers of the state, there's nothing to report that you already know. Which also goes for the next segment about "massage parlors", though in one quick cut you do see one of the legendary Pussycat Theaters in the background.

Sex therapy is then covered. Though all the participants are in the nude (including the instructor), it's isn't very exciting. Mostly it's close-ups of fat and/or hairy bodies and people rubbing legs or running their hair all over a person.

It's then time for the Eros awards! Those are the awards to people involved in the sex industry. After seeing Boogie Nights, I had assumed that such awards were of a small, casual nature. But here, it's a more lavish and formal event. The highlight is a dance number with a naked man and woman completely covered head-to-toe with silver paint. Well, the Oscar is naked, so I guess it's okay.

With wiggling wieners still dancing in our heads, it's appropriate that next up is devoted to hot dogs. Did you know that hot dogs are made with various animal parts??????????????????? Then we go behind the scenes of Frederick's of Hollywood. Ho-hum.

Bored? Don't worry! - up next is something unforgettable. We next visit a tattoo parlor, and we get nice close-ups of tattooing in progress (complete with spots of blood). The lip tattoo is pretty intense, but it can't beat the close-up of a man getting his penis tattooed! (And not without blood.) This was quite an ordeal to sit through, but just trying to tell the recipient that; he has a monologue about how his penis tattooing makes him feel really exited and more of a man.

We get some footage of pro wrestling. About all that's changed is that the wrestlers' now have more colorful personalities. Then some female mud wrestling. The narrator comments that these women - ordinarily housewives and college students - do this for excitement. He also calls them "psycho-sexuals".

The Golden Gate Bridge suicide phenomenon is touched on briefly, highlighted by footage of the coast guard pulling out the body of a victim from the ocean. The interesting thing about this is that the closing credits show the same action at the opposite angle. Very nice of the coast guard to be willing to push the body overboard so they could shoot it again.

Three segments on religion follow. The first reports on drive-in churches. The second is about the Lutheran Church of the Clown, where the minister puts on clown makeup in front of the worshipers. And then we get a fairly obvious faked report on Satanic cults. ("They agreed to let us shoot here if we didn't report the location of the church.") Then we are treated to part of their worship, in several camera angles, including one far up.

Did you know that people get married in crummy wedding services in Las Vegas? They show it here! And how do people celebrate their honeymoons these days? At a special hotel, where a "typical" newlywed couple check in with their two small suitcases, they work off their energy by...taking part in target practice at the rifle range.

Rent-a-dungeon are supposedly a growing phenomenon where couples can practice their S&M to their hearts' content. Not for the Mormons, who indulge in polygamy and are probably too tired to do so. We get a sneak peek at an actual Mormon wedding, with the groom's other wives present. In one brief shot, we see one of the wives has a rifle slung over her shoulder! Is this a "rifle wedding"?

The rest of the movie covers nude beaches, dildo factories (all you every wanted to know about the process!), brothels for seniors, drive-in-funerals (which do exist), cryogenics (where the body is placed in the chamber with the scientists shoving the corpse when the last part gets stuck - haven't they heard of stretchers?), footage of an "actual bank robbery" (never heard of security cameras that could follow people's movements, and in close-up), and co-ed prisons.

With a significant amount of the footage now obviously faked, and topics no longer shocking, this will disappoint a lot of viewers today. Though it's not the worse of this dubious genre, and it certainly gives people an idea of the feelings of sex in the pre AIDS era, as well as a feel for the 70s. So it's not without merit, but I wouldn't say you should go out of your way to rent it. I think it's one of those movies that people will know if they will like or not by its description. I read the box, had a idea it wasn't so great but rented it anyway - and I was right.

Check for availability on Amazon.

See also: Dogtown & Z-Boys, On Any Sunday, Skateboard Madness