|Vintage Pulp||Feb 23 2015|
The above poster was made to promote the Taiwanese wuxia flick Du bi quan wang da po xue di zi, aka The One Armed Boxer vs. The Flying Guillotine, aka Master of the Flying Guillotine. Wuxia movies deal with honor, oaths, redressing wrongs, etc. In this one the Flying Guillotine is determined to avenge the deaths of his two disciples (which occurred in the prequel One Armed Boxer). His weapon isn’t so much a guillotine as it is a flying helmet with a circular saw attached. The workings of the device are obscure, but using it he can snatch peoples’ heads clean off. Quite a sight. His mission of revenge takes him over hill and dale, through town and hollow, but he has such trouble locating the One Armed Boxer he decides it's more efficient to simply kill every one-armed peasant he comes across. Though from his perspective he’s righting a wrong he isn’t actually the good guy here. How could he be? Snatching innocent folks’ heads off isn’t exactly honorable. Eventually he locates his quarry and we get a climactic showdown. Why, what's that inside the One Armed Boxer's shirt? It's his other arm, of course. We're not supposed to notice. In addition to the two stars you get a supporting cast with their own baroque brands of martial arts, including an Indian yoga master who can extend his arms double length like a pair of fire truck ladders. This is classic schlock, highly recommended.
|Vintage Pulp||Feb 10 2015|
We’ve been holding onto this poster for a few years. We were told when we got it that it’s for a movie called in English A Clockwork Lemon—an intriguing title. But we looked everywhere and the name didn’t appear in a single film database. The poster text doesn’t say anything about clocks or lemons, by the way, but it’s often true that Japanese titles are changed completely for films’ Western runs. When we finally located info on this one—looking for the Japanese rather than English name—it turned out it was made in 1968, which eliminates “A Clockwork Lemon” as the English title, since Kubrick’s dystopian citrus epic didn’t appear until ’71. Unless, of course, he stole his title from this film. We doubt that, so, let's assume we were led astray on the English title, but whatever, that happens sometimes. Wanna know what the movie is called in Japanese? The text reads something like “same hole again.” So, there you go. Not much we can add to that.
Um, except to mention as we always do, that these aren’t porn films, despite the titles. They’re about on the level of late night cable softcore. Softer, actually, because no naughty bits could legally appear onscreen in vintage Japanese cinema. “Same Hole Again” was directed by… actually, wait—that sounds so wrong. Maybe we’ll just go with Japanese here. 穴じかけ was directed by Hajime Sasaki, stars Kazuko Shirakawa, and appeared in 1968. Shirakawa is an important cinematic figure—she headlined the first roman porno (again, not porn) production Nikkatsu Studios ever made—Danchizuma: hirusagari no jôji, aka Apartment Wife: Affair in the Afternoon. She made a series of films in the genre, later moved into mainstream flicks, and was still acting as of 2011. Sorry we don’t have more info. But you gotta love the poster, right? To make up for our lack of data, below is a shot of Shirakawa looking lemony fresh.
|Vintage Pulp||Feb 9 2015|
|Vintage Pulp||Jan 18 2015|
Above is a vintage Japanese poster for Jayne Mansfield’s 1956 musical comedy The Girl Can’t Help It. They don’t make ’em like this anymore—a gangster hires a boozing agent to transform his girlfriend into a star, but the girlfriend has no talent, and the agent falls in love with her. This might be Mansfield’s most important movie due to the role it played in popularizing early rock music. For example:
|Vintage Pulp||Jan 15 2015|
The three posters above promote the Japanese psychological horror movie Irezumi, aka Tattoo, directed by Yasuzô Masumura and starring Ayako Wakao as woman kidnapped into geishadom who is forcibly tattooed upon her back by a disturbed tattoo master. His creation is the monstrous, woman-faced spider you see on the posters. This act sets Wakao on a path toward vengeance, violence, and evil. Some reviews of Irezumi note that the tattoo is in some sense alive, like the portrait of Dorian Gray, however the actual art doesn’t change its aspect—we checked, using a handy invention called rewind, and the lady-spider is the same in the beginning and end of the movie. The tattoo does, though, unleash something, and Wakao changes, quite drastically, her journey from relative innocence into femme fatale depravity giving Irezumi its power and dread. While not splashy and filled with shocks in the style of modern horror, the movie is, all in all, a highly recommendable mind trip. There's another Irezumi from 1982 with a different plot, but this one, the first one, premiered in Japan today in 1966.
|Vintage Pulp||Jan 5 2015|
Morbosità di una orientale, which would translate as something like “morbidity of an easterner,” was originally a 1977 Japanese film called Tokyo Chatterly fujin, and was released in English as Lady Chatterley in Tokyo. Katsuhiko Fujii helmed the production, and Izumi Shima starred, but every other name on these promos is a Western pseudonym for a Japanese performer. Ann Charlton, Janet Glythe, Price Williams, and King Byrbo never existed except as credits created for the art you see here, and are in reality Junko Miyashita, Kyoko Aoyama, Tatsuya Hamaguchi, and Minoru Okochi. What was the point of doing that? We don’t know. Japanese films had played in Italy before without being Westernized in this way, so it’s a mystery we presume we’ll never solve.
