June 13, 1988 12:00 PM

Are you eager to see what really lurks at the Big Apple’s core? Do you yearn to push past hookers and junkies in lower Manhattan and enter the underground club scene of slam dancers, voodoo ritualists and performance artists? Here’s the movie to cure your craving fast. Heading into national release this month, this gross-out documentary elicits more yechs than yuks. The grisly spectacle of cockfights, what appear to be slave auctions in Chinatown and men biting the heads off chickens is hardly entertainment. But audiences lined up to see the same kind of thing in the 1963 hit Mondo Cane. More timid souls are warned this time to open their peepers only for those acts that do not involve animals. Among them: Karen Finley—a living reprimand to everyone who ever fessed up to liking an episode of thirtysomething—smearing her naked body with raw eggs and glitter while castigating yuppie greed (“You’re the reason that David’s Cookies is a symbol of our culture”); Phoebe Legere wrapping her long legs around an electric guitar for what seems like a dangerously erotic song tribute to Marilyn Monroe; Emilio Cubiero reciting what he calls terrorist poetry; Ann (Making Mr. Right) Magnuson making like a twisted Julie Andrews; Dean Johnson, a bald six-footer, fronting a band called the Weenies wearing a leather miniskirt. The whole hodgepodge plays like a nightmare version of TV’s Star Search. Producer Stuart S. Shapiro imposed an A (Adults) rating on Mondo to avoid an X. “I asked what I would have to do to get an R,” Shapiro said. “I was told I would have to shoot the film all over again.” Only seeing the film again would be a worse fate.

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