|Vintage Pulp||Sep 24 2018|
Above is a nice George Gross cover for John D. MacDonald's 1953 novel A Bullet for Cinderella. We acquired this book mainly because of the art, but also to see if the weird generalizations about various types of people we complained about in MacDonald's Travis McGee novels was the character or the author. Turns out it was the author. But he keeps it in a lower gear than in his McGee novels, which helps. In the story a Korean War prison camp survivor heads to a dead buddy's home town to try to locate $60,000 in stolen money. On his deathbed in the prison camp the friend had confessed to hiding the money, but in his delirium did not say exactly where. He asked that the money be returned to its rightful owner but the hero of the story plans to keep it. To his dismay another death camp survivor who somehow learned the same information is already in the town, also trying to locate the cash. You get a battle of wills, a moral struggle over whether to keep the money if found, and a love interest who was once the dead man's girl. You could find a better book to read, but you could also find a lot worse.
|Vintage Pulp||Dec 6 2017|
Above, a nice cover for Day Keene's 1954 thriller Death House Doll, with excellent art by Harry Barton. In the story, a Korean War vet has promised his fatally wounded brother he'd look after his wife and baby daughter, but when he gets back to the world (Chicago) he's stunned to find that she's sitting on death row for murder, and unwilling to spill the truth even if it saves her. The attraction with this one is watching a decorated war hero run riot on hoods and thieves, while up against the always effective ticking clock gimmick—an execution date, which in this case is five days hence. The book was an Ace Double with Thomas B. Dewey's Mourning After on the flipside, and the art on that one, just above, is by Victor Olson. We put together a nice collection of Harry Barton's work back in May that we recommend you visit at this link.
|Modern Pulp||Jan 21 2014|
Thanks to the wonder of downloading—er, we mean the legal purchase of a DVD at a sanctioned commercial outlet—this weekend we were able to re-screen one of our favorite recent movies, the 2010 South Korean gutwrencher Angmareul boatda, aka I Saw the Devil. Last time we watched it we didn’t write about it, but we think it’s a good time to recommend the movie because today was its official American premiere date. Amazingly, that unveiling was at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Well, nobody felt like dancing by the time the movie ended, you can be sure. Often lumped in with horror or torture porn movies, in truth I Saw the Devil is an unflinching but high-gloss revenge thriller, beautifully shot, and carefully paced. The revenge in question is directed toward a serial killer and director Kim Ji-woon’s documentation of that person’s gory exploits is where much of the movie’s early mayhem occurs.
Unlike many American films, I Saw the Devil doesn’t soften the impact of violence by turning it into a technical showcase for an fx house—the movie tries its best to make those scenes frightening yet somehow banal. No heads explode, nobody is thrown in a tire shredder, and nobody is impaled by a pair of skis. The most proximate cause of nearly every human death in history—technically speaking—has been lack of oxygen to the brain. Oxygen very often stops going to the brain because the blood needed to carry it there has gone somewhere else—the floor, for example. I Saw the Devil explores that concept with vivid clarity. Above is one of the American posters, and below is the original South Korean promo.
|Intl. Notebook||Aug 3 2013|
|Intl. Notebook||May 1 2013|
Back during the days of aboveground nuclear testing, particularly during the Korean War, the U.S. government wanted to be sure troops could operate under threat of nuclear attack. A field exercise known as Desert Rock IV was conducted at the Nevada Test Site during some of the detonations comprising the nuclear test series codenamed Operation Tumbler-Snapper. Thousands of soldiers conducted maneuvers as the blasts occurred, and were exposed to radiation, though the levels were said to be low. This particular photo is from the 20-kiloton airburst codenamed Dog, and shows two soldiers pretending to touch the bomb’s debris cloud. An aerial photo of the blast appears below. That was today in 1952.
