Vintage Pulp Jan 3 2015
CRAZY FOR YOU
Meiko Kaji takes the Stray Cat Rock franchise out for a final spin.


Even Nikkatsu serials eventually end, and this entry in the Stray Cat Rock series, entitled Nora-neko rokku: Bôsô shudan ’71, aka Stray Cat Rock: Crazy Rider, was the final outing for Meiko Kaji in the franchise. That’s her, of course, looking exceptionally badass on an exceedingly rare promo poster, and below we have even rarer distributor sheets. Plotwise, Kaji has a boyfriend named Ryumei who has spurned the mainstream lifestyle for hippie freedom. When bikers attack Ryumei and Kaji the altercation leads to Ryumei killing one of the thugs. Unluckily for Kaji, he’s whisked away, leaving her to take the murder rap, in turn leading to her being tossed in jail. Turns out Ryumei’s father wants him to give up hippiedom and join the family business, and sent the bikers to kidnap him and bring him home.

Kaji escapes from jail a while later, seeks out Ryumei, finds him transformed into a cold-hearted suit, and is imprisoned again, this time by the father’s evil thugs. The main problem with this movie for Kaji fans is she doesn’t get much screen time. Instead much of the tale is told from the other end, as Kaji’s friends, led by Yoshio Harada, plot to free her. This isn’t fatal to the movie, though. If you can embrace the other protagonists you’ll find plenty to enjoy. The sentiment of hippies-versus-power may seem quaint, and indeed the film handles certain elements of their lifestyle comedically, but all these years later, with Japan’s rich getting richer while its poverty rate is among the highest for developed nations, is anyone still laughing? Nora-neko rokku: Bôsô shudan ’71 premiered in Japan today in 1971, and you can see more posters for the series here and here.


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Vintage Pulp Dec 30 2014
STRIPED SCORPION
The smaller the animal the deadlier the poison.


This excellent Japanese poster promotes the film Joshuu sasori: Dai-41 zakkyo-bô, aka Female Convict Scorpion: Jailhouse 41, starring Meiko Kaji as the female convict of the title. This is second of ten movies dealing with the character of Scorpion, but Kaji played the role only four times before passing it off to Yumi Takagawa in 1976. We shared posters for Kaji’s four excursions back in 2010 and mentioned there was alternate art we didn’t possess. Well, we do now. This was painted by Toru Shinohara, who also created the manga the movies are based upon. It’s a rare piece.

The movie itself is sinister, psychedelic, and extraordinarily stylish thanks to director Shunya Itô’s clever set-ups and shot-framing. For most fans, Kaji is the only Scorpion that matters, and it’s hard to argue otherwise. She’s about five-feet-four and probably didn’t hit triple digits on a scale back then, but with eyes and posture she radiates lethal menace. As far as plot, this fits end-to-end with the previous movie, so consider watching that one first. Female Convict Scorpion: Jailhouse 41 premiered in Japan today in 1972.

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Vintage Pulp Dec 18 2014
JELLYFISH'S STING
The bright lights look pretty but they can blind you to the danger.


These two panel length posters promote the pinku flicks Neon kurage and its sequel Neon kurage: Shinjuku hanadensha. We also have a normal promo for Neon kurage below. The movies, though well known, never had any Western releases as far as we know, but would be called Neon Jellyfish and something like Neon Jellyfish: Shinjuku Float. Shinjuku is a place, so that’s easy enough to grasp, but we were unsure on the “float” aspect until we looked it up. It seems to derive from a type of Japanese tram decorated with flowers in the manner of a parade float, but its secondary meaning has something to do with sexual performance, specifically vaginal insertions of, well… anything from blowguns to ping pong balls.

We're happy to say you’ll see none of that in these movies. They’re about as explicit as your average Cinemax feature, though as we’ve mentioned before, not being able to show anything actually makes the directors—in these instances Naito Makoto and Kazuhiko Yamaguchi—go the extra mile with visual tricks and clever juxtapositions. The story in both movies revolves around star Emiko Yamauchi’s employment in seedy Tokyo sex bars. In the first movie she’s pursued by a photographer who uses devious means to turn her into a nude model, and in the second she escapes her village in the sticks and meets a professional cyclist who’s tangled up with some thugs in a race-fixing racket. Problems ensue in both instances.

