Vintage shockumentary explores the evils of witchcraft.
The above promo was made for the mondo style occult documentary Angeli bianchi… angeli neri, known in English as Witchcraft ’70 and White Angel, Black Angel. It opened in Japan today in 1970 after premiering the previous year in Italy. In English “mondo” and “shockumentary” are synonymous terms, but foreign web pages sometimes say the latter is a misnomer. They don't explain how it's a misnomer, so until they do, this movie is both mondo and shockumentary. It was one of our first film write-ups, way back in 2008, before we decided PSGP's previous stint as an indie film reviewer gave us the excuse we needed to get all opinionated. Can you imagine us unopinionated at this point? You can experience it here.
Oshida and her friends run riot in the capital.
We're sticking with Japanese posters today. Here's one for the 1970 pinky violence flick Zubekô banchô: yume wa yoru hiraku, aka Tokyo Bad Girls, aka Delinquent Girl Boss: Blossoming Night Dreams. We showed you two other promos for this film, which were the standard and always fun tateken sizes. This is a rare bo-ekibari.
This flower is toxic—to thieves and killers.
We've been on a movie binge, so we have one to discuss for the third day in a row. Above is a poster for the 1968 action-drama Hibotan bakuto, aka Red Peony Gambler. It's fair to call the film a classic. It was directed by the legendary Norifumi Suzuki, and starred Junko Fuji and Ken Takakura. Fuji plays a wandering gambler seeking retribution for her father, who was murdered by an unknown bandit. The killer left behind one clue—a distinctive cloth wallet that Fuji now carries with her. Ultimately she finds her father's killer. No surprise there—that's the entire point. But revenge, unsurprisingly, is more complicated than she'd imagined.
When a movie spawns multiple sequels it's a safe bet it's good, and this one had seven follow-ups. Hibotan bakuto has nearly everything you want from a sword opera. The choreographed action, while not fully convincing, is fun. The direction and cinematography are excellent. And Fuji crafts an interesting performance, staring unblinkingly into the middle distance, looking grim, exuding a compelling coolness and self-containment. Overall, we found the movie very worthwhile. We'll check out at least one or two of the sequels and report back. Hibotan bakuto premiered in Japan today in 1968.
No matter how many it took Lynn and Donovan would get you there.
Digging into our collection of Japanese promo posters for American porn movies once again, we found this one for 1984's Too Good To Be True, which was headlined by Ginger Lynn and Stacey Donovan. Other performers included... well, all the performers that were usually in such films. The Japanese title—花唇の相続—translates to something along the lines of, “inheritance of flower lips.” Needless to say, we absolutely love that. Japanese distributors were really good with retitles of U.S. adult movies. The final results tended to be poetic, yet there was never any doubt that what was being offered was smut. Of course, it was censored in Japan—no flower lips shown, but even so, what a fun title. As we've mentioned before, because it was the videocassette age movies such as these didn't have official premieres in the U.S., however they apparently did in Japan, and that was today in 1989.
Zero to crazy in under ninety minutes.
We first shared a poster for the pinky violence movie Sukeban gerira, aka Girl Boss Guerrilla, years ago and said at that time we'd get around to talking about the movie. We subsequently shared a tateken style poster, but still didn't get around to the film itself. Well, it's finally later. Eleven years later, to be exact. We refreshed our memory with a new screening last night, and to accompany today's thoughts we're sharing a rare bo-ekibari style poster of this classic pinky violence actioner from Toei Company.
Miki Sugimoto and three friends, who comprise the small but spirited Red Helmet Motorcycle Gang, take a trip from Tokyo to Kyoto to see if they can hustle up some yen by whatever means they can manage—grifts, graft, blackmail, whatever. They make some cash but quickly run afoul of Ryôko Ema of the Kyogoku Group, head boss of all Kyoto's girl gangs, which leads to a Ryôko-Miki showdown for control of the city. Our advice: never fight in flip-flops. But then again, we're not as tough as Miki. She loses her flip flops, but wins the fight.
There's always a set of bad men in the background of a pinky violence movie, and it turns out that though Kyoto's girl gangsters are now under Miki's hard won control, all operate under the umbrella of the Tsutsui Gang, who are basically the Kyoto branch of the yakuza. Miki has to give regular tribute to the boys, obey the rules, or pay the price. She'swilling to toe the line, but her situation is quickly complicated when she makes a new pal played by Reiko Ike, who's disinclined to obey anybody, but particularly the local yakuza clan, one of whose higher ups is her big brother.
