Vintage Pulp Nov 15 2019
THING OF THE JUNGLE
We knew Amazon working conditions were terrible, but now there's a monster too?


This is a brilliant Belgian poster for a terrible U.S. monster movie originally called Curucu, Beast of the Amazon, about plantation workers who are being terrorized by a horrible creature—possibly Jeff Bezos. Considering the low pay, hard work, and lack of bathroom breaks, the workers should have gone on strike long before the monster showed up. Unfortunately, before they can get organized the man in charge materializes to set everything straight. That would be John Bromfield, armed with a machete and a strong sense of entitlement, while Not of This Earth's Beverly Garland plays a scientist wandering the same patch of jungle looking for a miracle drug.
 
You'll need a miracle drug too, if you plan to watch this flick—we recommend mescaline. But really, you don't even have to watch it, because the poster covers all the salient plot points—Garland is attacked by a big rubber snake, Bromfield is attacked by a big stuffed leopard, they get tied up at one point but escape, and the villain dangles some shrunken heads at them before ending up one himself. Rapacious capitalism is saved again. The movie was called Curuçu sorcier de l'Amazone in French and Tovenaar van de Amazone in Dutch. There's no known Belgian premiere date for it, but it opened in the U.S. in late 1956 and probably reached Belgium in the middle of 1957.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 13 2019
BAD MUTHERS
Teach, nurture, encourage, love. That all comes later. Right now, they're mainly focused on killing.


Yes, there are two movies called The Muthers. We covered the one from 1968 yesterday. Today we turn our attention to the unrelated blaxploitation flick, which premiered this month in 1976. Yesterday's Muthers was a simple nudie romp, rather innocent. Here eight years later we have a full blown savage adventure epic about a clan of female pirates who get themselves deliberately thrown in a coffee plantation/prison camp called Sal Si Puedes—Get Out If You Can—as part of a rescue mission. So what you basically have here is a women-in-prison movie, replete with sweat, cruelty, and a desperate plan to make a break for freedom.

Two of the pirates are portrayed by Playboy centerfolds Jeannie Bell and Rosanne Katon, while model Jayne Kennedy is a sort of privileged prisoner. Without getting too pervy about it, these are three of the more beautiful women from ’70s b-cinema. Another pirate is played by Trina Parks, who while she isn't otherworldly like the goddesses previously mentioned, is certainly plenty hot by any normal measure. We bring up their physical characteristics because it's exactly why director/writer/producer Cirio Santiago cast them. He was an exploitation producer/director nonpareil, and his milieu was putting beautiful women—among them Pam Grier, Judith Brown, Roberta Collins, Margaret Markov, and Colleen Camp—in roles where they drove the action.

The Muthers takes place in what is supposed to be Central America, but it was really produced in the good old Philippines by Santiago and the same people who gave the world movies like She Devils in Chains and Savage! The women Santiago has assembled here karate kick, rabbit punch, and machine gun a series of anonymous bad guys, finally working their way up the prison camp's commandant, played by Tony Carreon. Who comes out on top? You never know in these jungle epics, but you can count on the end being pyrotechnic. Do we recommend this? Well... in terms of sheer quality maybe not, but in terms of watching Bell, Katon, and Kennedy? For sure. Those girls are poison! 
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Vintage Pulp Nov 12 2019
MUTHERLY LOVE
They don't have much in the way of maternal instinct but they make up for it with eagerness to please.


In the nudie flick The Muthers, which opened this month in 1968, two groups of people located somewhere in Southern California between No Budget and No Inhibitions spend an inordinate amount of time putting the ’60s ethos of free love to the test. You have the teens, who party and get laid, and the mothers, who do the same, but with more skill. The movie is just a lighthearted little softcore romp, quaint by today's standards, but notable for the fun attitude it brings to the proceedings. The plot, such as it is, eventually coalesces around one teen's feelings of neglect and tendency toward self-destruction, and the title derives from the fact that for some reason she can't spell “mother” properly.

But don't let our suggestion that there's a plot scare you—this flick is just one long sex scene after another. None of it is explicit, or even frontal for that matter. Mainly the performers just grind and wiggle. But it's still pretty stimulating because one of the moms is Virginia Gordon. For those unfamiliar, Gordon was an in-demand nude model, who, like a fine reposado tequila, just got more golden and more potent as time went by. She's in her thirty-second year in this film, and her body makes every other performer, including those twelve years younger than her, look like walking cookie dough. Safe to say your muther—or mother, even—never looked like that.
I know—you can't take your eyes off them, can you?

Grinding is how I keep my muscle tone. Three-hundred fifty reps to go.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 4 2019
KITTY LITTER
Stray cat makes a mess all over the place.


