You know what vampires really like? Making more vampires.
When it comes to Japanese film, we tend to stick to crime and pinku productions, but a change of pace is often nice. Chi o suu bara, which is known in English as Evil of Dracula, or sometimes Bloodsucking Rose, is straight horror about a teacher who takes a job at a women's school which he soon comes to suspect is plagued by a vampire. For those who like turn-of-the-millennium horror movies such as 2002's Ju-on or 1998's Ringu, this will seem like a precursor in terms of how the monster effects are achieved by using makeup and lighting. The movie is a bit funny at times, too, because these makeup effects are perfectly obvious to the viewer, but for the most part nobody within the film notices:
“Teacher, I would like to talk to you more seriously, but not in here. Please, will you follow me (into the creepy-ass woods that surround the school)?
“Sure (because I don't notice your ghastly blue face or the way you keep staring at my neck).”
But the movie is pretty good. Its weird, cyanotic vampires are menacing enough to put the mood across, and Shin Kishida as the main bloodsucker projects a physical power and savage hunger we totally bought. At one point the hero Toshio Kurosawa is asked, “Are you seriously expecting that people will believe such a lurid tale?” Well, vampire movies are all about building a framework of believability despite the subject matter's innate impossibility. Chi o suu bara might make you believe vampires can really fry. It premiered in Japan today in 1974.
Shit. I think I left my lesson plan at home. Oh well. Guess I'll just wing it.
Thanks to my rigorous teacher training I desire none of you nubile young women sexually.
This old thing? It's been out here for as long as I can remember. I've never once been curious what's in it.
Centuries of *grunt* consuming blood have done nothing *gurgle* good for your breath!
That's so rude! Just for that comment I'm gonna suck you extra slow!
Teacher, can I talk to you about my mid-term? You gave me an a-minus and I think I deserve an a-positive—er, I mean an a-plus.
Master, check out this mask I got. This Halloween I'm going out dressed as a vampire. Totally meta, right?
I think I lost him. That soulless demon. That total asshole.
Ray Milland and Rosie Grier put their heads together.
Is it fair to describe The Thing with Two Heads as a legendary movie? We think so. It's The Wild Ones taken to its shark jumping extreme thanks to the blaxploitation maestros at American International Pictures. Instead of a white convict and a black convict handcuffed together after a prison escape, this flick features a racist white doctor whose head is grafted onto a black patient's body. These two really hate each other, which is a serious problem considering they spend 24/7 at kissing distance, but they're stuck.
Ray Milland, who once won a Best Actor Oscar, is trying to prolong his own life. Grier is a convict on death row who donates his body to science. He has no idea what the science he's donated himself to entails, just that he'll avoid execution for thirty more days and buy time for his relatives and lawyer to prove his innocence. Sounds fun, right? Once Grier wakes up after surgery and realizes what's happened he flees with Milland's noggin riding helplessly along and decides to prove his innocence himself. But Milland is slowly gaining control of their body. You get the feeling this isn't going to end well.
The Thing with Two Heads is low budget, cheeseball, light on genuine humor, and perfunctory in its ending. And yet... how can one resist? Is it an ingenious parable about the historical theft of black bodies by white men? Or is it just a chunk of opportunistic schlock? Only the screenwriters know. We'll say this, though—considering how low this movie could have sunk (picture Milland looking down at Grier's dick and exclaiming, "Whoa! That's bigger than my Oscar!") it's actually pretty restrained. Put it in the better-with-alcohol category and don't watch it alone. It premiered in the U.S. today in 1972.
Sure, you can call me. I'm at Northside u-r-a-zero. And let me give you a fake name to go along with that.
We have a few Richard Prather novels but they haven't managed to fully enthrall us. This is the fourth book in his Shell Scott series, in which the wackiest dick in the west heads to Las Vegas on a missing persons case. Prather was one of the best selling authors of the 1950s, so we're confident we'll soon find a book that makes us see the light (and with three dozen in the Shell Scott series alone there are many from which to choose), but this one didn't quite get there. It was published in 1951 and this excellent piece of cover art is uncredited.
That stained old sofa, as you call it, is an authentic Hollywood casting couch.
