Vintage Pulp Apr 16 2024
STRIFE IMPRISONMENT
No appeal, no parole, no mercy, no hope.


Today we continue our journey through ’70s exploitation cinema with Jackson County Jail, churned out of the grindhouse factory known as New World Pictures. Plotwise, Yvette Mimieux plays a Los Angeles advertising exec who leaves her cheating husband and finds herself at loose ends, but manages to score a job from a friend in New York City. She decides to get there by driving cross country, but passes through fictional Jackson County, located somewhere in or around Texas (a geographical fact we learn from a news broadcast that provides a Dallas Cowboys update). She's railroaded into jail and raped by the cop working the graveyard shift. Afterward, Mimieux manages to brain him with a stool and escapes with the help of hardened criminal Tommy Lee Jones, who early in his acting career (and with that monobrow of his) was already capable of making lines like this sing: “There's nothing wrong with being a crook. Everybody's crooked. I never met a straight person in my whole life. Whole goddamn country is a rip-off. And everybody in it.”

Jackson County Jail is sometimes labeled a women-in-prison flick, but it's a bit different for a generally low rent sub-genre because Mimieux was an established star, thirty-four years old with more than twenty movies behind her. The credibility she lends the film changes little about its basic purpose—titillation mixed with violence and an indictment of hick culture. Simultaneously, though, the filmmakers definitely don't go to the extremes of other women-in-prison dramas, in which we've seen women hung up by their hair. There are some viewers, we suspect, who wouldn't consider this movie a women-in-prison flick at all. We're fine leaving it out of the conversation too. The jailbound portion lasts barely twenty minutes of what is perhaps more of an outlaw movie, complete with Jones letting fly with this response to being told the police will kill him: “That don't matter. I was born dead.” Whether women-in-prison, outlaw, or counterculture, that's a damned good line. And Jackson County Jail is a pretty good movie. It premiered today in 1976
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Vintage Pulp Apr 9 2024
WORTH THE PRICE
Vince waxes philosophical and discovers the secret of life—death.


House of Wax, which was produced by Warner Brothers and premiered today in 1953, was the first 3D production by any major studio. It's a period piece set in Victorian New York City starring Vincent Price as the creator and half owner of a historical wax museum. Unfortunately, his focus on history leaves the public nonplussed, and his partner Roy Roberts, who needs capital, sets the place aflame for the insurance money. Price is burned and driven insane. Well, actually he was insane before the fire, but in a cute way. He talked to his wax figures and thought they talked back.

But after the fire he's a barking psychopath, running around nighttime Gotham behatted and cloaked like Lamont Cranston. His goal? Revenge, of course, a craving solved early in the proceedings when he pitches Roberts down an elevator shaft with a rope around his neck. But what next? What does one do once vengeance is thine? Well, you build a new wax museum, except this time you surrender to prurient tastes and create displays of modern murder and the macabre. Screw that high-minded history crap.

Everything goes fine until Phyllis Kirk begins to suspect that the extraordinary realism of the wax figures is due to more than just artistic talent. Her suspicion is a screenwriter's concoction—there's no way a person could realistically make the leap Kirk does in believing Price guilty of heinous crimes. The script literally calls it a woman's intuition. Well, okay. But in our experience that's a myth, and it's possibly even insulting when used as substitute for intelligence, so maybe just put a realistic clue in the script and write Kirk's character as very smart instead. In any case, she's definitely nosy as hell, and that's the beginning of the end for vicious Vince.

House of Wax has many things going for it. The sets and costumes are extravagant, the early fire sequence with its melting wax figures is genuinely unsettling, the WarnerColor developing process is attractive, and the acting is uniformly competent, even by that six-foot three-inch Hillshire Farms ham Price. And it's fun to watch Charles Buchinsky, aka Charles Bronson, as the mute assistant Igor. In the end the House of Wax works. Add popcorn, a few friends, and about of case of beer and you'll have a great Saturday night.

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Vintage Pulp Apr 7 2024
A WANDERFUL WORLD
The lone stranger rides again.


We usually watch movies in the order we're able to acquire them, so as a matter of availability we ended up watching parts one and three in the Rika the Mixed Blood Girl trilogy without having seen the middle entry. Last night we remedied that and screened part two, Konketsuji Rika: Hitoriyuku sasuraitabi, known in English as Rica 2: Lonely Wanderer. You see a rare tateken style poster for the film above—along with a nice zoom—that you won't find anywhere but on Pulp Intl. We already expounded upon the change in spelling of Rika's name in the English title a while back. Shorter version: we don't know why Rica makes more sense than Rika. Probably it doesn't. Take it up with the honchos at Kindai Eiga Kyokai.

