Mondo Cane (1962) (aka Tales of the Bizarre: Rites, Rituals and Superstitions)
Spoiler Alert !
Some of these pictures and descriptions may give away plot details that you might not want to know before watching the film.
This might be the first "shockumentary." Made by Italian filmmakers using real and staged events, it shows eccentric cultures around the world with their bizarre rites and practices, cruel behavior, and all sorts of exploitation of sex and violence, with plenty of violence against animals. The film consists of a wide variety of random and unconnected lurid vignettes that include gangs of grass skirt wearing topless women of the Trobriand Islands who chase men and drag them into the bushes for sex, a villiage in New Guinea that kills and eats their pigs every five years, a pet cemetary in Pasadena, a restaurant in Taipei that cooks dogs that the customers pick out from cages, geese tortured to make fois gras, women in the Bismark Archipeligo who are locked in cages and fattened up until they reach 200 pounds so they can be wives of the skinny village dictator, automobile graveyards where cars are smashed into metal cubes, a cargo cult in Australia that worships airplanes, underwater human graveyards where the corpses attract sharks that maim the local fishermen so they catch and torture sharks, teenage girl lifeguards on a beach in Australia, nude women covered with bright blue paint throwing themselves at a canvas to make modern art, and lots more, including two segments with snakes.
We see a market in Singapore (where we are told snake is the national dish) where a woman shops for a snake to bring home for dinner. She picks one out and the salesman skins it alive before cutting off its head and throwing the meat in a bag. The narrator tells us that for every 100 snakes put on sale at least 50 are discarded because they're considered inedible so they're shipped off to America and Europe. We also see a snake with the skin still on it being cooked and eaten in an outdoor restaurant.
We also see a festival in a small town in Italy on St. Dominic's Day. St. Dominic is admired for taming the snakes in a region that was once infested with venomous vipers. He took away their venom and made all the snakes harmless. (I prefer this guy to St. Patrick who just got rid of all the snakes.) The people celebrate Saint Dominic by carrying snakes around their necks and in their hands, and by draping snakes around a statue of the saint that is carried in procession around the town.
After a little research I found that this is the
festival of snake catchers which is held every May 1st in the small village of Cocullo in celebration of Saint Domenico. The festival protects the people from snake bite and toothaches. In mid March local snake catchers catch local harmless snakes such as Four-lined Snakes, Aesulapian Snakes, and Grass Snakes, then keep them for the festival, after which I assume they release them. Wickipedia