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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Femmes Fatales Feb 25 2018
REMEMBER MIKI
But really, who could ever forget her?


Miki Sugimoto posed for a lot of nude photos. Among 1970s pinku stars Terumi Azuma posed for more, definitely. And probably Naomi Tani too. But we see Sugimoto nudes all the time. These were shot by Japanese lensman Kenji Nagatomo and appeared in the nostalgia magazine Dankai Punch (Baby Boom Punch) in 2007 as a photo feature titled “Remember Zero Woman.” This of course refers to Sugimoto's starring turn in the pinku classic Zeroka no onna: Akai wappa, aka Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs, which you should see if you haven't yet. We'll have more from Miki later. Also, seven years ago we posted a shot from this Nagatomo session very similar to the top image, and if you're interested you can see that here.

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Intl. Notebook Jul 5 2015
SEEING RED
Sugimoto heats up summer in Tokyo.


We like to keep an eye out for these cinema flyers advertising vintage pinku flicks because they usually feature imaginative reworkings of iconic imagery. In this case, Miki Sugimoto appears front and center on a flyer produced for a film festival at the Jinbōchō Theater, an arts complex comprising a theatre, cinema, and performance space opened in 2007 by Shogakukan publishers in the Jinbōchō neighborhood of Chiyoda, Tokyo. The shot of Sugimoto comes from her 1974 pinku actioner Zeroka no onna: Akai wappa, aka Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs, which plays from today through the end of July on a slate with fifteen other films of the non-pinku variety.
 
The nicely designed text in the bubbles at the center of the poster says something like, “Films born from summer vacation special project cartoons,” or put another way, it's a summer festival of films whose source material were all mangas—i.e. Japanese comic books. Zeroka no onna: Akai wappa was based on a manga by Tōru Shinohara, who also wrote the manga that inspired the hit Meiko Kaji series Female Prisoner Scorpion.
 
As a side note, the Jinbōchō Theater is an amazing structure designed by acclaimed architects Nikken Sekkei, and we uploaded a shot of it so you could have a look. It's an intimate space—99 seats, which means it was made specifically for film revivals. Generally we're all about vintage stuff and preserving history, particularly fantastic old cinemas, but nothing significant was torn down to build the Jinbōchō Theater, and in a city as modern as Tokyo a structure like this fits right in. If you're a film buff and you happen to be in that region of the globe you now have something to do in July. 

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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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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
August 16
1942—Blimp Crew Disappears without a Trace
The two-person crew of the U.S. naval blimp L-8 disappears on a routine patrol over the Pacific Ocean. The blimp drifts without her crew and crashes in Daly City, California. The mystery of the crew's disappearance is never solved.
1977—Elvis Presley Dies
Music icon Elvis Presley is found unresponsive by his fiancée on the floor of his Graceland bedroom suite. Attempts to revive him fail and he's pronounced dead soon afterward. The cause of death is often cited as drug overdose, but toxicology tests have never found evidence this was the case. More likely, years of drug abuse contributed to generally frail health and an overtaxed heart that suddenly failed.
August 15
1969—Woodstock Festival Begins
The Woodstock Music & Art Fair, which was billed as an Aquarian Exposition, takes place on a 600 acre dairy farm in Bethel, New York. It would run for three sometimes rainy days and feature thirty-two acts performing at all hours of the day and night. Today the festival is regarded as one of the greatest events in popular music history.
1977—Radio Signal Arrives from Deep Space
An unidentified radio signal, nicknamed the WOW Signal for the notation a scientist made on a computer readout, is briefly detected by the SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) project's Big Ear radio telescope. Despite a month of searching the same section of space, the signal is never found again.
August 14
1912—U.S. Invades Nicaragua
United States Marines invade Nicaragua to support the U.S.-backed government installed there after José Santos Zelaya had resigned three years earlier. American troops remain for eleven years.
1936—Last Public Execution in U.S.
Rainey Bethea, who had been convicted of rape and murder, is hanged in Owensboro, Kentucky in what is the last public execution performed in the United States.
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