Vintage Pulp Oct 13 2013
GONG! SHOW
The virgin homicides.

Above and below, the cover and assorted scans from Gong! This is an Italian foto giallo from Rome-based publishers Edizioni MEC, first printed in 1967, and what you get inside is a giallo-style crime story in comic book format but with photos of models instead of drawings. As far as we know, only nine editions of these were ever published, which would make you think they’re very expensive, but in fact they generally go for between ten and twenty euros. This one is titled Una vergine per… morire, aka A Virgin for… Dying, and we did our best to identify the models, thinking they might be actual actors, but had no luck there, and they aren’t named in the masthead. If you recognize any of them give a shout. As cool as this thing is, it’s a Sunday, which means we just don’t have it in us to get all sixty-four pages posted. We may keep adding those as the days pass, but in the meantime, we hope you enjoy what’s here now.  

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Vintage Pulp Jun 7 2013
PROFONDO SYMEONI
Sandro Symeoni comes down with a case of Vertigo.


After focusing on Italian paperback artists lately, we thought today would be good for getting back to poster artists—namely Sandro Symeoni, who we’ve marveled at before. Symeoni veered from the realistic to abstract in style, and this very graphic poster for Dario Argento’s Profondo Rosso, aka Deep Red, sees him working in the latter mode, which we’ve also noted on pieces like the Suono Libero album sleeve, viewable in panel four here. This is also a clear homage to Saul Bass’s famed Vertigo poster. For a look at many more Symeonis, just click his keywords below. Profondo Rosso, by the way, premiered in the U.S. this week in 1976, and is well worth a look for fans of Argento and/or giallo. 

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Vintage Pulp Feb 11 2013
TAILS OF THE CITY
Dario Argento’s Code may prove difficult for most to unravel.

Above are three excellent posters for Dario Argento’s Il gatto a nove code, aka, Cat o’ Nine Tails. Only one bears a signature—P. Franco, who in everyday life was Franco Picchioni. We suspect he painted the others as well. With posters this great, plus Argento at the helm, we had to watch the movie, but while it’s a serviceable giallo with an interesting central murder mystery, it’s nothing to write home about. But it does have Karl Malden doing a bang-up job as a blind ex-newspaperman and James Franciscus as a solid lead. And then there’s the heavenly French creature known as Catherine Spaak. You have to work pretty hard to somehow make a love scene featuring this stunner possibly the worst ever filmed, but Argento manages to make her romp with Franciscus as erotic as watching a hardware store clerk stack two wooden planks. Want your kids to avoid premarital sex? Have them watch this scene. They won’t even have a clue what happened. The title of the movie refers to neither a cat nor a nine-tailed whip, but rather to the many leads that need to be investigated before the mystery can be unraveled. It could also describe Argento’s struggle to weave an involving narrative. In the end, even with his stylish direction framing the story, it’s Malden that carries this movie to the finish line. Plus he has a sword cane, which is always a bonus. Many Argento fans use the term “underrated” to describe this effort. That’s a euphemism for strictly average. Il gatto a nove code premiered in Italy today in 1971.

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Vintage Pulp Jan 15 2013
PSYCH WARDH
Vice and virtue in Vienna.

So, quite by coincidence there’s another movie we watched recently that also premiered today, though thirty years later than The Shanghai Gesture (see below). The movie is Lo strano vizio della Signora Wardh, which would translate as “The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh,” but was released in the U.S. as Blade of the Ripper. This flick is considered one of the best gialli ever made, and it’s tough to argue the point. It’s intricate, absorbing, unpredictable, colorful, and shot in an array of amazing external locations and inside one of the greatest mid-century modern apartments ever conceived. It also has Edwige Fenech, whose gifts are well known. Taking place mainly in Vienna and climaxing in Sitges, Spain (which happens to be one of our favorite towns in Europe) Signora Wardh is a taleof obssession and infidelity wrapped in a murder mystery. Mrs. Wardh does indeed have a strange vice, but that’s just window dressing. It’s her that’s being hunted throughout the movie—either by a serial killer, a demented ex-lover, or both. Or neither. They say that the only way to keep a secret is if no more than two people know it and one of them is dead. But the only way to commit murder is if the killer has an iron clad alibi, and for that he often needs help. Rule one conflicts with rule two, and that’s the fun of Signora Wardh. Above you see a rare and wonderful Italian promo poster painted by Giuliano Nistri, the younger brother of equally talented Enzo Nistri. We'll get back to both Nistri brothers a little later. Lo strano vizio della Signora Wardh opened in Italy today in 1971.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 22 2012
BLOOD MOON
They’ll try flattery, persuasion, bribery, and threats. After that, if you get murdered it’s your own damned fault.


