Now you see him, now you don't.
The open road adventure Vanishing Point is one of cinema history's most beloved cult classics. You know the story probably. Barry Newman plays a guy hired to drive a beautiful 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T 440 Magnum from Denver to San Francisco. He decides to do it in record time, and this brings him the attention of police, who try to stop him. It's austere, introspective, and mystical, and is an interesting commentary on the rootlessness and disillusionment of Vietnam War vets. Highly recommended. And as a bonus, not only do you get to watch that Challenger move at high speed, but there's the classic naked-woman-riding-her-motorcycle-through-the-desert scene starring Gilda Texter. The scene made Texter famous, but she only appeared in a few more productions. Ironically, though, she had a forty year career in another area of cinema—costume and wardrobe design. We consider Vanishing Point to be her best wardrobe work. You see two Japanese promo posters above, six production photos below, and can see four more, along with further discussion of the film, at this link.
Every time I turn my back you bite 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.
The hard work around the house is never done.
Above is a vanishingly rare Japanese promo poster for the sexploitation flick Maid in Sweden, with starred Christina Lindberg in her only U.S. production. The movie was made by the schlock factory known as Cannon Films, and coming early in Lindberg's career it helped establish her popularity with international audiences. We already talked about it back in 2013, so if you want to know what it's about check this link. We've also uploaded a promo shot of Lindberg you've never seen before, just below. It isn't the last of the unseen Lindbergs we have, so keep an eye out for more. Maid in Sweden premiered in Japan today in 1972 as 情欲 or Yokubō, which is, succinctly, “lust.”
He likes to have his cake and kill it too.
The roman porno flick Bôkô Kirisaki Jakku was called Assault: Jack the Ripper in English, and that pretty much tells you what happens. Tamaki Katsura stars as a waitress in a dead end job who hits the road seeking thrills. She coerces nerdy Yutaka Hayashi into giving her a ride, and the two later pick up a hitchhiker, who through bizarre circumstances ends up dead. Something about the sight of blood activates a need to repeat the experience, which they do by kidnapping and killing young women, then having sex next to the bodies. The weapon of choice is unusual—it's a cake knife, the kind you might use to spread frosting. We'd have thought a dagger or hunting knife would work better, but cake is symbolic in the film, so a cake knife is a logical choice. While it doesn't look sharp, somehow it goes through flesh like butter. Technique is everything.
Thus armed, the couple's attacks become more brazen, then the man's bloodlust surpasses that of his girlfriend's. He starts killing alone, hoarding the thrills for himself, but each murder leaves him somehow unsatisfied. Like an addict upping the dosage, he has to keep taking greater risks. Can you guess what this leads to? We bet you can if you think about it. We can't recommend the film, at least not wholeheartedly, but we'll admit it's provocative the way it's both bloody and played for laughs. And as we've reported in the past, being sexually aroused by murder is a real thing, so that element was interesting too. And what's more than merely interesting is the promo shot of Katsura we found, which you'll see at bottom. Bôkô Kirisaki Jakku premiered in Japan today in 1976.
Nikktasu's revitalized roman porno screens for NYC audiences.
Today in New York City at the New York Asian Film Festival, two productions from Nikkatsu Studios' ballyhooed Roman Porno Reboot Project will screen for audiences. The Reboot Project was announced last year, and includes major directors such as Hideo Nakata of Ringu fame, Sion Sono of Cold Fish and Tokyo Tribe, and Kazuya Shiraishi, who made The Devil’s Path. Three films will be included in the New York fest, which began several days ago—Kazuya Shiraishi's Mesunekotachi, aka Dawn of the Felines, and Akihiko Shiota's Kaze ni nureta onna, aka Wet Woman in the Wind, will screen today. Isao Yukisada's Gymnopedies ni Midareru, aka Aroused by Gymnopédies premieres on July 14.
Will these be as edgy as Nikkatsu's vintage roman porno offerings? We have our doubts—some of those movies indugle in excesses so extreme we're amazed they're even available on DVD. We expect the new roman porno to be milder but perhaps contain a modern feminist twist, a shift in point-of-view that would be welcome, at least to us. All three of the movies playing in NYC have already seen release in Japan and gotten decent reviews, which means festival audiences should find something enjoyable in them. If you're in the Big Apple area you now have a potential plan for the next ten days. As for us folks who live far across the ocean, hopefully we'll get a chance to see some of the films soon as well, and if we do we'll certainly report back.
Yurika! She has it.
This pretty poster was made to promote the film Himegoto, known in English as Secret Affair, which was directed by Takeo Takagi and stars Mika Yuki in the role of a geisha named Yurika who decides to make extra money by selling scandalous details of prominent people's private lives to a tabloid. It had us at geisha. This turned out to be far more obscure than we guessed considering the poster pops up often around the web. Not only didn't we find it, but we found no reviews of it anywhere. However, we wanted to share the promo art because the film opened in Japan today in 1967. We'll keep looking for a copy.
Kyoko Izumi drifts into dangerous waters.
Yes, it's another movie from the Underwater Series. We already shared posters for installments two and three, which premiered in June 1958 and June 1959 respectively. The makers of these films really liked June premiere dates, because Ama bune yori: Kindan no suna premiered today in 1957. This is the film, based on a novel by Keitaro Konda, that launched the series. It tells the story of man who returns to his home fishing village after five years away and rekindles his relationship with a local ama, played by series star Kyoko Izumi. Problem is he isn't the one interested in Izumi, and the resulting love triangle eventually leads to tragedy, as is common in these movies. Incidentally, we can't be sure what the western title was for this, or whether there was one. Many of these obscure Japanese flicks never played outside Asia, and this may be one. In fact, there's so much conflicting information on this we can't be 100% we got everything right. We may have to make correction later, but the main thing is to enjoy the striking poster art. Actually, we're feeling pretty good about uploading all these ama posters, because some of them weren't available online. There are still more films from the genre for which we have art to share, so keep an eye out for that down the line.
