The artist is actually the one who's out of this world.
Above is the Italian poster for the sci-fi/horror movie La cosa da un altro mondo, which opened in Italy today in 1952 but originally premiered in the U.S. in 1951 as The Thing from Another World. We talked about it several years ago while sharing its Belgian promo. Today's effort is the work of Italian illustrator Sandro Symeoni, a genius who painted in so many modes he can be unrecognizable from piece to piece. See some of his best work here, here, and here.
There's something very fishy going on.
This promo poster just screams winner, don't you think? If it isn't a good movie, it's got to be deliciously terrible. It was made for L'isola degli uomini pesce, known in English as The Island of the Fishmen, a movie that starred Richard Johnson, Barbara Bach, and Claudio Cassinelli. No surprise what it's about, thanks to the title, but nothing is spoiled—the fishmen show up within the first few minutes of the film when a group of convicts in a lifeboat are attacked and the five survivors end up stranded on a swampy island. Since the fishmen hunt there, the attrition rate on this parcel of land is a bitch. Two cons are killed almost immediately upon arrival, and a third barely survives a pit trap. They soon learn humans live there too—paranoid misanthrope Richard Johnson, his companion Barbara Bach, their servant Beryl Cunninghman, and others, all residing in and around a baroque slave plantation house.
Johnson, who is a quack scientist, is trying to train the fishmen for what shall here remain undisclosed purposes. It involves going deep underwater where humans can't survive—but strangely, not so deep that Johnson can't simply drop down in his unpressurized wooden submersible and watch them at work. It's all a crock, even for bad sci-fi. But there are three points of note with the film: first, you can actually see that some budget went into creating the fishmen; second, Johnson speaking in a constipated Dick Dastardly voice is flat hilarious; and third, Barbara Bach is Barbara Bach. Or maybe we should have listed her first. The producers at Dania Film, perhaps realizing Fishmen was a total woofer, rode Bach hard, putting out a bunch of skinful promotional photos and getting her a Fishmen-themed nude shoot in Ciné-Revue. There's always a silver lining in 1970s exploitation cinema—and on Pulp Intl. L'isola degli uomini pesce premiered in Italy today in 1979.
Greetings, Earthling. Take me to your leading purveyor of glitter.
This promo photo features Hungarian actress Catherine Schell, and it was made for the cheeseball British television series Space: 1999, about the trials and troubles of the inhabitants of a moon colony after a massive explosion blows the moon out of Earth's orbit. As the survivors hurtle through space they encounter strange phenomena and new lifeforms. Schell played an alien named Maya from the planet Psychon, and could transform herself into anything organic, including, seemingly, an aficionado of intricate beadwork. She played Maya for twenty-five episodes, and is also well known for appearances in films such as On Her Majesty's Secret Service and Moon Zero Two. This shot is from 1975.
Okay, I think we're ready. Formula for edible pomegranate flavored body oil, test seventeen, commencing now.
Brian Aldiss was better known as a sci-fi author, but his 1961 novel The Male Response deals with sexual mores and politics. On Aldiss's website he writes: “Only marginally science fiction, the story tells how the indecisive Soames Noyes is sent by his company with a computer to the newly free black state of Goya, in Africa, where he becomes entangled with women and witch-doctors. Reluctantly, Noyes faces all challenges and, following by public promiscuity, becomes President.” That certainly sounds fun, especially the promiscuity to president part. It obviously could only happen in sci-fi. The cover art here is by Robert Stanley.
Moody, never really warm enough, thinking about shooting some dumb fucking guy—I'm a real woman alright.
This 1982 promo image of a gun toting Sean Young, a variation on one we shared a while back, comes from Blade Runner, one of the most awesome imaginative achievements in cinematic history. Young played a genetically superior flesh-and-blood replicant—sort of like a clone—who was anguished that she might not be a real woman. But let's go down a list. Genetically superior but not treated with due respect? Check. Trailed by a guy with issues who thinks he deserves on-demand access to her vagina? Check. Entire society telling her what she can and cannot be? Triple check. Young was real enough. Her main motivation was to reconcile her past and have hope for her future, and that overarching theme is exactly why Blade Runner is such a good movie. We've seen it, we'd guess, ten to twelve times, and we'll watch it again that often, at least.
This one might even go to 11.
Above is a fun promo image of Scottish actress Caroline Munro, who's never far from mind because she played the unforgettable Stella Star in the 1978 sci-fi flick Starcrash. It happens to be one of our favorite films, and one of the worst ever made. It's an unbeatable combination. You can read what we wrote about it here.
If you think this looks ridiculous you should see my winter wardrobe.
Austrian actress Sybil Danning has a lot of promo images with guns, both realistic and fake, due to her appearance in several over-the-top action movies, including 1984's Euer Weg führt durch die Hölle, aka Jungle Warriors, 1983's Chained Heat, and 1980's Battle Beyond the Stars, for which she shot the above photo. All of those films have attained cult status of varying levels, but the latter is amazing because of the people associated with its production. Its stars included respected actors Robert Vaughan and George Peppard, its screenplay was written by John Sayles, its efx were helmed by James Cameron, and its driving force was schlockmeister supreme Roger Corman. We may take a look at it a bit later, but in either case Danning will return.
It isn't conclusive proof she's responsible for the guy on the floor with a bullet hole in him. But it's highly suggestive.
