Vintage Pulp Jan 13 2023
A SHOT AT SURVIVAL
Sometimes you have to hunt for something fun to do.


After watching the 1932 hunter-stalks-humans flick The Most Dangerous Game a few months ago we stumbled across a 1972 variation on the theme titled The Suckers. Both movies, surprisingly, were derived from the same source, a 1924 short story by Richard Connell. The Suckers stars Richard Smedley, Steve Vincent, Laurie Rose (aka Misty Dawn), and Sandy Dempsey, and the aforementioned variation is sex. We knew that going in, and we were thinking, hell, this might be fun—a classic pulp story adapted for the sexploitation-happy ’70s. But we were wrong. It turns out The Suckers had a $30,000 budget—which is infinitesimal even for a grindhouse flick—and the lack of expenditure shows across the entire spectrum of production, from acting, to staging and blocking, to pacing, to screenwriting and more.

In Connell's short story and the 1932 adaptation the unfortunate guests land on an evil guy's desolate island because their yacht runs aground. In The Suckers, the guests—who are models, an employee of the modeling agency, and his wife—show up voluntarily after being invited. They're soon running for their lives after being told by their host that their sole purpose for visiting is to be stalked by professional hunters. Obviously, there comes a point when they realize survival means fighting back. But they seem unlikely to manage that effectively. Why? Did we mention that they're models? And that the agency guy is a total schlub? Luckily, great white hunter Richard Smedley and his monobrow side with the prospective prey. He's a lardass but at least he has a rifle. With his help, the fashion plates just might make it back to the Garment District alive.

Even though The Suckers is a sexploitation movie, we expected the ratio of skin to action to be roughly equivalent, but the hunting scenes take up only about twenty minutes, while sex consumes about thirty minutes, a couple of sexual assaults take about ten, and bad dialogue fills out the rest of the running time. Except for one sex scene that manages to get pretty steamy the movie is a waste of all those aforementioned minutes. The film's main value, to us anyway, is as an example of what we're referring to whenever we point out that it wasn't just Japanese studios that explored unsavory themes during this period. The difference is those films were artfully made. The Suckers is just gratuitous and haphazard. Its failure is probably why it was later released as The Woman Hunt—because a certain segment of the male population would see it based on that title alone. Those who did were—you guessed it—suckers.
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Vintage Pulp Sep 16 2022
PREY FOR HIS SINS
Tired of checkers, chess, and cards? Has he got a game for you.


Man hunted in the wild by a supposedly more intelligent and powerful foe is a concept used numerous times in Hollywood with great success, perhaps reaching its pinnacle with 1987's sci-fi actioner Predator. The idea goes all the way back to The Most Dangerous Game, a pre-Code chiller starring Joel McCrae, Leslie Banks, and Fay Wray. When a luxury yacht of upper crust types runs aground off the Pacific coast of South America, only McCrae survives. He's landed on a jungle island owned by a mad Russian named Count Zaroff, played with walleyed fervor by Banks, who hunts humans for kicks.

Zaroff's creepy ole stone mansion doesn't look like a place where one might hope to find aid, but McCrae has no choice but to go there. He isn't the only stranded raw meat hanging around. Boats occasionally crash because the Count moved the channel markers that are supposed to warn boaters away from the rocks. With each shipwreck he has new game to hunt. Wray is already on the island, having run aground before McCrae. She has an inkling things are not kosher, and she turns out to be correct.

The movie is stagy and clunky in its expository sequences, like most pre-Code productions, and Wray's acting is a sheer hoot, but there are positives. There's striking outdoor footage shot around Rancho Palos Verdes, which adds excellent imagery to a film that is indisputably a high visual achievement, and that in turn helps the action sequences come across as both gripping and believable. And of course the basic idea always works. Hunter and hunted, a battle of wits, a match to the death. The Most Dangerous Game premiered today in 1932.
*sigh* I'm getting mighty fucking bored on this island. Even my best formal wear doesn't lift my mood anymore.

My God. I suddenly have the most dastardly idea.

And now we shall play a very dangerous game! Staring like cats! We'll be in danger of enjoying ourselves!

Stand against the wall and I'll throw this knife at you. I mean—not at you. Close enough to be dangerous. I mean— Okay, I can see you're not into it.

How about a little Russian roulette? That's a fairly dangerous game.

Erm... Joel? I think we should flee before he gets to the most dangerous game.

We're lost aren't we? I said flee. I didn't say flee with no goddamn idea which way you were going.

Are you sure we shouldn't have turned left back there at the bog of doom?

Just admit you're lost, Joel. And not to add to your worries, but I'm getting pretty hungry. If I'm snippy it's your fault.

Okay, now we're just going in circles.

See? He's found us! You never listen!

Count! Can you hear me? I'll make you a deal! Take her, and let me leave!

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Femmes Fatales Jun 13 2020
DARK PAST
My last boyfriend? Actually, he was a bit of a beast.

Canadian actress Fay Wray was cinema's first true scream queen thanks to her appearances in early 1930s horror movies and her star turn in 1933’s King Kong. Though she is known mainly for that movie, she appeared in many worthy productions, most notably the excellent thriller The Most Dangerous Game. She’s seen here circa 1936. 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
April 21
1918—The Red Baron Is Shot Down
German WWI fighter ace Manfred von Richthofen, better known as The Red Baron, sustains a fatal wound while flying over Vaux sur Somme in France. Von Richthofen, shot through the heart, manages a hasty emergency landing before dying in the cockpit of his plane. His last word, according to one witness, is "Kaputt." The Red Baron was the most successful flying ace during the war, having shot down at least 80 enemy airplanes.
1964—Satellite Spreads Radioactivity
An American-made Transit satellite, which had been designed to track submarines, fails to reach orbit after launch and disperses its highly radioactive two pound plutonium power source over a wide area as it breaks up re-entering the atmosphere.
April 20
1939—Holiday Records Strange Fruit
American blues and jazz singer Billie Holiday records "Strange Fruit", which is considered to be the first civil rights song. It began as a poem written by Abel Meeropol, which he later set to music and performed live with his wife Laura Duncan. The song became a Holiday standard immediately after she recorded it, and it remains one of the most highly regarded pieces of music in American history.
April 19
1927—Mae West Sentenced to Jail
American actress and playwright Mae West is sentenced to ten days in jail for obscenity for the content of her play Sex. The trial occurred even though the play had run for a year and had been seen by 325,000 people. However West's considerable popularity, already based on her risque image, only increased due to the controversy.
1971—Manson Sentenced to Death
In the U.S, cult leader Charles Manson is sentenced to death for inciting the murders of Sharon Tate and several other people. Three accomplices, who had actually done the killing, were also sentenced to death, but the state of California abolished capital punishment in 1972 and neither they nor Manson were ever actually executed.
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