Whether you call her Ilsa, Greta, or Wanda, she's a Thorne in everyone's sides.
Above is a Japanese poster for Ilsa, the Wicked Warden. We've already shown you Japanese posters for what we assumed was the complete Ilsa trilogy of torturesploitation flicks starring Dyanne Thorne, but when we saw this one we got a little confused. This was originally released in West Germany in January 1977—before the third official Ilsa film. It was not originally titled Ilsa the Wicked Warden, but Greta - Haus ohne Männer, as well as Wanda, the Wicked Warden. But still, since it came out before Ilsa 3, we thought maybe it was part of the group. So is it an Ilsa movie or not? Only one way to find out.
*cut to ninety minutes later*
Well, it's an Ilsa movie in spirit, but since Thorne plays a character named Greta, it isn't canonical. An enterprising video distributor renamed it to sucker aficionados of the first two Ilsa flicks. We doubt those fans felt tricked—Greta is identical to the other efforts, but without the nazi backstory. It was made under the steady, sleazy hand of veteran smut director Jesús Franco, and plotwise Tania Busselier goes undercover into Thorne's brutal Las Palomas mental institution/supermax prison in order to expose its corruption, but in risking her body and mind gets far more than she bargained for. And by more we mean whippings, various sexual invasions, and, probably, a sense of dismay about the direction of her film career.
The movie is really just an episodic collection of torture set pieces interspersed with sex scenes, and it's absolutely awful. There's no way to get around that fact. It's ridiculously written and atrociously acted, which we sometimes don't mind if a film has a certain spark, but this one is like a broken down horse with ticks and saddlesores. It'll get you somewhere but it won't be a pleasant ride. Thorne shows everything she's got, but while her fuzzy nooks and crannies may be a draw for some, we cannot recommend a movie this bad, even for people who think they're clever enough to make fun of it. Greta - Haus ohne Männer, aka Ilsa the Wicked Warden, aka Wanda, the Wicked Warden premiered in Japan today in 1977. If you're curious, here are our entries on the actual Ilsa canon—one, two, three.
More hapless northerners go to the tropics and end up as cannibaled goods.
Spanish schlockmeister general Jesús Franco made movies cheaply, and Jungfrau unter Kannibalen, aka Devil Hunter, is bargain basement all the way. Even the poster looks like some stoned high school goth painted it during art class. We especially love the obvious theft of Raquel Welch from One Million Years B.C. for the female figure. If this hypothetical goth ever unveiled his painting to his art teacher, she'd have gone, “That's, uh, very... interesting,” while secretly wondering what sort of psychological damage was behind such a creation. That's the way we feel about Jungfrau unter Kannibalen. It's, uh, interesting...
It premiered in West Germany today in 1980, stars beautiful Ursula Buchfellner, billed as Uschi Fellner, and was directed by Franco under the pseudonym Clifford Brown. We figured if he didn't take credit for this it must be really bad and we were right. Buchfellner, who we last saw in Linda, this time around plays a model kidnapped by Amazon maneaters that plan to sacrifice her to their devil god. The German title translated would be “virgin among cannibals,” and that pretty much covers it, plotwise. She gets stripped early and stays mostly naked, along with cannibal chief and swinging dick Claude Boisson. Other cast members disrobe as needed.
Naturally there's a rescue attempt, we guess because virginal blonde models are as valuable as Amazon gold, and apparently just as worth killing over. The expedition is led by Al Cliver, who found himself in an amazingly high number of very bad movies during the 1970s. But you have to respect a guy who had love scenes with Sabrina Siani, Silvia Dionisio, and Annie Belle. Toting future Playboy centerfold Buchfellner around the jungle while she was stark naked may have been his crowning achievement. He probably plays those scenes to his grandkids. Let him be an example to us that we should find pleasure wherever we can in this flick. And for that matter, in life, because you never know when you'll be eaten.
I love being worshipped! There's literally no downside to it!
I hate being worshipped. There's a serious downside to it.
Don't tell anyone, but our so-called ceremonial ointment is really just Shunga strawberry flavored massage oil.
Grr! Argh! Gr— Oh, it's useless, Jesús. How am I supposed to ravage Ursula when I can't even see her?
I have an idea. Follow my voice, Claude. Here's a classic German yodel I learned. Yodel-lay-de-li-di-lo! Yodel-lay-de-yodel-ooo!
Stop that before I really kill you. And what smells like strawberries?
*lick* Wow, Ursula, do all Germans taste this fruity? *slurp*
Need help up? Pull on my dick.