Yamauchi only appeared in a handful of productions, but the term masterpiece was thrown around by some critics when writing about Neon Jellyfish. Yamaucho was also in School of the Holy Beast, which we discussed here. As a side note, there are dozens of websites now offering to stream or sell or preview this genre of movies, but of course they have nothing but malware and viruses. We are immune, thanks to Apple. If you aren’t, don’t dare go looking. You’ll get stung right in the hard drive. Neon kurage premiered June 20, 1973, and Neon kurage: Shinjuku hanadensha premiered today the same year.

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Vintage Pulp Dec 18 2014
ACCORDING TO SCHEDULE
They say art is good therapy. But maybe not in this case.


Chûsei Sone’s Irogoyomi onna ukiyoe-shi, which was known in the West as Eros Schedule Book: Female Artist, is the story of an unsuccessful painter in Edo period Japan who, after his wife is raped while picking herbs by a river, swears revenge upon the man who disrupted their lives. Meanwhile the trauma unlocks something inside the wife that she deals with by beginning to paint her own canvasses. Her violent works all include images of her rapist, and as the paintings become more acclaimed, the rapist becomes a sort of local celebrity and the husband becomes more sexually alienated and professionally jealous. This is all disturbing enough, but it’s of course merely setting the stage for the rapist’s reappearance.

The movie was well reviewed, especially for a pinku, but like many from the genre it’s almost impossible to find outside of Japan. That may be a good thing—we appreciate that the male antagonists in these movies generally suffer gruesome fates, and while that is quite satisfying, these plots just don’t play well today. Sone, who was just beginning his directorial career, would go on to helm many other movies over the course of two decades. Conversely, the star of Irogoyomi onna ukiyoe-shi, Setsuko Ogawa, like a whirlwind appeared in twenty-five films in a mere three years before pretty much vanishing from the scene. Irogoyomi onna ukiyoe-shi, which by the way is not part of the nine-film Eros Schedule Book series made around the same time, premiered in Japan today in 1971.


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Vintage Pulp Dec 1 2014
REVENGE SERVED COLD
Meiko Kaji takes vengeance to a whole new level.

The action drama Shurayuki-hime, aka Lady Snowblood, is considered classic cinema for good reasons—it’s bold, lyirical, and stylish, with an unusual narrative structure and a great star in Meiko Kaji. Every piece of art we have on this game-changing movie appears below, and as far as we can discern much of it has never before been shared online. Shurayuki-hime premiered in Japan today in 1973. 

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Vintage Pulp Nov 21 2014
GAMBLING ADDICTION
When you play with her you’re betting your life.

Above, a rare alternate poster for the very entertaining pinku flick Hidirimen bakuto, aka Red Silk Gambler, with Reiko Ike. The movie, which we touched upon briefly a few years ago, opened in Japan today in 1972.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 17 2014
THE SCORPION'S STING
Someone’s going to pay for what happened—in full, plus interest.

This poster for Shin joshuu sasori: 701-gô, aka New Female Prisoner Scorpion: 701 promotes the first film in what today might be called a franchise reboot. Meiko Kaji established the character of Prisoner 701 in four hit films, and a few years after she left Toei Company decided to resurrect the series with Yumi Takigawa in the lead. Framed for murder, she ends up in a women’s prison where she’s harassed, sexually assaulted, and marked for death. A prison riot finally gives her the chance at revenge, and lets just say she takes full advantage.

She feels even less forgiving once she escapes, meaning she has a score to settle with the men who railroaded her in the first place. You know what to expect, so we don’t really need to go into detail. The poster above is an ekibari, which we gather means it was made for subway walls, and it’s in bo style, which seemingly means two pieces. Below we have the bo-ekibari in its separate, very cool sections, with Takigawa giving the stare of death that’s usually the last sight of her enemies’ lives. Shin joshuu sasori: 701-gô premiered in Japan today in 1976. 

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Vintage Pulp Nov 1 2014
ONE COOL CAT
No helmet, no jacket, no problem.