As always, the mole on the female figure's cheek serves as the signature of artist Bill Edwards. Here he handles the cover work on They Paid with Flesh by Tony Marcus. This tale is, shall we say, Weinsteinian in nature, as a middle aged producer beds aspiring actresses, while a young studio fixer tries to locate a missing starlet. Their paths intersect when the producer beds the fixer's ex, who he still may have feelings for. That's a perfectly workable set-up for a story, but instead the increasingly convoluted plot first veers off into a scheme to steal four million dollars from a deposed dictator who's planning a counterrevolution, and later focuses on the starlet's plan to change her identity through cosmetic surgery, though the doctor she's chosen is a serial killer. Did we say convoluted? We meant labyrinthine. But ultimately They Paid with Flesh is sleaze, so the plot pivots are mere lead-ins for explicit sex, in all its typical variations, and a couple that aren't typical—or even legal. We'd like the time we spent on this returned to us, but we'd also like a riad in Marrakech, and we aren't getting that either.
It wasn't until I met you that I realized what marriage really meant. I'll demand a divorce from my wife tomorrow.
Tropical night, sea shore, full moon, convertible roadster, and sneaky adultery. This is a pretty nice cover for Perry Lindsay's, aka Peggy Gaddis's digest paperback Shameless Woman, which was published in 1948 for Knickerbocker Books' sub-set Regular Books. It originally appeared as Sin Cinderella, which is maybe a better title. It's about a divorcée who wants to get back at the millionaire husband who cast her aside, so she recruits an unsuspecting sixteen-year-old, teaches her how to be alluring, and sends her to ruin the ex. Of course, with a ’48 copyright date you know this doesn't get too crazy, but that didn't stop us from buying five more. We'll give them careful reads and report back in more detail a bit later. The art on this, by the way, is uncredited.
You may be hot stuff on the battlefield, soldier, but you didn't exactly earn a medal in here.
S. Robert Tralins returns with another piece of sleaze, 1953's Corporal Glory, which he wrote for New York City based Exposition Press. Tralins worked extensively in this genre, even seeing his 1963 book Pleasure Was My Business banned in Florida. This cover lacks the usual lurid blurbs because it's actually a hardback dust jacket. Yes, this got published in hardback. Maybe he was a better writer than we think. See more Tralins covers here and here.
Marie Forså gives a lofty performance in a down and dirty classic
Above is a Japanese poster for the Swedish film Butterflies, another sexploitation romp featuring blonde-on-blonde sex symbol Marie Forså. The movie also stars Harry Reems and Eric Edwards, two legit porno actors from back in the day, here getting a chance to do some mainstream work. The basic thrust, so to speak, of the plot involves a country girl who goes to the big city and has various sexual adventures with older and more experienced men. You know the drill.
As with other Forså films, there are explicit scenes, but in this case it's actually her doing the deed. There are several uncut pans from face to nether regions in two of her bed sessions that leave no doubt. There's confusion around this because the filmmakers wanted a gynecological version of the movie and shot jarring close-ups of thrusting genitalia. Those aren't Forså's. They were shot later to make the film extra explicit. Because of those inserts the continuity of the original scenes was ruined, and assumptions that Forså was replaced by a body double came into being.
We have to say, even though the intercourse is real, that doesn't mean the sexual ecstasy is, but Forså is a good performer in this regard. You may even believe she's having the best sex of her life. This is of course not the norm for porn actresses, whose fakery generally is obvious. But Forså is a force of nature. We don't know if there's a version of the movie that omits the explicit inserts. If there is, that's the one to watch. But either way, Forså's innocent looks, combined with an uninhibited performance, make Butterflies a true blue classic. It premiered in Japan today in 1975.
Need to get rid of an uninvited guest? Try hummus.
For a b-movie The Thing from Another World is quite entertaining. Above you see its nice Belgian promo poster, which has a different look for the era, with its colorful vortex and entranced looking couple. Belgium, of course, is multi-lingual, so the movie was titled La chose d'un autre monde in French and Het ding van een andere wereld in Dutch. It was directed by Christian Nyby, who was taking his first turn in the director's chair, but a certain uber-experienced fella named Howard Hawks apparently assumed a supervisory role, which may be why the film has such a sense of competent ease about it.
