|Intl. Notebook||Mar 22 2018|
The Wolf Man, with Evelyn Ankers.
|Femmes Fatales||Apr 25 2017|
This 1974 shot of the Japanese AV model Mimi came from an issue of Heibon Punch we bought a while back. It's pretty much impossible to isolate any information on her, because Mimi is actually a very popular name in Japan, as well as the name of a clothing line, a porn star, a movie, and some other things, but we thought we'd share the photo anyway. Apparently Mimi plays basketball, since her shirt says “Nice Sports Basketball.” Shirts against skins, anyone?
|Vintage Pulp||Feb 8 2017|
As if Tarantelli's pass at a McGinnis ass wasn't enough, we found another copy of the same pose, executed by another Italian artist, this time the great Mario de Berardinis. His piece promotes the 1975 erotic comedy La nottata, or “The Night,” which starred Sara Sperati and Susanna Javicoli. Did de Berardinis imitate Tarantelli or McGinnis? We don't know, but he truly was a genius, so copying is officially forgiven. You can see our original write-up on The Bombshell here.
|Vintage Pulp||Jul 3 2016|
Onsen mimizu geisha, which premiered today in 1971, stars an eighteen-year-old Reiko Ike, along with Miki Sugimoto and Junkô Tôda, in yet another tale centered on a Japanese hot spring—Toi Onsen on the Izu Peninsula. So what is this about specifically? Basically, in order to avoid losing the family’s ancestral burial plot to debt collectors, Ike is forced to become a geisha, which turns out to be a natural choice because of the muscle control she has over her vagina. The extraordinarily pleasurable sensation she creates in there is akin to that of worms writhing. Yes, you read that right—worms. Warm ones, of course. And this is where the title of the movie comes from—Onsen mimizu geisha, or “hot springs earthworm geisha.” Do you need to know more? This is a classic, with a lot of goofy humor, plenty of bare skin and bikinis, a strong visual style from director Noribumi Suzuki, and some bizarrely aggressive octopi. And most importantly it has Ike, who’s radiant throughout, never more so than when flashing the viewer during the naughty opening credit montage. Maybe not for everybody, this one, but it certainly worked for us.
|Vintage Pulp||Jan 28 2016|
Based on a 1949 novel of the same name by Frederic Brown, Screaming Mimi stars Anita Ekberg as a traumatized burlesque dancer who can’t shake the memory of being attacked by a knife-wielding maniac. She’s committed to a mental institution, where her psychiatrist promptly falls in love with her and helps her escape and create a new identity. Now dancing at a club in Laguna Beach, California, she’s the hottest draw in the area and her former doctor is her lover and protector, but also smothers and dominates her. Can the anonymity last? Of course not.
Enter stage right an entitled horndog who won’t take no for an answer. After Ekberg survives another knife attack the horndog—who’s also a reporter—has all the justification he needs to dog Ekberg’s every step, and the doctor tries to protect her fake identity and keep her and the reporter from falling into bed together. Chances of success? Zero. Screaming Mimi is an interesting noir—it was fertile enough to serve as inspiration for Dario Argento’s L’uccello dalle piume di cristallo, aka The Bird with the Crystal Plumage—but its b-movie budget really shows and we think Philip Carey is miscast as the reporter/hero. Carey has no charm at all in this, which renders Ekberg’s interest in him unbelievable. But his performance will be a treat for patrons of the Noir City fest—most will probably remember him from his twenty-four-year stint as the repulsive Asa Buchanan on the soap opera One Life To Live.
|Intl. Notebook||Jan 22 2016|
San Francisco's Noir City Film Festival remains one of the best of its type in the U.S. Its fourteenth incarnation kicks off today in San Fran with Rear Window and The Public Eye. The first isn't a noir, but fits comfortably on the festival program; the second is a sort of noir, though a newer one, and is an inspired choice, in our opinion. We just wonder whether people who pay for two films noir will be happy with those two selections on opening night. In any case, we take a peek at both films below. Other offerings this year include the Bogart vehicles The Two Mrs. Carrolls and In a Lonely Place, Screaming Mimi, Corridor of Mirrors, The Dark Corner plus more than twenty other titles, and we'll be taking a look at some of these films throughout the next week.
|Vintage Pulp||Mar 16 2015|
The Mercenaries, aka Dark of the Sun isn’t a movie many remember, but we’re going to remember it, because this is a great pre-CGI action film—not perfect, but well above average. Based on Wilbur Smith’s novel Train from Katanga, and starring Rod Taylor, Jim Brown, Peter Carsten, and Yvette Mimieux, it tells the story of two mercenaries in the civil war-torn Congo hired to ride a military train upcountry, rescue a group of stranded people, and retrieve $50 million in uncut diamonds languishing in a time-locked safe. They have to do it within three days, which means making rushed preparations—notably, enlisting the aid of a dodgy ex-Nazi who commands the Congolese mercs needed to round out the mission. This Nazi is a really bad human, so it’s no surprise he gets into a chainsaw fight with the protagonist shortly after they meet. You’d think the hero would expect the unexpected from the guy after that—but no. The Japanese poster above, while not perfectly descriptive of the action, gets the mood of The Mercenaries across effectively, and it opened in Japan today in 1968.
|Femmes Fatales||Aug 9 2013|
|Intl. Notebook||Jun 21 2013|
|The Naked City||Jun 30 2011|
The two victims never knew each other, but Heather Barnett and Elisa Claps are forever linked by their stolen lives, stolen hair, and tragic acquaintance with a third person, a strange, compulsive man neither of them suspected was capable of violence. Danilo Restivo, an Italian national who spent much of his life in the remote town of Potenza, Italy, was convicted yesterday for the 2002 mutilation and murder of Heather Barnett. The killing took place in the British town of Bournemouth, where Barnett lived and where Restivo had relocated. But the Restivo saga may actually have begun seventeen years ago, when young Elisa Claps disappeared from a church in Potenza, Italy.