The above poster is the original promo Kôyû Ohara’s motorcycle gang roman porno Shiroi mesuneko: mahiru no ecstasy, aka White Female Cat: Ecstasy at High Noon, and as you can see star Hitomi Kozue is completely flouting the mandatory helmet ordinance. Well, the point of riding a motorcycle is to feel the wind blow through your… er, hair. We haven’t screened this one, but we love the poster so we thought we’d show it to you anyway on its premier date, which was today in 1975.

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Vintage Pulp Sep 22 2014
HARM SCHOOL
One wrong answer and you’re done.

Sachi Hamano’s pinku flick Bankaku joshikökösei no sex to böryoku no jittai was retitled for its English language release True Story of Sex and Violence in a Female High School. If you’d like to experience a bit of digital age paranoia, think about inputting that online as a search term knowing that various entities are saving your browsing data forever. Luckily, we’ve done the work for you, and though we haven’t managed to find a copy of the movie, we know it involves Hitomi Kozue earning her way into her local high school’s female gang, which is led by Naomi Oka, and later realizing that the two were already linked by a terrible event in Oka’s past. In addition to the two main stars you get Meika Sera, Noriko Igarashi, and Hidetoshi Kageyama. If we ever find a copy of this we’ll screen it and report back. In the meantime, enjoy a previously unseen promo shot of Hitomi Kozue, below. Bankaku joshikökösei no sex to böryoku no jittai premiered in Japan today in 1973. 

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Femmes Fatales Sep 9 2014
LEARNING CURVES
Suddenly being the teacher’s pet doesn’t sound so bad.

Just because we had it sitting on our hard drive, here’s an image of Japanese actress Yuki Kazamatsuri, who we discussed just last week after watching her movie Onna kyôshi-gari, aka Female Teacher Hunting. She posed for this promo image around that time, 1982. 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
March 02
1933—King Kong Opens
The first version of King Kong, starring Bruce Cabot, Robert Armstrong and Fay Wray, and with the giant ape Kong brought to life with stop-action photography, opens at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The film goes on to play worldwide to good reviews and huge crowds, and spawns numerous sequels and reworkings over the next eighty years.
1949—James Gallagher Completes Round-the-World Flight
Captain James Gallagher and a crew of fourteen land their B-50 Superfortress named Lucky Lady II in Fort Worth, Texas, thus completing the first non-stop around-the-world airplane flight. The entire trip from takeoff to touchdown took ninety-four hours and one minute.
1953—Oscars Are Shown on Television
The 26th Academy Awards are broadcast on television by NBC, the first time the awards have been shown on television. Audiences watch live as From Here to Eternity wins for Best Picture, and William Holden and Audrey Hepburn earn statues in the best acting categories for Stalag 17 and Roman Holiday.
March 01
1912—First Parachute Jump Takes Place
Albert Berry jumps from a biplane traveling at 1,500 feet and lands by parachute at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. The 36 foot diameter chute was contained in a metal canister attached to the underside of the plane, and when Berry dropped from the plane his weight pulled the canopy from the canister. Rather than being secured into the chute by a harness, Berry was seated on a trapeze bar. It's possible he was only the second man to accomplish a parachute landing, as there are some accounts of someone accomplishing the feat in California several months earlier.
1932—Lindbergh Baby Is Kidnapped
The twenty-month-old son of aviator Charles Lindbergh, Charles Augustus Lindbergh III, is kidnapped from the family home in East Amwell, New Jersey. Over two months later the toddler's body is discovered in woods a short distance from the home. A medical examination determines that he had died of a massive skull fracture. A German carpenter named Bruno Hauptmann is arrested, tried, and convicted for the crime. He is sentenced to death and executed in April 1936.
February 28
1953—Watson and Crick Unravel DNA
American biologists James D. Watson and Francis Crick tell their friends that they have determined the chemical structure of DNA. The formal announcement takes place in April following publication in Nature magazine. In 1968, Watson writes The Double Helix, a non-fiction account of not only the discovery of the structure of DNA, but the personalities, conflicts and controversy surrounding the work.

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