Vintage Pulp Mar 15 2018
Big trouble in little China.

After running across a poster this pretty we simply had to watch The Terror of the Tongs. Of course, the quality of an old Hollywood movie set in Asia is inversely proportional to the number of times you hear a gong. In The Terror of the Tongs you hear quite a few. You know the drill. Someone says the bad guys' headquarters is in the old part of town—GONG!—cut to the villains in their lair. Usually such movies feature white cast members Asianized with make-up and putty eyelids, and this is also an inverse indicator of quality.
But on that score Tongs defies the rule. Most major cast members are white, but the movie, though inherently racist, is not a bad piece of entertainment. A paradox? Indeed, young one. But we mean to say that once you get over the minstrel aspects—if you ever do, and we don't suggest that you should—what you get here is a fun little tale of a white ship captain in the mysterious Orient dealing with forces he can barely comprehend. When he accidentally comes into possession of a valuable item it results in the murder of his airhead daughter and sends him on a mission to make the responsible tong—i.e. Hong Kong mafia—pay.
Geoffrey Toone plays the noble and aggrieved captain, while veteran Brit actor Christopher Lee stars as the evil tong honcho Chung King. The film is beautifully made, with big sets and florid colors that dazzle the eye, and it's less predictable than you'd expect. It's clear the filmmakers were deadly serious, which makes it funny that the final product is considered pure cheese today. If you can look past the yellow makeup and prosthetic eyelids you'll find some entertainment here. And if not, at the very least you'll be thankful how far we've all come. The Terror of the Tongs premiered today in 1961.


Vintage Pulp Jan 13 2018
… two... and three. Wait. I screwed up again. That would've been on three and. I meant to do it on three.

Here's something backwards from what we usually share—a novel adapted from a film instead of vice versa. The Camp on Blood Island is a 1958 British-made World War II film written by J.M. White and Val Guest, and when you learn it was produced by schlockmeisters deluxe Hammer Film you could be forgiven for suspecting it was low rent b-cinema, but this is Hammer trying to be highbrow. Near the end of the Pacific War, a Japanese prison camp commandant decides that if Japan surrenders he'll execute all his prisoners. So the prisoners decide to prevent news of any prospective surrender from reaching the commandant by sabotaging communications, and they also prepare to rebel when the times comes. We may check the film out sometime, but we were mainly drawn by the paperback art. Not only did it remind us that prison camp novels are yet another subset of mid-century literature, but we saw the Josh Kirby signature on this one and realized we haven't featured him near enough. Last time we ran across him was on this excellent piece. We'll dig around for more. And we may also put together a small collection of prisoner-of-war covers later. They range from true stories to blatant sexploitation, and much of the art is worth seeing.


Femmes Fatales Dec 28 2017
She's ready to go anywhere her legs take her.

British actress Veronica Carlson's first screen role was an uncredited bit in Casino Royale, and her latest role is in 2018's upcoming House of the Gorgon. In between she became well known as a regular player in various Hammer Studios horror films. The above promo image was made when she appeared on the British television series The Saint. She looks a bit sinful, though, don't you think. Copyright 1969.


Vintage Pulp Jul 16 2017
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.


Vintage Pulp Nov 22 2015
This one’s a real Scream.

The two posters you see here, both amazing, were made for Scream of Fear, which showed in France and Belgium as Hurler du peur and Spain as El sabor del miedo. We checked it out. Susan Strasberg stars as a wheelchair bound woman who returns to her father’s estate and keeps seeing his corpse around the property. Each time this happens she unleashes a piercing scream—hence the title of the film. But is she really seeing her father? Or is she merely hysterical? Well, it wouldn’t be much of a thriller if it were all in her head. The question really is who’s trying to drive her mad. Possibly her stepmother. Possibly the chauffeur. Maybe even her father, since he’s not dead, but only away on business. With several late twists, you’ll have a hard time figuring it out. This was from Hammer Studios and they hit the nail squarely on the head. Scream of Fear opened in France today in 1961, and had already played Spain a few weeks earlier.  


