Vintage Pulp Mar 18 2022
BAD MANNARAS
She's a wolf in psycho's clothing.


The two posters you see above were made for the Italian movie La lupa mannara, known in English variously as Legend of the Wolf Woman, Werewolf Woman, and She-Wolf. You get more or less what you expect here. Annik Borel has nightmares about being a werewolf, which would be pretty random, except it so happens that an ancestor from two centuries ago was burned by villagers who thought she was the real thing. As Borel's werewolf obsession advances she's inhabited or haunted—if perhaps only imaginarily—by the spirit of this allegedly lyncanthropic forebear. She then roams the local landscape killing unsuspecting men, until she meets one who makes her drool—with sexual desire. But is she really a werewolf, or is she just nuts?

Borel really gives this role her all, even channeling Linda Blair's bedbound possession scenes from The Exorcist, but since this is a sexploitation flick more than a horror movie, her body is considered by the filmmakers to be more important than her acting ability. Taking full advantage is director Rino Di Silvestro, who also helmed Women in Cell Block 7 and generally specialized in erotic fare. What he didn't specialize in was pacing, framing, blocking, and the like, and in the end the movie is murky and unterrifying. But it's of a particular era and style that's beloved by schlock aficionados the world over, and will certainly satiate the appetites of such viewers.

Because the version of the film we watched didn't look all that great, we decided not to bother with screenshots. Instead we have a few production stills of Borel below being costumed as the werewolf. Seems like the makeup department always has the most fun. We should also note that the film features German b-actress Dagmar Lassander, who we last saw in Le foto proibite di una signora per bene, aka The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion, and Maria Renata Franco, who was in Emanuelle in America. Perhaps they'll serve as additional enticements. And lastly, we were not able to identify the poster artist. We've said it before—sign your work, people. La lupa mannara premiered in Italy today in 1976.
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Femmes Fatales Feb 26 2022
LINE IS DRAWN
Bang bang, lovelies—there's a fab new sheriff in town.


Helga Liné's last name has an accent, which means it's pronounced not “line” but “lee-nay.” She was born in Germany as Helga Stern in 1932, but her family fled nazism and she grew up in Portugal, where her first exposure to show business was as a dancer and circus acrobat. It was after moving to Spain in 1960 that her film career took off. She appeared in many giallo, spaghetti western, and horror films, among them All'ombra di una colt, aka In a Colt's Shadow, Pánico en el Transiberiano, aka Horror Express, and Amanti d’Oltretomba, aka Nightmare Castle. The promo above is not one we can identify as from a particular film, but we do know the date—it was part of a session that produced a cover for the Spanish magazine Dígame in July 1965. 

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Vintage Pulp Dec 19 2021
A REAL FIXER UPPER
It doesn't look like much on the outside but it has excellent bones.


Let's revisit Karoly Grosz today, shall we? Above you see his brilliant dust jacket for J.B. Priestley's The Old Dark House, Grosset & Dunlap's 1932 photoplay edition, which is to say it contains production shots from the horror movie it inspired. The book originally came out in 1928 with very different art. Grosz's cover is almost identical to the film poster, but with the colors changed to predominantly lavender instead of black. Both efforts are top notch. If you want to see more from one of the illustration masters of his era, take a look here.

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Vintage Pulp Dec 6 2021
VAMPIRE SLAYER
William Marshall's creature of the night has a killer debut in Paris.


Above: a French poster for Blacula, known in France as Blacula le vampire noir, starring William Marshall as an African prince-turned-vampire awakened in modern Los Angeles. As concepts go, it was pure genius. The final result has its problems, but it was a huge hit in the U.S. and abroad, and for blaxploitation aficionados it will always be a mandatory film. It premiered in Paris and elsewhere in France today in 1972.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 31 2021
NOTHING TO SEE HERE
The artist is almost as mysterious as his posters.


You can see immediately that this Universal Pictures teaser poster for 1933's The Invisible Man is special. You'll find out how special in a minute. It was painted by Hungarian born artist Karoly Grosz, whose work is highly sought after. With this dark portrait he captured the essence of the film's insane central character Dr. Jack Griffin, who accidentally discovers invisibility and decides, what the hell, he'll use it to take over the world. An original of this poster went up for auction a few years back and pulled in $275,000. That's about as special as vintage art gets.

Halloween is today, so we thought we'd share more horror posters. Since Grosz specialized in that genre, we were able to focus solely on him and his work for Universal. Though he's a collectible legend, his bio is a bit sketchy. He immigrated to the U.S. in 1901 as a child, was naturalized as a citizen, and grew up to live and work in New York City. His output came mainly between 1920 and 1938, and he died young sometime after that (nobody is sure when, but most sources say he was in his early forties). At least he left behind these beautiful gifts to cinematic art. You can see another piece from him in this post from a while back, the one with the green-eyed cat.
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Vintage Pulp Oct 4 2021
RABBIT STEW
One small film for sci-fi, one giant Lepus for bad cinema.


