Vintage Pulp Oct 1 2015
Life and death at the edge of a razor.

This promo is for Jigoku no tenshi: Akai bakuon, aka Hells Angels: Crimson Roar, one of scores of girl gang movies that deluged Japanese cinema during the 1970s. This one is from Toei Company and concerns a gang member named Yoko, played by Yûko Iruka, who spends three years in prison for assault with a switchblade, and afterward emerges onto the mean, nightclub-lined streets of her coastal hometown. You know Japanese bars are sleazy when their names are English—Bar Lucky, The Apollo, The Happening, Club Ace, New York 3, et al. We especially liked the placard that read: Girls can get so excited and lustful sometimes, as shown in this picture. Why don’t you come in now? The girls working for me are so sexy. You can try to satisfy them. Yes, even sex club signage is polite in Japan.

These places are all geared toward American servicemen, of course, and the distaste for Western decadence, though subtle, is clear. But it isn’t Americans who are a problem for Yoko—it’s a group of pesky Yakuza who make their home at the Lonely Angel bar. After Yoko is drugged into paralysis and raped by two of the slimier specimens she hones that trusty switchblade of hers and goes on a revenge spree that, well, doesn’t end nicely for her enemies. She gets timely help from her boyfriend, and when he ends up on the point of a katana, that makes her even angrier. Turns out she’s deadly with a sniper rifle too. Standard stuff, but with an unusual and effective star in Iruka, and Reiko Ike’s 1973 hit song “Futen Gurashi Part 2” recurring throughout the soundtrack—a bonus.  Jigoku no tenshi: Akai bakuon premiered in Japan today in 1977.


Femmes Fatales Oct 1 2015
October 1st marks the second rare lunar event this week.

Two years ago we shared a very rare Japanese promo poster from the 1976 Italian romance Laure, also known as Forever Emmanuelle. The calendar image above from the Japanese cinema and celebrity magazine Roadshow doesn’t directly promote Laure, but it comes from the same photo session, and like the earlier image features French actress Annie Belle doing her imitation of Monday’s supermoon. Both are amazing events, but this one, happily, features fewer craters. 


Vintage Pulp Sep 26 2015
A history of Violenza.

Above, a colorful Japanese poster for Florestano Vancini’s Italian thriller Violenza al sole, aka Blow Hot Blow Cold, the story of a young couple vacationing on an island where they meet an older couple. The older male spies on the young couple during their various romantic interludes, but the reason why he’s doing it, and the movie’s ending, make it a minor classic. With Bibi Andersson, Gunnar Bjornstrand, Rosemarie Dexter, and Guiliano Gemma, very good stuff. Violenza al sole premiered in Italy in August 1969 and made it to Japan today in 1970. 


Vintage Pulp Sep 25 2015
Our theory is this would be an enjoyable movie—if we could find it.

We’ve always called posters of these dimensions “panel-length,” but that’s just our personal lingo—they’re actually “tatekan” posters in the parlance of collectors. This rare tateken for Bankaku Rokku, aka Bankaku Rock, has a washed-out look, but the colors are true. The designers seemed to be shooting for something less garish than the typical Japanese promo (though we love the garish). We couldn’t track down the movie—lot of that going around lately—but we know it’s about a war between two female gangs, the Akabane 100 Club and the Ikebukuro Cavalry, and it focuses mainly on the Akabane 100’s chief badass Yukiko, played by Emiko Yamauchi of Neon Jellyfish fame. Though we didn’t find the film, we did find a bunch of promo shots, which you see below. Bankaku Rokku premiered in Japan today in 1973.


Vintage Pulp Sep 23 2015
Good to the last Droppar.

