Directors: Jack Hill and John Lamb
Kit Parker Films/VCI Entertainment

MONDO KEYHOLE has been at the top of many cult film fans wish list ever since the ill fated VHS release was pulled from shelves in the 1990s. While it was made under the watchful eye of producer John Lamb, who wanted to fully capitalize on the theme of rape, director Jack Hill was able to incorporate enough of his own thoughts and themes to create a truly titillating and distinctive motion picture. Fortunately, VCI, under its PSYCHOTRONICA collection, has finally released MONDO KEYHOLE on DVD with all the nudity and debauchery previously missing from its brief VHS release.

Howard Thorne (Nick Moriarty) runs a successful mail order pornography business called Art Products Inc. His company caters to a number of different fetishes in a variety of mediums including, print, 16mm loops and even vinyl. But the one thing that gets Howard's blood racing is not found in his diverse catalogue. Rape is the only way Howard can get his rocks off and the urge to violently take with out asking is becoming more difficult to control with each day. Howard often drops everything without a moment's notice to stalk and assault any female unfortunate enough to catch his eye. Unaware of his perversions, Howard’s wife Vicky (Adele Rein, THE GIRL WITH THE HUNGRY EYES) a love-starved beauty, finds her frequent sexual advances ignored as Howard would rather keep her doped up than deal with a willing partner. After a violent series of assaults, Howard answers a personal ad looking for a "big man who knows how to treat a woman in all three languages." Carol (Carole Baughman, MY TALE IS HOT), who placed the ad, immediately rejects Howard when he shows up at her front door but the word “no” has never stopped him before. The following day, Carol drops in on her friend (Cathy Crowfoot, MERMAIDS OF TIBURON) while she is practicing judo, to inform her of the previous night’s horrible events. Shocked and appalled, Carol’s friend, known only as The Crow, vows to help Carol seek her revenge. That night Vicky invites Howard to attend a swingers gathering with her and her female companion. Howard declines, but later dons a mask and arrives late to the party with the aim of assaulting his wife's friend. Howard’s sinful urges have however made him predictable prey for The Crow and Carol, who lay in wait for him to be tempted by their busty bait.

MONDO KEYHOLE opens with a striking montage of psychological imagery. A waving pocket watch, a flaming skull, dark blood running over a pale white brain are all highlighted by a narrator who informs us that while some scenes are steeped in reality, others are only what we perceive in our mind. On the feature’s commentary track, writer/director Jack Hill refers to MONDO KEYHOLE as his softcore art film. This is a perfect way to describe this very unique and enjoyable picture. For all intents and purposes, MONDO KEYHOLE is a sexploitation roughie, but like most of Mr. Hill’s films, there is a little something more that raises it slightly above its genre label. Nick Moriarty, a stage name given by Jack, was in fact a pornographer. Considering the practically nonexistent budget, Jack was wise enough to capitalize on all available commodities, using Nick’s actual offices and supply room as sets. Producer John Lamb's house was also used rather extensively, as both Howard’s home and as the setting for the film's climatic orgy. No matter what your deviant tastes are, you will probably find them represented here accompanied by a number of attractive females. You have to give Jack Hill credit, he knew how to cast. With such a bevy of beautiful woman present it’s hard to pick a favorite, although Cathy Crowfoot's striking spider influenced dominatrix outfit will absolutely have you remembering the film's climax long after initial viewing. Keep a watchful eye open for Jack Hill himself, as he even gets in on the action. That’s him being tied up and whipped in the scene of the 16mm loop shoot!

Originally release on VHS by Something Weird Video, the title was later pulled at the request of producer John Lamb. While that release represented an edited version of the film, MONDO KEYHOLE has thankfully has been presented on this release in its entirety. The film is presented non-anamorphic in a 1.66:1 aspect ratio. While fans of Jack Hill will be satisfied to finally have available the film presented uncut and from the original 35mm print, it would have been nice to see a bit more care taken toward its presentation. The good news is that picture comes through sharp and clear. There are a few instances of some sporadic and spastic horizontal scratching, but all in all the film looks damn good for its age. According to the disc's scene selection page there are 12 chapters to MONDO KEYHOLE, when in fact there are 14. I mention this because the transition from chapter 10 to 11 causes the film to pause before quickly jumping forward to chapter 12. A very noticeable annoyance giving that it takes place right in the middle of an orgy. The opening credits also appear to be digitally replaced title cards as a quick finger on the pause button will reveal the original credits. Audio is excellent with both dialogue and soundtrack coming across clear and even.

As mentioned earlier, MONDO KEYHOLE features a commentary track with Jack Hill (THE BIG BIRD CAGE) moderated by Elijah Drenner, who directed the documentary short THE HATCHING OF SPIDER BABY found on the recent Dark Sky Films’ DVD release of SPIDER BABY. Jack Hill has yet to record a commentary track that isn’t thoroughly enjoyable and MONDO KEYHOLE is no exception. Jack has a vivid memory of the film's shoot and comments on all aspects of the production, from the musicians hired to provide the score to the bondage contraption that he personally designed. During the commentary there is mention of additional dream sequence footage not included in the version of the film present., which unfortunately was not provided on this release. It would have made a nice addition to the disc's special features.

This disc’s second feature, THE RAW ONES, features an intro by Jack Hill and Elijah Drenner that is far and away more interesting than the feature itself. In it the two discuss the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in 1957 that stated that nudity in and of itself is not to be considered obscene. This ruling would allow THE RAW ONES to be the first film to show full frontal nudity in a public theater. Jack recalls in the intro that during the film's debut a lawyer was present, just in case the theater was raided by local law enforcement. When Jack Hill first began working for producer John Lamb he was hired to shoot several 16mm nudist films. At the time John had a successful mail order business that outfitted the demand of such films featuring the nudist lifestyle. These shorts where then later edited together by Jack, who added Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake" for the film's score to create THE RAW ONES. As for the film itself, if you’ve seen one nudie cutie you’ve seen them all. Several male and female models strip down to their birthday suits to engage in a number of arbitrary activities on land and sea. There is nude archery, nude fishing, nude shuffleboard and I believe there is an unwritten rule that it’s not a nudie cutie until someone gets on a trampoline. All of this is narrated by a man who constantly reminds us that we should not judge these people as what is deemed obscene is objective and varies from country to country.

THE RAW ONES is presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio and holds up rather well. Colors are a bit dull but flesh tones and tan lines look natural. Audio is sufficient with the narrator’s dull monotone voice eventually blending into the accompanying Tchaikovsky soundtrack and becoming unnoticed, but who watches a nudie cutie for the dialogue?

Extras include trailers for LIKE IT IS and MAG WHEELS (SUMMER SCHOOL), both films recently acquired by Kit Parker Films according to their website, and SANTO VS. THE MARTIAN INVASION. If you’re a fan of Jack Hill I would definitely recommend picking this one up. While the presentation is far from stellar, it is nice to finally have MONDO KEYHOLE readily available on DVD. (Jason McElreath)