The film keeps to the themes—but not the plot—of D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover. When a millionaire’s son is rendered impotent by an accident, his wife succumbs to the charms of the groundskeeper’s willy, the chauffeur’s stickshift, and the construction worker’s retractable ruler. We last saw the amazingly striking Izumi Shima being molested by an invisible man, and here her paramour punches through a windowpane and fondles her through the splintered glass. That’s horny. Not to be outdone, Shima humps a tree. That’s horny. Also, a stallion fucks a mare. Really. So every living in creature in this film is incredibly horny. Did it make us horny? Hey, you think we typed this with our fingers? Think again.
|Vintage Pulp||Jan 3 2015|
Kaji escapes from jail a while later, seeks out Ryumei, finds him transformed into a cold-hearted suit, and is imprisoned again, this time by the father’s evil thugs. The main problem with this movie for Kaji fans is she doesn’t get much screen time. Instead much of the tale is told from the other end, as Kaji’s friends, led by Yoshio Harada, plot to free her. This isn’t fatal to the movie, though. If you can embrace the other protagonists you’ll find plenty to enjoy. The sentiment of hippies-versus-power may seem quaint, and indeed the film handles certain elements of their lifestyle comedically, but all these years later, with Japan’s rich getting richer while its poverty rate is among the highest for developed nations, is anyone still laughing? Nora-neko rokku: Bôsô shudan ’71 premiered in Japan today in 1971, and you can see more posters for the series here and here.
|Vintage Pulp||Dec 30 2014|
This excellent Japanese poster promotes the film Joshuu sasori: Dai-41 zakkyo-bô, aka Female Convict Scorpion: Jailhouse 41, starring Meiko Kaji as the female convict of the title. This is second of ten movies dealing with the character of Scorpion, but Kaji played the role only four times before passing it off to Yumi Takagawa in 1976. We shared posters for Kaji’s four excursions back in 2010 and mentioned there was alternate art we didn’t possess. Well, we do now. This was painted by Toru Shinohara, who also created the manga the movies are based upon. It’s a rare piece.
The movie itself is sinister, psychedelic, and extraordinarily stylish thanks to director Shunya Itô’s clever set-ups and shot-framing. For most fans, Kaji is the only Scorpion that matters, and it’s hard to argue otherwise. She’s about five-feet-four and probably didn’t hit triple digits on a scale back then, but with eyes and posture she radiates lethal menace. As far as plot, this fits end-to-end with the previous movie, so consider watching that one first. Female Convict Scorpion: Jailhouse 41 premiered in Japan today in 1972.
|Sex Files||Dec 27 2014|
So, we’re digging into our big stack of x-rated Japanese promos again today. We’d do it more often, but when we do our girlfriends give us a hard time. Anyway, above you see the American actress Angel in a very nice publicity image from around 1985, and below you see two promos for her movies Too Hot To Touch and L’Amour, from 1987 and 1984. Her very presence in the industry speaks to the mainstreaming of porn in America. In previous years it had been impossible for the adult industry to entice women as beautiful as Angel in large numbers, but the early/mid-1980s videocassette revolution meant more fans, which meant more money to earn, which made adult films more viable as a career, and changed the status of adult actresses from that of fringe celebrities into true stars.
After some early modeling that saw her earn a cover of Seventeen magazine, Angel turned eighteen and leaped immediately into the adult industry. During a two-year period bracketing her arrival, actresses such as Stacy Donovan, Crystal Breeze, Candy Evans, Jacy Allen, Traci Lords, Southern California prototype Shauna Grant, the luminous Ginger Lynn, and an entire busload of other beautiful women made the same move. Angel, aka Jennifer James, made about forty films during her x-rated career, acting for seven years and retiring in 1991. Of all the stars who emerged during the first half of the 1980s, she remains one of the most fondly remembered. You can see nine more x-rated posters from Japan here.
|Vintage Pulp||Dec 23 2014|
After scoring a huge hit with the 1971 detective drama Shaft, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer doubled down by rushing out a bigger budgeted sequel the next year. It was called Shaft’s Big Score, and you see the Japanese promo above, made for its Tokyo premiere today in 1972. Some of the acting in Score isn’t great, which was also true of the first film, but as a whole it makes a nice companion piece with Shaft. John Shaft gets in the middle of the Italian and black mobs in New York City, and along the way there are brawls, bullets, and lots of badassedness. The movie also features blaxploitation heavyweights Moses Gunn, Wally Taylor, Drew Bundini Brown, and female foils Kathy Imrie, Rosalind Miles, and the amazing Kitty Jones.
Nearly half of America’s prisoners are inside for drugs, and 40% of that subset is black, even though whites are more likely to sell drugs, and they consume the same amount as blacks—not only per capita, but by percentage. Multiple studies show the same result. Despite this, black drug offenders land inside the increasingly for-profit prison industry at 10.1 times the rate of whites. Uncomfortable facts, but facts they are. Blaxploitation movies acknowledge a wide range of social problems while weaving them into the fabric of popular cinema. Nobody walked away from Shaft’s Big Score thinking that America was becoming a post-racial Eden, yet nobody walked away denying that the movie was immense fun. Entertainment that reflects the real world. Is that really so hard to do?