When they say love hurts they aren't kidding.
This wintry poster for Hakkinbon bijin ranbu yori: semeru!, aka Beauty's Exotic Dance: Torture! shows star Junko Miyashita looking miserable and cold. Which actually happens in the movie. It tells the story of an artist who engages a prostitute to satiate his need for sadistic sex, which he uses to fuel his art. The prostitute, Miyashita, is a consensual partner in all this, wanting to please the artist and out-do his dearly departed wife. You gets lots of drawn out sadism involving rope bondage, asphyxiation, ice baths, scaldings with candle wax, and more. And if that isn't dark and weird enough already, matters take a really nasty turn when Miyashita turns out to have inherited something unusual from her mother. If you watch the movie, don't say we didn't warn you. Hakkinbon bijin ranbu yori: semeru! premiered in Japan today in 1977.
When it's wet outside get wet inside.
This poster was made to promote the roman porno flick Danchizuma Amayadori no Joji, which is generally known in English by the title Apartment Wife: Rainy Day Affair, but also by the more lyrical title Apartment Wife: Take Shelter from the Rain. Bored housewife Junko Miyashita attends a reunion, which sets off an affair with an ex-classmate. Sex, liberation, betrayal, consequences. Oh, and lots of rain. But the thing about rain is that the sun always comes out eventually, and Miyashita knows exactly what to do when that happens. See below. Danchizuma Amayadori no Joji—also starring Yu Mizuki, who we last saw here—premiered in Japan today in 1977.
She always had a problem letting go.
This could be a Pulp Intl. first—a Japanese movie where a foreign poster is the nicest version out there. Usually the Japanese whip all competing asses in the poster design department, but just this once the Italian iteration is better, probably because it was painted by Enrico de Seta, one of the best illustrators of the period. The movie is Jitsuroku Abe Sada, which was called in Italian Abesada—L'abisso dei sensi. That means “Abesada—abyss of the senses,” but the English title decided upon was actually A Woman Called Sada Abe. The story tracks real-life murderer Sada Abe, who habitually practiced sexual asphyxiation with her lover Kichizo Ishida, and in 1936 strangled him to death with the sash of her obi. The sensational story grew into an epic folk legend, interpreted by painters, writers, and poets, and when Japan's roman porno film genre came along the incident was a perfect fit.
Jitsuroku Abe Sada was one of several films to tackle the subject. In real life, Sada followed up her killing of Ishida by castrating the corpse and fleeing with the severed organ. The movie covers this aspect of the incident too, and eventually ends with Sada's arrest. The real life Sada was convicted of murder and other crimes, but despite begging to be executed was sentenced to prison, released after a few years, and went on to live four more interesting decades. We won't go so far as to recommend Jitsuroku Abe Sada. It has its worthwhile points, among them the reliable Junko Miyahsita in the lead, but if you're going to watch a telling of the Sada Abe incident, maybe try the more famous and more explicit In the Realm of the Senses, which appeared in 1976. Jitsuroku Abe Sada premiered in Japan today in 1975.
Do I make you horny, baby?
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 creature in this film is incredibly horny. Did it make us horny? Hey, you think we typed this with our fingers? Think again.
Japan invades the Basque Country.
This week the ever-growing San Sebastian Film Festival in the Basque Country of Spain kicked off with the usual round of premieres at the city’s Kursaal and celeb walks along the seafront on Zurriola Beach. But in the city’s old quarter in a plaza tucked between an old church, some residential buildings, and a wooded hill, a group of Japanese deejays, musicians, foodies and cinephiles launched a weeklong festival-within-a-festival they’re calling Cinema Caravan. Last night the bill included a classic Nikkatsu roman porno, the 1973 Tatsumi Kumashiro comedy Yojôhan fusuma no urabari, aka The World of Geisha, starring Junko Miyashita. The film was projected outdoors while a Bedouin-style tent served as a bar/club, and two Japanese bodegas dished up soba noodles and fish. Before and after the movie the Japanese singer Naoito played beautifully, and the rest of the time world-class deejays spun tunes. All this in a plaza redecorated to resemble to a Japanese garden.
The San Sebastian Film Festival is a worthy event, and this year’s version has stars like Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhall, but it’s also expensive and chic and probably off-putting to some. Cinema Caravan, by contrast, is intimate and inclusive and everyone can feel a bit important. The event’s website says it best: Unfurling a screen for outdoor viewing in the different landscapes of our journey, we set the stage of non-routine experience in an everyday place. And in the process, we learn from those we meet on the road, their wisdom on how to live, and experience their varied cultures. Pulp Intl. is here all week, and if you’re in this part of the world (interestingly, our analytics tell us Spain is Pulp Intl.’s fifth most popular country) then consider stopping by. The festival runs through Saturday night with more movies, food, deejays, live music, dance, and fun.
What we have here is a failure to communicate.
Above is a poster for Tatsumi Kumashiro’s pinku Akai kami no onna, aka Woman with Red Hair, starring Junko Miyashita and Renji Ishabashi. How to explain this one? Well, it’s a sexual melodrama about a man and woman who embark on an obsessive affair, with a subplot about a gang raped girl who develops an attachment to one of her attackers. It’s supposed to be a commentary on misogyny and abuse, but despite the noble intent, beautiful cinematography and rain-drenched atmosphere, it didn’t do much for us. However, Miyashita won awards for her performance, and the film was well-received when released, so we’re willing to concede that it’s a piece of art that is firmly of its time (i.e., before our time) and can perhaps only be understood in that temporal and cultural context. As to the latter, we checked out some reviews and a theme that ran through them was that this is a film so Japanese in nature that it doesn’t translate well for westerners. So you know what we did? We watched it again without subtitles. Since it’s only seventy-three minutes long, we weren’t sacrificing a lot of time. And guess what happened? We understood and liked it a lot better. So take that for what it's worth. And while you’re at it, take the lovely Junko Miyashita promo poster below. It's another rare find of ours, never before seen online. Akai kami no onna premiered in Japan today in 1979.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1944—Bandleader Glenn Miller Disappears
World famous big band leader Glenn Miller, who was flying from England to Paris in a small plane, disappears over the English Channel. One theory holds that his plane was knocked down by bombs jettisoned from bombers passing high above after an aborted raid on Germany, but no cause of his disappearance is officially listed, and no trace of Miller, the crew, or the plane is ever found.
1973—Getty Heir Found Alive
John Paul Getty III, grandson of American billionaire J. Paul Getty, is found alive near Naples, Italy, after being kidnapped by an Italian gang on July 10, 1973. The gang members had cut off his ear and mailed it to Getty III, but he otherwise is in good health.
1911—Team Reaches South Pole
Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, along with his team Olav Bjaaland, Helmer Hanssen, Sverre Hassel, and Oscar Wisting, becomes the first person to reach the South Pole. After a celebrated career, Amundsen eventually disappears in 1928 while returning from a search and rescue flight at the North Pole. His body is never found.
1944—Velez Commits Suicide
Mexican actress Lupe Velez, who was considered one of the great beauties
of her day, commits suicide by taking an overdose of sleeping pills. In her note, Velez says she did it to avoid bringing shame on her unborn child by giving birth to him out of wedlock, but many Hollywood historians believe bipolar disorder was the actual cause. The event inspired a 1965 Andy Warhol film entitled Lupe
1958—Gordo the Monkey Lost After Space Flight
After a fifteen minute flight into space on a Jupiter AM-13 rocket, a monkey named Gordo splashes down in the South Pacific but is lost after his capsule sinks. The incident sparks angry protests from the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, but NASA says animals are needed for such tests.
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