Vintage Pulp Apr 7 2024
RED TINTED WATERS
People are being eaten by sharks but the hipsters of the Mexican Riviera are too groovy to care.


¡Tintorera!, for which you see a poster above, is often presumed to be within the pantheon of Jaws knockoffs, and that's true, but barely. There's a giant shark, and it eats a few people, but ¡Tintorera! couldn't be more different in tone than Spielberg's blockbuster. It's a counterculture movie set in and around Cancún, Tulum, and the Rivera Maya. A considerable amount of script is spent exploring free love and utopian lifestyles. Shark hunters Andrés Garcia and Hugo Stiglitz fashion an exclusive three-way relationship with Susan George. They also mix and match with Laura Lyons and Jennifer Ashley, and each bed down on consecutive nights with Fiona Lewis, which catalyzes a transformation from professional rivals to friends. Discussions of sexual sharing and finding new ways to live take up far more running time than anything to do with sharks.

But sharks there indeed are—specifically, a large tiger shark whose first victim is Lewis. She's eaten during a nude swim, which is another resemblance to Jaws. But to give a sense of how different ¡Tintorera! really is, consider that Lewis appears to be the movie's star during its first half hour, and when she vanishes no trace of her is ever found and nobody much cares that she's gone. They assume she left the country. In cinema's imaginary countercultureworld, who has time to ask questions? The focus of the film shifts to Garcia and Stiglitz's rivalry-cum-friendship. Shortly afterward, Susan George arrives, and the focus shifts again, onto the aformentioned threesome. But then she leaves, and suddenly Lyons and Ashley are the main love interests. Then one of them is eaten too. This round robin approach, in our experience, is unique in a film that isn't anthological or episodic, and it's jarring, to be sure.

Another aspect of ¡Tintorera! that might jar is it usage of real sharks and extremely practical special effects. Many actual sharks are killed. A loggerhead turtle is killed via throat cutting and hung over the side of a boat to make a blood trail. We don't think the Mexican filmmakers Conacite Uno and Productora Filmica Real added a disclaimer to the credits about no animals being harmed. Somehow they got a shark to swim around with a fake human torso sticking out of its mouth. Another shark is made to carry around a human lower body trailing yards of intestines. We don't know how the filmmakers achieved these striking scenes, but they look very real. So if all of what we've written doesn't make the film's slender free love plot sound enticing, maybe watch it for the gory efx. You'll marvel. ¡Tintorera! premiered in Mexico today in 1977.
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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
May 27
1930—Chrysler Building Opens
In New York City, after a mere eighteen months of construction, the Chrysler Building opens to the public. At 1,046 feet, 319 meters, it is the tallest building in the world at the time, but more significantly, William Van Alen's design is a landmark in art deco that is celebrated to this day as an example of skyscraper architecture at its most elegant.
1969—Jeffrey Hunter Dies
American actor Jeffrey Hunter dies of a cerebral hemorrhage after falling down a flight of stairs and sustaining a skull fracture, a mishap precipitated by his suffering a stroke seconds earlier. Hunter played many roles, including Jesus in the 1961 film King of Kings, but is perhaps best known for portraying Captain Christopher Pike in the original Star Trek pilot episode "The Cage".
May 25
1938—Alicante Is Bombed
During the Spanish Civil War, a squadron of Italian bombers sent by fascist dictator Benito Mussolini to support the insurgent Spanish Nationalists, bombs the town of Alicante, killing more than three-hundred people. Although less remembered internationally than the infamous Nazi bombing of Guernica the previous year, the death toll in Alicante is similar, if not higher.
1977—Star Wars Opens
George Lucas's sci-fi epic Star Wars premiers in the Unites States to rave reviews and packed movie houses. Produced on a budget of $11 million, the film goes on to earn $460 million in the U.S. and $337 million overseas, while spawning a franchise that would eventually earn billions and make Lucas a Hollywood icon.
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