Some say being a big fish in a small pond is better than being a small fish anywhere. They may be wrong.
Hakkin nikubuton, aka Banned Book: Flesh Futon, for which you see a poster above, has one of those strange titles you come across occasionally in Japanese cinema. “Banned book” seems straightforward enough. But “flesh futon”? Hmm… Based on an erotic novel by Chinese writer Li Yu and starring Hajime Tanimoto, Maya Hiromi, Terumi Azuma, and Rei Okamoto, the movie tells the story of a poor writer named Mio who unexpectedly authors a bestselling erotic novel called—and this will clear up the title weirdness—Flesh Futon. See? Mio takes to fame quite easily, living in the fast lane and generally having a good time.
But his wonderful life begins to fall apart due to various unexpected misfortunes. These run the gamut from having a prostitute spread a rumor that his penis is “like a guppy,” to having to his house robbed and (now that we understand the title, we know this next part is coming) his book banned. When Mio later encounters the house thief this dodgy character reveals that it’s possible to have one’s penis enlarged. How? Let’s just say it’s a pretty ruff procedure. Mio opts for the surgery, but alas, quickly learns that being a big fish isn’t everything, as his previous misfortunes turn out to be only a taste of what is to come. Hakkin nikubuton premiered in Japan today in 1975.
, Hakkin nikubuton
, Banned Book: Flesh Futon
, Hajime Tanimoto
, Terumi Azuma
, Maya Hiromi
, Rei Okamoto
, roman porno
, pinky violence
, poster art
, movie review
You don’t want to get on her bad side.
She’s six-one-plus without heels, works as a special agent to the president, will go chopsocky on fools in a split second, and never loses her cool—or even her swanky red hat. The first Cleopatra Jones movie thrilled audiences in 1973, and the sequel Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold ups the ante by piling on production value and a big Hong Kong backdrop. Other blaxploitation films did more with less, but then a lot of them did less with less. This one is visually powerful and well worth a viewing, especially to see Tamara Dobson as the devilish dervish Jones, Ni Tien as the smart alecky but lethal sidekick Mi Ling Fong, and ex-centerfold Stella Stevens as the evil Bianca Javin the Dragon Lady. The nice double-sided poster above was made to promote the movie’s run in Japan, which began today in 1975.
, Hong Kong
, Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold
, Cleopatra Jones
, Tamara Dobson
, Stella Stevens
, Ni Tien
, poster art
, movie review
I love you so much, money—er, I mean honey.
As long as we're on poster art today, here's a colorful promo for the 1947 victorian thriller Love from a Stranger, starring Sylvia Sidney and John Hodiak in an adaptation of the Agatha Christie short story “Philomel Cottage,” the second pass Hollywood had taken at the material after a 1937 version starring Ann Harding and Basil Rathbone. The movie is a good example of the dangers of failing to be satisfied with a good thing when you have it. Sidney's character Cecily Harrington wins money in a lottery and instead of marrying her perfectly adequate fiancée decides to ditch him for life as a one-percenter. Cue Hodiak, a gold-digger who has already offed three previous wives and gotten away with it. He sets his sights on Cecily—and her pile of cash. She's oblivious at first, of course, but after the two marry disturbing clues start to pile up. Luckily her jilted fiancée cares enough about her wellbeing to keep a concerned eye on her from afar. Us, we'd never do that. We'd be like, “What? You get rich and then dump me for an obvious serial killer? ’kay, good luck. Have fun during your suspiciously isolated honeymoon.” Decent flick, excellent poster. Love from a Stranger V.2 premiered today in 1947.
Doris Day finds herself hunted around the clock by a demented killer.
In the thriller Julie Doris Day finds out her second husband is a murderer. Who did he murder? Her first husband. No spoiler there. Day learns this within the first fifteen minutes, leaving the plot to revolve around her efforts to escape being permanently silenced for her discovery. By the end of this romp set in and around the wilds of Carmel, Monterrey, and finishing in San Francisco, she’s probably developed a fear of flying, a fear of driving, a fear of piano music, a fear of the dark, and of course a fear of ever having a third husband. It’s psychological warfare at its cruelest, and Day, along with co-stars Louis Jourdan and Barry Sullivan, do a nice job of making it all work. We don’t have a Japanese premier date to match the nice Japanese poster above, but Julie opened in the U.S. today in 1956.