No, seriously. Just reach up here and take hold.
Screw you then, you ungrateful..!
Sabrina Siani is the queen of hearts. Livers, spleens, and kidneys too.
There are a surprising number of cannibal sexploitation movies out there. La Dea Cannibale is one of the better known entries. It's an Italian production with Sabrina Siani in the title role as a little girl found by jungle maneaters who grows up to be fine as hell and becomes the queen of the tribe. As per usual in these movies, an expedition to locate her is mounted by cityfolk. These lunch items comprise the father who lost Siani in the first place—along with his arm—accompanied by several witless adventurers. Or maybe it's fairer to call them brave rather than dumb. But when the group come across stray body parts and gnawed upon corpses yet keep right on trekking into the heart of schlockness, what would you call that? Dumb, right?
Pretty soon the cannibals start picking them off with darts and poisoned arrows, but a few stubborn souls eventually reach the evil village, whereupon daddy is shocked to discover his daughter has grown into a bleached blonde bombshell cavorting in only a thong. The question at that point is whether he can wrench her from the clutches of the godless flesheaters. They won't give her up easily and you can really understand that—other jungle tribes in 1970s cinema have white girl goddesses so why shouldn't they? We'd almost recommend this one for laughs if there were a digital transfer out there, but sadly the version we saw looks like the film footage was discovered in a toilet. Sort of like its plot. La Dea Cannibale, which was also called Mondo cannibale, opened in Italy today in 1980.
All jerks and no play make Linda a very dull movie.
Some of the other titles of the West German sexploitation flick Linda are Captive Women, Naked Super Witches of the Rio Amore, and Orgy of the Nymphomaniacs. Those should tell you everything about the content of this movie. Plotwise, it involves a woman forced to work as a prostitute at a bdsm brothel on the island of Madeira, Portugal. How that actually happens doesn't much matter. The circumstances are ridiculous, and not at all the point. The point is nudity, which is delivered often and steadily. Characterwise, almost every man in the film deserves to be drawn and quartered, which makes it too bad that doesn't actually happen. It's actually a scorpion that turns the tide and allows the heroine to finally escape.
The movie is notable really for only two things: it was one of more than 100 productions helmed by Jesús Franco, that misunderstood genius, and it features 1979 Playboy centerfold Ursula Buchfellner, billed here as Ursula Fellner. Three things, actually: it's as humorless a sexploitation flick as we've ever seen. Even Katja Bienert in the title role can't save it. No way we can recommend this one, but we wanted to show you the Italian promo poster. It has the look of pieces painted by Mafé, but he signed all his work, as far as we know, so this must just be a convincing imitation. Linda premiered in West Germany for the first time today in 1981, and don't say we didn't try to steer you away.
Bonus material: just for the hell of it, just because they exist, we've uploaded a couple of promo shots of Bienert and Buchfellner below. Their names together sound kind of like a cop show, like a prime time drama where every problem is solved within an hour. We think it would have been a hit, because they've solved our problems in just a couple of minutes. But our previous advice holds true: don't watch the movie.
Nobody gets out of here alive.
We wrote about Spanish director Jesús Franco not long ago. Sort of. When we noticed another premiere date approaching for one of his films we thought we'd check it out. El reformatorio de las perdidas, originally titled Frauengefängnis, and called Barbed Wire Dolls in the U.S., is a nearly plotless exercise in sadism featuring Lina Ronay, Monica Swinn, and other overheated female convicts dealing with predatory guards and an evil wardeness. There's an escape, as usual in these Franco films, and as usual it fails. That's giving nothing away because the escape isn't the point—the nudity and sex are. Last time we discussed Franco we made a joke of it without really talking about the quality of his films. So here's the deal—they range from the arty to the ridiculous to the outright terrible. This one falls unambiguously into the latter category. That is all. Hey, but you gotta love that Spanish poster. Frauengefängnis premiered in West Germany today in 1976, and hit Spain and other countries in 1977.
For some directors pushing the envelope comes naturally.
Picture the scene: It’s 1978 and sexploitation director Jesús Franco, who has redefined sleaze cinema for the masses with fifty movies, including several in the women-in-prison genre for the West German market, is chilling on his terrace in Malaga, Spain soaking up the sun. He’s chatting with his frequent collaborator, producer Erwin Dietrich, about the next project, which they’re calling Frauen für Zellenblock 9.
Jesús: "We can probably save money by using the old costumes from Frauen im Liebeslager. Same idea, right? Women all sweaty in some godforsaken prison."