And speaking of Sweden, the rather bold poster you see here is from Akira Katô’s drama Mitsu no shitatari, which was also known by the Swedish title Droppar av honung, which seems to mean “honey dripper.” Swedish title notwithstanding, this was a Japanese production all the way. Nikkatsu had a series of Suwêden poruno flicks it released during the early 1970s—Japanese backing, Western stars, and those oh so clever softcore production values that pushed the envelope while showing nothing that could result in obscenity charges. This one starred Solveig Andersson, who was one of Sweden’s other cinematic sex symbols after Christina Lindberg, and who starred with Lindberg in Thriller—en grym film, aka Thriller: A Cruel Picture. Andersson had a more extensive career than her compatriot, though, and even appeared onscreen as recently as 2014. She acted here under her phonetic Japanese name Sorubei Andâshon. We were not able to track the movie down, sadly, but is there any need? You can tell how it goes. Mitsu no shitatari premiered in Japan yesterday in 1973. 


Femmes Fatales Sep 7 2015
Any day is special when she’s involved.

There are many good photos of Terumi Azuma—entire books of them, in fact, and we’ll get to one of those later—but for our money this is one of the best images ever made of one of the most photogenic Japanese stars of the 1970s. It comes from a collection called Holiday of Terumi Azuma, which is appropriate because today is a holiday in the U.S. You also may have noticed that we vanished for four days without a peep last week. That was holiday related too—we went on a spontaneous island jaunt with a few friends. Consider the above awesome image an apology for our absence, and rest assured next time we’ll at least get up an intermission card before we disappear. We have many posters for Azuma’s movies that we’ll share at some point, but in the meantime see more of her here and here. And what the heck, here too. 


Modern Pulp Aug 28 2015
The makers of Female Teacher: Rope Hell needed to learn a lesson or two.

Based on a bdsm novel written by the acclaimed Oniroku Dan, Onna kyôshi nawa jigoku, aka Female Teacher: Rope Hell, is yet another Japanese exploration of the pleasures, pains, and limits of sexual obsession and bondage. Frankly, this one is a bit tedious. There’s a razor thin line between thoughtful and dangerous when dealing with this kind of material. When Japanese films, in particular, end up on the wrong side of that line, you really have a mess on your hands. We understand, yes, that bad men aren’t always punished in real life. But this isn’t real life. It's just a movie, and punishment is key. In fact, for us it’s the entire point. It’s the only thing that makes these films watchable. But in this case, the abusive male ties up the two objects of his obsession and is tormenting them when one of his candles sets an accidental fire. He and the bound women burn to death. His obsession destroyed them all. That’s the end. Roll credits. Hope we didn’t ruin it for you.

The fixation Japanese film has with sexual abuse is curious. It often occurs for pretty straightforward narrative reasons—rape, or perhaps the murder of husbands and children, or often all three, are the triggers that transform women into terrifying revenants. The mostly thirty-something writers and directors who conceived these plots were taking swipes at Japan’s patriarchal social structure by first explicitly revealing a sexist status quo, then allowing feminine power to demolish it. Or so it seems to us. In that way pinku does not differ from blaxploitation. In those, it’s a racist status quo that is revealed and demolished. However revenge movies represent only a slice of the Japanese whole. Many films feature degradation without revenge, in which case we think it needs to be very carefully done to avoid endorsing such behavior. Major fail on that account here. All respect to Oniroku Dan, but excesses such as a forced enema and subsequent sloppy evacuation onto a man’s face are not things we can get behind, so to speak. Onna kyôshi nawa jigoku premiered in Japan today in 1981.


Modern Pulp Aug 26 2015
I’d love to chat, but I really have to split now.

Not all of our Japanese posters are of the vintage variety, and the eye-catching piece you see above is an example from our stash of newer promo art. It was made for Ranchijo: Bikyaku Feromon, which translates to—ready for this?—something like “turbulent slut legs pheromone.” Hey, we just work here. The movie never had a Western release, so there’s never been a Western title assigned to it, which means a ridiculous literal translation from the Japanese is all you get. Maybe one of our readers out in that part of the world will write in with a better interpretation. 