Along the way to settling this mess you get fights, captures, torture, and nudity. Comedy and romance are part of the equation too, as is a bit of social commentary (a Red Helmet girl picking up gonorrhea from a priest is particularly biting). In the end a final throwdown is inevitable but how it turns out is anyone's guess. Nothing is guaranteed in a pinky violence movie—well, except violence.
Pinky violence movies can be fun, but the misses tend to be well wide of the mark, if not psychologically disturbing. Sukeban gerira is a nice example of the genre. It's wild, but never quite to the extent that it makes you want to run from the room. An excellent moment comes just a few minutes in, when Sugimoto aggressively bares a tattooed breast at a set of macho assholes, causing them to physically recoil. That sums up the best pinky violence: a new brand of feminine power that overcame any opposition set against it. Sukeban gerira premiered today in 1972.
Sometimes you have to do something to break up the monotony.
For those who don't know, streaking was the fad of running naked in front of surprised witnesses, whether on a street or in a mall or at a football game, and it was reaching its zenith around the time the above photo was made. So imagine you're sitting around your place bored as hell like the guy at bottom—who you didn't even notice until we just mentioned him—and Reiko Ike streaks across the room. That's the theme of this promo image from a 1972 issue of Heibon Punch, which had accompanying text telling readers Reiko suddenly ran free like an innocent child. We don't know about the “child” or “innocent” parts, but we heartily endorse the rest. She's streaked across our website more times than we can count, so feel free to search around for those images and find out a little more about one of the great action stars of her era.
How can you think about sex when as we stand here quantum gravity won't fit into the standard model of quarks and leptons?
Above is an alternate poster made for Joshi daisei: Sex kaki seminar, which was also known as Joshidaisei: Sex kaki zeminaaru, and premiered today in 1973. It starred Masumi Jun, Isao Hayashi, and Setsuko Ôyama, who portray three collegians who sign up for a seminar that gets weird. It had no Western release, therefore no English title, but the Japanese would translate to something like “female college student sex summer seminar.” See another poster and learn a bit more about the film here.
Embarrassingly, I've put away my spring wardrobe, but haven't yet taken out my summer wardrobe.
We scanned this photo of Japanese actress Jun Ogawa eight years back, but sort of lost her in the shuffle until today. We're glad we found the shot, though, because it's pretty nice. Ogawa made eighteen movies between 1971 and 1977, most of them for Roppô Eiga, which is a studio whose output we haven't explored yet. If any of Ogawa's work is available we'll probably do that. We're thinking Makura geisha no kokuhaku: Shinshitsu no technique might be a good choice. The English title of that is Confessions of a Pillow Geisha: Bedroom Techniques. Alternatively there's Dokufu oden kubikiri asa, which was called Samurai Executioner in the West. That sounds good too. We'll go looking. The above image is from a 1974 issue of Heibon Punch.
They're a hell of a lot of trouble.
Above: an alternate poster in tateken format for a movie we highlighted last year—Sanbiki no mesubachi, aka Three Pretty Devils. It starred Reiko Ohara, Junko Natsu, and Yoko Ichiji, and preimiered in Japan today in 1970. See what we wrote about it here.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1934—Queen Mary Launched
The RMS Queen Mary, three-and-a-half years in the making, launches from Clydebank, Scotland. The steamship enters passenger service in May 1936 and sails the North Atlantic Ocean until 1967. Today she is a museum and tourist attraction anchored in Long Beach, U.S.A.
1983—Nuclear Holocaust Averted
Soviet military officer Stanislav Petrov, whose job involves detection of enemy missiles, is warned by Soviet computers that the United States has launched a nuclear missile at Russia. Petrov deviates from procedure, and, instead of informing superiors, decides the detection is a glitch. When the computer warns of four more inbound missiles he decides, under much greater pressure this time, that the detections are also false. Soviet doctrine at the time dictates an immediate and full retaliatory strike, so Petrov's decision to leave his superiors out of the loop very possibly prevents humanity's obliteration. Petrov's actions remain a secret until 1988, but ultimately he is honored at the United Nations.
2002—Mystery Space Object Crashes in Russia
In an occurrence known as the Vitim Event, an object crashes to the Earth in Siberia and explodes with a force estimated at 4 to 5 kilotons by Russian scientists. An expedition to the site finds the landscape leveled and the soil contaminated by high levels of radioactivity. It is thought that the object was a comet nucleus with a diameter of 50 to 100 meters.
1992—Sci Fi Channel Launches
In the U.S., the cable network USA debuts the Sci Fi Channel, specializing in science fiction, fantasy, horror, and paranormal programming. After a slow start, it built its audience and is now a top ten ranked network for male viewers aged 18–54, and women aged 25–54.
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