Femmes Fatales Jan 9 2016
SCREAM PLAY
Okay, Cathy, let’s try it one more time. You’re really scared, okay? Really really scared. Like utterly terrified.

American actress Cathy Downs, shown here in a promo image made for the 1957 sci-fi epic The Amazing Colossal Man, gives the photographer her most convincing scream of terror. Somehow she got the part anyway. Don’t doubt her acting skills, though. She was in one of the best film noirs of all time—1946's The Dark Corner.

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Modern Pulp Dec 15 2015
MAX OVERDRIVE
The rocker, the roller, the out of controller.

Mad Max premiered in Australia in April 1979 and made its way to Japan a few months later. Significantly, the U.S. premiere came after Japan—as well as Portugal, Italy, Holland, and Spain—and when it finally happened it was at The Motorcycle Film Festival in Seguin, Texas, several months before a wide U.S. release. The point is it’s amazing how careful the filmmakers were about releasing the movie in what was the world’s most lucrative film market. They weren't sure how American audiences would react to something so leftfield, but of course it did well enough there to become a series, and now a rebooted franchise helmed by original director George Miller. The Japanese poster above, painted by Tom Beauvais, was made for the movie’s Tokyo premiere today in 1979.

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Vintage Pulp Dec 15 2015
THAT THING YOU DO
He lives in a fetid swamp, has terrible grooming habits, and zero career prospects. But at least he listens to me.

David V. Reed’s, aka David Vern’s The Thing That Made Love was originally published in Mammoth Detective in 1943 as The Metal Monster Murders. The first paperback version appeared in 1946 as I Thought I’d Die, and the above version from New York City’s Universal Publishing and Distributing Corporation, which marketed digest sized paperbacks under the imprint Uni-Book, hit stores in 1951 with Robert Stanley cover art. What you get here is a man blamed for murder, but who claims the slayings were the work of a metal swamp monster. The women die battered, but with ecstatic facial expressions. Which raises the question—what exactly is happening to them? You can read a review of the book here 

Update: We learned that Stanley's cover art also appeared in 1952 on Florenz Branch's Whipping Room, for Intimate Novels. Often these cover reworks are clumsy, but we think this makeover is actually pretty good. Not as good as the original, but close.

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Femmes Fatales Nov 14 2015
A NICHOLS WORTH
A Renaissance woman in deep space.

Star Trek featured a range of female personalities, from the innocent Angelique Pettyjohn, to the cerebral Marianna Hill, to the coolly professional Majel Barrett, to the supersexual Yvonne Craig. And of course there’s everyone's favorite yeoman Janice Rand, wilting under Captain Kirk’s lack of attention. And then there’s Lieutenant Nyota Uhura. As played by Nichelle Nichols she was the only fully realized woman on the show, and the most fully realized character after Kirk and Spock. She was African and American, spoke Swahili, was reliable at her job, was self-secure enough to freely express wonder and fear, could fight with deadly ability, could sing and play music, could navigate the ship, make technical repairs, and helm the science station. This is one of the best promo photos of one of television’s most capable characters. It’s post-Star Trek, probably 1974. 

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Modern Pulp Nov 13 2015
THINGS CHANGE
Survival of the scariest.

It’s appropriate The Thing is about a monster that constantly evolves, because it’s another of those ’80s sci-fi movies, like Blade Runner, where most reviews of the day were unflattering, but have since evolved to acknowledge the high quality of the film. The Thing isn’t just great—it’s visionary. The cold, the vastness, the silence, the bone weariness of a bunch of working class scientists pitted against an interstellar horror right out of Lovecraft—a movie of this type could never be made today, as the less effective 2011 prequel proved. The ’80s Thing took the ’50s original and gave it grit and terror. The 2011 version lost the grit and, with its abundant CGI, managed only a few scares. You know, here’s the thing about CGI—producers always want the cutting edge of possibility, but those effects never look real. They’d be better off asking CGI techs to do only what they’ve truly mastered. Just because you can get the computers to render it doesn’t mean it looks good, or that it’s good storytelling. But don’t get us started. The above poster and promo pamphlet were made for the premiere of the second version of The Thing in Japan today in 1982. 

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Intl. Notebook Apr 18 2015
TOP GUNS
Japanese toy guns of yesteryear conjure the future while reflecting the past.


Yesterday’s Things To Come poster got us thinking about retro-futurism, so above and below you see a collection of 1950s through 1970s toy guns. Although some are tied into American or British television shows or serials, these particular guns are of Japanese manufacture and come from companies like Nomura, Yoshiya, and Daiya. The one above, for example, is a tin water gun from Crown Co. of Japan, and was designed as a tie-in with the British television series Space Patrol. You may notice the strong art deco influence—that’s common in these items and is a major reason they’re so attractive. The one just below, made of tin and plastic, ties in with the American television show Bronco, and features hero Bronco Layne’s face on the grip. Just below that is a machine gun promoting the Japanese anime hero Ōgon Bat, aka Golden Bat. And so forth.

While some of these are water guns, and others use battery power to produce lights and sounds, the ones we like best are friction guns, which means pulling the trigger causes flint-like mechanics in the chassis to produce sparks that make the gun flash and glow. The latter variety, as you might imagine, also produce a grinding/gearing noise to go along with the visual effects. We had one of these just a few years ago and couldn’t put it down. Back then though, we had no idea it was a collectible and so we lost track of it, sadly. It may still be in a relative’s garage Stateside, though, so all hope is not lost. Anyway, in addition to being fun, beautifully designed, and coveted on the collection circuit, these toys also make excellent props for provocative femme fatale photos, like here. That should put a little fuel in your rocket, and we have thirteen guns below that’ll bring out your inner space trooper.

