I know it's supposed to be a good luck symbol, but I'm seeing it in the mirror and it's kind of turning me off.
Above, an alternate poster for the Japanese melodrama Manji, aka All Mixed Up, which premiered today in 1964. And before any readers get all mixed up, it has nothing to do with Nazis. We already talked about the movie, and you can read what we wrote here.
She's bound and determined to put the bad guys out of business.
Uncensored secrets and sinister vice scandals? Sounded good to us, so we screened a copy of Slaves in Bondage, which is an envelope pushing 1930s crime drama featuring fast women, tough guys, heavy drinking, and late nights folded into a story about big city sex trafficking, or white slavery, as it was usually referred to back in the day. Specifically, the story follows the efforts of an organized crime game to install beautiful Lona Andre in one of their brothels. Head gangster Wheeler Oakman takes a special interest in Andre, but she starts to get wise and begins to turn the tables on him and his henchmen. The movie pretends to be a cautionary tale, but really it's an excuse to give squares a glimpse of raucous clubs and backstage dressing rooms. It's fairly racy, with women in lingerie, dialogue hinting at premarital sex, several sexy dance numbers, and an infamous scene where two negligee clad women roll around on a bed and smack each other's asses. We loved it. The acting, direction, and editing are clunky as hell, but the film is significant and worth a gander. It premiered in the U.S. today in 1937.
You know what vampires really like? Making more vampires.
When it comes to Japanese film, we tend to stick to crime and pinku productions, but a change of pace is often nice. Chi o suu bara, which is known in English as Evil of Dracula, or sometimes Bloodsucking Rose, is straight horror about a teacher who takes a job at a women's school which he soon comes to suspect is plagued by a vampire. For those who like turn-of-the-millennium horror movies such as 2002's Ju-on or 1998's Ringu, this will seem like a precursor in terms of how the monster effects are achieved by using makeup and lighting. The movie is a bit funny at times, too, because these makeup effects are perfectly obvious to the viewer, but for the most part nobody within the film notices:
“Teacher, I would like to talk to you more seriously, but not in here. Please, will you follow me (into the creepy-ass woods that surround the school)?
“Sure (because I don't notice your ghastly blue face or the way you keep staring at my neck).”
But the movie is pretty good. Its weird, cyanotic vampires are menacing enough to put the mood across, and Shin Kishida as the main bloodsucker projects a physical power and savage hunger we totally bought. At one point the hero Toshio Kurosawa is asked, “Are you seriously expecting that people will believe such a lurid tale?” Well, vampire movies are all about building a framework of believability despite the subject matter's innate impossibility. Chi o suu bara might make you believe vampires can really fry. It premiered in Japan today in 1974.
Shit. I think I left my lesson plan at home. Oh well. Guess I'll just wing it.
Thanks to my rigorous teacher training I desire none of you nubile young women sexually.
This old thing? It's been out here for as long as I can remember. I've never once been curious what's in it.
Centuries of *grunt* consuming blood have done nothing *gurgle* good for your breath!
That's so rude! Just for that comment I'm gonna suck you extra slow!
Teacher, can I talk to you about my mid-term? You gave me an a-minus and I think I deserve an a-positive—er, I mean an a-plus.
Master, check out this mask I got. This Halloween I'm going out dressed as a vampire. Totally meta, right?
I think I lost him. That soulless demon. That total asshole.
Ray Milland and Rosie Grier put their heads together.
Is it fair to describe The Thing with Two Heads as a legendary movie? We think so. It's The Wild Ones taken to its shark jumping extreme thanks to the blaxploitation maestros at American International Pictures. Instead of a white convict and a black convict handcuffed together after a prison escape, this flick features a racist white doctor whose head is grafted onto a black patient's body. These two really hate each other, which is a serious problem considering they spend 24/7 at kissing distance, but they're stuck.
Ray Milland, who once won a Best Actor Oscar, is trying to prolong his own life. Grier is a convict on death row who donates his body to science. He has no idea what the science he's donated himself to entails, just that he'll avoid execution for thirty more days and buy time for his relatives and lawyer to prove his innocence. Sounds fun, right? Once Grier wakes up after surgery and realizes what's happened he flees with Milland's noggin riding helplessly along and decides to prove his innocence himself. But Milland is slowly gaining control of their body. You get the feeling this isn't going to end well.