This rare poster was made to promote Night of the Lepus, and those creepy eyes in the dark belong to rabbits. Giant rabbits. Lepus. Makes sense, right? Stuart Whitman, Rory Calhoun, Janet Leigh, and DeForest Kelly, post-Star Trek, star in what is supposed to be an epically bad film, but to us it was more like standard low level sci-fi or horror (take your pick). The special effects drag down the entire enterprise, but that's almost par for the course when it comes to this genre during the time period. We can imagine the actors signing on and being told the special effects would carry the movie. “Yeah, we've got top people on this giant rabbit thing. They'll look totally convincing!” Well, they don't, but neither do the monsters in 90% of vintage sci-fi.

If we had to guess, we'd say one reason people think this film is so bad is that there are numerous inadvertently funny lines of dialogue, for example when Kelly says, “We've got three holes to blow,” and when Chuck Hayward says, “I'm ready to release the gas as soon as they come out.” But the script is coherent, and the acting is more than adequate, so those two positives alone keep this out of the Plan 9 and Starcrash sub-basement category, as it brings to life the story of scientists and ranchers trying to reduce the number of feral rabbits in Arizona. Researchers Whitman and Leigh turn to hormones to shut off the bunnies' breeding capabilities, but this accidentally causes them to grow to enormous size—and makes them hopping mad too. In short order they overrun the nearby town and all the humans are fleeing for their lives.

Yes, the movie is silly. It's a clinic in the limited utility of forced perspective for trying to make believable monsters, an endeavor additionally undermined by the inconvenient fact that giant bunnies are still cute. But can you really pass up the chance to see Bones from Star Trek ambling around the high desert? And Janet Leigh is always sight to behold, here settling deep into an elegant milfhood, forty five with a cotton candy afroperm that she makes look as regal as a platinum crown. Epically bad? It's bad alright, mainly because it lacks distinction. But maybe you should just watch it and decide for yourself where it ranks. Night of the Lepus premiered today in 1972.

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Vintage Pulp Sep 25 2021
SPLIT PERSONALITY
He's not a bad guy. He's just a little conflicted.


Above: a beautiful French language Belgian poster for the suspense/horror film Dr. Jekyll et Mr. Hyde, aka Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, with Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman, and Lana Turner. We love this poster as much as we love the Finnish and West German ones. The art here depicts quite effectively Jekyll's inner battle, with his face half in light and half in shadow. The movie opened in the U.S. in 1941, was delayed from showing in Europe for years due to World War II, but we think it finally premiered in Belgium during the autumn of 1946, a range we extrapolated from the film's premiere in France today the same year. 

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Vintage Pulp Aug 24 2021
RABID FOLLOWING
Marilyn Chambers converts the masses.


Zombie movies go back a long way. All the way to 1932's White Zombie. But David Cronenberg's 1977 horror thriller Rabid, along with The Plague of ZombiesNight of the Living Dead and a few other films, was a precursor to all the zombie apocalypse movies and television shows of today. The bizarre Italian promo poster you see above certainly gets across one element of the movie—its grim violence. As you can see, it was retitled Rabid sete di sangue when it played there. It originally premiered in the U.S. in 1977, but didn't reach Italy until today in 1979.

The concept is weird: a woman played by Marilyn Chambers receives an experimental skin graft and as a side effect develops a stinger in her armpit and an insatiable (see what we just did there?) appetite for human blood. When we later glimpse this stinger, it's ensconced in an anus-like cavity of a type that filmgoers would see again and again in Cronenberg's movies. Yeah, that stinger is freaky, and this flick hits on other levels of horror. There's dread, such as when doctors make ready to slice skin off Chambers' thighs with some sort of electric peeler. There's revulsion, which Cronenberg specializes in with his lingering takes on physical deformities. And there's pure terror when infected victims run amok.

Chambers is pretty good in this, with her acting holding up as well as that of the other performers. She also looks quite beautiful, a requirement for the role, since she's essentially a vampiress, using her looks to attract prey. Of special note is a snippet of her classic disco song, “Benihana,” which has aged well for dance music from that period. We should also mention that though this is a pure horror film, the plot also has a disease vs. vaccine element, perfect for the COVID era. We've written superficially about Rabid a few times in the past, and if you're interested you can see those mentions here, here, and here.

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Modern Pulp Aug 11 2021
DEAD MEN WALKING
Fulci goes full-on gruesome in Italian zombie epic.


