Femmes Fatales Sep 28 2013
MEIKO YOUR DAY
This old thing? I call it the peacemaker, because once you’re in pieces you’ll be no more trouble.

When pondering which femme fatale to post today, looking toward Japan seemed fitting. Japan’s Cinema Caravan will have its finale in San Sebastian tonight with several short films, plus live music from Cro-Magnon, DJ Mitsu the Beats, and more. The above image has never appeared on the internet before, as far as we can tell, and shows legendary actress Meiko Kaji. The year on this is 1969, back when she was still quite well known as Masako Ôta, having acted in four movies using that name. We’ll tell you all about Cinema Caravan’s finale tomorrow, and next week we’ll get back to our usual books, tabloids, and general pulp weirdness.

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Musiquarium Mar 1 2013
GEISHA SONGS
She doesn’t just hack people to death—there's a sensitive side.

When we saw this 7-inch gatefold over at Harakiri Chamber scanned and posted in two pieces we couldn’t resist Photoshopping it into one. It’s got Meiko Kaji, and if you’ve watched her movies you know it was her enemies who wound up in two pieces, not her. Anyway, Kaji is attired here for her role as Akemi Tachibana in Kaidan nobori ryu, aka The Tattooed Swordswoman. We took a close look at that movie back in October. You get two Kaji songs here—the a-side “Jingi Komoriuta,” which was featured on the soundtracks of Kaidan nobori ryu as well as 1971’s Ginchô wataridori, and the b-side, which is entitled “Koi ni Inochi wo.” This 1970 pressing is very rare and costs the equivalent of $100, which is quite a sum to drop on two tunes. But if you’re curious you can listen to the first one here and the second one here.

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Vintage Pulp Feb 19 2013
THE AMAZING GINZA BLADE
Slices a tomato so thin you can almost see through it! But wait! There’s more! It also works great on Yakuza!

It’s been a while since we had any Meiko Kaji on the site, so today we have four posters—two normal sized and two panel length—for 1971’s Ginchô wataridori, aka Wandering Ginza Butterfly, and 1972’s Ginchô nagaremono mesuneko bakuchi, aka Wandering Ginza: She-Cat Gambler. Haven’t seen them? Well, in our opinion, part two is vastly better than the first installment, but neither is up to the standard of Lady Snowblood. Still though, there are Yakuza and she kills them. What more could you want? You also get Meg Flower in part one, and Sonny Chiba in part two—both good additions. Kaji is still going strong in show business, by the way, having appeared in nine episodes of the Japanese television series Kekkon Shinai in 2012. We have some extremely rare posters of hers we’ll get to shortly.

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Intl. Notebook Oct 8 2012
MARRIAGE OF INCONVENIENCE
She wasn’t really a blind woman—she only played one in the movies.


Last week we watched Meiko Kaji’s Kaidan nobori ryu, aka Blind Woman’s Curse, and were too busy being cute with our summary of the film to mention that the blind woman was played by Hiroko (Hoki) Tokuda, who is better known to many people as author Henry Miller’s last wife. When they met she was working as a lounge pianist in L.A. and Miller, who had established himself as one of the most important American writers ever, was living in Pacific Palisades. Tokuda told the New York Times in 2011: “Henry started asking every week to meet me. I realized he just wanted a Japanese woman to add to his collection, and I would always ask myself, ‘Why me?’ Soon after we met, he started telling people he was going to marry me.” And marry her he did in September 1967. She was twenty-nine and Miller, who had been born in 1891, was on the verge of turning seventy-six.

By early 1970 Tokuda had left Miller and was back in Japan, where that year she filmed Blind Woman’s Curse. Miller died in 1980, and Tokuda is in Japan today, running a piano bar called Tropic of Cancer, after her ex-husband’s most famous book. She says her marriage with Miller was never consummated, which may or may not be true—Miller isn’t around to contradict her. She also says she only married him for a green card,and has even joked about him being a bad kisser. "Terrible," she describes it. "Wet." It strikes us as a bit cynical for her to pretend the marriage was an inconvenient mistake when she’s borrowing the name of his most famous book in order to brand her bar, but that’s just our opinion. In any case, being a pulp site, we just thought we should offer a little background info, since Tokuda was married to a guy who changed English language literature forever. The above photos both date from September 1967, when their love—if it ever existed—was new.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 4 2012
BLACK CAT RUN
You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting Meiko Kaji.


