Vintage Pulp May 21 2018
OSAKA FIVE-O
You have the right to remain dead.


We already showed you a rare hand-painted poster for the pinky violence actioner Zeroka no onna: Akai wappa, aka Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs. Today we're showing you the tateken poster, which is rare too, so much so that this may be the best scan you'll of it see online. The kind of washed out look is part of the design. If you haven't seen the movie, it's about a vigilante cop played by Miki Sugimoto who is released from prison by a government agency in order to take down the kidnappers of a powerful politician's daughter.

Like most pinku movies, there's some sexual violence, and many reviewers excoriate this admittedly overused plot device. We don't claim those reviewers are wrong, but it should be noted that rape in pinku is often symbolic, serving both to advance the immediate plot and implant a deeper message. In this case the main perpetrator in the sexual assault of a young Japanese woman is wearing U.S. Navy coveralls. The depth of negative feeling about the U.S. occupation of Japan is made clear. All that said, the constant use of sexual assault in Japanese film—if it was ever artistically justified at all—definitely jumped the shark with the arrival of Nikkatsu Studios' roman porno offerings. We've talked about that before.

One interesting part of assessing vintage art is that at the time it was created the artists often thought they were making a certain statement, but decades later their art is perceived as sending the exact opposite message. Such is the case with pinky violence movies, in which maverick male filmmakers—in this case Yukio Noda—showed Japanese women taking on and usually destroying an entrenched male power structure, but only after being driven to it through degradation and violence. Which in screen terms meant rape. Were there other ways to show women driven to the point where they would kill? No doubt, but in patriarchal 1970s Japan the shock of these films was not how women were driven to kill men, but that they did—and often got away with it.

Miki Sugimoto deals with with some very bad men in Zero Woman, but her focus never wavers. She's to rescue the kidnapped daughter and dispose of the abductors in such a way that no news coverage or police investigation points back toward the father. Wrapped in a crimson raincoat she dispatches villain after villain, but learns that not even the presumed good guys are redeemable—not the politician, not the cops, nobody. It's grim, cynical, nihilistic stuff—and a classic of the genre. Zeroka no onna: Akai wappa opened in Japan today in 1974.

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Vintage Pulp May 21 2014
ZERO SUM GAME
Idle handcuffs are the Devil’s playthings.

We’re into the Japanese pile again today, but for a different type of poster, and a different type of movie. This rare promo is for Yukio Noda’s Zeroka no onna: Akai wappa, aka Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs, starring Miki Sugimoto. It’s a limited edition piece painted by the artist Shindo, who we can’t find much about, but who presumably was pretty famous. We’ll look into that. Anyway, we watched this movie recently, and we’d tell you all about it, but do you really need another blog review, even an extraordinarily (ahem) witty and erudite one? Thought not. It’s widely available, so search it out, queue it up, and enjoy it. Zeroka no onna: Akai wappa premiered in Japan today in 1974.

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Vintage Pulp Apr 24 2014
DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL
She was ready for her bath, but Japanese censors weren’t.

Above is a poster for Yukio Noda’s 1975 pinku Seishun Toruko Nikki Shojosuberi, aka Young Turkish Bath Diaries: The Sliding Virgin. This is yet another film that possibly may not have had a western release. It certainly has no IMDB entry, even though Noda is a well-known director who gave the world Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs and a whole raft of Wolves of the City movies. This one stars Reika Yamakawa, who was born in 1957, making her eighteen when the film premiered, but sixteen when it was shot two years earlier. Once word got out she had headlined this effort, child welfare authorities came calling and Toei Studios had to shelve the footage for two years. Why that made a difference we don’t know—underage scenes are underage scenes, even after two years have passed. But of course, pinku films have no actual sex and no pubic nudity, so the problems derived from a provocative “bubble dance” performed by Yamakawa and others. In any case, nobody went to jail, and in fact the movie screened last August at Tokyo’s Shibuya Cinemavera Theater as part of a cult film festival called Mondo Cinemaverique. The promo poster is legally available for sale in Japan, so any problems with that were solved as well, but you can never be too careful in this day and age, so we’ve added pixilation across Yamakawa’s torso. 


