By Scott Von Doviak | September 14, 2000

If I had to make a list of the top 50,000 things I’d like to see on my television screen, it’s unlikely that graphic eye surgery and open-air circumcision would make the final cut (ouch). If you can say the same, you’d be wise to bypass “The Strange & The Gruesome,” a collection of archival footage that opens with the above mentioned visual treats.
But if your idea of a good time includes Malaysian cow beheadings and extreme close-ups of bulbous facial tumors, this is the tape for you. Just be sure not to watch it immediately after eating. Or before eating, for that matter.
“The Strange & The Gruesome” is absolutely free of any context. Live childbirth is followed by lightbulb swallowing, and it’s all presented as one continuous freak show. “Birth is a miracle,” the deadpan announcer informs us, accompanied by cheerful easy listening music. “A miracle that’s really kind of gross.”
Hardcore enthusiasts of the repulsive may find this collection a bit of a letdown, however. The middle portion is actually rather tame, mostly consisting of Eastern yogis performing feats of bodily contortion and some rather innocuous helmet testing. This may just be a trick to catch the viewer off-balance, though, because as soon as you begin to relax, the wild boar slaughtering begins. You can bet PETA members won’t be putting this one on their Christmas wish lists.
“The Strange & The Gruesome” winds down with some good old-fashioned dental surgery. As cheeks and gums were punctured with some terrifying metal apparatus, the urge to brush my teeth for about twenty-five minutes suddenly overcame me. So I can’t say for sure how it all turned out. If you really want to know, you’ll just have to see for yourself.

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