Erwin: "We left those in Cyprus. Did I mention there’s a Frauen im Liebeslager theme restaurant where the old set used to be? I hear it’s real classy. Anyway, it would’ve cost too much to have that clothing shipped out here."
Jesús: "What about the things from Das Frauenhaus or Frauengefängnis? Where’s all that? And Frauen ohne Unschuld. That stuff too."
Erwin: "Warehouse fire. Suspicious circumstances. Insurance paid off, though. But shit, Jesús, why give the girls costumes at all? Just have them be naked the whole movie."
Jesús: "What? Are you nuts?"
Erwin: "I’m just saying—why bother? Audience wants skin, give them skin. Keep the girls chained up naked the whole time. And that escape scene of yours? Just have them do it naked."
Jesús: "They all get shot in the end. I can’t have them shot naked. That’s… I don’t know… eew."
Erwin: "They can be shot naked, trust me. We make it sexy. They get shot, lay them out like centerfolds."
Jesús: "Erwin, cut it out. I mean, I admit I’m intrigued by the idea artistically, but I don’t think the girls would go for it. It’s a little too crude."
Erwin: "Oh, and I suppose all the muff-diving scenes are Shakespeare? What are these girls—aspiring Catherine Denueves or something? Isn’t one of them a porn actress?"
Jesús: "Karine? Sure, but she’s hoping to go mainstream. Anyway, it’s the fucking jungle, Erwin. There are all kinds of thorns and sharp rocks out there. Spiders. Ticks. I can’t have them running around in all that with their great big bushes out. I mean…lice…you know? Although I am intrigued. Artistically, I mean."
Erwin: "Exactly. It’s art. Last Tango in Paris, right? Bertolucci has Brando shove butter up a girl’s poop chute and the critics go bananas."
Jesús: "That’s funny." *sigh* "But I’m no Bertolucci."
Erwin: "You’re right. You’re better. One day you’ll get a lifetime achievement award for all this filth, trust me. You’ll be remembered. The crazy risks you and the girls took will seem amazing to later generations."
Jesús: "You think so?"
Erwin: "I know so. In your own twisted way you’re a genius. So anyway—naked the whole movie, okay? Or at least the entire second half. Oh, and lots of sweat. And a shower orgy. And some torture. And some pee."
The only real shock is how bad the movie is.
1977’s Porno Shock was originally released in West Germany as Der Ruf der blonden Göttin, but was also known as Porno gola profonda, The Call of the Blonde Goddess, and Voodoo Passion. Indeed, there’s voodoo involved, as the film was shot in Haiti, and every film shot there involves voodoo. The movie was directed by Jesús Franco under his Manfred Gregor pseudonym, and starred Vicky Adams, better known as Nanda Van Bergen or sometimes Muriel Montosse. Supporting her were Ada Tauler, aka Annie Sand, Karine Gambier, Siegrid Sellier, Jack Taylor, and others.
Basically, a woman arrives in Haiti to visit her husband who works there, uncovers what seems to be an incestuous relationship between hubby and his sister, has some detailed erotic nightmares, and begins to believe she’s fallen under the influence of a voodoo curse. Probably the only thing you’ll fall under the influence of in this mostly atrocious softcore production is the dancing of Vicky Adams, who as a white voodoo priestess spends long stretches of screen time gyrating naked in the woods. Even the fact that she has to share these scenes with sundry male dancers and their stubby penises doesn't detract from her extreme, er, watchability. You can see for yourself right here at about minute 24:00, minute 38:00, and minute 103:00. Not that we kept track.
But lest we forget, Pulp Intl. is mainly dedicated to art, and the only reason we’re talking about Porno Shock is because the two English language posters above—and obviously the Italian one at right—were painted by Mafé, an Italian master illustrator who five years after we first learned about him remains a total mystery. We have no full name on him, no biography, nothing. But what we do have is more of his work, and you can see that here, here, and here. We also have more of his posters in our hard drive and we’ll get those up in a bit. Meanwhile, help us out Italian friends—who is this guy?
Kill her and she’ll kill you back.
Jesús Franco’s Paroxismus was an Italian erotic mystery known in the English-speaking world as Venus in Furs. Basically, an American jazz musician in Istanbul goes to a party and there sees a woman involved in sadomasochistic sex. Later he finds the same woman’s body on a beach, and at that point flees to Rio de Janeiro. In Rio he plays with a jazz group, but one night sees the dead woman from Istanbul walk into the club where he’s performing. Or is it her? Whoever she is, she seems intent on exacting revenge against those who killed her. Or didn’t.
