|Vintage Pulp||Feb 16 2023|
The fundamental things apply whenever Hitomi comes by.
Yes, we just saw Hitomi Kozue last week, and here she's popped up again in the 1974 sexploitation flick Zoku tameiki, which translates as “continuous sigh,” but was called in English Sigh 2. And indeed, the movie is positioned as follow-up to 1973's Tameiki, aka Sigh, though that film starred Yumiko Tateno. In this one, Hitomi plays an office worker who's willing but frightened to lose her virginity and manages to get tangled up with her mother's ex-lover. It's Nikkatsu Studios once again exploring unlikely sexual dilemmas, with the usual array of pervs, stalkers, and aggressors dragging down the film's erotic aspirations. That doesn't mean there aren't a few stirring scenes. We rather enjoyed when Hitomi checked out her pieces-parts with a hand mirror.
Some reviews of Zoku tameiki say it's about intergenerational issues. Well, sure, they're in there. Issues will arise when daughter and mother bed the same guy, and there are suggestions of daddy issues in Hitomi's fears about embarking upon sexual life, but we're not buying this as any kind of deep rumination, intergenerational or otherwise. What it is, when you boil it down, is a standard roman porno flick that makes less-than-adequate use of Hitomi Kozue's presence. As always, she does fine in her role, is amazingly beautiful, and is convincing as a shy girl, but we were unmoved by the script and nonplussed by several comic interludes. The movie isn't bad. It's merely that its only true asset is the radiant Kozue. For some viewers, us included, that's enough, but the filmmakers should have done a bit better. Zoku tameiki premiered in Japan today in 1974.
JapanNikkatsuZoku tameikiSigh 2Hitomi KozueYuri YamashinaKeiko AikawaYumiko Tatenoposter artcinemasexploitationpinkuroman pornomovie review
|Femmes Fatales||Feb 11 2023|
Hitomi hits the coast for a private holiday.
Here during the depths of winter (for those of you that experience winter) we thought we'd give you the hottest images we could find to stir your blood. Above are a few looks at Japanese actress Hitomi Kozue, who, according to a bit of accompanying text we didn't bother to show, is enjoying a rare sunny day during the 1974 tsuya, or East Asian rainy season. Hitomi is the star of such films as Sukeban Deka: Dirty Mary, Sex-Crime Coast: School of Piranha, True Story of a Woman Condemned, and its sequel, and you may remember we promised we'd return to her after sharing an image last year from this same photo session.
Based on what we've seen Hitomi seems to have been the boldest Japanese cinema star of the ’70s when it came to her promo images. These are nicely conceived and composed, tasteful, yet audacious and visceral. Some cultures, including the U.S., have regressed to the point where almost any nudity is now shocking, but eroticism has always been a valid art form, and it will survive the new puritanism once people remember that bodies forced under wraps are exactly what previous generations fought so hard against in order to wrest free expression from external control. Hitomi is uncontrollably beautiful.
JapanSukeban Deka: Dirty MarySukeban Deka: daati MariiSex-Crime Coast: School of PiranhaNikutai hanzai kaigan: Piranha no mureTrue Story of a Woman CondemnedJitsuroku onna kanbetsusho: sei-jigokuHeibon PunchHitomi Kozueroman pornopinkunudity
|Femmes Fatales||Feb 8 2023|
Marilyn Monroe's dark places.
Since Marilyn Monroe is on people's minds thanks to the recent biopic Blonde, in which she's portrayed by Ana de Armas, it seems like a good time to feature Miss M as a femme fatale. This is probably the fifth or sixth time we've done so, and always it's pure pleasure merely to behold her. In case you missed it, Blonde focuses largely on Monroe's tragedies, and paints her life as lurching from horror to horror. We've written about Marilyn's traumas a few times, so we'll quote ourselves on the subject:
Monroe's life was marred by abandonment, depression, and rape [but] since she isn't around to speak for herself, we view her on the terms she chose. She started as a model and worked hard to become an actress, and we think those achievements are more important than what she had no control over.
Therefore, we don't spend much time trying to present the dark side of stardom every time we mention Monroe (today being an exception). Aside from when we focus on the purely pulp aspects of a performer's life, we celebrate them as content producers above all else. And Monroe the content producer was a virtual colossus who stood astride Hollywood. In the above photo, which we found inside a Japanese magazine published in 1968, she looks amazing as always.
|Vintage Pulp||Jan 27 2023|
Isabel Sarli is too hot to handle.