Rika 2/Rica 2 stars Rika Aoki and she's once again required to right wrongs, as she escapes from the frying pan of reform school and lands in the fire of urban crime and other hazards endemic to pinku cinema. The main plot involves a ship that exploded and sank in Misawa harbor, and a survivor—Rika's friend Hanako—who's in a mental hospital as a result. But Hanako is mentally fine. She's actually hiding in the one place hired killers can't reach her. Turns out the ship was yakuza owned, and everyone who survived is being hunted down. Rika goes to the police and demands an investigation, but the cops are yakuza owned too. Why must everyone who survived the ship disaster be killed? How high does the conspiracy go?

Rika handles her business with moral outrage and violence, but she also has time for a musical number or two. She's the Dylan of the Misawa nightclub district. Check out her lyrical stylings:

As with the other films, some of the action in Rika 2/Rica 2 veers into slapstick. Also like the other films, there are racial and political digressions, and they aren't subtle. For instance, when Rika and a friend are accosted by Americans at one point, the group consists of one cowboy, one hippie, one guy dressed in a suit, etc. Later Rika is told point blank that it's lucky she's half white, because being half black like her friend Hanako would make her even more inferior to anyone fully Japanese. These are villains talking to her. The movie's default setting is anti-racist, which of course is correct and moral, but it's funny how what's considered racist evolves over time. Hanako is played by Japanese actress Masami Souda in shoe polish and an afro wig. Oops! For pinku cinema, it's just another day. But all-in-all, a reasonably fun one. Konketsuji Rika: Hitoriyuku sasuraitabi premiered in Japan today in 1973.
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Vintage Pulp Apr 7 2024
RED TINTED WATERS
People are being eaten by sharks but the hipsters of the Mexican Riviera are too groovy to care.


¡Tintorera!, for which you see a poster above, is often presumed to be within the pantheon of Jaws knockoffs, and that's true, but barely. There's a giant shark, and it eats a few people, but ¡Tintorera! couldn't be more different in tone than Spielberg's blockbuster. It's a counterculture movie set in and around Cancún, Tulum, and the Rivera Maya. A considerable amount of script is spent exploring free love and utopian lifestyles. Shark hunters Andrés Garcia and Hugo Stiglitz fashion an exclusive three-way relationship with Susan George. They also mix and match with Laura Lyons and Jennifer Ashley, and each bed down on consecutive nights with Fiona Lewis, which catalyzes a transformation from professional rivals to friends. Discussions of sexual sharing and finding new ways to live take up far more running time than anything to do with sharks.

But sharks there indeed are—specifically, a large tiger shark whose first victim is Lewis. She's eaten during a nude swim, which is another resemblance to Jaws. But to give a sense of how different ¡Tintorera! really is, consider that Lewis appears to be the movie's star during its first half hour, and when she vanishes no trace of her is ever found and nobody much cares that she's gone. They assume she left the country. In cinema's imaginary countercultureworld, who has time to ask questions? The focus of the film shifts to Garcia and Stiglitz's rivalry-cum-friendship. Shortly afterward, Susan George arrives, and the focus shifts again, onto the aformentioned threesome. But then she leaves, and suddenly Lyons and Ashley are the main love interests. Then one of them is eaten too. This round robin approach, in our experience, is unique in a film that isn't anthological or episodic, and it's jarring, to be sure.

Another aspect of ¡Tintorera! that might jar is it usage of real sharks and extremely practical special effects. Many actual sharks are killed. A loggerhead turtle is killed via throat cutting and hung over the side of a boat to make a blood trail. We don't think the Mexican filmmakers Conacite Uno and Productora Filmica Real added a disclaimer to the credits about no animals being harmed. Somehow they got a shark to swim around with a fake human torso sticking out of its mouth. Another shark is made to carry around a human lower body trailing yards of intestines. We don't know how the filmmakers achieved these striking scenes, but they look very real. So if all of what we've written doesn't make the film's slender free love plot sound enticing, maybe watch it for the gory efx. You'll marvel. ¡Tintorera! premiered in Mexico today in 1977.
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Vintage Pulp Apr 3 2024
MEAN GIRLS
Gloria Grahame is a bad mamma scamma.