Above is the memorable U.S. promo poster for the drama Kitten with a Whip, with blatant example of Swedish perfection Ann-Margret striking a nice pose. The plot of the film basically follows that of Wade Miller's hit novel of the same name. Ann-Margret plays a juvenile delinquent named Jody who turns up in the home of an unsuspecting man played by John Forsythe and proceeds to upend his day. Things go from bad to worse when three more delinquents show up and seem intent on wrecking Forsythe's life permanently. Ann-Margret was cast to lift her from the ranks of musicals into serious cinema, but considering the film was skewered by Mystery Science Theater 3000 we don't need to tell you the results were mixed. It's worth a watch, though. It premiered in the U.S. today in 1964.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 3 2019
PARTY OF FIVE
When the going gets tough the smart leave town.


You see what we mean about roman porno posters? How can we not share something this pretty? And if we share the poster we have to watch the movie, at least to have an idea what the art is about. And the movies? Well, they've been a years-long exploration into some deep dark places. Other people's, not ours. This poster was made to promote Pinku saron: Kôshoku gonin onna, aka Pink Salon: Five Lewd Women, which premiered in Japan today in 1978. You've noticed by now that many of these films were based on novels. It wasn't just cinema that was delving into challenging themes during the ’70s. But this, surprisingly, is based on a work of anthological fiction written by Saikaku Ihara in 1686, during Japan's Edo period.

Broadly speaking the plot deals with the struggles of five women—Kyôko Aoyama, Erina Miyai, Eiko Matsuda, Machiko Ohtani, and Miyako Yamaguchi—who work in Tokyo's strip clubs, or pink salons. Obviously, the stories in Ihara's source material have been moved forward three centuries to the grey, concrete Tokyo you see in so many Japanese films from the ’70s. These pink salon workers aren't satisfied with their lives, and what develops is a sort of counterculture road trip film, as they and a few male companions drive from Tokyo to Otoko in a graffiti covered microbus. Do they find a better place in the world? You'll have to watch the movie yourself. But you can be certain that, as in most cinema about misfit dreamers and restless outcasts, the odds are against them and the errors of the past are not far behind.

Pink Saron has sex but no fetish, and violence but little gore, so we wonder if the age of the source material has anything to do with that. Nikkatsu Studios usually pushed its roman porno movies beyond the far edge of good taste, but not this time, and it was rewarded for its restraint. Pink Saron won Noboru Tanaka a Japan Academy Film Prize for best director—the first time a roman porno film had been thus honored. Yes, this movie is something a little different. We'd like to say it's appropriate for those seeking an entry point into the genre, but it's so different from most it would only mislead you. And next thing you know you'll find yourself watching women chained up in dungeons. So consider this a stand alone film. A pretty good one.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 27 2019
BEAUTY AND THE BEASTS
If you're looking for a tale with a happy ending look somewhere else.


We're doing a pinku double-dip today because life is short and the shit we want to post keeps piling up. Even at an increased rate it'll take another ten years to get this stuff uploaded. Will websites as we understand them even exist then? Will blogs exist? We've already read that blogging is dead. Multiple times. Well, we keep chugging along, and today's journey involves two more promos, these for Nikkatsu Studios' infamous roman porno drama Dabide no hoshi: Bishôjo-gari, aka Beautiful Girl Hunter, which is based on a Maasaki Soto manga and premiered in Japan today in 1979. That's Hiromi Namino on the art, who as far as we know made only one other film.

So we watched this, and yup, it's twisted. Long story short, an escaped lunatic commits a rape which results in a pregnancy, and the rape child grows up to become a rapist. Every taboo is shattered in this one, including ones you've never imagined. As we always note for readers unfamiliar with this genre, there's no actual sex, no frontal nudity. Everything is done with camera angles, the power of suggestion, and acting. Still... holy fuck. But what you really want to know is whether the movie is any good. Objectively it's well made, but it also made us question whether liking roman porno posters and being interested in the genre's history and culture are sufficient enough reasons to keep watching the films.

Yet there are also serious points in this movie about intergenerational violence, and whether it's at all possible for parents to love (or even treat decently) a child conceived via rape. To us, neither question feels responsibly examined enough to justify the existence of the movie. After all, it's first and foremost a piece of sexploitation, and the steady supply of nudity sort of undercuts any serious intent. We much prefer Toei's Company's pinky violence films. The women in those either win or cause a hell of a lot of trouble trying. By contrast films like Beautiful Girl Hunter feel deliberately regressive, as we've noted before. These Nikkatsu guys will be the end of us yet.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 23 2019
MUMMY ISSUES
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.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 16 2019
DRUNK AND DISORDERLY
Cocktails, comedy, and crime make a mix that'll go right to your head.