Vintage Pulp Dec 21 2014
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. 


Vintage Pulp Feb 21 2014
Raquel Welch shows what survival of the fittest is really about.

The official poster for Hammer Film Productions’ smash hit One Million Years B.C., which was painted by famed British illustrator Tom Chantrell, is one of the most famous pieces of promotional art to come out of the 1960s. You  see that just below. The piece above is also Chantrell's work. Dated 1965 and signed at lower right with his familiar  block printing, it would have been made the year before One Million Years B.C. premiered, which perhaps explains why Raquel Welch isn’t yet the focus of the art. Good decision, eventually putting her on the poster, but we like this one too, especially that not-quite-big-enough tiger skin the character is wearing. Too bad we never saw Welch in that.

As for the movie, you’ve all seen it, right? Well, if not, just know that it’s the ultimate Anglo-Saxon, lost world fantasy, with light-skinned humans running around in a Neolithic wilderness living off the fat of the land. The fact that the women have shaved armpits and hot bodies is a bonus. There’s a plot involving early man’s inhumanity to early man, mixed in with threats from various giant amphibians and some pretty convincing stop-action miniatures from efx guru Ray Harryhausen.

But of course Welch is the focus of the movie, and it’s a bit of surprise she ever agreed to star, considering she was already pretty well established as an actress. Credit her for career savvy, though—One Million Years B.C., complete piece of cream cheese that it is, made her the top sex symbol in the world. We’ll leave you with a still from the film, but trust us—it’s nothing compared to Welch in motion. One Million Years B.C. opened in Europe in late 1966 and premiered in the U.S. today in 1967.


Vintage Pulp Aug 7 2013
Oh, don’t be silly, my dear—there’s no such thing as the undead.

Here’s the basic idea of Der Kuss des Vampir: “Well, it’s too bad our newfangled horseless carriage broke down in the middle of this creepy moor, but at least we found an inn, though it’s oddly vacant—well, except for that one guest we never see—but in any case things are looking up, because the mysterious gentleman who lives in the hilltop manor has invited us for dinner tonight.”

If you were to accept this invitation and your host Dr. Ravna soon explained, “I like to be surrounded only by beautiful…”—very long pause as he looks at your new bride—“…things,” it would be an indication that he’s ravna for your wife’s neck. But you can’t pick up on these clues. You’re so rational you’re irrational. “Oh, don’t be silly, darling, Dr. Ravna is just a little odd is all. Well, I don’t know why we only see him at night—perhaps days he’s part of the crew trying to repair that washed out bridge that keeps us stuck in this Godforsaken hamlet.”

Okay, we made up the washed out bridge bit, but only to indicate that Der Kuss der Vampir is old-fashioned, late night, bats on strings style vamp horror, courtesy of Hammer Studios. We’ll stop there because amateur movie reviews are boring and we really only comment on the films so we can say something more than “isn’t this poster amazing?”

Incidentally, isn’t this poster amazing? It was designed by Klaus Dill, and it's a lot better than the movie. Not to say the movie is bad. It’s adequate, at the very least. But we like to spend our time on more entertaining…—very long pause as we think of better ways to use ninety minutes—…activities. Der Kuss des Vampir, aka Kiss of the Vampire premiered in West Germany today in 1963.


Vintage Pulp Apr 18 2013
At least there's one creature from the movie that hasn't been forgotten.

This Japanese poster for 1971’s Creatures the World Forgot is different than the style of Japanese art we usually share, but the bold yellow color really struck us. The movie was produced by Hammer Studios, the same company that made the popular Raquel Welch lost world epic One Million Years B.C., and the follow-up When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth. But where the previous two movies chose to show early humans interacting with dinosaurs, Creatures—spoiler alert for Creationists—went the scientifically factual route and had no giant lizards. Hammer probably did it not out of truthfulness, but out of cheapness. But in any case science wins again.

