Today our seminar for giant monsters will cover how to get human heads unstuck from your mouth.
How can you not love this? This startling poster that looks like someone has bitten off more than they can chew was made for Aullidos, a movie better known as The Howling. It was painted by Macario Gomez Quibus, an artist who also crafted promos for the horror movies The Fog and Murder Mansion, among others. After opening in the U.S. in 1981, Aullidos premiered in Spain today in 1982. Have you seen it? No? You might need to. Read about it here.
Obscure ’80s horror flick turns the idea of consumerism on its head.
Above you see a poster for Larry Cohen's The Stuff, an interesting piece of modern pulp cinema that premiered in the U.S. today in 1985. It's obviously a horror movie, and though it fails to be scary it succeeds as a wickedly clever anti-consumerist metaphor. Its underlying critique is that Americans will buy anything that's marketed with snazzy visuals and a good jingle, even things that are bad or even deadly for them. The Stuff takes that idea and runs with it, showing a nation addicted to a dessert that's actually a dangerous unknown organism. People eat it and it hollows them out physically and takes over their minds. While some victims succumb by snarfing the Stuff, others fall prey by being attacked by those infected. In this way entire towns are replaced, then the monsters move on to bodysnatch even more people.
Along the way Cohen's film takes swipes at regulatory capture by featuring FDA officials who approve the Stuff, at militias by casting a paramilitary group as the heroes, then exposing them as racist clowns, and at corporate greed by having the whole fiasco engineered by a shady cabal of one percenters. Yes, quite a lot of thought went into this baby. What didn't go into it was sufficient budget. And despite Cohen and company's obvious deeper intent, it's pretty safe to say most filmgoers didn't absorb the subtext. That fact can be confirmed by taking a glance at any of the numerous dayglow health killers on supermarket shelves today. So technically The Stuff flops both as a fright flick and a consumer warning. But it offers food for thought that remains relevant today, thirty-five years later, and it's certainly a movie unlike any other.
Look what the cat dragged in.
Cats get a bad rap in ’70s horror films. They're always shown lurking, staring, yowling, hissing, flying into frame from some elevated position off-camera, and standing sentinel over murdered bodies. Felines come to the fore once again in the Italian giallo-horror flick La morte negli occhi del gatto, aka Seven Deaths in the Cat's Eye, as beautiful young Jane Birkin ventures into the Scottish countryside for a stay at creepy old Castle Dragonstone, which seems cursed or haunted by a feline or felines. Shortly after her arrival bodies start appearing. Who's doing the killing? Is there really a curse? Why does that darn cat keep turning up?
All of the answers and more are revealed, as is the reason behind the carnage, and guess what? It isn't the cat's doing at all. The problem is entirely human and has to do with coveting the castle. Seems everyone wants their own pile of rocks in windblown bumfuck Scotland. Yes, the plot is as blah as we made it sound, but at least the poster art is excellent. There's a another poster, an even better one, with Birkin on it. We digitally restored it to hi-rez perfection, then Photoshop corrupted the file right when we were putting the final touches on it. We aren't going to repeat all that work, so you'll never see what we did. Maybe there's a curse after all. La morte negli occhi del gatto premiered in Italy today in 1973.
Hmph. She didn't crumble to dust. Guess you weren't a vampire after all. Sorry, honey.
You may remember we started on a set of Richard Matheson books several months ago, long before we were thinking about COVID-19, and I Am Legend was always third on the list. There are so many books and stories about humanity being wiped out by flus and viruses. We thought this was one of them. We don't know why, but that was our assumption. The book, though, is actually about vampires. The novel first appeared in 1954, and the Corgi Books edition you see here was published in 1960. The story follows the day-to-day—and night-to-night—existence of man named Robert Neville who lives in a Los Angeles house, from which he kills vampires and forages for food by sunlight, but to which he must retreat every sunset lest he be consumed by rampaging bloodsuckers. He might be the last man on Earth, but how can he know? He's basically tethered to his house as far as a tank of gas can carry him—half to go someplace, half to get back. In that radius he's seen nothing but desolation and vampires.
Most of the narrative deals with him trying to decipher vampire biology as a way to cure or kill them. Everything is covered, from why they hate crosses to why wooden stakes kill them, and the idea of a virus is actually touched upon as a cause of their condition, which is perhaps where we got our mistaken ideas about the book. The science is interesting, but the point is terror and isolation, as the main character's survival is complicated by his occasional bouts of carelessness and despair. Setting aside the usual 1950s social attitudes that don't strike harmonious chords today, the book is effective, and, in parts, legitimately scary. The concept resulted in four film adaptations—1964's The Last Man on Earth, 1971's The Omega Man, and 2007's I Am Legend and I Am Omega. When a book is that kind of cinematic gold mine, you expect it to be good, and it is. We'd even call it a horror monument.
These are the warmest, slimiest raindrops I've ever felt.
Since we were on the subject of werewolves a couple of days ago, here's a fun promo shot of Claude Rains about to precipitate doggie drool onto Evelyn Ankers in their 1941 horror flick The Wolf Man. Ankers had trouble with other weird creatures too, including ghosts in Hold That Ghost, a vampire in Son of Dracula, an unseen troublemaker in The Invisible Man's Revenge, and a reanimated monster in The Ghost of Frankenstein. All that experience and she never learned to look up. Well, in her defense Rains is unusually sneaky, plus canines don't usually climb trees.