, San Francisco
, Doris Day
, Louis Jourdan
, Barry Sullivan
, poster art
, movie review
Yet another attempt to constrain a woman’s sexuality ends in disaster.
Kôshoku: Genroku (maruhi) monogatari, aka Story of a Nymphomaniac is the tale of a free-spirited woman living during Genroku era Japan who wants to be happy but can’t seem to find the right guy. Natsu, played by the lovely Yuriko Hishimi, who you see in a promo shot below, is always horny (she believes semen nourishes her), and always conniving (at one point she pretends to be pregnant—complete with a pillow under her kimono), but her troubles don’t stem from her sexual urges. No, they stem largely from male assumptions that she’s available to any of them. Indeed, the fictional character of Natsu may live in the 1600s, but her problems are very real-world 2015. Yet she isn’t blameless. She digs a kimono merchant and won’t leave him alone even though he’s married. Bad things are bound to happen. Turns out matrimonial vows are elastic to him too. Bad things are really bound to happen. While all this is done with utter seriousness, there are also bizarre comedic bits here. What can you say about a movie in which a snake crawls in a woman’s pussy and she thinks it’s her lover getting frisky? And what can you say about a movie that features vaginal squirting so copious people nearby grab umbrellas for protection? Words fail us. A direct translation of the movie’s Japanese title would be “Amorous Genroku (secret) story.” Well, there’s no secret here—Natsu is a nympho. But despite all her ups and downs she comes away feeling just fine about herself. And so do we. Kôshoku: Genroku (maruhi) monogatari premiered in Japan today in 1975.
Justice is blind, but it can still shoot straight.
This nice poster was made for the 1971 spaghetti western Blindman, a forgotten classic in an inherently cheesy genre. Tony Anthony plays a nameless blind gunman out to rescue fifty European women promised as brides to a group of miners in Lost Creek, Texas, but who were instead kidnapped to Mexico by a gang of bandits. Anthony channels Clint Eastwood, but we don’t mind because he does determined menace passably well, helped in his portrayal by a pair of creepy blind guy contact lenses from the prop department. How he can successfully aim at his quarries in order to aerate them is never addressed, but really, why bother to question it? It’s all good fun, especially because one of the main villians is Ringo Starr, and some of the fifty brides include Agneta Eckemyr, Krista Nell, Janine Reynaud, and Solvi Stubing, who’s certainly worth killing for. Shootouts, fistfights, explosions, and a double-cross or two equal spaghetti western gold. Blindman premiered in Japan today in 1971. Japan
, Tony Anthony
, Ringo Starr
, Agneta Eckemyr
, Magda Konopka
, Krista Nell
, Janine Reynaud
, Solvi Stubing
, poster art
, movie review
What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and you, bitch, are toast.
It’s Santo time again. When last we checked in, the masked avenger was battling werewolves and turning them into dog chow. This time out, in a foray entitled Santo vs. Las Mujeres Vampiro, aka Santo Versus the Vampire Women, he’s got a problem with vampires. Female vampires. Or more to the point—Thorina, the queen of the vampires, who issues forth from a cobwebby dungeon with a killer thirst and some harmful ideas. Her plan is to put the bite on a local beauty named Diana in order to make her the new queen, enabling Thorina to join her husband (Satan) in hell (probably Tijuana). She has plenty of help from assorted vampire maidens and unruly thugs, and once the threat is clear to Diana’s father he seeks protection from Santo el Enmascarado de Plata, who’d been busy demolishing opponents in the ring, but who always has time to take his act on the road.
Thorina isn’t queen for nothing. The woman is relentless, and Santo soon fails to protect Diana, leading to her being stolen away. But it’s no secret where she’s been taken—that mist shrouded castle on the hill. Santo heads up there to do damage but is promptly captured and bound in Thorina’s dungeon right next to Diana, who looks at him and sneers, “Nice work, idiot.” Well, not really. But don’t let Santo’s minimal stature and 17% body fat fool you—he took on Martians, mummies, and the Mexican mafia, so you know he’s got enough in his bag of tricks to deal with loosely cinched chains and a few karate chopping henchmen. And in fact he soon doles out some lethal lucha libre, after being freed thanks to the sun’s habit of sneaking up on vampires. Eternal creatures that they are, none feel the need to wear watches. One could criticize, but it’s really part of their charm, don’t you think? Santo vs. Las Mujeres Vampiro premiered in Mexico today in 1962.
