Modern Pulp Oct 11 2018
STRANGEST THINGS
Seven monsters for the Halloween season.


As we get a closer to Halloween we thought it was time to put together a little tribute to the types of monsters that make the occasion fun. These are carved woodblock ink prints by artist Brian Reedy of seven classic horrors. We're sure you recognize the first six, but possibly not the seventh. That one is the shadow monster from the television series Stranger Things, a modern classic creation—in our opinion anyway—from a show well worth watching if you haven't seen it.

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Vintage Pulp Jul 16 2017
MARRIAGE TRANSYLVANIAN STYLE
Every time I turn my back you suck another little hussy from the village

This unusual Japanese poster was made to promote the horror flick The Brides of Dracula, which premiered in the U.K. today in 1960. We don't have a Japanese premiere date, but we're guessing it was several years later. In the film, a French schoolteacher is hired to staff a position in Transylvania and, having lodging difficulties upon arrival, ends up accepting an offer by Baroness Meinster to spend the night in her creepy old castle. The teacher discovers the Baroness's son chained up in one of the rooms. She helps the seemingly beleaguered wretch escape, not realizing she's just released a vampire. She still doesn't realize it when she later agrees to marry him, but that's about when Dr. Abraham Van Helsing shows up with plans to ram a sharp piece of wood through his heart. Will it happen in time to save the teacher from a really bad marriage to a vampire who has neglected to mention not only that he's undead, but that he already has several undead wives? You'll have to watch to find that out. If you like dungeon horror, it's worth the effort, as this is from Hammer Studios, and is probably one of the best efforts from one of the most storied horror production companies.

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Vintage Pulp Dec 21 2014
RITE HERE, RITE NOW
Satan claws is coming to town.

Nothing says Christmas like a cheesy horror movie, and they don’t get much cheesier than Hammer Film Productions’ b-flick Satanic Rites of Dracula. This was the seventh and last movie to feature Christopher Lee playing Dracula, a role he inhabited with great gusto, and the third with Peter Cushing as Van Helsing. In other words, Hammer really knew how to beat a dead horse. Plenty of summaries of this online, so we won’t bother. We just wanted to show you the nice art. Satanic Rites of Dracula first played in Japan today in 1974. 

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Vintage Pulp Oct 31 2013
PACIFIC GRIM
Japanese horror movies feature plenty of tricks and treats.


Teruo Ishii’s Kyôfu kikei ningen: Edogawa Rampo zenshû, aka Horrors of Malformed Men, or sometimes Horror of a Deformed Man, is a movie that touched sensitive nerves in Japan when it was released. Not only was it gruesome and somewhat erotic, but the malformed men were a direct reference to Japan’s post-nuclear nightmare. The fact that their physicality mimicked Japan’s Butoh dance form, a type of performance emphasizing bizarre movements, made the movie even more disturbing. So much so that it was banned upon release and really only gained widespread availability upon being licensed for DVD. It premiered in Japan today in 1969, which brings us to the point of sharing it with you—it’s Halloween in the US, and in Latin American countries it’s the beginning of Dia de Muertos, or Day of the Dead. Japan celebrates neither holiday, but we can’t imagine anything serving as better homage than Japanese horror posters. Below you’ll find an unlucky thirteen of them for movies released in Japan between 1954 and 1969. Information on each appears below the art.

Bin Kato’s Kaibyo Oumaga-tsuji, aka Cat Ghost of Ouma Cross, 1954. Japanese horror is rife with ghost cats, presumably because the concept dates back to early folklore. In this movie a kabuki actress is murdered via ingesting poison, and when a cat licks up some of her blood it becomes possessed by her very angry spirit. We never thought we’d see another blood-swilling cat. We were wrong.

Yoshihiro Ishikawa’s Kaibyô noroi numa, aka Ghost-Cat Cursed Pond, 1968. Both the standard promo and the panel length art appear above. This one is a period piece set in the 1600s, and the mechanism this time involves a woman who, rather than accept a forced marriage to the man who brought about her husband’s death, instead drowns herself and her pet feline. Cue mayhem.

Kinnosuke Fukuda’s Kaibyo karakuri tenjo, aka Ghost-Cat of Karakuri Tenjo, also sometimes referred to as Ghost Cat in the Ceiling, 1958. We haven’t seen this one, and neither has anyone else, apparently, because we can’t find anything on it. But if the cat in the ceiling is anything like this one, we’re terrified.

Kenji Misumi’s Kaibyo Noroi No Kabe, aka Ghost Cat Cursed Wall, also sometimes referred to as Ghost Cat Wall of Hatred, 1969. In this one, a noblewoman accused of an affair is sealed behind the wall of a mausoleum with—wait for it—a cat. Pretty soon an image of the cat appears on the wall, and the fact that it can’t be removed is an indication of the catastrophe—oh no we didn't—to come.

Kazuo Mori’s Akadô Suzunosuke: Mitsume no chôjin, aka Red-armored Suzunosuke: Three-Eyed Birdman, 1958. We cleverly transition from cats to birds with this poster. The movie, which was adapted from a comic book and led to a film series of which this is the seventh installment, is the tale of a samurai battling an evil gang of demonic beasts led by what looks like a demented Foghorn Leghorn. We waited all film, but not once did it quip, "I say, I say, I say, boy, chicken cordon blow me."