We thought the last Meiko Kaji poster we found featured the creepiest black cat of all time. We stand corrected. The above poster is for Teruo Ishii’s 1970 blood splatterer Kaidan nobori ryu, aka The Tattooed Swordswoman, aka Black Cat’s Revenge, aka Blind Woman’s Curse, aka Strange Tales of Dragon Tattoo, aka we’ll just stop there and tell you what it’s about. It’s about… well, we aren’t completely sure what it’s about, because we had to watch it without subtitles. Sometimes that doesn’t matter, but this movie is a bit abstract so the plot was hard to follow. Actually, even the actors seemed confused at times. But even if we can’t tell you exactly what it’s about, we can tell you what it has.

It has Meiko Kaji in the starring role. So that’s good.
 
She’s the leader of a gang that has a dragon collectively tattooed on its back. Which is visually interesting and a nice symbol of togetherness in these divisive times.
 
But she's a bit divisive herself, especially when it comes to dividing people from their body parts. She kills lots of people who deserve it, but accidentally blinds a little girl who doesn’t. That’s the girl in the second panel on the right, being blinded. We didn't need subtitles there. Pretty sure she shrieked, "My eyes!"
 
And then there's the cat. It's on the poster, so we were expecting it. What we didn't expect is that it eats blood. Which is weird, because cats are normally quite finicky.
 
There might be more than one black cat, now that we think about it, because it keeps popping up. Near as we can tell, Kaji thinks she’s cursed by this creature, and that it was sent by the little girl she blinded.

 
There’s something for the ladies here—ass. Prime male ass. That’s only fair, considering how much female skin is usually on display in these old Japanese flicks, but apparently he smells really bad. Leave it to male filmmakers to slip a little beefcake into a movie but then put some passive aggressive twist on it. The women in the movie don’t smell bad. You can be sure of that. But the one guy who shows his ass smells bad. Pretty good ass, though.
 
But ironically, from the front he’s butt ugly. Double disappointment for female viewers, and doubly passive aggressive from the filmmakers.
 
There’s a lot of horror movie stuff going on as well, including a guy wokking some severed body parts. Did they ever do hands on the original Iron Chef? They definitely did sea cucumber, but hands, can't be sure. Probably should have, though.

 
The black cat inevitably returns, but disturbingly, it’s hanging from a wire. We’re not supposed to notice the wire, but thanks to the wonders of pause technology, we got a clear shot of it. Apparently, the filmmakers couldn’t get a live cat to jump at the camera on cue, so they used this dead one hanging from piano wire. It isn’t a puppet, as far as we can tell. Best not to think about it.
 
There are some flayings. Members of Kaji’s gang have the dragon tattoos forcibly removed from their backs. It’s fatal, in case you’re wondering. One of the flayed victims ends up pressed against a pane of glass like a Delta Zeta kissing her jock boyfriend. No idea what that was about.

 
All of this leads to a climactic bloodbath. And we really mean bloodbath. Bad guys end up snorkeling in their own bodily fluids as Kaji pretty much juliennes everyone that crosses her path.

 
Such massacres are often the prelude to a final showdown in these movies. No exception here. Kaji has to fight the girl she blinded, who’s all grown up now and not in a forgiving mood at all. At all. Teruo Ishii uses an amazing matte backdrop to frame this scene and impart a sense of both turbulence and being sucked into an unavoidable conclusion.

 
How can the blind swordswoman fight, being blind and all? We missed that explanation, if there was one, but she can definitely hear really well. So that helps. Also, we haven't seen the last of that cat. Somehow kitty seems to have something to do with helping the blind chick, but this time Kaji is intent on fixing its little red wagon for good.

And that’s all we’ve got, because with a command of Japanese so weak it isn’t a command so much as a friendly suggestion, the plot nuances are beyond us, especially the whole haunting and evil spirit thing. But when a movie looks this good, it’s easy to enjoy even without total (or even partial) comprehension. Hopefully we’ll find a subtitled version somewhere and get a chance to screen this epic again. But even if we don’t, it was time well spent. Check out poster number two below.

