Vintage Pulp Mar 25 2024
DIAMONDS AREN'T FOREVER
The deeper into the Underworld you go the hotter it gets until everyone—and everything—is liable to get burned.


The two tateken style posters you see above were made for the Japanese crime drama Ankokugai no bijo, the title of which means “beauty of the underworld,” and which was known in English as Underworld Beauty. The movie is about a bunch of gangsters chasing after some diamonds. Co-star Tôru Abe has them first, but when the yakuza catch up to him, he swallows them and jumps off a roof, ending up in a hospital. He soon dies and the treasure is cut out of his body, but that's merely the beginning of a struggle to retain their possession. Abe's sister, played by Mari Shiraki, is the underground beauty of the title, and gets tangled up with the mobsters. They say diamonds are forever, but we're told early in the film when it seems as if the coveted stones might go into a crematorium with Abe's body, that they can actually burn. That's clumsy foreshadowing, but Underworld Beauty still manages to be an interesting and mostly satisfying film. It premiered today in 1958.

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Modern Pulp Mar 8 2024
TOKYO PAYBACK
In Japan business is war—complete with innocent bystanders.


This brilliant promo was painted for Hana to hebi: Shiiku-hen, known in English as Flower and Snake 3: Punishment. It starred Minako Ogawa of Dan Oniroku ikenie shimai, aka Sisters To Be Sacrificed, and in fact the same painter must have produced both posters. Have a look. The central figure is almost identical, no? Right down to her hairy armpits. Since there's no official info on who the artist is we'll throw in our two cents. It was bondage painter Kaname Ozuma. He painted at least one other poster for the Flower and Snake series, which you can see here. In the meantime this piece is literally nowhere else to be found in the quality you see here. At least, as far as we can tell.

We watched the film and it's a typically perverse roman porno tale about a powerful businessman married to Minako Ogawa, who he stole from a subordinate who was helpless to prevent it. When he later declines to help a business associate out of a jam that person has Ogawa kidnapped—literally thrown into a giant bag—taken to an isolated house, sexually assaulted, and coercively trained using bondage, a kielbasa, and other esoterica in order to turn her into a performer for live sex shows. That's a hell of a twisted retaliation for being refused financial help, but twisted is what roman porno is all about.

Of technical note is the fact that, though it was illegal to show pubic hair in Japanese movies, the ever clever roman porno filmmakers found a loophole. They have Ogawa's captors, as part of her torment, cut off her pubic hair with scissors. Though it couldn't be shown attached to her body without bringing down the wrath of censors, they got away with showing it falling into bathwater. You gotta give the pervs credit. They were always thinking outside the—er—box. Hana to hebi: Shiiku-hen premiered in Japan today in 1986.

After a long day on the set filming sex and bondage...

 

I'm very happy to spend the evening doing this.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 27 2023
EROS OF OUTRAGEOUS FORTUNE
1001 nights is not nearly enough time with Ayako Meki, Erina Miyai, and Izumi Shima.


A few years ago we shared an ultra rare tateken promo for the 1001 Nights inspired roman porno flick Tokyo eros senya ichiya. That poster was a follow-up to a standard poster we'd shared back in 2017. In both cases the movie was unavailable for us to watch. Well, above you see a magazine page featuring the movie's co-star Ayako Meki. This isn't directly a promo for the film, but she's dressed in character. The text says “because you look 21,” which is weird, and goes on to describe her as “an exciting new power.” We're showing this to you because the movie premiered today in 1979, and this time we did have a copy to watch.

Known in English as Eros Nights in Tokyo, the story here involves lonely young Kiyoyasu Adachi and three women in his life—Izumi Shima, Ayako Meki, and Erina Miyai. We can't fault the guy's taste, but we do take exception to his methods. He succumbs to creepy urges such as spying on Shima (who's his stepmother), attempting to force a kiss upon Meki (which devolves into a full-scale perv attack), and looking up the skirt of Miyai (who's mentally disabled). Later he grows a bit more subtle in his attempts to indulge his urges, such as when he convinces Shima to accept a personalized wash, full body massage, and more. After that nipply nuru session, his stepmom is fully on board with further advances.