Jesús Franco is a polarizing filmmaker, but if you’re ever going to like one of his films, this may be it. It’s dark and surreal, beautifully shot, has an interesting score, and a compelling cast that includes James Darren, Maria Rhome, and the always arresting Klaus Kinski. The late-1960s hepcat dialogue may amuse or repel, depending on one’s sensibilities, and those hoping for a linear plot or Hollywood ending should give up before even settling into their seats, but as a whole we thought it was quite entertaining.
In terms of understanding the film, it helped when we learned that a chance comment by the jazz trumpeter Chet Baker had been the inspiration for the script. We also discovered, on an unrelated note, that the lead as originally written was supposed to be a Miles Davis type guy, which is to say black, but Franco was shot down because American audiences were thought to be unready to see a black man and white woman in bed together. This led to the ethnic reversals of the lead role into a white jazzman and the character of Rita into his black girlfriend.
Too bad for Franco he wasn’t allowed to make the film the way he wanted, but it’s impossible to be bummed with the casting of Barbara McNair as Rita, despite the circumstances. Impossible to be bummed about the art, either. The above promo poster was painted by the awesome Mario De Berardinis, who signed his work MOS, and we also have an ultra-rare alternate poster below, painted by unknown. Paroxismus premiered in Italy today in 1969.
Exploitation king Jesus Franco visits Africa for his 1971 zombie spy flick.
El diablo que vinó de Akasawa, for which you see the great poster above, is a Jesús Franco flick, so you know to expect sex, action, and dubious technical values. The film is about a detective investigating the disappearance of a professor in the fictive African land of Akasava. The sleuth discovers that the mystery revolves around a mineral that can turn metal into gold and men into zombies. Of course, everyone wants control of the substance and pretty soon spies are crawling out of the woodwork and wah-wah guitar is swelling on the soundtrack. All very fun.
We're also appreciative of the art, which is based on a promo shot of star Soledad Miranda, aka Susann Korda. The progression from photo to photo-illustration to painting is similar to the one we showed you for Death Is a Woman, but with more skin. And uh, more muff. Hope we brightened your day.
Now for the not-so-wonderful part—Soledad Miranda died in a car crash in Portugal in 1970, aged 27. Her fame was achieved mainly after her death, as B-movie fans rediscovered her extensive shlock catalog thanks to VHS. You can get a full idea what sort of cheesefest El diablo que vinó de Akasawa is by viewing an original trailer here. It opened in Spain today, after she was gone, in 1971.
Rosanna Yanni and Janine Reynaud are the kiss of death in Jesús Franco’s campy spy thriller.
If we had to select our favorite sexploitation director, guys like Russ Meyer, Italy’s Mario Bava, and France’s Just Jaeckin would be in the running, but the top dog might possibly be Spain’s Jesús Franco. Franco has helmed an unbelievable 190 movies, including the one accompanying this fantastic poster painted by Macario Gomez—El caso de las dos bellezas, aka Rote Lippen, Sadisterotica, aka Two Undercover Angels. The camp factor is high here. The heroines are the Red Lips, two ultragroovy superspies played by Rosanna Yanni and Janine Reynaud. The villains are a sadistic artist and his henchmonster, Morpho the werewolf, who are killing girls and taking photos to use as inspiration for paintings. If you haven’t seen a Franco movie, this is a good one to start with. Several shots of Jägermeister are a helpful viewing aid, but aren’t required. El caso de las dos bellezas was released in Spain today in 1969.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1942—Carole Lombard Dies in Plane Crash
American actress Carole Lombard
, who was the highest paid star in Hollywood during the late 1930s, dies in the crash of TWA Flight 3, on which she was flying from Las Vegas to Los Angeles after headlining a war bond rally in support of America's military efforts. She was thirty-three years old.
1919—Luxemburg and Liebknecht Are Killed
Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, two of the most prominent socialists in Germany, are tortured and murdered by the Freikorps. Freikorps was a term applied to various paramilitary organizations that sprang up around Germany as soldiers returned in defeat from World War I. Members of these groups would later become prominent members of the SS.
1967—Summer of Love Begins
The Human Be-In takes place in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park with between 20,000 to 30,000 people in attendance, their purpose being to promote their ideals of personal empowerment, cultural and political decentralization, communal living, ecological preservation, and higher consciousness. The event is considered the beginning of the famed counterculture Summer of Love.
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