Modern Pulp Oct 26 2017
INTO THE FIRE
Worse comes to worst in a dusty western town.

We told you the film was on the slate. When we noticed its premiere date was right around the corner we watched it immediately after finishing Hell Hath No Fury. First order of business—the poster and tagline are terrible. It shows how easy it can be for a studio to screw up both. The text tells you The Hot Spot is a film noir, but the triptych style art provides no compelling imagery. Worse, you don't see Don Johnson clearly, though as a huge television star thanks to Miami Vice he was the movie's greatest asset. And you don't see Jennifer Connelly at all, who even back then was one of Hollywood's most beautiful women. Posters are seen before they're read, and the visuals here give no reason to examine further. We grade it a major fail.

But what of the film? Well, it got generally good reviews, but the public never turned up to see it. Johnson is nicely cast as the drifter/grifter Harry Madox, so he isn't to blame. Jennifer Connelly and Virginia Madsen were less known, but as supporting characters they more than did their part. Other modern noirs had performed well in cinemas, so it's not the style of The Hot Spot that hurt it. The direction from Dennis Hopper sticks reasonably close to the novel, and he gets the overheated small town atmosphere right, so we'll give him a pass too. Most likely the studio simply didn't make an effective push behind the movie—a theory backed up by the bad poster.


But The Hot Spot holds up well these years later. Some might find Madsen's honeydripping femme fatale improbable, but she's channelling both the source material and classic noirs. Other viewers probably doubted a nineteen-year-old Connelly could develop feelings for a Johnson on the far side of forty, but it happens. People who doubt that just haven't spent enough time in the real world. In the film the age difference does not go unaddressed. Johnson's feelings for his inappropriate crush prompt him to act against his best interests. Whether he pays a price hangs less on his cunning than on chance. Or perhaps it hangs on someone else's cunning—that's where the best femmes fatales always come in. The Hot Spot premiered in the U.S. today in 1990.

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Hollywoodland May 30 2010
LAST RIDE
The man who went looking for America.

Promo photo of Dennis Hopper, actor in Rebel without a Cause, Cool Hand Luke, and Apocalypse Now, also co-writer, co-star and director of the eternal Easy Rider, seen here circa 1955. Easy Rider's official tagline was: A man went looking for America—and couldn't find it anywhere. It was meant to describe Peter Fonda's character Captain America, but it is real-life maverick Hopper for whom the line always seemed more apt

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Modern Pulp Feb 27 2009
ALONE IN THE DARK
Francis Ford Coppola makes a long day's journey into night.

You know what's curious about Apocalypse Now? That a movie with such a quirky (some would say botched) ending is considered a classic. We are not among those who think Francis Ford Coppola fumbled in the fourth quarter, but even if we were, one viewing of the documentary Hearts of Darkness would dispel that notion, and make us realize the true curiosity of Apocalypse Now is that it was ever finished in the first place. What with the heart attack, and the devastating monsoon, and the capital flight, and Hopper on drugs, and Brando on donuts, it's a mystery how Coppola survived. But there's no mystery why we love this Turkish one sheet—it's a genius piece of promo art that exudes both menace and chaos. Apocalypse Now aka Kiyamet (Turkish for "doomsday") premiered today in Istanbul in 1980.

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Vintage Pulp Jan 31 2009
DUO IN THE SUN
So you say you wanna be free.

Neither of us at Pulp Intl. were around during the 60s. Articles and reviews tell us Easy Rider—heavy with symbolism, sparse of dialogue, and low on budget—perfectly captured the unsettled mood of the times and changed moviemaking forever. But we weren't there, so we watch this film as latecomers, like people examining the high water mark of a flood that long ago receded. If the waters had risen higher perhaps we’d be living in a different world now, a better world rebuilt from scratch. But maybe not. Easy Rider was released in Japan today, 1970.

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Modern Pulp Jan 21 2009
HIDE & FREAK
Hey, you wanna go for a ride?

When Blue Velvet opened in 1986 it received decidedly tepid notices from several high-profile reviewers, one of whom was aghast at the sexual humiliation endured by Isabella Rossellini. But it was clear David Lynch meant to shock, even if his totally nude wife was doing the shocking. His disturbing neo-noir freakshow went on to win a nice collection of festival and critic’s awards, including the grand prize at France’s now defunct Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival. Above you see the Avoriaz promo art. Blue Velvet premiered there in mid-January 1987, then went into wide release across France today.

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Hollywoodland Nov 17 2008
MELROSE SPACE
Television vamp got so high, she still hasn’t come down.

Heather Locklear made a career playing the sexpot, but even she couldn’t beguile her way out of a Santa Barbara, CA traffic stop back in October. Now a judge has formally charged the actress with misdemeanor DUI for driving under the influence of pills. Precisely what kind of superpills these were we don’t know, but the last time we saw a girl look so spaced out she was running around in a cemetery with Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
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.
August 13
1995—Mickey Mantle Dies
New York Yankees outfielder Mickey Mantle dies of complications from cancer, after receiving a liver transplant. He was one of the greatest baseball players ever, but he was also an alcoholic and played drunk, hungover, and unprepared. He once said about himself, "Sometimes I think if I had the same body and the same natural ability and someone else's brain, who knows how good a player I might have been."
August 12
1943—Philadelphia Experiment Allegedly Takes Place
The U.S. government is believed by some to have attempted to create a cloak of invisibility around the Navy ship USS Eldridge. The top secret event is known as the Philadelphia Experiment and, according to believers, ultimately leads to the accidental teleportation of an entire vessel.
1953—Soviets Detonate Deliverable Nuke
The Soviet Union detonates a nuclear weapon codenamed Reaktivnyi Dvigatel Stalina, aka Stalin's Jet Engine. In the U.S. the bomb is codenamed Joe 4. It is a small yield fission bomb rather than a multi-stage fusion weapon, but it makes up for its relative weakness by being fully deployable, meaning it can be dropped from a bomber.
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