We were thrilled when we found this photo of Jane Wyatt with a gun because she's one of those actresses that usually played good girls. But in 1951's The Man Who Cheated Himself, which is where this photo comes from, she's pretty bad. We won't say more because we plan to discuss the film, but we haven't spoiled it—she's bad early on, and her escapade with the smoking gun is the premise for what follows. Wyatt later became a veteran television actress and earned a special place in the hearts of Star Trek fans for playing Spock's mom in the 1967 episode “Journey to Babel.” In that episode her name was—we love this—Amanda. You'd expect something, maybe, spacier. But nope. She was plain old Amanda. But she was never a plain old Jane.
The Metal Monster is science fiction as a mind-altering trip.
We usually read novels from the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s, but we took a trip to the heart of the pulp era with Abraham Merritt's The Metal Monster, which made its first appearance as a serial in Argosy All-Story Weekly in 1920. The above paperback came in 1946 from Avon Publications' Murder Mystery Monthly #41, and has cover art by the always interesting Paul Stahr, who worked extensively with Avon during this period. You can click his keywords at bottom and see all four of the covers by him we have in the website. There are also interesting covers by other artists on later editions of The Metal Monster. We'll try to show you a couple of those later.
In Merritt's tale, four explorers travel into an uncharted Himalayan valley and subsequently are trapped by what lives in the area—Persian soldiers seemingly stuck in time, or whose traditions have gone unchanged for two thousand years. There's something else in the valley too—a shimmering goddess creature named Norhala and her metal swarm, which is usually a blizzard of small geometrical shapes, but can collect into forms as needed, for example a towering monster with six whiplike arms that scythe through the ranks of the Persians, ripping them to shreds. While Norhala has some control over the swarm, we later learn that the creatures came from the stars, feed on sunlight, and eventually eradicate biological life on every planet they colonize. So that's not good.
Merritt's prose brings to mind H.P. Lovecraft, because he similarly tasks himself with describing the indescribable. Lovecraft fans know what that means—the creatures in his mythos are so mindbending as to drive humans insane merely to gaze upon them. Lovecraft challenged himself to describe those beings, and much of the horror in his writing derives from those attempts. But he sometimes took his built-in escape hatch too, ultimately saying the creatures simply were so inhuman they couldn't be described. Merritt faces the same challenge, and in his descriptions usually manages to be vivid yet vague:
Where the azure globe had been, flashed out a disk of flaming splendors, the very secret soul of flowered flame! And simultaneously the pyramids leaped up and out behind it—two gigantic, four rayed stars blazing with cold blue fires. The green auroral curtainings flared out, ran with streaming radiance—as though some spirt of jewels had broken bonds of enchantment and burst forth jubilant, flooding the shaft with its freed glories.
The tale is filled with psychedelia like the example above, though it does get more concrete in parts, like here:
[They] lifted themselves in a thousand incredible shapes, shapes squared and globed and spiked and shifting swiftly into other thousands as incredible. I saw a mass of them draw themselves up into the likeness of a tent skyscraper high; hang so for an instant, then writhe into a monstrous chimera of a dozen towering legs that strode away like a gigantic headless and bodiless tarantula in steps two hundred feet long. I watched mile-long lines of them shape and reshape into circles, into interlaced lozenges and pentagons—then lift in great columns and shoot through the air in unimaginable barrage.
Honestly, all these hyper-detailed descriptions get tedious at times, as does the pervasive incredulity of Merritt's narrator Dr. Walter T. Goodwin. We get that he's dumbfounded, but the human mind has an amazing capacity to normalize that which it sees constantly, therefore we'd prefer if Goodwin weren't repeatedly floored by everything he encounters. That way, when he finally learns what form the metal swarm actually takes—that of a vast city—we readers can finally be truly amazed. However, when we think of The Metal Monster as an Argosy serial circa 1920, it's visionary, and we imagine it must have been intensely gripping. Merritt may merit more exploration.
Aliens arrive on Earth to show humanity how killing is really done.
Above is a French edition of the 1898 sci-fi classic The War of the Worlds, published by Éditorial J'ai Lu in 1959 as La Guerre des mondes. H.G. Wells' vision of monstrous invaders with giant war machines, drooling mouths, and a thirst for human blood is still scary even today. The cover on this is by Italian artist Giovanni Benvenuti, a true master we've documented extensively. You can see what we've done on him by clicking here and scrolling down. |
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1969—Allende Meteorite Falls in Mexico
The Allende Meteorite, the largest object of its type ever found, falls in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. The original stone, traveling at more than ten miles per second and leaving a brilliant streak across the sky, is believed to have been approximately the size of an automobile. But by the time it hit the Earth it had broken into hundreds of fragments.
1985—Matt Munro Dies
English singer Matt Munro, who was one of the most popular entertainers on the international music scene during the 1960s and sang numerous hits, including the James Bond theme "From Russia with Love," dies from liver cancer at Cromwell Hospital, Kensington, London.
1958—Plane Crash Kills 8 Man U Players
British European Airways Flight 609 crashes attempting to take off from a slush-covered runway at Munich-Riem Airport in Munich, West Germany. On board the plane is the Manchester United football team, along with a number of supporters and journalists. 20 of the 44 people on board die in the crash.
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