Sci-fi invasion film is a Missione impossible.
The hydra of myth had seven heads. The movie 2+5: Missione Hydra feels like there wasn't a single head involved. It originally premiered in Italy today in 1966, but was re-released in 1977 as Star Pilot, an opportunistic move inspired by the success of Star Wars. But where Star Wars made history, Star Pilot is historically awful. The plot involves aliens who crash land on Earth but need to go back to their home planet located somewhere in the constellation Hydra, and can only repair their ship with the help of a few human scientists. As a bonus they plan to abduct these accommodating people for intensive—possibly even invasive—study.
2+5: Missione Hydra is very nearly the worst science fiction film we've ever seen, perhaps second only to the infamous Star Crash. Its unique terribleness was brought about by a perfect storm of factors, including a budget completely inadequate for the film's ambitions, which resulted in cheap sets, shoestring special efx, ridiculous costumes, bad music and sound, and stunt work that looks as if it was performed by the guys who fight with wooden swords at medieval fairs.
Adding to these problems is a script that is not only inept, but filled with attempts at light-hearted humor that fall flatter than buckwheat crêpes. Leontine and Leonora Ruffo are dealt the worst characters, and must try to bring to life, respectively, a frisky sexpot and a cold alien space babe. But they're overmatched by the writing. The only positive with 2+5: Missione Hydra is the usual one when it comes to awful films—if you have a few quick-witted friends and some booze, this could turn into one of the most entertaining movie nights you've ever had.
Guys, was that our screenwriter back there on the side of the road? Maybe we should stop. We might need him.
We have come to Earth to fertilize your women. And your men. And possibly some trees. Our semen funnels can induce fertilization in anything.
Among our species, my funnel is considered enormous.
You had me at “fun,” space stud.
This is the fertilization chamber. To excite you we have installed mood lighting and will transmit the Chili Peppers', “Party on Your Pussy.”
We can't fertilize on this! It's barely big enough for a reverse cowgirl, let alone a standard missionary.
Heh. They have no idea we're recording the fertilizations. We should do quite well with these on the galactic candid porn market.
How did your fertilization go? Mine, all things considered, was better than expected.
Her invasion didn't quite work out as planned.
The list of old publishing houses from around the world that borrowed photos of actresses for their covers continues to grow. Discovering these books decades later often means finding incredibly rare shots of women who weren't well known when their images were used, but who later became big stars. This cover for Albert Conroy's, aka Luigi Amerio's Fuga nel sangue from Edizioni Giumar in 1959 features Shirley Kilpatrick. She wasn't one of the ones who later became a big star. We have a feeling her title turn in 1957's sci-fi megabomb The Astounding She-Monster ruined that dream. It was her only credited film role, which just goes to show that no place is harder to conquer than Hollywood. But we love Kilpatrick anyway, and this is a great shot of her. See others here.
When you're rich you're never insane. You're just a little eccentric.
La notte che Evelyn uscì dalla tomba, aka The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave, premiered in Italy today in 1971, and is an Italian made, set-in-England, gothic giallo flick for which we shared an unusual Greek poster some years ago. The art on that was retasked from the original poster, which was painted by Sandro Symeoni, a genius we've featured often. If you don't know his work, click his keywords below and have a look. He's worth your time.
In the movie a British lord violently obsessed with his deceased redheaded wife goes nuts and is committed to a mental institution. When he gets out he immediately brings disrepute to the entire psychiatric profession's notion of “cured” by going on a redhead killing spree. While he's busy reducing rural England's carrottop population one pale person at a time, his headshrinker, who knows nothing of the murders, is encouraging him to remarry in order to get over his dead wife.
That doesn't strike us as responsible psychiatric advice, but as we mentioned, there are lousy doctors in this film, so the Lord indeed picks out a suitable spouse, who's blonde, importantly. Things go fine until Mrs. Lord notices a redheaded maid in the manor. This is impossible, you see, because the Lord hates (and kills) redheads. So it goes without saying he'd never hire one. Who was this woman, and why was she there? Soon we're treated to the reliable giallo staples of imposters, unknown people creeping through the woods at night, disappearing corpses, and the question of whether what's happening is real, or is an attempt to induce insanity.