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Vintage Pulp Apr 17 2015
DAYS OF FUTURE PAST
If much more of this movie comes true we’re all in serious trouble.

Like any self-proclaimed seer of the future, H.G. Wells gets some predictions correct in his screenplay for Things To Come. World War II? Check. Indiscriminate aerial bombing of civilians? Check. The movie continues to the year 2036, by which time Earth is ruled by a single world government. He’s going to get that one wrong—it’s corporations that will rule the world by then if people don’t wake up (in a very real sense, the subset of corporations known as banks have already displaced many Western governments). Much has been written about the movie so we won’t get into it in detail. We mainly wanted to show you the wonderful promo poster above with its art deco spaceship and battle suit. The movie is worth seeing for visions like these alone, and director/designer William Cameron Menzies really deserves a lot of credit for bringing them to life. Things To Come opened in Europe in February 1936, and made its way to the U.S. today the same year. 

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Intl. Notebook Feb 27 2015
FINAL FRONTIER
Sci-fi icon Leonard Nimoy dies in Bel-Air, California.

Above is a promo photo of American actor Leonard Nimoy. We’ve been working our way through the original Star Trek and last night just finished the episode “Is There in Truth No Beauty?” Watching the show for the first time since childhood, it’s easy to see now that Nimoy was the best part of it. Shatner is great in that cheesy way of his, but Nimoy is the center of the Trek universe. He was especially good when his purely logical Mr. Spock was allowed to show emotion. In “Is There in Truth No Beauty?” while possessed by a cloud-like alien named Kollos who'd never occupied a physical form before, he waxed, “How compact your bodies are. And what a variety of senses you have. This thing you call language though—most remarkable. You depend on it for so very much. But is any one of you really its master? But most of all, the aloneness. You are so alone. You live out your lives in this shell of flesh. Self-contained. Separate. How lonely you are. How terribly lonely.” Star Trek was greater than the sum of its parts. It was escapism, but it managed stunning insights into the human condition. Leonard Nimoy was often the conduit. He died today in Bel-Air, California of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease aged eighty-three.

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Vintage Pulp Feb 22 2015
COMPUTER BLUES
Love and the single robot.

This National Star Chronicle published today in 1965 doesn’t stand up well against the more colorful Keyhole (above), but it does have Julie Newmar, which is something. The photo that editors opt to use is just a handout, and it’s actually several years older than the issue, having appeared in glamour magazines as far back as 1961. When Newmar says she’s no robot, she’s referring to her role in the television series My Living Doll, in which she played an android named AF 709. In the show she’s created as a blank slate, which prompts her maker to partner her with a psychiatrist played by Bob Cummings, whose job is to program her to behave like an actual woman. We know. We know. The job should probably be given to… erm… a woman, but where’s the fun in that? Anyway, AF 709 is redubbed Rhoda Miller, given over to Cummings, and he tries to teach her things like obedience to males, and to not talk back—yes, really—but she of course develops a few quirks independent of her programming, and hilarity ensues. The show didn’t last long, shockingly, but it did contribute an enduring catchphrase to the American lexicon: “Does not compute.”

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Vintage Pulp Jan 6 2015
WAR AND TERROR
They don’t show mercy. They don’t negotiate. They don’t listen. They don’t care.


Kampf der Welten is, we’re sure you can guess from the art, the West German title for War of the Worlds. This cinematic adaptation of H.G. Wells’ famous 1897 serial starred Gene Barry and Ann Robinson, and if you haven’t seen it we suggest it’s worth the time, though it’s quite different from the novel. Actually, we recommend the novel too. It’s grimmer than the film, and has a distinct, rationalist point-of-view that was whitewashed for cinema audiences. Actually, not whitewashed—more like inverted to portray the clergy heroically, where in the novel it is characterized by cowardice. Spielberg and Cruise left that out, too, in their 2005 interation, but in other respects their movie is very close to the book. In addition to the German promo, we also have the three English language posters below. War of the Worlds premiered in the U.S. during the summer of 1953, and reached West Germany today in 1954.


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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
February 07
1985—Matt Munro Dies
English singer Matt Munro, who was one of the most popular entertainers on the international music scene during the 1960s and sang numerous hits, including the James Bond theme "From Russia with Love," dies from liver cancer at Cromwell Hospital, Kensington, London.
February 06
1958—Plane Crash Kills 8 Man U Players
British European Airways Flight 609 crashes attempting to take off from a slush-covered runway at Munich-Riem Airport in Munich, West Germany. On board the plane is the Manchester United football team, along with a number of supporters and journalists. 20 of the 44 people on board die in the crash.
February 05
1919—United Artists Is Launched
Actors Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, along with director D.W. Griffith, launch United Artists. Each holds a twenty percent stake, with the remaining percentage held by lawyer William Gibbs McAdoo. The company struggles for years, with Griffith soon dropping out, but eventually more partners are brought in and UA becomes a Hollywood powerhouse.
1958—U.S. Loses H-Bomb
A 7,600 pound nuclear weapon that comes to be known as the Tybee Bomb is lost by the U.S. Air Force off the coast of Savannah, Georgia, near Tybee Island. The bomb was jettisoned to save the aircrew during a practice exercise after the B-47 bomber carrying it collided in midair with an F-86 fighter plane. Following several unsuccessful searches, the bomb was presumed lost, and remains so today.

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