If it's there you can bet we'll find it.
Above you see a poster for Aizome Kyôko: G no kaikan, aka Kyôko Aizome's G-spot Pleasure, with Kyôko Aizome (not to be confused with Kyoko Izumi) fronting the art. Aizome goes way back. She appeared in her first film in 1975, but this particular effort premiered in Japan today in 2000, when she was forty-two. Though it's a comparatively recent production we were not able to track down a copy, which when you think about it is apropos, considering science says g-spots don't really exist. We're pro-science guys, but a lot of women say there's a real piece of anatomy in there, and a dedicated search often turns something up—if only the woman's heart rate. Aizome, below, suggests you give it a try.
Last one there is a rotten ama.
If you visit Pulp Intl. regularly you know that ama movies, which focus on the tradition of female free divers who scour bay bottoms for valuable items such as abalone, clams, and pearls, are very popular in Japan. The divers, who in the past traditionally worked topless, occupy a place in Japanese culture similar to that of rollerskating female carhops in U.S. culture. Both are unusual and physical forms of work with mildly sexual components (at least in the male mind), both are steeped in nostalgia for a simpler past, and both are widely appreciated by men even though most have never seen one outside a movie.
The ama tradition is ancient. The first written mention of them dates from the year 927, but ama artifacts have been found on the sea floor and carbon dated to suggest the practice is something like 3,000 years old. It's difficult to know when the tradition peaked, but according to most accounts that would have happened during the early- to mid-20th century. Movies on the subject began appearing frequently from the mid-1960s through the 1980s, with the high water mark—ahem—of western interest occurring with the appearance of an ama (played by Mie Hama) in the 1967 James Bond movie You Only Live Twice.
We've talked about eight different Japanese ama movies on Pulp Intl. over the years, including two earlier this month, so we thought you might be interested in seeing a few historical photos. We have a collection of fifteen above and below, shot between the 1940s and 1980s. Sadly, like so many interesting cultural practices, ama diving is in danger of fading away. Most pratictioners are in their forties and older, with very little likelihood of being succeeded by younger women, who have moved on to less traditional occupations. And people say civilization is making progress.
Follow the links below to read about the ama movies we've discussed, and to see their beautiful promotional posters.
Zoku kindan no suna Ama bune yori: Kindan no suna
Manatsu no joji
Currents and caves are bad enough, but lies can drag you into really dangerous waters.
Last week we talked about the 1959 drama Zoku-zoku-Kindan no suna: Akai pantsu, third film in the Shochiku Co. franchise sometimes referred to as the Underwater Series. You know we're sticklers for talking about movies on their premiere dates, which is why today we're looking at Zoku kindan no suna, which opened in Japan today in 1958. In the west the movie was known as Forbidden Sands or The Prohibited Man's Sand, and like the others in the series deals with the loves and troubles of an ama—a female skin diver. Two bank robbers steal seven million yen, which we think is like forty or fifty bucks, and hide out on an island peopled by amas and their families. The crooks pretend to be a marine biology professor and his assistant, and they don scuba gear and hide the cash in some underwater caves known as the Dragon's Caves—a name which just screams trouble. They're convinced the treasure is inaccessible, but these amas are really good, and one in particular has no trouble at all making especially long dives. One of the crooks takes a shine to her, and warns her to stay out of the caves because they're dangerous, but the shine is mutual, so surprise surprise, as a gift she decides to swim down there to find rare specimens for his phony marine research. Yes, theft is one thing, but lies are a whole other bucket of starfish. Zoku kindan no suna is a recommendable flick, but be forewarned that if you're in the States it might be even harder to find than that loot in the Dragon's Caves. But at least you can enjoy the posters. We aren't done with this series, so keep an eye out for another installment in a bit.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1934—Arrest Made in Lindbergh Baby Case
Bruno Hauptmann is arrested for the kidnap and murder of Charles Lindbergh Jr., son of the famous American aviator. The infant child had been abducted from the Lindbergh home in March 1932, and found decomposed two months later in the woods nearby. He had suffered a fatal skull fracture. Hauptmann was tried, convicted, sentenced to death, and finally executed by electric chair in April 1936. He proclaimed his innocence to the end
1919—Pollard Breaks the Color Barrier
Fritz Pollard becomes the first African-American to play professional football for a major team, the Akron Pros. Though Pollard is forgotten today, famed sportswriter Walter Camp ranked him as "one of the greatest runners these eyes have ever seen." In another barrier-breaking historical achievement, Pollard later became the co-head coach of the Pros, while still maintaining his roster position as running back.
1932—Entwistle Leaps from Hollywood Sign
Actress Peg Entwistle
commits suicide by jumping from the letter "H" in the Hollywood sign. Her body lay in the ravine below for two days, until it was found by a detective and two radio car officers. She remained unidentified until her uncle connected the description and the initials "P.E." on the suicide note in the newspapers with his niece's two-day absence.
1908—First Airplane Fatality Occurs
The plane built by Wilbur and Orville Wright, The Wright Flyer, crashes with Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge aboard as a passenger. The accident kills Selfridge, and he becomes the first airplane fatality in history.
1983—First Black Miss America Crowned
Vanessa Williams becomes the first African American Miss America. She later loses her crown when lesbian-themed nude photographs of her are published by Penthouse magazine.
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