The movie is about a university professor who becomes obsessed with a rhythmic gymnast played by Sayaka Kitagawa. Basically, what you have here is an erotic production built around the idea of flexibility, because flexibility is Kitagawa’s thing—she’s gotten bent in most of her flicks and she’s really good at it. In this one she does a bit with a hula hoop that’s rather interesting and, while wearing pink lingerie, performs some standing splits similar to what you see on the poster. 59 minutes of mind- and body-bending fun, Ranchijo: Bikyaku Feromon premiered in Japan today in 2004.


Vintage Pulp Aug 19 2015
She always gets into the worst binds.

Bondage queen Naomi Tani became one of Nikkatsu's biggest stars, centerpiece of the company's roman porno line of movies during the 1970s. Above are five promo posters from her films during that period. They are, top to bottom, Zankoku: kurobara lynch, aka Cruelty: Black Rose Torture, Kashin no irezumi: nureta tsubo, aka Tattooed Flower Vase, Monzetsu! Donden Gaeshi, aka Painful Bliss! Final Twist, Kurobara fujin, aka Lady Black Rose, and lastly unknown. On that final poster, we checked IMDB, JMDB and every source of Japanese cinema we know but got no hits. The first word in the title is Tani’s name, and while we found a few movies that incorporated her name—along the lines of 1977’s Tie! Naomi Tani—we did not find anything on the poster above. Ain’t that always the way? It’s actually the most interesting of the lot. Anyone with insight feel free to drop us a line. In the meantime you can check out more Tani here, here, and here, and elsewhere in the site if you’re inclined to look. 


Vintage Pulp Aug 12 2015
Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday soon.

Above you see an alternate version of the promo poster for Sukeban guerira, aka Girl Boss Guerilla, Miki Sugimoto and Reiko Ike’s classic biker-girl revenge pinku flick. The previous versions, including a rare bo-ekibari style, are here. We also have a couple of rare promo images of Sugimoto and Ike below for your enjoyment, so you can appreciate them when they aren't trying to kill people. We have other promos that are even more rare, and we’ll see about sharing those later. Sukeban gerira premiered in Japan today in 1972. 


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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
October 04
1957—Sputnik Circles Earth
The Soviet Union launches the satellite Sputnik I, which becomes the first artificial object to orbit the Earth. It orbits for two months and provides valuable information about the density of the upper atmosphere. It also panics the United States into a space race that eventually culminates in the U.S. moon landing.
1970—Janis Joplin Overdoses
American blues singer Janis Joplin is found dead on the floor of her motel room in Los Angeles. The cause of death is determined to be an overdose of heroin, possibly combined with the effects of alcohol.
October 03
1908—Pravda Founded
The newspaper Pravda is founded by Leon Trotsky, Adolph Joffe, Matvey Skobelev and other Russian exiles living in Vienna. The name means "truth" and the paper serves as an official organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party between 1912 and 1991.
1957—Ferlinghetti Wins Obscenity Case
An obscenity trial brought against Lawrence Ferlinghetti, owner of the counterculture City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco, reaches its conclusion when Judge Clayton Horn rules that Allen Ginsberg's poetry collection Howl is not obscene.
1995—Simpson Acquitted
After a long trial watched by millions of people worldwide, former football star O.J. Simpson is acquitted of the murders of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. Simpson subsequently loses a civil suit and is ordered to pay millions in damages.
October 02
1919—Wilson Suffers Stroke
U.S. President Woodrow Wilson suffers a massive stroke, leaving him partially paralyzed. He is confined to bed for weeks, but eventually resumes his duties, though his participation is little more than perfunctory. Wilson remains disabled throughout the remainder of his term in office, and the rest of his life.
1968—Massacre in Mexico
Ten days before the opening of the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, a peaceful student demonstration ends in the Tlatelolco Massacre. 200 to 300 students are gunned down, and to this day there is no consensus about how or why the shooting began.

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