Katsuhiko Tasaka’s Kaidan yonaki-doro, aka Ghost Story: Crying in the Night Lantern, 1962. This one we haven’t seen, but it seems to be the story of a man who exposes a crime and ends up buried alive for his troubles, a terrible punishment referred to in the States as being "Manninged." No word on whether there’s a cat in there with him.

Kimiyoshi Yasuda’s Kaidan Kasane-ga-fuchi, aka The Depths, The Ghost of Kasane, and The Ghosts of Kasane Swamp, 1960. This is complicated to explain. Basically, a demand to repay a debt leads to murder, followed by the victim’s body being dumped in a swamp. The victim’s ghost rises from the swamp and tricks the murderer into killing his own wife, which leads to him drowning himself in the same swamp. The story then leaps forward to examine the consequences on the victim’s daughter and the murderer’s son, Romeo and Juliet style: “My god—your dad disappeared in Kasane Swamp too? It’s like we were made for each other!”

This poster is for a triple feature of Michio Yamamoto’s Noroi no yakata: Chi o suu me, aka Lake of Dracula, Nobuo Nakagawa’s Tôkaidô Yotsuya kaidan, aka Ghost of Yotsuya, and a third movie that has something to do with a swamp (though presumably not Kasane Swamp), and maybe hell too. We won’t get into synopses for these, but you can see a trailer for Lake of Dracula here, and for Ghost Story of Yatsuya here.

Tokuzô Tanaka’s Kaidan yukijorô, aka Ghost Story of the Snow Fairy, or sometimes The Snow Woman, 1968. In this one a sculptor and apprentice venture into the mountains seeking a special wood they plan to use to build a statue. A snow witch (standard in Japanese folklore) kills the sculptor but spares the apprentice, who continues his life and work, but with the whole icy episode hanging over his head. Soon he meets a beautiful young woman, falls in love and marries her, thus condemning her to that special brand of hopeful impoverishment reserved for the talented poor. Oh, and more witch.

Hiroshi Matsuno’s Kyûketsu dokuro-sen, aka Ghost Ship: Living Skeleton, or sometimes just The Living Skeleton, 1968. Cited as an influence on John Carpenter’s The Fog, the story opens with a massacre aboard a ship and the rest deals with events of supernatural justice set into motion by relatives of the murder victims. Since living skeletons don’t really figure into this, it should probably just be called “Ghost Ship,” like the 2002 American horror flick that ripped it off. You can see a trailer for Kyûketsu dokuro-sen here.

Nobuo Nakagawa’s Kaidan hebi-onna aka Snake Woman’s Curse, 1968. As you have doubtless noted, revenge is a strong motif in Japanese horror, and this one is no exception. When an old man dies in debt to a rich landowner, his wife and daughter become, according to feudal law, indentured servants. The landowner is astonishingly cruel, which means the widow and daughter suffer all the expected indignities and violations—multiple times—but just when he thinks he’s going to get away with his misdeeds things start to go pear-shaped for him. Trailer here.

We’ll have more Japanese poster collections down the line. Happy Halloween/Day of the Dead everyone.

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Femmes Fatales Jan 9 2013
WILDE THING
We bet her phaser is set on “stunning.”

This sci-fi themed photo shows British actress Lorna Wilde, who appeared in such films as The Body Stealers and Son of Dracula. She’s seen here in an image from the British glamour magazine Girl Illustrated, probably 1971 or 1972. 

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Vintage Pulp Nov 30 2012
BLOOD CURSE
Pay no attention to the fiend behind the curtain.

Above is an absolutely vibrant cover for Charles Higham’s vampire anthology The Curse of Dracula and Other Terrifying Tales, published by the Aussie imprint Horwitz in 1962. Inside you get six stories by Theophile Gautier, H.T.W. Bousfield, Ambrose Bierce, E. Nesbit, Honoré de Balzac, and that one guy, er, what’s his name? Ah! Bram Stoker. The cover artist was Frank Benier, who was Australian by birth but Basque by ancestry and saw his first piece published when he was but fourteen. Apparently, he was primarily a cartoonist, but this is a top tier pulp painting he’s put together here. Hopefully we’ll run across more of his work down the line.  

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Vintage Pulp May 16 2012
IN FULL LOOM
Ever get the feeling you're being watched?