We're still looking toward Italy today, specifically at vintage Italian horror cinema, and simply put, these didn't mess around. Regardless of quality they tended to be unusually foreboding and grim. And that's just the poster art. Above you see a promo for Paura nella città dei morti viventi, which was known in English as City of the Living Dead. Lucio Fulci, who directed and received a story credit for this one, was particularly enamored of zombies, churning out at least five films touching on the theme, including ...E tu vivrai nel terrore! L'aldilà, aka The Beyond, and Quella villa accanto al cimitero, aka The House by the Cemetery. In all of them he used his trademark tricks—extreme close-ups, death-white make-up effects, and gore, gore, gore.

Italian genre flicks usually had international casts performing in both English and Italian, with the babel smoothed out later with overdubs. City of the Living Dead follows that template. U.S. born Christopher George and Brit actress Catriona MacColl are in the leads, with support from Italians Carlo de Mejo, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Daniela Doria, the truly lovely Antonella Interlenghi, and Swedish star Janet Agren. The movie is set in New York City and Dunwich, a mythical town conceived by H.P. Lovecraft for his Cthulhu Mythos, where a priest's suicide has somehow opened the gates of hell and allowed the dead to walk the Earth.

Obviously, the heroes want to close these gates, but that's pretty difficult when you have to fight through a storm of maggots. Yes, Fulci throws everything into this—the ancient Book of Enoch, the Salem witch trials, seances, drifting fog, people regurgitating their own intestines, and of course head-crushing zombies. The low tech nature of Fulci's obsessive gore-nography just makes it that much more disturbing. On the other claw, the low quality of some of the acting is a definite detriment. Even so, if you can get into a zombie frame of mind, the acting becomes less important than the mood, and in horror, mood is everything. Paura nella città dei morti viventi premiered in Italy today in 1980.
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Modern Pulp May 31 2021
HOOKED ON PINKU
It takes a lot of guts to watch these sometimes.


A long while back we put together a collection of posters for bdsm themed Japanese pinku films. Why? Why not. But we hadn't seen the movies. One was called Shojo no harawata, aka Entrails of Virgin, aka Guts of a Virgin, and we came across it recently and figured let's watch this thing. The story concerns a slimy fashion photographer and his equally slimy buddies who take two models to a secluded cabin with the intent to take advantage of them, but are attacked by a hairy monster from the woods who has a massive boner. The film is part of Kazuo Komizu's, aka Gaira's, “splatter-eros” trilogy along with Bijo no harawata, aka Guts of a Beautiful Woman and Gômon kifujin, aka Female Inquisitor. A few of his other directorial credits include Violence porno: Jôkan and Violence porno: Nawa to bôkô. You get the idea.

We try not to make any cultural judgments when we watch these pinkus. There's a line from James M. Cain (you knew we'd work in a pulp author somehow) where one of his characters says of bullfights, “If it was my own country I'd be against it, but when it's somebody else's, I go.” That's how we feel. When something in a pinku flick confuses us or weirds us out, we generally shrug and go, “Not my place to criticize.” And now, of course, we'll criticize. In terms of Japanese erotica, the actresses make noises of pleasure that are indistinguishable—at least to our ears—from noises of pain. Not cool. It's sort of a whining, like this feels soooo good I'm on the verge of tears. That's one reason we don't generally get turned on by pinku movies. While the women are uniformly fantastic, their erotic acting is way off target for us.

The blurred line between pleasure and pain in this movie is liable to do a number on your head. And if it doesn't, the scene where a model masturbates with a severed arm while blowing the monster certainly will. Hope we didn't give too much away there. As far as the entrails aspect, well, the title is provocative, but while there's a virgin, we see no entrails. Thank fucking God. And because sex in pinku movies is mostly implied due to laws against the showing of pubic hair or sex organs, the sexualized violence is largely implied too. It's cleverly implied though. So be forewarned. We can't recommend this movie, but the poster art is so amazing we had to share it. It's signed—see just below—but we were not able to ascertain by whom. Too bad. There's real talent there. More so than in the film. Shojo no harawata premiered in Japan today in 1986.
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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
May 22
1942—Ted Williams Enlists
Baseball player Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox enlists in the United States Marine Corps, where he undergoes flight training and eventually serves as a flight instructor in Pensacola, Florida. The years he lost to World War II (and later another year to the Korean War) considerably diminished his career baseball statistics, but even so, he is indisputably one of greatest players in the history of the sport.
May 21
1924—Leopold and Loeb Murder Bobby Franks
Two wealthy University of Chicago students named Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold, Jr. murder 14-year-old Bobby Franks, motivated by no other reason than to prove their intellectual superiority by committing a perfect crime. But the duo are caught and sentenced to life in prison. Their crime becomes known as a "thrill killing", and their story later inspires various works of art, including the 1929 play Rope by Patrick Hamilton, and Alfred Hitchcock's 1948 film of the same name.
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.
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