Snarky critics often joke that The Thing is basically James Arness as a giant carrot, but that's silly. The monster is a type of vegetable, but Arness does not dress as one, or anything close. He's a humanoid creature in a jumpsuit. We mention it only because those carrot quips, which suggested the film was some sort of low budget disaster, kept us from watching it for years. If the monster was just a carrot they could chase it away with a bowl of ranch dressing or hummus, but it's actually made of sterner stuff than that. Even fire barely fazes it.
In the end, whether thanks to Nyby or Hawks or some combination thereof, what you get here is a good, solid sci-fi thriller, well put together, well acted, reasonably scripted, and ultimately pretty entertaining. There's no Belgian release date, but after premiering in the U.S. in 1951, it made France in January 1952, so it probably opened in Belgium just a bit later. We're sure we don't have to mention that the 1982 remake was great, but if you haven't seen it feel free to take a gander at out little write-up on in from several years ago.
If you'd just asked for directions like I told you we wouldn't be in this mess.
This is a nice acquisition—Vereen Bell's Swamp Water with George Gross art on the front. The book is a rural slice of life novel dealing with a young trapper named Ben Ragan who ventures into the Okefenokee Swamp in search of his lost hunting dog, Trouble. Nobody, aside from Indian tribes of earlier times, is thought to have entered the dreaded swamp and returned. Ragan goes in and finds Trouble—and trouble. Bell expertly catalogs swamp flora, fauna, and topography, which makes for a backdrop so vivid you can almost feel the humidity. This is an extraordinarily enjoyable tale, a sort of a revenge novel/chronicle of the deep South/backwoods adventure, written when the vast Okefenokee straddling Georgia and Florida was nearly uncharted territory. 1941 on this originally, with Bantam's edition coming in ’47.
It's a man's man's man's world, but it wouldn't be nothing without a woman... to fight over.
When Fawcett Publications launched its Gold Medal line, Man Story was the second paperback it put out. It's a fiction anthology culled from the pages of True magazine, which was part of the Fawcett stable, and it came out in 1950 numbered 102 on the cover because the series began at 101. There are heavyweight, widely published authors in this collection, including William Attwood, Daniel Mannix, and Barnaby Conrad. Of special note are Philip Wylie, who wrote Gladiator, Paul Gallico, who wrote The Poseidon Adventure, and MacKinlay Kantor, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his novel Andersonville.
The Gold Medal line actually helped bring about the demise of pulp magazines. This was due partly to the sheer number of books it published (it went from 35 titles in 1950 to 66 the next year and never looked back), as well as to the shift in tone from the pulps it represented. Some of the writers published by Gold Medal would become huge names moving forward, including John D. MacDonald, Louis L'Amour, Richard Prather, and Charles Williams. Yet for all the importance of this second Gold Medal paperback, it's cheap as hell. We saw it selling for five dollars, which is a pretty nice price for the motherlode of testosterone fiction.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1925—Jury Decides the Teaching of Evolution Is a Crime
In the famous Scopes Monkey Trial, American schoolteacher John Scopes is found guilty of violating the Butler Act, which forbids the teaching of evolution in schools. The sensational trial pits two great legal minds—William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow—against each other. Ultimately, Scopes and Darrow are destined to lose because the case rests on whether Scopes had violated the Act, not whether evolution is fact.
1969—First Humans Reach the Moon
Neil Armstrong and Eugene 'Buzz' Aldrin, Jr. become the first humans to walk on the moon. The third member of the mission, command module Pilot Michael Collins, remains in orbit in Apollo 11.
1972—Chaos in the Big Apple
In New York City, within a span of twenty-four hours, fifty-seven murders are committed.
1944—Hitler Survives Third Assassination Attempt
Adolf Hitler escapes death after a bomb explodes at his headquarters in Rastenberg, East Prussia. A senior officer, Colonel Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg, is blamed for planting the device at a meeting between Hitler and other senior staff members. Hitler sustains minor burns and a concussion but manages to keep an appointment later in the day with Italian leader Benito Mussolini.
1966—Sinatra Marries Farrow
Superstar singer and actor Frank Sinatra marries 21-year-old actress Mia Farrow, who is 30 years younger than him. The marriage lasts two years.
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