 
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Vintage Pulp Jan 18 2014
WOLF PACK
The gangs that couldn’t shoot straight.


Furyô banchô: Inoshika Ochô, aka Wolves of the City, aka Wolves of the City: Ocho the She-Wolf was a significant hole in our Japanese actioner viewing résumé, but we solved that by watching the film a few days ago. In short, you get an amoral motorcycle gang in Nazi regalia pitted against evil Yakuza, with the tide eventually turning when the legendary hellion Ocho the She-Wolf teams up with the gang. The movie looks great. Yukio Noda’s direction—for the most part—is a marvel. He frames shots with six, seven, sometimes even a dozen interacting characters spread across the screen, yet it all seems effortless. Modern directors don’t seem remotely interested in using shots like these anymore, which is a shame, but it may also be a function of today’s screenwriters choosing to limit the number of characters who interact simultaneously. In any case, this is one thing we loved about the movie and we’ve shared some images of this technique below.

But Wolves of the City is a mixed bag. It relies upon numerous violent set pieces, but where the dialogue sequences feel so carefully thought out, the action is pure Keystone Kops. Because Noda continues framing large numbers of actors in single shots, his performers seem more intent uponhitting their stage marks than making these confrontations look realistic. They reach their required positions in the scenes, but these hardened gangsters handle pistols and machine guns as if they were rubber snakes, dealing a major blow to what should be the visceral thrill of such moments. By packing the screen during the gunfights Noda forces the audience to accept that nobody can successfully shoot anyone from five feet away. It feels very bang-bang-you’re-dead amateurish, complete with wounded gangsters clutching their chests, spinning around, and falling to the floor.
 
In the end the plot ushers us through various deals, deceptions, and shootouts, and you finally get the inevitable throwdown between the bikers and the Yakuza. This is the most unlikely sequence of all, with bikers motoring around none too swiftly inside a confined warehouse while still miraculously being missed by a hailstorm of screaming lead. But by now we know what we’re going to get and we just have to go with it. At one point Ocho puts out a gangster’s eyes and archly informs him (as if he can hear through the head-splitting pain), “You’re the seventeenth victim of Ocho of Inoshika’s eye attack!” This movie does attack the eyes rather beautifully, and if you look past the Vaudeville antics of the action scenes you may enjoy it. The panel length poster at top is rare, and as far as we know it’s the only one of its kind to be seen online. Furyô banchô: Inoshika Ochô premiered in Japan today in 1969.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
October 22
1926—Houdini Fatally Punched in Stomach
After a performance in Montreal, Hungarian-born magician and escape artist Harry Houdini is approached by a university student named J. Gordon Whitehead, who asks if it is true that Houdini can endure any blow to the stomach. Before Houdini is ready Whitehead strikes him several times, causing internal injuries that lead to the magician's death.
October 21
1973—Kidnappers Cut Off Getty's Ear
After holding Jean Paul Getty III for more than three months, kidnappers cut off his ear and mail it to a newspaper in Rome. Because of a postal strike it doesn't arrive until November 8. Along with the ear is a lock of hair and ransom note that says: "This is Paul’s ear. If we don’t get some money within 10 days, then the other ear will arrive. In other words, he will arrive in little bits." Getty's grandfather, billionaire oilman Jean Paul Getty, at first refused to pay the 3.2 million dollar ransom, then negotiated it down to 2.8 million, and finally agreed to pay as long as his grandson repaid the sum at 4% interest.
October 20
1947—HUAC Hearings Begin
The House Un-American Activities Committee begins its investigation into Communist infiltration of Hollywood, resulting in a witch hunt that destroys lives, ruins careers, and makes Senator Joseph McCarthy the most feared politician of the era.
1968—Jackie Kennedy Marries
Former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy marries Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis. The marriage comes as a total surprise to the American public, and results in a terrible backlash against her and also makes her the number one target of paparazzi for years.
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