Fuego is a movie from Argentina but we were so taken with this Japanese poster that we decided on it over the original promo art. The colors laid atop the black and white background are nice. As for the movie, which originally premiered in 1969 and reached Japan today in 1971, it's a bizarre sexploitation flick about Isabel Sarli and her servant Alba Mujica, who carry on a lustful lesbian affair while Sarli is simultaneously pursued by local alpha male Armando Bo. The triangle is complicated by the fact that Sarli has a little problem: she wants sex so much she doesn't care where, when, or from whom she gets it. The movie's theme song tells the story:
Fuego en tu boca,
Fuego en tu cuerpo,
Fuego en tu sangre,
En tus entrañas,
Que queman mi alma,
Fire in your mouth,
Fire in your body,
Fire in your blood,
In your guts (eww), or alternatively, bowels (eew)
That burns my soul,
It's a good thing Sarli has fire in her blood, because she makes love in the snow. No blanket under her or anything. She's so overheated she goes around her provincial Patagonian town randomly flashing men. She's so inflamed she even squirms and moans when she sleeps. “I don't know if I'm fickle or wicked,” she muses. Her problem is neither. It's really that she's hostage to a cheeseball sexploitation script. She tells her suitor Bo she'll be unfaithful if they marry, but he doesn't care. “I want to be good,” Sarli says. Mission unaccomplished. As her doctor explains, her condition is caused by sexual neurosis. “A neurosis that is particularly manifested in the genitals.”
Okay then. It's unsurprising that the quack doctor next takes a comprehensive feel around Sarli's vagina. But no cure is to be found, there or anywhere, and her condition continues to consume her. Bo (who wrote and directed, as well as did most of the boob kissing) presents her narratively as an almost cursed figure, a kind of tragic sex goddess of the Andes. But even so, the movie is no more than a bad South American soap opera. Or really, even a classical opera—it needs only an aria to complete its ascent up majestic Mount Melodrama. Sarli is a legendary sex symbol in South America and she shows why, over and over, but in the final analysis we can't recommend Fuego. However, we doubt we'll ever forget it.
|Modern Pulp||Jan 23 2023|
The lady is a tramp, and the director is a scamp.
Junko Mabuki is back on Pulp Intl., as you see on this poster for the roman porno movie Dan Oniroku OL nawa dorei, known in English as Office Lady Rope Slave. It premiered in Japan today in 1981, and basically, Junko plays a straight-laced nine-to-fiver who gets involved with a pair of bondage fetishists. These types of films were, of course, her specialty, and she once again gives viewers everything they'd become accustomed to seeing. But we're less interested in the plot of the movie than the reaction at Japan's censorship board Eiga Rinri Kikō. Adherence to its restrictions was ostensibly voluntary on the part of film studios, but the body had real enforcement power. Dan Oniroku OL nawa dorei must have shaken the place to its foundations.
Let's set the scene. One of the censors has shown up at the Eiga Rinri Kikō office for an emergency meeting with the board chief. He and the other members of the body are proud of themselves for their work, which basically just hews to Japanese obscenity standards by forbidding shots of sex organs and pubic hair. But they never really thought it out from the perspective of directors determined to skirt the edges, which suddenly is happening with increasing frequency. Now at least one censor is in a tizzy. He'd be even more agitated if he knew digital technology would make roman porno films globally available, and thus decades later raise uncomfortable questions about Japanese culture and misogyny, but at this point he has no clue about that.
Censor: I'm beginning to think our censorship regime has backfired. I just screened Dan Oniroku OL nawa dorei and that fucker Katushiko shows dripping semen.
Chief: We didn't ban that?
Censor: No. We overlooked it.
Chief: Well, what's a little semen?
Censor: It's dripping from Mabuki Junko's mouth. He also shows vaginal juices, vaginal blood, and strongly implies that Mabuki-kun gets her clitoris clothes-pinned.
Chief: Hmm... that does sound provocative.
Censor: I watched it twice just to be sure of my eyes. It's depraved. Additionally, there's all the usual bondage, some bizarre insertions, an enema, oral sex both heterosexual and lesbian...
Chief: All this without violating a single one of our rules?
Censor: Nothing is actually shown. It seems quite revealing, though, because, well, Mabuki-kun is a very good actress. Great boobs too.
Chief: Agreed. Mabuki-kun has excellent boobs.
Censor: But in general, it feels like these roman porno directors are ridiculing our censorship standards. There's even a moment—I swear—when I felt like the actors looked directly at me and sneered.
Chief: Now you're being paranoid. Regarding the standards, we could change them, make them more restrictive, but it's hell keeping Nikkatsu and the other studios in line already. Any alteration now may cause serious problems.
Censor: *sigh* But the semen...
Chief: What's a little semen? So, that screener is VHS?
Censor: Betamax. It's a better format. Soon everything will be Betamax. I have it with me.
Chief: I better check it out—just to confirm your findings. Leave it by the Beta player over there, and close the door on your way out. Also, tell my secretary I'm not to be disturbed for ninety minutes.