The Thing with Two Heads is low budget, cheeseball, light on genuine humor, and perfunctory in its ending. And yet... how can one resist? Is it an ingenious parable about the historical theft of black bodies by white men? Or is it just a chunk of opportunistic schlock? Only the screenwriters know. We'll say this, though—considering how low this movie could have sunk (picture Milland looking down at Grier's dick and exclaiming, "Whoa! That's bigger than my Oscar!") it's actually pretty restrained. Put it in the better-with-alcohol category and don't watch it alone. It premiered in the U.S. today in 1972.
Marie Forså gives a lofty performance in a down and dirty classic
Above is a Japanese poster for the Swedish film Butterflies, another sexploitation romp featuring blonde-on-blonde sex symbol Marie Forså. The movie also stars Harry Reems and Eric Edwards, two legit porno actors from back in the day, here getting a chance to do some mainstream work. The basic thrust, so to speak, of the plot involves a country girl who goes to the big city and has various sexual adventures with older and more experienced men. You know the drill.
As with other Forså films, there are explicit scenes, but in this case it's actually her doing the deed. There are several uncut pans from face to nether regions in two of her bed sessions that leave no doubt. There's confusion around this because the filmmakers wanted a gynecological version of the movie and shot jarring close-ups of thrusting genitalia. Those aren't Forså's. They were shot later to make the film extra explicit. Because of those inserts the continuity of the original scenes was ruined, and assumptions that Forså was replaced by a body double came into being.
We have to say, even though the intercourse is real, that doesn't mean the sexual ecstasy is, but Forså is a good performer in this regard. You may even believe she's having the best sex of her life. This is of course not the norm for porn actresses, whose fakery generally is obvious. But Forså is a force of nature. We don't know if there's a version of the movie that omits the explicit inserts. If there is, that's the one to watch. But either way, Forså's innocent looks, combined with an uninhibited performance, make Butterflies a true blue classic. It premiered in Japan today in 1975.
Need to get rid of an uninvited guest? Try hummus.
For a b-movie The Thing from Another World is quite entertaining. Above you see its nice Belgian promo poster, which has a different look for the era, with its colorful vortex and entranced looking couple. Belgium, of course, is multi-lingual, so the movie was titled La chose d'un autre monde in French and Het ding van een andere wereld in Dutch. It was directed by Christian Nyby, who was taking his first turn in the director's chair, but a certain uber-experienced fella named Howard Hawks apparently assumed a supervisory role, which may be why the film has such a sense of competent ease about it.
Snarky critics often joke that The Thing is basically James Arness as a giant carrot, but that's silly. The monster is a type of vegetable, but Arness does not dress as one, or anything close. He's a humanoid creature in a jumpsuit. We mention it only because those carrot quips, which suggested the film was some sort of low budget disaster, kept us from watching it for years. If the monster was just a carrot they could chase it away with a bowl of ranch dressing or hummus, but it's actually made of sterner stuff than that. Even fire barely fazes it.
In the end, whether thanks to Nyby or Hawks or some combination thereof, what you get here is a good, solid sci-fi thriller, well put together, well acted, reasonably scripted, and ultimately pretty entertaining. There's no Belgian release date, but after premiering in the U.S. in 1951, it made France in January 1952, so it probably opened in Belgium just a bit later. We're sure we don't have to mention that the 1982 remake was great, but if you haven't seen it feel free to take a gander at out little write-up on in from several years ago.
She gets her best work done during overtime.
Above, a beautiful poster for Danchizuma wasureenu yoru, known in English as Apartment Wife: Unforgettable Night. The wife in this third entry in the Apartment Wife series is Junko Miyashita. The plot is typically convoluted, but basically she's sexually unfulfilled by her hubby and finds pleasure in an anonymous office encounter. Her repeated trysts with this person leave her vulnerable to blackmail of sorts, and— Actually, it's really hard to describe this without giving everything away. Let's just call it a twisted sexual awakening tale with an ironic ending. Which is what most of the Apartment Wife movies are. This one premiered in Japan today in 1972.
Yôko Mihara dives into a family mystery.
This poster was made for the Shintoho Film Co. genre mash-up Ama no bakemono yashiki. What genres were mashed? The English title should answer that for you—Girl Diver of Spook Mansion. Yes, it's a mixture of an ama flick and— Wait, should we define that for you? We've talked about this a lot, but in case you weren't around for those discussions, ama films deal with female divers who scoured Japan's bay bottoms for pearls, abalone, et al, and, according to strict tradition, did so topless. Look here, quickly. So that idea was combined with a ghost story. We gather that the ama genre was so popular that injecting novelty into it was a can't miss proposition. And in fact, most of the reviews we checked were favorable.