You know what we really like about a lot of older cinema? Color. Have you noticed the blue/gray palette that has taken over modern thriller and action movies? Mario Bava’s body count giallo 5 filles dans une nuit chaude d’été (originally released as 5 bambole per la luna d’agosto, aka Island of Terror, aka 5 Dolls for an August Moon) is merely realistic in the color department, but it looks like a riot of Technicolor compared to modern cinema. That was one of the aspects of it we enjoyed most. The movie was set in and around an amazing mid-century modern beachfront pad right out of an early James Bond movie. So that was cool too. And we also enjoyed Edwige Fenech (that’s her running topless through the woods, below, after discovering a corpse), and Ely Galleani. So that covers the good—great color cinematography, great sets, Fenech and Galleani.

Now for the bad. Let’s just boil that all down to a limp script. Basically, a wealthy industrialist invites some guests to his private island and introduces them to a chemist who has a formula that could be worth millions. The chemist won’t reveal any details of this process, and prettysoon someone is murdered (the houseboy, who Fenech is sleeping with “to do something for the working classes”). Naturally, she’s a suspect, but then there’s another murder. And another. And soon, Fenech is murdered too, rather cruelly. Cut off from police, the guests store all these bodies in a meat locker and try to solve the crimes themselves. But they just keep getting bumped off. Are the killings due to infidelity? Greed? All around perversity?

Consensus is that 5 bambole per la luna d’agosto is not one of Bava’s best films. But all those shots of bodies hanging in the meatlocker confirm that he at least tried to have fun with it. The climax brings more twists, more deaths, and one main takeaway—no matter how filthy rich a man gets he’ll stab you in the back (or front) for a few more dollars. But wealready knew that, didn’t we? Also, women are shady as fuck too—at least, they are in giallo. We’re not going to recommend this film to Bava newcomers, simply because he made others that were so much better. But if you know his work and haven’t seen this one, by all means add it to your queue. Made in Italy and released in 1970, 5 filles dans une nuit chaude d’été/5 bambole per la luna d’agosto premiered in France today in 1972.

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Vintage Pulp May 4 2012
PERVERSE URGES
Dial Mell for Murderess.

This evocative poster is for the 1975 thriller Perversione, which was originally made in Spain as La encadenada, and for its U.S. release was retitled Diary of a Murderess, or Diary of an Erotic Murderess. Spoiler alert: there’s a murderess in this film. Marisa Mell is nurse to a rich widower’s mentally disturbed son, but she turns out to be a grifter intent on liberating some of the family knick-knacks. She's especially covetous of an antique chalice that resides in a safe. At some point, she finds a diary left behind by the widower’s dead wife, and in its pages the departed plots the murder of her husband, writing her plan in helpful step-by-step detail. Mell decides follow the diary’s instructions, all the better to get hold of that chalice.

But nothing is as it seems here. The chalice is actually the Holy Grail, Mell has actually failed to ditch her terrible husband, and a few other surprises pop up to keep viewers guessing. Director Manuel Mur Oti has crafted an atmospheric piece here, but we recommend it for giallo fans only, because it’s a bit slow off the starting line. Also, we suggest watching the original version, because we’ve heard that the American cut is several minutes short on nudity. It may not matter though, because the movie may be impossible to find. We located our copy online, but the links have since died. Not that we’re recommending any illegal downloading. Us? Never. Perversione premiered in Italy today in 1975. Below, just because we can, we’ve posted an image of Mell at her lovely best, and you can see another one of great interest here

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Vintage Pulp Jan 22 2012
GETTING A GRIP
He really knows how to take a girl’s breath away.

Above, a cover for the thriller Où est le cavadre, which as you might guess means, Where Is the Corpse?, a question the man involved here seems to be asking with some urgency. Well, if you can’t find a corpse you might as well make one yourself. This book, which appeared in France in 1962, actually originated in Italy with Editions ERP, where in 1961 it was published as part of their I Gialle dello Schedario series. The writer, Joe Vivard, was really Pino Belli, and wrote under several names, including Ricky Lambert, Steve Cockrane, and others. The excellent is art by Mario Ferrari, whose work we showed you a while back when we did a post of eleven I Gialle dello Schedario covers. See those here, and see more from Ferrari later. 