Okay, a scornful look for the censorship board on one... two... and now!
At first I thought this was a citrus reamer, but now I'm not sure.
How the hell do you expect me to flush this way?
I'll help him. I've been hiding in the shower the whole time.
I have to take a short break. There's an office pool on my chair.
We'll all have what she's having!
JapanNikkatsuDan Oniroku OL nawa doreiOffice Lady Rope SlaveJunko MabukiAsami OgawaMiki YamajiYôko AzusaOniroku DanKatsushiko Fujiposter artcinemapinkuroman pornomovie review
|Femmes Fatales||Jan 21 2023|
Guess who stars in her favorite program?
Posing here atop a good old-fashioned console television is Yuri Tsuwano, who acted in films as Rina Hayakawa. Her output includes 1974's Semi-dokyumento: Okaruto sex, aka Semi-document: Occult Sex, and Bakeneko Toruko furo, aka A Haunted Turkish Bathhouse, which we talked about here. This is a great photo. It dates from 1976.
|Femmes Fatales||Jan 13 2023|
Totally fine all by herself.
Above is a nice image of Japanese actress Bunjaku Han, who appeared in landmark pinky violence films like Stray Cat Rock: Machine Animal, Stray Cat Rock: Wild Jumbo, and many others, as well as in more obscure fare such as Kawaii akujo, aka Lovely Wicked Woman. Here you see her in a 1969 shot made by Shigeru Izumi and first published in Heibon Punch.
JapanHeibon PunchStray Cat Rock: Machine AnimalNora-neko rokku: Mashin animaruStray Cat Rock: Wild JumboNora-neko rokku: Wairudo janboKawaii akujoLovely Wicked WomanBunjaku HanShigeru Izumipinky violence
|Vintage Pulp||Jan 10 2023|
Rare Maltese bird migrates to Asia.
Above: a very nice Japanese poster for the classic early film noir The Maltese Falcon, with Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, and Peter Lorre. The movie was titled in Japanese, “colors of Malta,” which we can't see as any better than the original, but whatever. It's a great piece of art. We've talked about the film only briefly, because what more can we offer than the numerous film experts who've reviewed it? However, we do have a lot of associated poster and book art, some of which you may not have seen. We suggest looking here, here, here, and here.
|Vintage Pulp||Dec 31 2022|
You're a political radical? We think that's sooo hot.
The beautiful promo you see above threw us into confusion for a bit. It's supposedly for a film called Gendai kôshoku-den: Teroru no kisetsu, aka Modern Passion: Season of Terror, but the poster contains only the first half of that title, which could conceivably make it for an entirely different film. And since our initial research revealed that Gendai kôshoku-den: Teroru no kisetsu has strong political elements, the art here seems incongruous. But after a bit more digging we've decided it's the correct poster alright. The two female stars listed in all the Japanese websites we checked—Tomomi Sahara and Yûko Ejima—are right there front and center, visually confirmed. We suppose the poster is an example of the studio, Wakamatsu Production, selling their political drama by any means necessary, including making it look like a roman porno flick.
That said, Gendai kôshoku-den does have sexual elements. It's about an alleged political terrorist played by Ken Yoshizawa, who's living with two women in a vast suburban housing block, but is unaware that he's under surveillance by Japanese security services and that his apartment has been bugged. We see no signs Yoshizawa is involved in any shady activities, though he's suspected of an embassy arson that occurred several years ago. He appears to have no job, while his girlfriends both work. This quiet existence is suspicious to the two agents. They see it as, “laying low.” Day after day they listen to Yoshizawa eat, have sex, chat with his girlfriends, and talk to himself. On the occasions he leaves the apartment, they follow.
The irony is thick with this situation. One agent asks the other, “Does he have anything worth living for, like us?” What a question, coming from a federal voyeur, watching a guy who has a lordly existence chilling, eating, wandering around, and screwing all day. His partner responds to the question: “I no longer know what we're watching.” Indeed. Is Yoshizawa really a political risk, or is it all just another state-level paranoid delusion like so many of the past? And since states have the power to make their fantasies real, even if Yoshizawa is innocent of all wrongdoing, will he be fashioned into a traitor anyway, unjustly prosecuted and perp-walked before the masses?
Gendai kôshoku-den: Teroru no kisetsu isn't a roman porno because it didn't come from Nikkatsu Studios and predates the official establishment of the genre, but there are similar elements, particularly an exploration of rape fantasy, mercifully brief. In this case, it's possible to argue that this is a metaphor for Yoshizawa's alleged urges to hurt people for political gain—or maybe he's not even a terrorist, but just a regular man, prone to terror in pursuit of whatever he wants. It's a question that roman porno, being mainly a template for kinky male fantasies, doesn't usually ask. That isn't to say roman porno is all bad. There are some deep ideas explored occasionally, but Gendai kôshoku-den: Teroru no kisetsu, with its underlying political intrigue, is engaging in a way Nikkatsu's offerings usually aren't.