What might induce insanity for you is the screenwriting of the female characters in this flick. They're pure murder magnets. For example, whenever the Lord meets a redhead he yanks painfully on her hair to see if it's real. “Ouch! That hurt!” “Sorry, I thought it might be a wig.” “Oh.” Here's some advice: kick him in the gonads and run like Flo-Jo. Yet the women instead decide painful hair-pulling is just a cute quirk, and later meet their bloody ends.
There's also an incredible scene where the Lord slaps his wife around until she's bloody-mouthed, only to finally be stopped by the appearance of a friend, who asks, “Why were you fighting?” Why were you fighting? A more appropriate line might be, “Why were you beating the fuck out of your beloved?” But with this latter incident there may actually be a plotworthy reason the Lord is forgiven. We could reveal it, but that would be a spoiler. Of course, saying it would be a spoiler is a spoiler too. Oh no! Everything is spoiled! We have to murder a redhead now. Is that a non-sequitur? No, it's just giallo.
Laura Gemser turns out to be one twisted sister.
Laura Gemser again? Really? Well, she made a lot of movies and we find them highly amusing. This one was called Suor Emanuelle, aka Sister Emanuelle, and we'll tell you up front it'll probably be wildly offensive to anyone with religious beliefs, as she plays the horniest nun in L'Aquila, Italy. She doesn't start that way. At first she's one cold penguin, but as we've mentioned before, exotic places heat her up. Plus in the convent she finds herself in close company with Mónica Zanchi, who knows exactly which of Gemser's buttons to press. That chilly old convent starts cooking, with Gemser giving in to Zanchi, and Zanchi regularly hiking Vinja Locatelli's treasure trail. But it wouldn't be ’70s sexploitation without some hairy men. Enter Gabriele Tinti as a bank robber hiding out in the stables. Gemser and Zanchi both take carnal communion with him, multiple times. All in all, Suor Emanuelle is a typical Gemser sex flick—ethereal, ridiculous, a bit quaint by today's standards, and not to be taken at all seriously. We give it two-and-half nipple-kisses. It premiered in Italy today in 1977.
He's totally wacko but ambition is attractive so she'll give him a chance.
A few years ago we talked about the 1959 sci-fi movie Caltiki il mostro immortale, aka Caltiki—The Immortal Monster, and shared the U.S. promo poster. Above is the Italian promo, which has a nice GGA style to it thanks to the highly skilled brush of Rodolfo Valcarenghi. His art has nothing to do with the film, though. Plotwise think scientific curiosity overcoming better judgement to facilitate the release of a blob monster and you'll be in the ballpark. You can read our little summary at this link. Caltiki il mostro immortale premiered in Italy today in 1959.
The movie is n° 2 but its star is second to none.
There sure are lots of Emmanuelle/Emanuelle movies out there. Sylvia Kristel, Laura Gemser, Monique Gabrielle, Olinka Hardiman, Krista Allen, Natasja Vermeer, and many others inhabited characters with that name. But we'd never heard of Shulamith Lasri, aka Julie Margo, nor her contribution to the pantheon Emanuelle nera n° 2, aka The New Black Emanuelle. Pulp Intl. abhors a vacuum so we figured what the hell and decided to check the movie out. Plotwise Lasri is a famous model who's had some sort of break with reality and is in a mental institution trying, with the help of doctors, to restore memories that might be the key to her trauma
Sounds deadly serious, doesn't it? But like many serious low budget movies, unintentional humor rears its clumsy head. At one point Lasri disrobes and Danielle Ellison gapes at her and says, “Your body. You're like a queen of the night. Or a panther.” At which point Lasri forms a claw with her hand and goes, “Grrrrr...” Frickin' hilarious. The two then dance naked, as women often do when they hang out together. Does Lasri ever get her head straight? Maybe. But even if her mind is cured, her body will remain bonkers, and that's what these movies are all about. Emanuelle nera n° 2 premiered in Italy today in 1976.
She's dangerous when her abacus is against the wall.
