Modern Pulp Mar 20 2018
SOUND AND FURY
John Travolta sets the recording straight.


Above is a Japanese poster for Brian De Palma's 1981 thriller Blow Out, his update of the classic British thriller Blowup. In the latter film a photographer thinks he's accidentally shot a photo of a murder, and in Blow Out a movie sound man thinks he's accidentally recorded one. And indeed he has, a political assassination actually, which brings highly connected villains out of the woodwork to engineer a cover-up. The movie stars John Travolta in his hunk incarnation, pouting his way through the twists and turns of the mystery, along with Nancy Allen as his shakedown artist sidekick. De Palma's movies often underwhelm upon release but usually age well. This is a good example. Audiences were cool toward Blow Out but it's a solid, giallo influenced thriller, wrapped in Kennedyesque conspiracy. It premiered in the U.S. in the summer of 1981 and reached Japan today in 1982 with the title ミッドナイトクロス, or Middonaito kurosu, which means “midnight cross.”

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Modern Pulp Aug 23 2012
SCAR WARS
Pacino arrives in Korea in a hail of bullets.

Something completely different today, this is a South Korean poster for the 1983 Brian De Palma thriller Scarface, which didn’t open there until December 1984. We have no idea what all that info packed on the poster says. Maybe something about how this is the most violence to hit Korean shores since the end of the war. The image, by the way, is not a nice clean scan, but rather a digital photo shot through a store window. It looks pretty good, though, no? Anyway, we have others and maybe we’ll share those later.

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Modern Pulp Dec 1 2008
FACE OF DEATH
I want the world, chico, and everything in it.

It was called Scarface, but it had nothing to do with Howard Hawks’ 1932 classic. No, this version was a big, beautiful, transgressive mess cooked up by Oliver Stone, directed by Brian de Palma, and brought to life by Al Pacino, with an icy assist from Michelle Pfieffer. You couldn’t take your eyes off it, even during the gut-wrenching chainsaw scene. When this post-gangster epic ended in a storm of cordite, coke dust, sparks, and blood spray, you realized you’d barely breathed during the final ten minutes. Many critics panned it, yet it established its own cinematic cult and, we think it’s fair to say, will remain relevant for a very long time. Even its promo art is among the most iconic in film history. We've posted one above, and two lesser-known versions below. Scarface premiered today in 1983.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
August 16
1942—Blimp Crew Disappears without a Trace
The two-person crew of the U.S. naval blimp L-8 disappears on a routine patrol over the Pacific Ocean. The blimp drifts without her crew and crashes in Daly City, California. The mystery of the crew's disappearance is never solved.
1977—Elvis Presley Dies
Music icon Elvis Presley is found unresponsive by his fiancée on the floor of his Graceland bedroom suite. Attempts to revive him fail and he's pronounced dead soon afterward. The cause of death is often cited as drug overdose, but toxicology tests have never found evidence this was the case. More likely, years of drug abuse contributed to generally frail health and an overtaxed heart that suddenly failed.
August 15
1969—Woodstock Festival Begins
The Woodstock Music & Art Fair, which was billed as an Aquarian Exposition, takes place on a 600 acre dairy farm in Bethel, New York. It would run for three sometimes rainy days and feature thirty-two acts performing at all hours of the day and night. Today the festival is regarded as one of the greatest events in popular music history.
1977—Radio Signal Arrives from Deep Space
An unidentified radio signal, nicknamed the WOW Signal for the notation a scientist made on a computer readout, is briefly detected by the SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) project's Big Ear radio telescope. Despite a month of searching the same section of space, the signal is never found again.
August 14
1912—U.S. Invades Nicaragua
United States Marines invade Nicaragua to support the U.S.-backed government installed there after José Santos Zelaya had resigned three years earlier. American troops remain for eleven years.
1936—Last Public Execution in U.S.
Rainey Bethea, who had been convicted of rape and murder, is hanged in Owensboro, Kentucky in what is the last public execution performed in the United States.
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