We had to watch Mama's Dirty Girls, not because it's a 1970's grindhouse movie (though that helped), but because none other than 1950s femme fatale Gloria Grahame got snared in this low budget affair. Sometimes the bills simply need to be paid. Or maybe she thought the script was dynamite. Either way, she gets top billing in this drive-in quality drama that premiered today in 1974, which tells the story of a scam artist mother and her three daughters who are honeytrap serial killers dispatching men for their money.

When Grahame gets another rich man on the hook, she foolishly poses as a well-to-do widow without realizing that her target is likewise seeking to kill someone for their money. This twist is ironic, and the mutual murder attempts that follow can be read as black comedy if you peer deeply between the lines, but in our opinion Mama's Dirty Girls doesn't have enough brainpower to be satire. Grahame probably wished it were, though—then she'd have had an excuse for starring in it. Sadly, it's just an amusingly bad movie. Everyone is terrible in it—even Grahame. And there isn't near enough eroticism to save it.

But you may want to watch it anyway. The cast is beautiful, particularly Currie, and there's an interesting value-added co-star too. Fifteen minutes into the movie's running time you'll see an actress that'll make you go, “Who is that?” You'll be reacting to the radiant beauty of bit player Annika Di Lorenzo, née Marjorie Lee Thoreson, who was a Penthouse centerfold in 1973 and later carved out a career in b-cinema. Besides Mama's Dirty Girls she appeared in such films as 1974's Act of Vengeance and The Centerfold Girls, 1980's Dressed To Kill, and 1979's big budget porn epic Caligula.

She later sued Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione, claiming that he forced her to have sex with business associates, and tricked her into the infamous Caligula orgy. She won a $4 million punitive judgement, but lost it in an appeal. Guccione took revenge by publishing a lesbian pictorial of Di Lorenzo. Afterward, she stepped away from the limelight, but in 2011 hit newspapers again when she washed up dead on Camp Pendleton Beach in San Diego under baffling circumstances. Police suggested suicide, but her family contended that it was foul play, possibly perpetrated by someone from the military base. In the end, her case was closed as unsolved, and today remains another Hollywood mystery.

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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 Mar 3 2024
SUPERBAD
You're evil. I'm a little lazy. I think our relationship works because we accept each other's flaws.


Looking at the promo poster for the Ray Milland/Ann Todd thriller So Evil My Love, we expected a standard 1940s crime drama, but we didn't look closely enough. The clothes reveal, if we'd used our eyes, that this is a period piece set in the late Victorian era. Milland plays a man sailing from Jamaica to England who picks up a case of malaria and is nursed back to health by recently widowed missionary Todd. Later, in Liverpool, he looks her up and moves into her boarding house. Milland is a painter, but he's more lucratively an art thief and forger. His real crime, and the reason he was leaving Jamaica, is a murder he committed. Trouble is soon to follow.

Once ensconced in Todd's rambling residence, Milland does the romantic full press, manipulating, flattering, and even dominating her until she falls in love with him. From that point it doesn't take much time or effort for Milland to draw poor, lonely Todd into his criminal schemes. Some viewers might become frustrated with her pliability and helplessness, but that's the 1890s for you. She eventually manages to act of her own volition, and her evolution into a woman who embraces power is what the movie is about. We thought it was good, for its type. It premiered in London today in 1948.
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Vintage Pulp Feb 26 2024
SAVAGE BY NATURE
He was a good husband at first. Then he turned into a total ape.


This Mexican poster for La novia del gorilla, aka Bride of the Gorilla, is chockful of interesting elements, from the massive simian at top, to the snake hanging in a tree, to star Barbara Payton being borne away by a second gorilla, and co-star Carol Varga in her classic “native” two-piece. There's a line early on: “White people shouldn't live too long in the jungle. It brings out their bad side—jealousies, impatience.” That sums up the thrust of the plot, the subplot, and the underlying themes, because it's a one-note psychological suspense flick about northerners out of place in the humid global south.

In brief, Raymond Burr runs a rubber plantation for colonial boss Paul Cavanaugh, and has the hots for his wife Barbara Payton. He kills Cavanaugh, thanks to a serendipitous lethal snake that's slithering by. He gets away with the murder, but he can't fool the withered old crone who runs the plantation house. She uses the pe de guine—the so-called plant of evil—to place a curse on Burr. It's slow to act, but by the time he marries the widowed Payton he comes to think he's changing into a beast. Is it in his mind? Is he suffering the effects of slow poisoning from the pe de guine? Or is he really a monster?

