September 24, 2021

Eduardo Cemano's Fongaluli

Est. Reading: 2 minutes

​I’m not sure what just happened but I think it was a movie. I turned on my computer, there were lights and sound and then it was over. It was sort of a pornographic, adventure, comedy, I think. Imagine if you locked Jerry Lewis, Larry Flint, Grover from Sesame Street, and Terry Gilliam in a jail cell and fed them nothing but magic mushrooms for a a few months. Whatever resulted would probably be better than this film but Fangaluli would be the low-budget bastard child of it. Oh! I forgot to include Tchaikovsky. The whole film is set to the music of The Nutcracker. Later there’s some Debussy, and Mussorgsky. It was like a review quiz for a music history exam. Maybe that’s what this film was. A perverse study guide for the history of music.

It does sort have a plot, in the sense that things happen and then other things happen. A “scientist” gets a hold of some fongaluli leaves and feeds them to a very large shrimp who then turns into a curvaceous naked women. Before he can make love to her the effect of the leaves wears off and she turns back into a shrimp. Its the typical boy meets shrimp, boy looses shrimp formula.

The rest of the movie is loosely based on a combination of The Odyssey, King Kong, and Alice in Wonderland. There is a 400 foot tall, chest pounding woman who accosts the hero and bellows “I want you to climb up inside me and shake, rattle and roll until my toenails crumble and the heavens explode.” The frightened hero replies, I’m a scientist not a lover!” prefiguring both Doctor McCoy and Michael Jackson.


The hero in this hero’s journey is intensely annoying. He is played by a singularly untalented actor named Eduardo Cemano, who also happens to have written and directed the film. At least we know who to blame. Inexplicably he is also credited as the cinematographer even though he is on screen at least 85% of the movie. According to IMDB Cemano also “Served two years in the Army as a 4th Division Headquarter’s Cartoonist.” A true man of mystery.
Then there are the two hallucinatory orgy scenes. There must have been a sale at the costume rental place because for the first orgy everyone is wearing oversized plush animal heads. Its like some horrible sports mascot meeting gone wrong. Even though the whole thing was in in pink and purple and done with double and triple exposures I was able to make out a gorilla, panda, rabbit. frog, lion, donkey and I think I saw an orangutan too.


The sex hovers somewhere between hardcore and softcore. There is definitely a lot of enthusiastically feigned activity. Actually that describes the entire film, including the climactic scene where our hero is forced to dance to Klezmer music.

Fongaluli was made in 1972 and has all the hallmarks required of such films: party scenes, painted breasts, phrases like “sock it to me,” unusual camera positions and psychedelic silliness. If that is what you are looking for you should probably find a better movie than this one.


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