As far as the actual movie goes, there’s nobody of Raquel Welch’s stature involved, but Norwegian actress Julie Ege does about as good a job as any actress could in a production with no actual dialogue. And yes, she wears one of those fur bikinis and looks pretty good in it. Can we recommend the movie? Not really. But if you’re bored try watching it with a few of your cleverest friends and see who invents the best dialogue. By the way, if you’re the observant type you’ve probably deduced, by virtue of the fact that somehow the number 100 has snuck its way onto the poster, that the Japanese did not call the movie Creatures the World Forgot. The text actually says “one million years primitive man.” Or something like that. Creatures the World Forgot premiered today in 1971


Vintage Pulp Jan 25 2011
Goodbye cruel world.

One thing you can say about Hammer Studios is that they’ve always been opportunistic. After the success of their 1966 Raquel Welch adventure One Million Years, B.C. the big brains in the front office decided to double down on sexed-up whitewashed primitivism. This time they tapped British hottie Martine Beswick, who had co-starred in B.C., to headline a new lost world production called Slave Girls, aka Prehistoric Women. It’s the tale of a great white hunter in Africa who’s projected into a parallel dimension and finds himself in the middle of a struggle between a cruel queen and her downtrodden subjects. Add to this mix the obligatory Raquel Welch-style fur bikinis, a hundred gallons of skin bronzer, a few “tribal” dance numbers, a heavy dose of blood curses, and a sprinkling of animist mythology and you’ve got yourself a movie.

As tempting as it is to say the results are bad, it just wouldn’t be true. Slave Girls works, more or less, despite the limitations of being shot entirely on a British back lot. Beswick really chews the plastic scenery to pieces. She preens, poses, snarls, shrieks, flares her lovely nostrils and flaunts her six-pack—and that’s just during her dance number. When allowed to speak she tosses off some memorable lines. To the great white hunter: “You see! Already you want to impose your will! You want to dominate me!” And in the next instant (parenthetically hinting at an emotional wound in her past): “I’d be a fool to let any man do that again.” Aww, she has a heart after all—it’s been broken is the problem. But then she’s back to evil queen mode: “But you will want me. And on my terms!” Well, she’s right about that. You will want her—on any terms. Slave Girls, with Beswick, Edina Ronay and Michael Latimer, premiered in the U.S. today in 1967. 


Next Page
History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
March 23
2011—Elizabeth Taylor Dies
American actress Elizabeth Taylor, whose career began at age 12 when she starred in National Velvet, and who would eventually be nominated for five Academy Awards as best actress and win for Butterfield 8 and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, dies of congestive heart failure in Los Angeles. During her life she had been hospitalized more than 70 times.
March 22
1963—Profumo Denies Affair
In England, the Secretary of State for War, John Profumo, denies any impropriety with showgirl Christine Keeler and threatens to sue anyone repeating the allegations. The accusations involve not just infidelity, but the possibility acquaintances of Keeler might be trying to ply Profumo for nuclear secrets. In June, Profumo finally resigns from the government after confessing his sexual involvement with Keeler and admitting he lied to parliament.
1978—Karl Wallenda Falls to His Death
World famous German daredevil and high-wire walker Karl Wallenda, founder of the acrobatic troupe The Flying Wallendas, falls to his death attempting to walk on a cable strung between the two towers of the Condado Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Wallenda is seventy-three years old at the time, but it is a 30 mph wind, rather than age, that is generally blamed for sending him from the wire.
2006—Swedish Spy Stig Wennerstrom Dies
Swedish air force colonel Stig Wennerström, who had been convicted in the 1970s of passing Swedish, U.S. and NATO secrets to the Soviet Union over the course of fifteen years, dies in an old age home at the age of ninety-nine. The Wennerström affair, as some called it, was at the time one of the biggest scandals of the Cold War.
March 21
1963—Alcatraz Closes
The federal penitentiary located on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay closes. The island had been home to a lighthouse, a military fortification, and a military prison over the years. In 1972, it would become a national recreation area open to tourists, and it would receive national landmark designations in 1976 and 1986.
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