Bride of the Gorilla, while a middling and basically inconsequential cinematic effort, is well remembered by Hollywood buffs for its extracurriculars. Barbara Payton was being surveilled via detective by her husband Franchot Tone, and passed on the unfortunate news that Payton was enjoying sweaty horizontal interludes with Woody Strode. He was one of the best looking guys you can imagine, so it's no wonder the highly sexed Payton got hot and bothered. It was one in a series of affairs for her, but this one harmed her career because Strode was black. She would later suffer one of the worst downward spirals in celebrity history.

In any case, the question is should whether you give Bride of the Gorilla a screening. Hmm... well, owing to the good cast, we think so. Chaney and Burr are quality talents even when overrmatched by substandard screenwriting. But keep your expectations in check. It's watchable, but it's still pure b-movie schlock. It was originally released in the U.S., and opened in Mexico today in 1951

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Vintage Pulp Feb 18 2024
MANILA HEAT
Caffaro knows how to Handle her business.


Why do we spend our valuable time watching exploitation movies? Well, because we watch all pulp related genres of movies, from film noir to horror. So why discriminate? We also watch such movies (which is a set we figure includes sexploitation, blaxploitation, women-in-prison, and more) because owing to their sexual, racial, and political aspects, their like will probably never be made again. Last month we completed our look at Cheri Caffaro's infamous Ginger McAllister sexploitation-spy trilogy. Now we're moving on to her later work in Too Hot To Handle, which premiered today in 1977.

Set in and around Manila, Caffaro plays an experienced and wealthy assassin named Samantha Fox who takes on a difficult triple-contract. In order to succeed she'll need all her skills of disguise, deception, and sexuality. Meanwhile the cops are on her trail. When one of the investigators gets close—real close—Caffaro takes a liking to him and, passing herself off as her alter ego Melinda Burroughs, tries to navigate sleeping with the enemy while fulfilling her murderous obligations.

All Caffaro movies are low budget, and all are bad. This one is poorly written and acted, and as usual there's a touch of the kinky, both in front of the camera, as well as behind, as Caffaro's husband Don Schain directs her getting her squeezebox fondled by hairy co-star Aharon Ipalé. That's called commitment to the product and your art—or alternatively, finding a way to monetize your spouse-sharing fantasies. It didn't improve the movie.

The only surprise here was that former top European star Corinne Calvet somehow got suckered into playing a brothel owner named Madame Ruanda, later dying as one of Caffaro's targets. Alas, Corinne—sexploitation is a welcoming mistress for those desperate to pay bills, but next time we recommend a loan shark. The vig is a bitch but at least you get to hang onto your dignity. But even if Too Hot To Handle was too bad for Calvet to be in, it isn't too bad for you to watch. Caffaro is weirdly great. In the sexploitation realm nobody did more with less.
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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
May 25
1938—Alicante Is Bombed
During the Spanish Civil War, a squadron of Italian bombers sent by fascist dictator Benito Mussolini to support the insurgent Spanish Nationalists, bombs the town of Alicante, killing more than three-hundred people. Although less remembered internationally than the infamous Nazi bombing of Guernica the previous year, the death toll in Alicante is similar, if not higher.
1977—Star Wars Opens
George Lucas's sci-fi epic Star Wars premiers in the Unites States to rave reviews and packed movie houses. Produced on a budget of $11 million, the film goes on to earn $460 million in the U.S. and $337 million overseas, while spawning a franchise that would eventually earn billions and make Lucas a Hollywood icon.
May 24
1930—Amy Johnson Flies from England to Australia
English aviatrix Amy Johnson lands in Darwin, Northern Territory, becoming the first woman to fly from England to Australia. She had departed from Croydon on May 5 and flown 11,000 miles to complete the feat. Her storied career ends in January 1941 when, while flying a secret mission for Britain, she either bails out into the Thames estuary and drowns, or is mistakenly shot down by British fighter planes. The facts of her death remain clouded today.
May 23
1934—Bonnie and Clyde Are Shot To Death
Outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, who traveled the central United States during the Great Depression robbing banks, stores and gas stations, are ambushed and shot to death in Louisiana by a posse of six law officers. Officially, the autopsy report lists seventeen separate entrance wounds on Barrow and twenty-six on Parker, including several head shots on each. So numerous are the bullet holes that an undertaker claims to have difficulty embalming the bodies because they won't hold the embalming fluid.
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