|Vintage Pulp||Apr 2 2013|
Over the last few months we’ve culled together a collection of Australian World War II and Korean War paperback covers from the 1960s and today seemed like a good day to share these with you. All of the books are from Horwitz Publishing, the family owned house established in 1921 in Sydney by Israel and Ruth Horwitz. Upon its inception Horwitz published trade journals and sporting magazines, but eventually moved into popular fiction, pulps, and comic books. It was under son Stanley Horwitz, who took over the head spot at the company in 1956, that these books were published.
|Hollywoodland | Vintage Pulp||Mar 28 2013|
Elizabeth Taylor nude! Those sneaks at Whisper raised the hopes of millions of readers who bought this March 1965 issue, but inside revealed that the whited-out silhouette on the cover with Richard Burton is in reality a wooden statue of Taylor made to promote her role in The Sandpiper. It was to be unveiled at a party aboard the Queen Mary, but producer Joseph E. Levine connived a way for the sculpture to be stowed below decks so his star Carroll Baker wouldn’t be upstaged. In the end, nobody at the party saw the Taylor statue and Carroll Baker—once again wearing that amazing dress, by the way—ruled the day.
|Vintage Pulp||Dec 11 2012|
Above is the cover of an issue of Final, a publication we had never heard of before, but which is certainly big budget and hit the streets this month in 1950 courtesy of Gambit Publishing out of New York City. The cover star is model Joy Niven, who we also had never heard of, but who was photographed by famed Marilyn Monroe lensman Earl Leaf. This Final has taken a bit of wear over the last six decades, but kudos to the Denver Book Fair for acquiring it, sealing it so its deterioration stopped, and selling it to us cheap. Now we’ve carried it across an ocean, opened it, and exposed it to the elements, but all in an effort to scan it for posterity. For as we discussed before, if it isn’t digital and accessible to the masses, does it really exist at all?
Update: Pamela writes in and says, "The best part about that Rod Cameron/Angela Alves-Lico story is that after ten years of marriage, Cameron divorced her. And married her mother. Yep...the woman on the right in that photo.
|Modern Pulp||Aug 23 2012|
Something completely different today, this is a South Korean poster for the 1983 Brian De Palma thriller Scarface, which didn’t open there until December 1984. We have no idea what all that info packed on the poster says. Maybe something about how this is the most violence to hit Korean shores since the end of the war. The image, by the way, is not a nice clean scan, but rather a digital photo shot through a store window. It looks pretty good, though, no? Anyway, we have others and maybe we’ll share those later.
|Vintage Pulp||Jun 29 2012|
This issue of Rampage published today in 1969 features an unidentified cover model claiming that men drool all over her body. Particularly the lower half, we suspect, since she’s wearing no pants. Inside, the mag’s intrepid journos go on an orgy hunt and—amazingly—find one; pseudonymous scribe Pitt Falls describes how insurance agents have a gay time balling housewives; and rape is conflated with sex. That’s nearly always the unfortunate case with these (male-written) vintage tabs. Those stories are pure farce, little slices of sleaze fiction, and we assume close to 100% of readers understood that, but then again, you never know.
Anyway, in this issue you also get the (not so) Great Criswell, who serves up yet another slate of incredibly off target predictions. Specifically, he tells readers that Armenia will be a superpower by the year 1980, that a new war will break out on the Korean peninsula, and that Esperanto will become the official language of international newspapers and magazines. Well, in the prediction business you have to swing for the fences, and really, you only have to connect about 25% of the time to maintain your status. So what was Criswell right about this time around? He said taxes would go up. Crack! That one’s waay out of here, folks!
The Great Criswell, who also called himself The Amazing Criswell, usually appeared in the pages of National Informer, a fact that tells us Rampage is a creation of the Informer Publishing Co. of Franklin Park, Illinois. But the problem with Rampage is it feels exactly as if National Informer or National Informer Weekly Reader were left out on the counter to grow stale, then warmed under a heat lamp and served on a paper plate. The fact that it’s tamer is a good thing, in real word terms. But in pulp world we’re looking for the uniquely outrageous. Rampage promises but doesn’t deliver. But we’ll reserve our final judgment until we have a look at the other issues we bought. Meantime, check out the scans below.