Above, a fantastic Czech poster for the 1934 romantic comedy-murder mystery The Thin Man, which there was titled Detektiv Nick v New Yorku. This is a photo-illustration, rather than the paintings we love, but it's still, in our book, as good as promo art gets. As far as the film goes, like Casablanca or Chinatown, there's no way to overrate it. Some of the humor is so modern that you'll have trouble believing it was made almost a century ago and wasn't cribbed from an episode of Friends or Seinfeld. Just goes to show that in the infinity of time we don't change as quickly as we think.
 
We adore the boozing party animals at the center of this tour de force—Nick and Nora Charles, played by William Powell and Myrna Loy—whose drunken interactions could easily be the inspiration for Jim and Jules of the hilarious television show Brockmire. Credit the director, actors, editors, and everyone else for this masterpiece, but give the biggest nod to Dashiell Hammett, who wrote the excellent source novel. There's no release date for Detektiv Nick v New Yorku in Czechoslovakia, but figure spring or early summer of 1935.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 14 2019
HOT IN THE CITY
The temperature rises and the bodies fall in Fritz Lang's tense film noir.


In the thriller The Big Heat, which is based on a novel by William P. McGivern and directed by Fritz Lang, Glenn Ford plays one of the toughest men you'll find in film noir—ass kicking detective Dave Bannon, whose clash with organized crime sends him down a rogue path that leaves people battered, bruised, bloodied, burnt, and blown up. He co-starred with Gloria Grahame, and the way the plot develops, she turns out to be every bit as tough. We can't tell you anything about the movie others already haven't about a thousand times, so we're focusing instead on this top notch promo poster, a framable classic in the panel format we love. You'll see this online only occasionally because it's way too rare for sellers to ever have in stock, but it's a fitting piece for such a great movie. The Big Heat premiered in the U.S. today in 1953.

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Modern Pulp Oct 9 2019
UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL
The more you Zoom the weirder everything looks.


Above is a poster for Zûmu appu: Bôkô hakusho, aka Zoom Up: Sexual Crime Report, the fourth film in the Zoom Up series. This installment starred Yuki Kazamatsuri and Rie Hirase, and premiered in Japan today in 1981. Where do we start with this? Kazamatsuri plays a disc jockey married to a powerful businessman. One night on her way to the radio station she's raped by a gang of creeps on motorcycles, and it turns out this was not a random attack. That's already a spoiler, so we'll stop there.

As always, we try to remember that Nikkatsu Studios was in the business of making money. The directors and screenwriters had a lot of artistic freedom, and occasionally tried to embed social commentary and deep metaphor in these films. But you know how it goes with metaphor—if you suspect it's there you'll look for it until you strain your brain. Broadly speaking, roman porno avoids the feminist patriarchy smashing of pinky violence films, usually denying women any sort of cathartic retribution. We stress usually. Even in this retrograde genre women sometimes get the opportunity to make men eat cold steel, or hot lead, as the case may be. Which path does Zûmu appu: Bôkô hakusho take? We ain't saying.

If you look around the internet the very few reviews of roman porno films you find are by males, usually in Japanese. We sometimes add to the all-male chorus, but just as often we keep our write-ups vague, focusing mainly on the poster art. We hope one day there'll be a more diverse online analysis of these, particularly of two types: in English from Japanese viewers who can provide social context we can't; and from women. The latter you might expect us to get from PI-1 and PI-2 (did we mention they're out of town?), but they refuse to watch these. Maybe, truly, that's the most incisive analysis of all.

Wait, so this is all a cinematic metaphor?

Ahh, a wonderful, relaxing metaphor for womblike security.

Oh no! A terrible, disturbing metaphor for survival in a hostile world!

Lalalala... slurp.... gurgle... metaphor.... lalalalalala...

Shhh... trust me. This is a metaphor you're really going to enjoy.
 
Maybe these metaphors will be clearer without my glasses.
 
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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
November 21
1959—Max Baer Dies
Former heavyweight boxing champ Max Baer dies of a heart attack in Hollywood, California. Baer had a turbulent career. He lost to Joe Louis in 1935, but two years earlier, in his prime, he defeated German champ and Nazi hero Max Schmeling while wearing a Star of David on his trunks. The victory was his legacy, making him a symbol to Jews, and also to all who hated Nazis.
November 20
1945—Nuremberg Trials Begin
In Nuremberg, Germany, in the Palace of Justice, the trials of prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of Nazi Germany begin. Among the men tried were Martin Bormann (in absentia), Hermann Göring, Rudolph Hess, and Ernst Kaltenbrunner.
1984—SETI Institute Founded
The SETI Institute, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence, the discovery of extrasolar planets, and the habitability of the galaxy, is founded in California by Thomas Pierson and Dr. Jill Tarter.
November 19
1916—Goldwyn Pictures Formed
In the U.S.A., Samuel Goldfish and Edgar Selwyn establish Goldwyn Pictures, which becomes one of the most successful independent film studios in Hollywood. Goldfish also takes the opportunity to legally change his last name to Goldwyn.
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