By now it's clear to the viewer that fantasy has overtaken reality for Adachi. We've seen this line crossed in numerous films, and it's usually a subtle trip across the border. When did it happen here? It's hard to be sure, but probably sometime after Adachi was chased by a policeman that somehow multiplied into an entire Keystone Kops style squad, and sometime before he was showered with a fortune in gold coins from a fountain.

All this stuff is mostly played for laughs, and indeed there are some legitimately funny moments, though not nearly as many as the filmmakers intended. We're talking about a Nikkatsu Studios roman porno production, which means that even as comedy it has the usual trappings of that genre, and those trappings just aren't humorous. For example, there's an attempted gang rape, which Adachi foils in full gangster mode, as the entire situation morphs into a set piece right out of American grindhouse cinema. Funny? No. Creative. For sure.

As we've mentioned before, by 1979 Nikkatsu was trying new ideas for its roman porno line, and Tokyo eros senya ichiya certainly qualifies. It's hard to judge such an outrageous flick objectively, so we won't try except to say that it's well made, as these films always are. We will mention, though, that we were disappointed none of the stars wore a harem costume. It turns out that 1001 Nights was a more oblique inspiration than we assumed. Have a look at the other posters here and here and you'll see what we expected. Do we recommend the film? Yes, of course. It has Izumi Shima. Full stop.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 23 2023
CATLIKE REFLEXES
For her taking risks is just feline nature.


This poster was made for Toba no mesu neko: Suhada no tsubo furi, known in English as Cat Girls Gamblers: Naked Flesh Paid into the Pot, the second of three Cat Girls films. We shared a poster for the first back in 2014 before we could access the movies, but now we have them, so we screened part two last night. The lead in this and the other installments is Yumiko Nogawa, who plays a wandering gambler whose murdered father was a famous maker of rigged dice. After Nogawa's lover is killed in a dice game she swears never to play again, takes a job working at a Turkish bath, and seems to be dedicated to living a quiet existence.

But her idyll is turned upside down when she shelters a recently paroled criminal who wants to gain control of a yakuza territory he'd been promised before going to prison. The crime boss currently running the territory has no intention of giving it up, and Nogawa seems likely to be dragged into the middle of the conflict. As it turns out, she's working in the Turkish bath only as a means to find her father's killer. Since her interests and those of her new friend are aligned, they hatch a plot that just might give them both what they want.

This is a solid effort from Nikkatsu Studios, before the front office bigwigs had their roman porno revelation and leaned hard into sexploitation for the entire 1970s and beyond. Shot in black and white, the feel is arthouse, with a police subplot giving it shadings of an American detective drama. Nogawa, a movie veteran who began her career with 1964's famed Nikutai no mon, is self-assured as the headliner, and the entire supporting cast is good. A climactic fight perhaps won't seem convincingly choreographed to modern viewers, but we recommend taking a chance on this gambling drama anyway. Toba no mesu neko: Suhada no tsubo furi premiered in Japan today in 1965.
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Vintage Pulp Aug 4 2023
HER PERSONAL SPACE
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

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Intl. Notebook Aug 1 2023
FERAL CATS
Hiss hiss, bang bang.


The fun pinky violence actioner Nora-neko rokku: Wairudo janbo, aka 
Stray Cat Rock: Wild Jumbo, premiered today in 1970, so we have for you all the promo images were able to find. You see Meiko Kaji, Tatsuya Fuji, Bunjaku Han, Sôichirô Maeno, and others. We wrote in more detail about the movie at this link.

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Modern Pulp May 31 2023
HER UPTOWN WORLD
Just because she's high class doesn't mean she can't get down.