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Vintage Pulp Jan 11 2012
SEX & VIOLENZA
She’s Andressing you with her eyes.

European publishers, like Italy’s Tecnografica, often used celebrities on their book covers. Here’s a favorite example—Swiss actress Ursula Andress on the cover of the illustrated giallo Invito alla violenza, by Hugh Pentecost, aka Judson Pentecost Phillips, aka Phillip Owen. The shot is from a 1965 photo series, another frame of which appeared in Spain’s Triunfo magazine. We don’t know whether the series was shot for Triunfo and rented by Tecnografica, or vice-versa. Possibly neither. It could have been shot as a promo series and sold to both Triunfo and Tecnografica. Alternatively, maybe Tecnografica simply appropriated the image. We only suggest that because we can’t think of any reason Ursula Andress would have needed to gnaw grass on the cover of a cheapie giallo three years after she appeared in Dr. No. Maybe we’ll find out the answer to that one later. In the meantime, we’re working on an aggregate post of celeb covers, which we’ll get up soon. 

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Vintage Pulp Dec 13 2011
SHARON AND SHARON ALIKE
Sharon Tate was the unknowing model for at least two more pulp covers.

A long while ago we showed you a pulp cover that featured a painting of Sharon Tate. That book specifically used Tate both as cover art and interior subject matter. In contrast, the two figures above aren’t explicitly supposed to be Tate, but it just so happens that both unknown artists modeled their work from an on set photograph from her 1966 Dracula spoof The Fearless Vampire Killers. The photo was shot by Roman Polanski, who also directed the film. As you can see, it was used on John Dexter’s sleaze pulp Chuck-a-Lust, painted by Darrel Millsap, and on Paul Collins’s, aka Renato Carocci's giallo Ordine di uccidere, painted by Bendetto Caroselli. The former was published in 1967, and the latter in 1968. One year later, Tate was gone. 

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Vintage Pulp Oct 19 2011
DIABOLICALLY YOURS
Mell and Koscina play two heavy hitters swinging for the same team.

Above, a poster for the Italian giallo Diabolicamente sole con il delitto, also known as Nell buio del terrore, and retitled The Great Swindle for its U.S. release. The movie stars two of the great European trash cinema icons, Marisa Mell and Sylva Koscina, both of whom died prematurely from cancer. You can’t say either of them was ever in a truly great movie, but both graced several cult classics and they shine in this potboiler as lesbian lovers whose relationship is complicated when one of them marries a man. There’s much more to the plot, but when you get Jordan and Gretzky on the same team, why pay attention to anything else? Good for a laugh, and some minimal thrills, Diabolicamente sole con il delitto premiered in 1971. See more Mell here, and more Koscina here

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
April 24
1967—First Space Program Casualty Occurs
Soviet cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov dies in Soyuz 1 when, during re-entry into Earth's atmosphere after more than ten successful orbits, the capsule's main parachute fails to deploy properly, and the backup chute becomes entangled in the first. The capsule's descent is slowed, but it still hits the ground at about 90 mph, at which point it bursts into flames. Komarov is the first human to die during a space mission.
April 23
1986—Otto Preminger Dies
Austro–Hungarian film director Otto Preminger, who directed such eternal classics as Laura, Anatomy of a Murder, Carmen Jones, The Man with the Golden Arm, and Stalag 17, and for his efforts earned a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, dies in New York City, aged 80, from cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
1998—James Earl Ray Dies
The convicted assassin of American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., petty criminal James Earl Ray, dies in prison of hepatitis aged 70, protesting his innocence as he had for decades. Members of the King family who supported Ray's fight to clear his name believed the U.S. Government had been involved in Dr. King's killing, but with Ray's death such questions became moot.
April 22
1912—Pravda Is Founded
The newspaper Pravda, or Truth, known as the voice of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, begins publication in Saint Petersburg. It is one of the country's leading newspapers until 1991, when it is closed down by decree of then-President Boris Yeltsin. A number of other Pravdas appear afterward, including an internet site and a tabloid.
1983—Hitler's Diaries Found
The German magazine Der Stern claims that Adolf Hitler's diaries had been found in wreckage in East Germany. The magazine had paid 10 million German marks for the sixty small books, plus a volume about Rudolf Hess's flight to the United Kingdom, covering the period from 1932 to 1945. But the diaries are subsequently revealed to be fakes written by Konrad Kujau, a notorious Stuttgart forger. Both he and Stern journalist Gerd Heidemann go to trial in 1985 and are each sentenced to 42 months in prison.

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