The Church of the Most Holy Trinity, known in Potenza as Chiesa della SS. Trinità, is one of the few old churches in a town that was destroyed by an 1857 earthquake and again by an Allied bombardment during World War II. The town was shaken yet again in 1993 when Elisa Claps disappeared. Then sixteen, Claps had agreed to meet nineteen-year-old Danilo Restivo at morning mass, but he claimed afterward that Claps left while he remained behind to pray. A missing persons case was soon launched but Claps seemed to have disappeared into thin air. Police suspected Restivo, but there was no evidence against him, and with mass just ending there seemed too many witnesses to a potential crime for him to have harmed her. Yes, there was a cut on his hand, but Restivo claimed to have fallen at a construction site, and he was cool when questioned.
Claps, below, remained missing and, as often happens, the vacuum in the case was filled by the general public as rumors sprang up, articles and opinion pieces were published, and websites were launched. Perhaps Claps ran away with a lover. Perhaps she was abducted by Albanians and sold into sexual slavery. Maybe there was a police cover-up. Or perhapsthe church was involved—after all, the priest of della Trinità was a curious man named Mimi Sabia and he wasn’t entirely cooperative with police, having refused to let authorities disrupt his church with forensic investigations. The case wore on and the obsession about it spread from Potenza to the rest of Italy.
Danilo Restivo eventually left Italy. By 2002 he was living in Bournemouth, England, where he was a neighbor of Heather Barnett. On November 12 Barnett’s two children found their mother mutilated and dead in the bathroom of their home. She was partially nude, her throat was slit and her breasts cut off. She was also holding a lock of her own hair. Local police immediately suspected Restivo. They learned that Barnett’s keys had gone missing just after Restivo had been inside the house asking about having some curtains made. When they interviewed him days later they found that he was soaking his Nike trainers in bleach. But suspicions do not a murder case make and so police did not detain him—however, unlike in Italy they decided to keep him under surveillance.
What they learned was extremely disconcerting. Restivo haunted a local park, where he would spy on single women, darting between bushes or ducking behind stands of grass. He wore gloves during these outings, and he often returned to his car to change shirts or shoes. They also learned that he had a habit of stealing girls’ and women’s hair. Two teenagers reported that someone had cut their hair while they rode in a bus. They couldn’t say for sure who did it, but they were able to identify Restivo as one of the people who had sat behind them. Police also learned that at the age of fourteen Restivo had tied up and tortured two boys whose families later dropped charges in exchange for financial compensation from Restivo’s family. And perhaps most worrying, other women had been murdered and mutilated in places where Danilo Restivo resided and passed through.
All of this was uncovered through years of police work, and though the case against Danilo Restivo was looking stronger and stronger all the time, it wasn’t until this March that police caught the break they needed. That was when two workers back in Potenza, intending to repair a leak in the roof of della Trinità, found Elisa Claps’ body in the very church where she had been last seen. Her skeletonized remains, covered by mummified skin and the rags of her clothes, had been hidden in a small tower room beneath some old tiles. In one of the corpse’s hands was a lock of hair, and subsequent forensic analysis revealed that she had been mutilated in almost identical fashion as Heather Barnett. A case that had spawned numerous articles, websites, multiple investigations and hundreds of conspiracy theories, had come full circle. British police arrested Danilo Restivo, the court tried him, and yesterday, with Barnett’s family members present, a jury convicted him.
Now all eyes turn to Potenza. Mimi Sabia the uncooperative priest had long been suspected by some of hiding something. His was the only church that didn’t ring bells on the anniversary of Elisa Claps’ disappearance. Now there was a body in that bell tower belonging to a girl who would have been found probably the very day she was killed if onlyDon Mimi had helped. During investigation into the case he claimed not to know Danilo Restivo even though Restivo had been to della Trinità and Sabia was once photographed, just above, at a birthday party thrown for Restivo. But these questions will possibly never be answered because Don Mimi Sabia died in 1998.
However there are other questions. Della Trinità's newest priest claims that Elisa Claps’ body wasn’t found in March 2011, but two months earlier by two cleaners. The priest claims he informed church officials but was told to keep quiet while they decided what to do. Two months of secret deliberations later, two more workers were called in to repair a leaky roof that in fact wasn’t leaking at all. A body that had been completely covered with tiles was now partially exposed in order to ensure its discovery. Or so the new priest says, which means the Catholic Church is accused by one of its own of operating outside the law. It would be shocking if it hadn’t happened so many times before with regard to child molestation cases, but only time will tell if these specific allegations are true. Meanwhile, all the details of Elisa Claps’ last day on Earth are set to emerge—Danilo Restivo is being extradited to Italy to stand trial for her murder.