Modern Pulp Oct 24 2017
SO FAR NO GOOD
Some things are better left undimensioned.


Stuart Gordon's cult classic horror film From Beyond premiered in the U.S. today in 1986, but we're sharing this Thai poster because it's more attractive than the American promo. For the uninitiated, From Beyond is loosely based on an H.P. Lovecraft story of the same name about a scientist who discovers what is today a standard terror motif: if you can see them, they can see you. Lovecraft came up with this idea way back in 1920, spinning a tale about a machine called a resonator that enables humans to see horrific beings that surround us but reside in an invisible adjacent dimension. But once the scientist perceives them, the monstrous entities likewise perceive him—and come calling.

The film starred Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton, two alumni from Gordon's bravura gorefest Re-Animator, released the previous year. From Beyond doesn't push the envelope as far as the earlier film, but that doesn't mean it's bad. It just means Gordon tempered his vision a bit. In other ways the films are quite similar. Both play the naked-woman-as-victim card, which can be uncomfortable to watch, since these days such sequences are not benignly received. As always, times change.

In From Beyond the nudity isn't gratuitous exactly. One of the side effects of the resonator is that it frees the id, which is why you see Crampton go from buttoned up schoolmarm to brazen dominatrix in the promo shots below. Males are similarly affected. We searched for shots of co-star Ken Foree in his banana hammock undies—one of many famous moments from the film—but came up empty, so to speak. Regardless of the cultural shift that has placed movies like From Beyond, with its depiction of sexual assault, on shaky ground in 2017, we recommend it for true horror fans. The viewing may discomfit, but the villain is after all both man and monster, which makes him/it an interesting symbol for our modern age.

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Modern Pulp Jul 16 2016
MACHINE POWERED
Sharky's Machine hums along nicely, but only up to a point.


This poster for the 1981 thriller Sharky's Machine was made for the movie's premiere in Bangkok. Every blue moon or so Hollywood decides to update a ’40s film noir. Sometimes these are excellent movies—Body Heat as a rework of Double Indemnity comes to mind. Sharky's Machine is based on William Diehl's novel of the same name, which is a restyling of 1944's Laura. If you haven't seen Laura, a detective falls in love with a murdered woman, focusing these feelings upon her portrait, which is hanging over the mantle in her apartment. In Sharky's Machine the hero, Atlanta vice detective Burt Reynolds, falls in love with Rachel Ward via his surveillance of her during a prostitution investigation, and is left to deal with his lingering feelings when she's killed.

When Ward observed years back that she had been too prudish in her artistic choices, we imagine this was one movie she had in mind. We agree. Reynolds' 24/7 surveillance of a high priced hooker is not near frank enough. This is where vice, voyeurism, and sleaze as subtext should have come together overtly, as it does in Diehl's unflinchingly detailed novel, rather than as stylized montages, which is what Reynolds opts for.
 
Sex and nudity aren't always gratuitous. The plot driver in old film noirs is often sex, but it couldn't be shown. Remaking a noir affords the opportunity to explore the sexual aspect further, as in Body Heat, where it's literally the lure of sex with no boundaries—exemplified in that famous (but implied) anal scene—that snares the hero in an insane murder plot. In Sharky's Machine it's sexual objectification that is the initial driver. Reynolds' loves Ward's body first and her personality later, but the surveillance that is the key to this is barely explored.

It's a missed opportunity to not only make a better thriller, but to examine this lust-to-love transition as an aspect of all romantic relationships. Reynolds doubled as both star and director of the film, and while his relative newbie status in the latter realm may be a reason he didn't push the envelope, he still manages in his third outing helming a motion picture to put together a final product that is stylish, dark, and neon-streaked—everything a neo-noir should be. Upon release many critics had problems with tone—violence and humor seemed to clash. Reynolds' was a semi-comedic cinematic figure and his previous two directorial efforts had been comedies, which may have led to jokes leaking into unusual moments of the film. But these days the mix of violence and comedy is common, so we doubt you'll be terribly annoyed by these few incongruities.

The main flaw with the movie, besides its chasteness, is not its tone, but that it feels compressed in the latter third, especially as relates to the love subplot. True, the film is already a shade over two hours long, but it's time that flies by, populated as it is by so many interesting roles and great actors (Bernie Casey, Brian Keith, Vittorio Gassman, Charles Durning). Another seven minutes would not have hurt. Still, we recommend this one. It should have been as bold a noir rework as Body Heat, but there's plenty to entertain in other areas, and Hollywood may make this film perfect yet—a new version of Sharky's Machine is in development with Mark Wahlberg in the lead. Hah hah—who are we kidding? They'll screw it up completely. You already know that.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 6 2015
THAI SPY
Bond takes a shot at Thai readers.