Kôji Wakamatsu, the man in the director's chair, makes an engrossing slow burn of the movie, and expertly milks this central question of terroristic acts, inching toward a conclusion that will exonerate Yoshizawa, condemn him, or leave everything ambiguous even after the credits roll. On another layer just below is a subtle questioning of the nature of Japanese/U.S. relations, of imperialism, and the national ennui of an occupied nation. In addition, ocurring at intervals is a wonderful and haunting Vince Guaraldi-style solo flute score by Meikyu Sekai (a group, not a person), which is later supplanted by Max Roach's great tune, “Sunday Afternoon.” Gendai kôshoku-den: Teroru no kisetsu, despite its proto-roman porno digression, is a movie we can recommend. It premiered today in 1969.
JapanWakamatsu ProductionGendai kôshoku-den: Teroru no kisetsuModern Passion: Season of TerrorKen YoshizawaYûko EjimaTomomi SaharaMeikyu SekaiMax Roachposter artcinemamovie review
|Vintage Pulp||Dec 28 2022|
Slippery pavement ahead. High accident risk. Proceed in low gear.
Above is a poster for Sex rider: Nureta highway, or alternatively Sex Rider: Wet Highway, starring Mari Tanaka as a woman about to be married who succumbs to a case of cold feet and flees her impending nuptials. Her escape gets off to a bad start when she hits a guy with her car. He's not seriously hurt, but seeing a chance to possibly profit, pretends to be gravely injured. Tanaka, no doctor she, mistakes his fake unconsciousness for death and decides to dispose of the body. Reality gets a little bent from that point, as the film descends into a dreamlike state and we poor confused viewers aren't actually sure if the guy is dead. In any case, Tanaka dumps the body in a lake, but is seen doing it by a nearby hunter, and is sexually assaulted by this witness. At that point the dead/not dead man reappears to defend her, claiming, “I'm the ghost of the guy you hit.” Okay.
That's all we'll do on the plot. We want to note that Nikkatsu Studios, undeniably, had an obsession with rape. Their movies are very against the grain nowadays (and were back then too, we suspect, or at least hope), but we think there's value in looking at them objectively. Modern art is always a momentary endpoint and has to be understood with its evolution in mind. That's why we don't judge these sometimes disturbing films too harshly. The 1970s were a time of cinematic exploration and it was coupled with a new sexual freedom wherein merely to shock with nudity was usually considered a nudge toward more liberation. As we understand it, many feminists back then were pro-nudity. It was a flip-off to a patriarchy that had stifled women for centuries.
But when VHS and the porn explosion came along the winds shifted. Billions were made selling women's bodies and women made virtually nothing. Digital tech, which arrived to stick nudity and sex in the faces of people who hadn't even asked to see it, was the final straw. Today, many people see any female nudity as exploitative, and rail against any depiction of violence against women as implicit endorsement of the same. It's understandable. We all have our own red lines. Everybody's upsettable. Even the people who claim to be hard-as-nails free expression absolutists. Don't believe it? Tell one of them you think belief in a god is childish, or you're tired of veneration of the armed forces, and see how that goes. Everyone is upsettable.
Japan was a more patriarchal society than many leading up to the roman porno period, so the push toward sexualization was quite strong there. Though cinematic censorship against frontal nudity and sex acts was firm, such prohibitions merely made Japanese filmmakers creative. It's incredible how shocking a roman porno movie can be without showing a wisp of pubic hair. The rape obsession is just one example. There was also a focus on bodily functions, submission, and more. Despite those shocks, we feel like roman porno films differ only in number—rather than content—from what was being produced in the West during the same period. In the U.S., France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, et al, the 1970 to 1980 timeframe was likewise characterized by an exploration of themes that today are considered taboo.
We love foreign films, and upon exploring Japanese cinema, we progressed from post-war dramas, to samurai and martial arts epics, to counterculture pinky violence films, and thence to roman porno. Ultimately, poster art is one of the linchpins of our site, and roman porno films have great posters, which is the main reason we talk about them so much. We could just share the posters and stop there, but that usually feels inadequate for people who take film as seriously as we (and hopefully you) do. So we watch the movies, but sometimes wonder if we've learned all we can from the genre and maybe should call it quits and move on. But for now we'll keep exploring films such as Sex rider: Nureta highway. In the end, we have to give it credit—at least it tried to be different. But it also should have tried to be better. It premiered in Japan today in 1971.
JapanNikkatsuSex rider: Nureta highwaySex Rider: Wet HighwayMari TanakaKen Yoshizawaposter artpinkuroman pornonuditycinemamovie review