The movie is about an ama, played by Yôko Mihara, living in a creepy old house and being haunted by her younger sister's ghost, which nobody else can see. Though others are skeptical at first, Mihara manages to secure help in the form of Bunta Sugawara. Sounds like a winner to us. Hopefully we'll confirm that later, since this film is actually out there to be seen, but at the moment isn't available to us. At least we found this rare poster. There are a couple of scans of it online, but the version above is better quality than those. We also found a few promo images, and they appear below. Ama no bakemono yashiki, aka Girl Diver of Spook Mansion (another aka was Haunted Cave) premiered in Japan today in 1959.
Larger than life and twice as revolutionary.
The schlock factory known as American International Pictures and director Eddie Romero team up for another low budget romp with Savage Sisters, one of numerous shot-in-the-Philippines action epics they put together for the grindhouse circuit. AIP regulars Sid Haig, John Ashley, and Vic Diaz make appearances, but the stars of this one are Cheri Caffaro, Gloria Hendry, and Rosanna Ortiz, playing women caught up in a third world revolution. Violence and dumb comedy combine into an entertaining mix, but entertaining isn't the same as good. Savage Sisters is strictly for movie parties with pals, something you glance at between beers and bong hits to catch the intermittent gun battles and soft titillation. Gil Scott-Heron said the revolution would not be televised. It won't be organized either, if these plotters are any indication. It's ironic that all these AIP movies about overthrowing repressive governments were shot during Ferdinand Marcos's exploitative Philippine regime, but we guess he was just happy to have film production in the country and didn't actually care about the finished product. As long as you don't care too much about the finished product either you can put Savage Sisters in the awful-but-fun bin and enjoy. It opened this month in 1974.
The way you say that word makes me so hot. Say it again. Say... “epaulettes.”
Sorry, dude, I can't reach that knife in your pocket. But I can hold your hand. It'll comfort us both as we die of exposure.
Damn, girl. I never noticed before, but when the light hits your face just right you look a lot like Peter Frampton.
I think we all knew that Iota Kappa Ass has the most difficult initiations of all the sororities but this is just crazy.
It's a revealing outfit for a military assault, I know, but after we shoot up this munitions depot we're headed to the disco.
I think I just realized something. I don't give a fuck about the revolution. I just want to ventilate some honkies.
I'm uniquely qualified to lead this revolution because of my grand vision and infallible foresight. Take my outfit, for instance. This will never go out of style.
Woman, 20, seeks man any age. Must be open minded. Sex guaranteed. No commitment. Emotional masochist preferred.
Above is a West German poster for the French sexploitation flick Laura, originally titled Laure, starring the sexiest elf in cinema history, Annie Belle, in the tale of a minister's libertine daughter trekking around the Philippines, getting laid with whomever while her boyfriend-later-husband watches and sometimes films. We talked about this one in detail a while back but wanted to share this nice poster. Notice Emmanuelle Arsan is credited as the director? What happened was the actual director Louis-Jacques Rollet-Andriane quit and refused to allow his name to be attached to the film because he didn't get to delve more deeply into his philosophy of freedom and swinging. Which is funny because the movie is almost entirely about freedom and swinging. But give a Frenchman six inches and he'll demand a mile. Read more here. Laura premiered in West Germany today in 1976.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1920—U.S. Women Gain Right To Vote
The Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution is ratified despite heavy conservative opposition. It states that no U.S. citizen can be denied the right to vote because of their gender.
1958—Lolita is Published in the U.S.
Vladimir Nabokov's controversial novel Lolita, about a man's sexual obsession with a pre-pubescent girl, is published in the United States. It had been originally published in Paris three years earlier.
1953—NA Launches Recovery Program
Narcotics Anonymous, a twelve-step program of drug addiction recovery modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous, holds its first meeting in Los Angeles, California.
1942—Blimp Crew Disappears without a Trace
The two-person crew of the U.S. naval blimp L-8 disappears on a routine patrol over the Pacific Ocean. The blimp drifts without her crew and crashes in Daly City, California. The mystery of the crew's disappearance is never solved.
1977—Elvis Presley Dies
Music icon Elvis Presley is found unresponsive by his fiancée on the floor of his Graceland bedroom suite. Attempts to revive him fail and he's pronounced dead soon afterward. The cause of death is often cited as drug overdose, but toxicology tests have never found evidence this was the case. More likely, years of drug abuse contributed to generally frail health and an overtaxed heart that suddenly failed.
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