The above book covers for the James Bond novels Live and Let Die, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, For Your Eyes Only and Goldfinger come from Thailand, where a martini is a “hăy láa bprà-pâyt kók-tayn,” a phrase sure to leave even international badass James Bond a sputtering mess. At the very least, he can forget about getting it shaken not stirred. No way he can pronounce those words, cunning linguist or not. Of course, being Bond, there’s always some slinky English-speaking femme fatale happy to help him out before a) bedding him and b) trying to kill him. It’s the same for us, except the slinky femmes are the Pulp Intl. girlfriends, and after bedding us they make us help with chores, which is a little like being killed. Bond never did chores. And next time they ask us we’re going to say that to them with a straight face—James Bond never did chores. We’ll let you know how that works out.  

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Hollywoodland Jan 3 2015
CONFIDENTIAL HANDLING
Confidential dishes dirt but tries not to cross the line.


Confidential gives Kim Novak the cover and Lili St Cyr the inset on an issue published this month in 1965. Inside, the editors offer readers mostly lukewarm rehash, as was Confidential’s usual approach during its fangless mid-1960’s years, but there are also a few interesting tidbits. We learn that Lili St. Cyr took more than thirty Nembutals during her 1958 suicide attempt, yet still managed to survive though as few as three pills can be fatal. Ramfis Trujillo’s wild Parisian parties are detailed, including the time he and his entourage shot up the lobby of the Hotel George V. And we find out that Frank Sinatra paid a $400 fine in Spain for disturbing the peace when he blew up after a woman threw a drink on him.

But make no mistake—the once mighty Confidential was walking on eggshells after being on the wrong end of some costly lawsuits. Maverick owner Robert Harrison had sold the magazine to Hy Steirman, who realized the easiest way to avoid litigation was to take on targets that either wouldn’t fight back or couldn’t be bothered to care. Ramfis Trujillo, for example, was a mass-murderer and likely found articles about his crazed partying flattering. Thailand’s dictator Sarit Thanarat is also slammed in this issue, and you can bet he gave less than a shit about the write-up—if he was even aware of it. Editors sling mud at Marilyn Monroe, who was dead. Amorphous group targets, like the “limp wrist set,” the Mafia, real estate swindlers, and escaped Nazis make up the rest of the subject matter.

But even if Confidential wasn’t kicking ass and taking names in 1965, its visuals were still quite nice, with those impactful black, white and red graphics, and that super hip language that’s so much of its time but which is still amazing to read today. Try this on for size: “Call the men in the white coats and get the whacky wagon rolling, your favorite swinging correspondent is ready for Flipsville!” We’re always ready for Flipsville, and we’re always ready for mid-century tabloids, too. How many of these do we have left in our collection? You wouldn’t believe us if we told you. We’d sell some, but how could we possibly part with them? We’re stuck with them. And so are you. Twenty-plus scans below.

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Modern Pulp Jan 14 2014
THAI SCI-FI
Who knew doom and destruction could look so pretty?

Something a little different today, above are five Thai sci-fi and horror posters, showing the baroque stylings that make them so visually pleasing. The movies are, top to bottom, The Hidden, Scanners, Hex, Lifeforce, and The Believers.

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The Naked City | Sportswire Aug 16 2010
DEATH IN PHUKET
A fight between two falang leads to murder in a Thai resort town.

In Phuket, Thailand—a place known as one of the hellraising capitals of the world—a manhunt is underway after a British kickboxer killed an American marine following a fight at a nightspot called the Freedom Bar. The alleged killer is 28-year-old Lee Aldhouse, above left, who had lived in the Phuket area for about four years. According to witnesses, Aldhouse instigated an altercation with Dashawn Longfellow, 23, who was in the bar visiting a female employee. The fight between the two foreigners—who are “falang” in Thai parlance—ended with Longfellow as the victor, and shortly thereafter he and the employee left the bar.

Aldhouse then went into a nearby 7-11 store, where he was caught on security cam (above) either stealing or buying a knife. He immediately went to Longfellow’s apartment, knocked on the door, and allegedly stabbed the marine to death in front of a witness. Official accounts stop there, but unofficial accounts posted on a Phuket-based internet forum describe Aldhouse as a well-known troublemaker, someone police were well aware of due to previous run-ins and who locals avoided because of his violent temper and knowledge of Muay Thai kickboxing. He had fought professionally, and considered himself a disciple of the art. At least one witness described Aldhouse as enraged to have lost a fight to someone with no professional ring experience, and suggested that, for a man with such an erratic nature, embarrassment was motive enough for murder.