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Vintage Pulp Sep 20 2012
CAT'S CLAW
Mommy, are you sure black cats aren’t bad luck?

This will finish up our Japanese pulp for the moment. It’s a poster for a Meiko Kaji film we’d never heard of before called Rusted Flame, according to the writing at left. Though an entry for it doesn’t appear on the usually comprehensive IMDB, nor on Japanese Wikipedia, the film does exist. We found more than one Japanese blog entry on it explaining that it appeared in 1977, also stars Mikijiro Hiro and Meiko Harada, and is a mystery revolving around the kidnapping of child hemophiliacs. We saw nothing about how the giant black cat fits in, but if the tableau above is an indication there’s some seriously bad luck involved. Another thing we did not see anywhere we looked was the poster. So we’ll take credit for getting this online for the first time.

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Femmes Fatales Sep 17 2012
ULTIMATE FIGHTER
Even now she’s thinking about beating you senseless.


We’re going to do a bit of Japan stuff now, and we’re starting out with this great promo poster of the one and only Meiko Kaji, star of numerous violent pinku flicks, looking lean, green, and very cool in 1974. See more Kaji here, here, and here.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 19 2010
SCORPION'S TALE
Woman in a long black coat.


Above, four posters for Meiko Kaji’s legendary Joshuu sasori series, known in English as Female Convict 701: Scorpion, Female Prisoner Scorpion: Jailhouse 41, Female Prisoner Scorpion: Beast Stable, and Female Prisoner Scorpion: #701's Grudge Song, 1972 to 1973. We're actually missing posters in this series (there are two for most of the installments) but haven't come across them yet. We'll keep looking and tack them onto this post later if we find them. In the meantime, if you haven't seen the Joshuu sasori flicks, we recommend them. They're seminal pinku productions, pretty much standard viewing for the genre. And below, Meiko rocks the all-corduroy look on a poster from the mid-seventies.  

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Femmes Fatales May 20 2010
SCORPION QUEEN
You mind if I hang around a little while?

Japanese promo pamphlet featuring Meiko Kaji as Scorpion, in the pinku classic Joshuu 701-gô: Sasori, aka Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion, 1972.

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Musiquarium Apr 8 2010
SONGS OF THE SIRENS
A song is worth a thousand pictures.

The other day we realized that nearly all of our femmes fatales released records at some point, so we have a megapost of sleeves below representing a fraction of these multi-talented women’s musical output. We’ve heard most of the music, believe it or not, and while its quality varies, we do suggest you check out both Marilyn Chambers and Reiko Ike—their simulated orgasms are quite pleasing to the, er, ears. 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
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.
October 01
1910—Los Angeles Times Bombed
A massive dynamite bomb destroys the Los Angeles Times building in downtown Los Angeles, California, killing 21 people. Police arrest James B. McNamara and his brother John J. McNamara. Though the brothers are represented by the era's most famous lawyer, Clarence Darrow, of Scopes Monkey Trial fame, they eventually plead guilty. James is convicted and sentenced to fifteen years in prison. His brother John is convicted of a separate bombing of the Llewellyn Iron Works and also sent to prison.
1975—Ali Defeats Frazier in Manila
In the Philippines, an epic heavyweight boxing match known as the Thrilla in Manila takes place between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. It is the third, final and most brutal match between the two, and Ali wins by TKO in the fourteenth round.
September 30
1955—James Dean Dies in Auto Accident
American actor James Dean, who appeared in the films Giant, East of Eden, and the iconic Rebel without a Cause, dies in an auto accident at age 24 when his Porsche 550 Spyder is hit head-on by a larger Ford coupe. The driver of the Ford had been trying to make a left turn across the rural highway U.S. Route 466 and never saw Dean's small sports car approaching.
1962—Chavez Founds UFW
Mexican-American farm worker César Chávez founds the United Farm Workers in California. His strikes, marches and boycotts eventually result in improved working conditions for manual farm laborers and today his birthday is celebrated as a holiday in eight U.S. states.

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