Above, a cool shot of one of mid-century cinema's agreed upon top beauties, Italian actress Virna Lisi, here standing against an abacus wall that she needs to keep track of all her admirers. We've never seen a wall like this before. Never seen a woman like this before either. The photo was made for her 1965 romantic comedy How To Murder Your Wife, in which she starred with cinematic treasure Jack Lemmon. Definitely see that film. It's incalculably fun.
This outfit is itchy, hard to get on, and makes it ridiculously impractical to pee. It better turn you on or you're dead.
In Italy the concept of gialli was literary as well as cinematic, and here you see a typical giallo novel—Traccia profumato, or “scented trail,” by Larry Madison. This appeared in 1966 from Edizioni Aldo Crudo for the series I Super Gialli della Sterlina. Madison is a pseudonym of course. Generally, the credited translator is actually the author, which would make Giovanni Simonelli the brain behind this one. The cover is by Mario Ferrari. It's been a while since we featured him, but he was one of Italy's top paperback illustrators. See supporting evidence here.
Rare perennial blooms on crime book cover.
Not long ago we shared some covers from the Milanese publishers Longanesi & Co., and the lure of those for us was the presence of U.S. model Virginia Gordon on two of them. Here's another Longanesi offering—James Kieran's translated novel Come Murder Me—with burlesque legend Lilly Christine reclining on an ottoman. Longanesi published this in 1957.
Vampires never get old, in legend or in publishing.
Above you see a cover from the long running Elvifrance bande dessinée Jacula, with uncredited art. We picked this up from a Paris bouquiniste a few weeks ago. The backstory here is that a woman named Jacula Velenska is bitten by a vampire and, once turned, roams far and wide quenching her thirst for blood. She's accompanied by her vampire husband Charles Verdier, and his dog servant Wolf. This is in French but the series originated in Italy as a fumetti, or adult comic book, and ran from 1969 to 1982 for a total of 327 issues, which strikes us as quite a lot.
Our French reprint is from 1971 and is 14 in the series. We were anticipating some foundational Jacula vamp action, but were surprised to discover that it deals almost entirely with a loup garou, or werewolf, named Charles, and how he ends up eating his own child and wife. At the end of the tale he encounters Jacula, who he captures and plans to kill before thinking better of it, for reasons that are unclear. It could be this is the same Charles that later becomes her companion. We'll figure it out. One of the reasons we bought this was to practice French, which comes in handy where we live.
We said the cover art was uncredited, but generally they were painted by three guys—Leandro Biffi, Fernando Tacconi, and Carlo Jacono. Thanks to the powers of the internet we were able to determine that this one is by Biffi. The interior art by Alberto Giolitti is a bit more basic, which is usually true of comic books, but you're buying these for the story, 112 pages of it in this case, written by Giuseppe Pederiali. We have a few scans below, and if you want to see more from Elvifrance, start here.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
Pierre Laval, who was the premier of Vichy, France, which had collaborated with the Nazis during World War II, is shot by a firing squad for treason. In subsequent years it emerges that Laval may have considered himself a patriot whose goal was to publicly submit to the Germans while doing everything possible behind the scenes to thwart them. In at least one respect he may have succeeded: fifty percent of French Jews survived the war, whereas in other territories about ninety percent perished.
1966—Black Panthers Form
In the U.S., in Oakland, California, Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale form the Black Panther political party. The Panthers are active in American politics throughout the 1960s and 1970s, but eventually legal troubles combined with a schism over the direction of the party lead to its dissolution.
1962—Cuban Missile Crisis Begins
A U-2 spy plane flight over the island of Cuba produces photographs of Soviet nuclear missiles being installed. Though American missiles have been installed near Russia, the U.S. decides that no such weapons will be tolerated in Cuba. The resultant standoff brings the U.S. and the Soviet Union to the brink of war. The crisis finally ends with a secret deal in which the U.S. removes its missiles from Turkey in exchange for the Soviets removing the Cuban weapons.
1970—Angela Davis Arrested
After two months of evading police and federal authorities, Angela Davis is arrested in New York City by the FBI. She had been sought in connection with a kidnapping and murder because one of the guns used in the crime had been bought under her name. But after a trial a jury agreed that owning the weapon did not automatically make her complicit in the crimes.
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