The killing is one of several so far this year in Phuket involving falang, including one just last month in which a former U.S. Navy officer killed a local girl and disposed of her body by stuffing it in a travel bag and dumping it by a deserted roadside. The expat propensity toward violence is a constant source of friction in Thai resort towns, and the Aldhouse/Longfellow murder has only served to ratchet up tensions even more. Police are scouring the Phuket area for Aldhouse, but so far haven’t located him. 

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Modern Pulp | Vintage Pulp Oct 31 2009
PLANET TERROR
Horror is a universal language

Above is a worldwide assortment of the creepiest posters we could find in honor of Halloween. Interestingly, Halloween is getting more popular internationally all the time. Where we live it was virtually ignored as recently as ten years ago, but nowadays it’s not a rarity to see both kids and adults dressed in costumes for the occasion. Trick-or-treating hasn’t quite taken hold, just because the layout of the communities don’t really allow for it, but adopting new personas or playing characters is something everyone seems to love, no matter where they live. Everyone likes a good scare, too, and these films do the job nicely. They are Halloween, Halloween again, Rosemary’s Baby, Zombie Holocaust, The Girl Who Knew Too Much, Squirm, Return of the Living Dead 2, The Shuttered Room, Evil Dead 2, Hellraiser, Suspiria, The Incredible Shrinking Man, Vampire Women, The Omen, The Thing, The Shining, Backwoods, Fright Night, and Seuseung-ui eunhye. Happy trick-or-treating. 

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Modern Pulp Aug 7 2009
PARILLAUD UNIVERSE
The female of the species is more deadly than the male.

We featured French actress Anne Parillaud as a femme fatale recently and now this morning we spotted this kick-ass Thai promo poster for Nikita, aka La Femme Nikita. Parillaud plays a thief and murderess who, instead of being sent to prison for her crimes, is transformed by a shadowy government agency into an assassin. It was remade in the U.S. as Point of No Return in 1993 starring Bridget Fonda, and while that version has it merits—mainly the underrated Fonda in the lead role—the original directed by Luc Besson has a sublime coolness that’s hard to beat. We just watched this recently, and we're going to watch it again. Highly recommended.

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Vintage Pulp May 29 2009
UNDERARMED AND DANGEROUS
She'd like to teach the world to sting.


We know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking she has a penis coming out of her armpit. But no, it isn’t a penis—it’s a stinger. However, like a penis, it isn’t much to look at until it gets excited and wants to play. The game it prefers is the one where it gives you a dose of rabies so advanced you turn into a frothing homicidal maniac. We showed you the American promo art for Rabid not long ago, but you didn’t get a cockpit shot in that one, so we figured we’d be completist and post this amazing Thai art. Also, we figured another tribute to the recently departed Marilyn Chambers was appropriate. She’s been eulogized mainly as a porn star, but the best film she ever made was this one, in which she pricks the boys and makes them die.

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Modern Pulp Apr 29 2009
HOTEL HELL
Hello, desk? There’s some sort of loud disturbance next door in room 666.


A couple of days ago we were riffing on a movie called The Beyond, aka Spirit City of the Damned, aka Seven Doors of Death, and showed you the colorful Thai poster. By contrast, the sinister and almost monochromatic promo art you see above accompanied the film’s earlier Italian release as E tu vivrai nel terrore—L'aldilà. The story concerns a hotel perched atop an entrance to hell (hope that isn’t giving too much away), but of course when Catriona MacColl inherits the property she doesn’t know anything about that and thinks she’s actually getting a sweet deal. But the difficulties of maintaining a dead & breakfast soon prove overwhelming, not least because staff turnover in a place inhabited by demons can be pretty high (though heating bills are low). L'aldilà is a bit incoherent, truth told, and the fx are clunky even by 1981 standards, but it does possess unbridled exuberance thanks to the unflinching direction of Lucio Fulci. That’s all we’ll say about the film, except that there’s a character here named Joe the Plumber who meets a gory death, so depending on your political beliefs, this could be a must-see. L'aldilà premiered in Italy today in 1981.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
December 14
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.
December 13
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.
December 12
1968—Tallulah Bankhead Dies
American actress, talk show host, and party girl Tallulah Bankhead, who was fond of turning cartwheels in a dress without underwear and once made an entrance to a party without a stitch of clothing on, dies in St. Luke's Hospital in New York City of double pneumonia complicated by emphysema.
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