This lovely poster was made for the roman porno movie Yamanote fujin: Seiai no hibi, known in English as Uptown Lady: Days of Eros, and the star is the incomparable Izumi Shima, centerpiece of at least three dozen films for Nikkatsu Studios in a mere four years from 1977 to 1981. Here she plays the young wife of an old, blind classical dance teacher, and becomes the focus of romantic feelings from her husband's son from an earlier marriage. The two are around the same age, which is probably one reason Shima begins to have feelings too, though it's oh so very wrong. Would it be incest to boink your son-in-law? We don't know the legal ramifications, but it would certainly be a case of bad judgment. This exact type of bad judgment is of course standard territory for Nikkatsu, but under the direction of Masaru Konuma Seiai no hibi is gentler and more poetic than the usual fare. After seeing Shima receive forced enemas in other roman pornos this was a nice change.

Shima eventually gives in to her son-in-law in a hot and sweaty/oily sequence. The encounter features a sixty-nine and some pretty concentrated nipple licking by Shima that sent a ripple through our innards. Some guys don't like their nipples licked, but we think they're crazy. In our view, the nipples are a required pitstop on any excursion along the body, whatever the ultimate destination. Shima and her son-in-law have a second encounter, also of the wet and shiny variety, this time in a red-lit room, and once more it's a well shot and stimulating scene. But it's here that we must issue our standard warning to novices that roman porno is not porno—the appellation stands for “romantic porno,” and the movies are softcore, with no genitalia displayed. In order to find them stimulating, you have to use your imagination. That might be a problem for anyone under age thirty.

Anyway, for Shima's husband to not know something's going on he'd have to be blind—doh! rimshot! Read the premise again. He's a blind dance teacher. You know that cliché about the blind compensating with their other senses to the extent that they don't miss their vision at all? This movie hews to that concept. However, Shima's hubby is circumspect in marriage, if domineering as a teacher, so he doesn't let on that he knows—at first. Since Shima is not just his wife but also his star student, she has her career as a future natori to consider, and he knows that. How it eventually concludes we'll leave for you to discover on your own. We can tell you that serious roman porno enthusiasts tend to find this movie too sedate, but the less bizarre approach worked great for us. Of course, anything with Shima works great for us. Yamanote fujin: Seiai no hibi premiered in Japan today in 1980.
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Vintage Pulp Feb 16 2023
A SIGH IS JUST A SIGH
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.
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Modern Pulp Jan 23 2023
SCENES FROM AN OFFICE
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!

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Vintage Pulp Dec 28 2022
WET CONDITIONS
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.
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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
May 20
1916—Rockwell's First Post Cover Appears
The Saturday Evening Post publishes Norman Rockwell's painting "Boy with Baby Carriage", marking the first time his work appears on the cover of that magazine. Rockwell would go to paint many covers for the Post, becoming indelibly linked with the publication. During his long career Rockwell would eventually paint more than four thousand pieces, the vast majority of which are not on public display due to private ownership and destruction by fire.
May 19
1962—Marilyn Monroe Sings to John F. Kennedy
A birthday salute to U.S. President John F. Kennedy takes place at Madison Square Garden, in New York City. The highlight is Marilyn Monroe's breathy rendition of "Happy Birthday," which does more to fuel speculation that the two were sexually involved than any actual evidence.
May 18
1926—Aimee Semple McPherson Disappears
In the U.S., Canadian born evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson disappears from Venice Beach, California in the middle of the afternoon. She is initially thought to have drowned, but on June 23, McPherson stumbles out of the desert in Agua Prieta, a Mexican town across the border from Douglas, Arizona, claiming to have been kidnapped, drugged, tortured and held for ransom in a shack by two people named Steve and Mexicali Rose. However, it soon becomes clear that McPherson's tale is fabricated, though to this day the reasons behind it remain unknown.
1964—Mods and Rockers Jailed After Riots
In Britain, scores of youths are jailed following a weekend of violent clashes between gangs of Mods and Rockers in Brighton and other south coast resorts. Mods listened to ska music and The Who, wore suits and rode Italian scooters, while Rockers listened to Elvis and Gene Vincent, and rode motorcycles. These differences triggered the violence.
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