There’s a dark cloud on the horizon.
The Human Tornado is a movie that, as a blaxploitation spoof, doesn’t take itself at all seriously yet is still horrendous. Like really bad. Probably the hardest part of watching it is slogging through an opening stand-up bit by star Rudy Ray Moore that is cringe inducingly awful. After that you get a few flashes of cleverness surrounded by ninety minutes of disastrous writing, acting, direction, sound, editing, and future Ghostbuster Ernie Hudson. All of this is good fodder for witty viewers, perhaps, but does not entertain those who are not fans of bad cinema. Which is to say, this one may have put the Pulp Intl. girlfriends off low budget movies forever. Again. But we will forge ahead, bravely, on our own, because The Human Tornado was the middle of three movies starring Moore’s creation Dolomite, and we’ll be watching the other two entries in the franchise, come hell, high water, or cyclonic winds. The Human Tornado premiered in the U.S. today in 1976.
Life and death at the edge of a razor.
This promo is for Jigoku no tenshi: Akai bakuon, aka Hells Angels: Crimson Roar, one of scores of girl gang movies that deluged Japanese cinema during the 1970s. This one is from Toei Company and concerns a gang member named Yoko, played by Yûko Iruka, who spends three years in prison for assault with a switchblade, and afterward emerges onto the mean, nightclub-lined streets of her coastal hometown. You know Japanese bars are sleazy when their names are English—Bar Lucky, The Apollo, The Happening, Club Ace, New York 3, et al. We especially liked the placard that read: Girls can get so excited and lustful sometimes, as shown in this picture. Why don’t you come in now? The girls working for me are so sexy. You can try to satisfy them. Yes, even sex club signage is polite in Japan.
These places are all geared toward American servicemen, of course, and the distaste for Western decadence, though subtle, is clear. But it isn’t Americans who are a problem for Yoko—it’s a group of pesky Yakuza who make their home at the Lonely Angel bar. After Yoko is drugged into paralysis and raped by two of the slimier specimens she hones that trusty switchblade of hers and goes on a revenge spree that, well, doesn’t end nicely for her enemies. She gets timely help from her boyfriend, and when he ends up on the point of a katana, that makes her even angrier. Turns out she’s deadly with a sniper rifle too. Standard stuff, but with an unusual and effective star in Iruka, and Reiko Ike’s 1973 hit song “Futen Gurashi Part 2” recurring throughout the soundtrack—a bonus. Jigoku no tenshi: Akai bakuon premiered in Japan today in 1977.
, Toei Company
, Jigoku no tenshi: Akai bakuon
, Hells Angels: Crimson Roar
, Yûko Iruka
, Hiroshi Tachi
, Yasuko Naito
, Reiko Ike
, pinky violence
, poster art
, movie review
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1922—Egyptologists Enter Tut's Tomb
British Egyptologists Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon become the first people to enter the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun in over 3000 years. Though sometimes characterized as scholars, Carter and Carnarvon were primarily interested in riches, and cut up Tut's mummy to more easily obtain the jewels and gold affixed to him.
1947—Hollywood Blacklist Instituted
The day after ten Hollywood writers and directors are cited for contempt of Congress for refusing to give testimony to the House Committee on Un-American Activities, the group, known as the "Hollywood Ten," are blacklisted by Hollywood movie studios.
1963—Ruby Shoots Oswald
Nightclub owner and mafia associate Jack Ruby fatally shoots alleged JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald in the basement of Dallas police department headquarters. The shooting is broadcast live on television and silences the only person known for certain to have had some connection to the Kennedy killing.
1971—D.B. Cooper Escapes from Airplane
In the U.S., during a thunderstorm over Washington state, a hijacker calling himself Dan Cooper, aka D. B. Cooper, parachutes from a Northwest Orient Airlines flight with $200,000 in ransom money. Neither he nor the money are ever found.
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