Swamp monster discovers that it's humans who are the real slime.
Who is truly monstrous—beast or man? That pretty much covers The Creature Walks Among Us front to back. When a group of scientists set out to capture an aquatic humanoid that lives in the Florida Everglades, they clash over whether the mission is one of mere discovery or rather cruel experimentation. To wit, the head of the expedition wants to genetically alter the creature as a step on the ladder toward making humans hardy enough for space travel. No, it doesn't really make sense. And it's hard to care, since with three basically identical looking guys as the three male leads we had a hard time telling them apart. And this in a movie in which they also wear lab coats much of the time, making it even more difficult to distinguish them. Lean and lovely co-star Leigh Snowden, on the other hand, is distinguishable as hell, and the three haircuts are soon vying for her attentions. But there's science that needs to be scienced, so they eventually capture the monster. It's upon returning to dry land that their problems really start. As third in the canon of Creature from the Black Lagoon flicks, The Creature Walks Among Us is worth a gander, but not necessarily a recommendation. It's damned funny in parts, though. Unintentionally. Above you see the movie's Belgian poster, with text in French and Dutch. It's far better than the film itself.
Have you had a hallucination yet today?
We're really living up to the Intl. part of Pulp Intl. today with this fascinating promo poster from far away Ghana. It was made for Canadian horror filmmaker David Cronenberg's 1983 freakshow Videodrome, starring Debbie Harry and James Woods in a wild story about video-triggered hallucinations that become real. We found this on a website called Deep Fried Movies, and they found it at Deadly Prey Gallery on Instagram. It's signed O.A. Heavy J. Teshie, if we're reading that right. Well, good job, O. Since you worked in the ’80s you may still be out there, and if you are, FYI, dealers in the U.S. are selling your posters for up to $4,000 a pop. If you've got any pieces hanging around, we strongly urge cutting out the middlemen.
Original comedy-thriller concept wrapped in favor of something darker.
When we stumbled across The Mummy's Hand a while back, we were amused and charmed by the film. So naturally we went straight for the follow-up, The Mummy's Tomb, for which you a promo poster above. Sadly, this movie proves that Hollywood has always been terrible with sequels. The humor and charm of Hand is gone. Instead the filmmakers go for straight horror, having disposed of two of the four main characters from Hand before the story even opens, and rudely dispatching the other two after minimal participation. Were there contract troubles? Scheduling difficulties? Did the stars demand raises? If so, the mummy took care of the negotiations by killing the offending parties, but along the way the movie got embalmed. And we were so looking forward to seeing the original characters from The Mummy's Hand in a series of light thrillers. No such luck. Our guess—unsupported by any evidence—is that because Lon Chaney, Jr. was a breakout star and had been brought aboard for this film, the suits decided make the mummy central rather than ancillary, as he had been in Hand. Chaney's Mummy entries were successful, but most reviews rate the Chaneyless original as the best of the group. We agree. The Mummy's Tomb premiered in the U.S. today in 1942.
Just call him the noble formerly known as Dracula.
We don't have to tell you what Blacula is. It's clear from the poster alone that it's a retelling of the Dracula legend. It's also an early high point for blaxploitation cinema. It isn't perfectly made, but as an allegory it's on the nose: centuries ago an African prince named Mamuwalde was transformed into a vampire out of sheer racist spite, cursed to eternal hunger, taken as cargo to a strange foreign land, and now fights to survive there, far from his home. William Marshall in the lead role is doubtless the sweatiest vampire in movie history, but he's good in what is by definition a patently absurd role. In supporting parts are Thalmus Rasulala, Denise Nicholas, and the ravishing Vonetta McGee, who Mamuwalde thinks is his long lost wife Luva and treats to some sweet vampire love. As pure horror Blacula is middling, and it's homophobic in parts, but audiences liked the film and made it one of the top grossers of the year. Despite its flaws the undead Prince Mamuwalde embodied a fresh approach to black themed cinema, and it's certainly fun to watch. It opened in the U.S. today in 1972. |
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1960—To Kill a Mockingbird Appears
Harper Lee's racially charged novel To Kill a Mockingbird
is published by J.B. Lippincott & Co. The book is hailed as a classic, becomes an international
bestseller, and spawns a movie starring Gregory Peck, but is the only novel Lee would ever publish.
1962—Nuke Test on Xmas Island
As part of the nuclear tests codenamed Operation Dominic, the United States detonates a one megaton bomb on Australian controlled Christmas Island, in the Indian Ocean. The island was a location for a series of American and British nuclear tests, and years later lawsuits claiming radiation damage to military personnel were filed, but none were settled in favor in the soldiers.
1940—The Battle of Britain Begins
The German Air Force, aka the Luftwaffe, attacks shipping convoys off the coast of England, touching off what Prime Minister Winston Churchill describes as The Battle of Britain.
1948—Paige Takes Mound in the Majors
Satchel Paige, considered at the time the greatest of Negro League pitchers, makes his Major League debut for the Cleveland Indians at the age of 42. His career in the majors is short because of his age, but even so, as time passes, he is recognized by baseball experts as one of the great pitchers of all time.
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