Above are three dust jackets for the classics of macabre literature Frankenstein, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, and Dracula, by Shelley, Poe, and Stoker respectively. These books are photoplay editions, i.e. novelizations of silent film source material. The editions usually had a handful of production photos inside, as well as film production credits. Basically, these were seen as forms of advertisement for the movies, and back then it was the books people were interested in, not the dust jackets. As a result, the jackets were not well treated by owners, and often were thrown away. That may seem strange, looking at the art above, but it’s true. Picture an old movie. Any old movie. And now imagine a scene set in a study or den. See all those books on the walls? No dust jackets. Back then books were thought of as classiest and most impressive sans jackets. That’s why the items above are extraordinarily rare, and are each worth a fortune today. The first two were painted by Nathan Machtey, and the third is signed G.B., who is a painter unknown to us so far. But all three look rather the same, don't they, with a looming, monstrous shape menacing an insensate woman? They are pure brilliance. We’ve seen some of these at auction for $5,000, and we hear they can go for much more. Much, much more. Of course, the most expensive ones are first editions, with book and dust jacket paired and in good condition, but if the book and jacket are separated, the jackets still go for mucho dinero. We’ll keep an eye out for more Machtey work, and try to identify that second artist. We'll also look for more photoplay editions, and share whatever we uncover. 

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Vintage Pulp Oct 11 2009
RED REIGN
This one is a real bloodbath.

You’d think a film entitled Countess Dracula is a vampire movie, but it isn’t—at least not in the traditional sense. Rather it’s about real-life figure Erzebet Bathory, a noblewoman who killed three-hundred virgins in medieval Hungary and bathed in their blood to reverse the effects of aging. The Countess is portrayed by Ingrid Pitt, who does what any post-menopausal woman would do when made young again—gets laid. Actually, since this is the Middle Ages she has to get wooed first, which involves constantly performing the ritual in order to play the role of an available young woman. But these rituals from dusty old books always have side effects. Some are relatively benign—dizziness, headaches, erections lasting more than four hours—while others are more serious. In this case the problem is each period of youthfulness granted is shorter and the Countess’s aged visage, when it returns, is ever more witchlike and hideous. Nevertheless, the supply of nubile village virgins lasts long enough for the Countess to marry the man of her dreams. But then comes the wedding night, when the new husband is bitterly disappointed, and completely taken aback by his bride’s total change in attitude and appearance—and this is all before the spell even wears off. Badabing. Seriously, though, this is Hammer Studios horror and we recommend the film for that reason alone. It isn’t Hammer’s best, but it’s still got that ineffable British style. Countess Dracula premiered in the U.S. today in 1971.     

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Vintage Pulp Jul 28 2009
MONSTER MASH-UP
Those were the beast years of our lives.

Assorted Mexican lobby cards featuring famous and not-so-famous monsters. These films were released in English as Dracula’s Lake, Hideous Sun Demon, Orlak the Hell of Frankenstein, The Green Hell, The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues, Lycanthropus, Neutron Versus the Karate Assassins, Cat People, Attack of the Giant Leeches, The Monster Walks, Zombie Lake, The She-Wolf, and Valley of the Zombies.     

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Vintage Pulp Jul 9 2009
HAMMER TIME
If you love somebody, let them bleed.

If you like Hammer Studios' gothic horror films, Straight on till Morning might not quite be your bucket of blood, but you have to give the studio behind The Satanic Rites of Dracula and Visitor from the Grave credit for getting out of their comfort zone. It’s out with the old, in with the new, as they leave castles and moors behind for the penthouses and pavement of modern day London. The result, which premiered in the U.K. today in 1972, is decidedly mixed. Not that this film isn’t creepy—just the opposite, watching miss lonely heart Rita Tushingham fall unknowingly into the arms of a sadistic killer is like having a front row seat for a downward spiral. She’s sad and innocent; he’s compelled to kill beautiful women—somehow we know this isn’t going to end with her tossing a bouquet to her bridesmaids. Bleak though it may be, we think this one is worth a viewing. Or, to quote Hammer Studios’ namesake, the redoubtable MC Hammer: “When you talkin’ about the Hammer, you talkin’ about a show.”

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
October 17
1933—Capone Sentenced to Prison
Chicago organized crime boss Al Capone is convicted of income tax evasion after all other attempts to tie him to an assortment of crimes, from the mass murder of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre to widespread violations of the Volstead Act, fail. He is sentenced to eleven years in federal prison and, cut off from the outside world while on Alcatraz Island, his power is finally broken.
October 16
1964—China Detonates Nuke
At the Lop Nur test site located between the Taklamakan and Kuruktag deserts, the People's Republic of China detonates its first nuclear weapon, codenamed 596 after the month of June 1959, which is when the program was initiated.
1996—Handgun Ban in the UK
In response to a mass shooting in Dunblane, Scotland that kills 16 children, the British Conservative government announces a law to ban all handguns, with the exception .22 caliber target pistols. When Labor takes power several months later, they extend the ban to all handguns.
October 15
1945—Laval Executed
Pierre Laval, who was the premier of Vichy, France, which had collaborated with the Nazis during World War II, is shot by a firing squad for treason. In subsequent years it emerges that Laval may have considered himself a patriot whose goal was to publicly submit to the Germans while doing everything possible behind the scenes to thwart them. In at least one respect he may have succeeded: fifty percent of French Jews survived the war, whereas in other territories about ninety percent perished.
1966—Black Panthers Form
In the U.S., in Oakland, California, Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale form the Black Panther political party. The Panthers are active in American politics throughout the 1960s and 1970s, but eventually legal troubles combined with a schism over the direction of the party lead to its dissolution.
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