|Vintage Pulp||Dec 15 2022|
His wife sometimes made him so mad he felt like he could kill her. Then the opportunity came.
We've watched a lot of movies this month, and today is the day we begin squeezing them onto the site before the end of the year. The shooter's POV poster above was made for Aiyoku no wana, aka Trap of Lust, which is a roman porno reinterpretation of Seijun Suzuki's 1967 gangster classic Koroshi no rakuin, aka Branded to Kill. It's the story of a veteran hitman who botches an assignment, with the unexpected consequence that he's ordered to kill his own wife.
It isn't a punishment thing, exactly, that brings this about. The reason she becomes his target is narratively more complex. But killing one's spouse is not easy even for a cold-blooded professional terminator, and ultimately he's pitted against a couple of top yakuza hitmen, one of whom is a freaky deaky assassin who does his work alongside a nearly life-sized marionette that he voices like a schoolgirl. We know it sounds out there, and it is. Look at the screenshots below for an idea what this disturbed character is about.
The marionette gimmick isn't totally gratuitous. It contributes to a pivotal duel that by itself nudges the movie onto the positive side of the watch/don't watch ledger. While we're tempted to get into the weird psychocultural reasons why embodiments of pure human evil in Japanese films are often covered in brown shoe polish, we'll just leave the obvious unspoken. Ready for something bizarre? Then go for it. Aiyoku no wana premiered in Japan today in 1973.
JapanNikkatsuAiyoku no wanaTrap of LustKoroshi no rakuinBranded to KillGenjiro AratoMoeko EzawaRie Nakagawaposter artcinemayakuzamovie review
|Vintage Pulp||Jul 14 2022|
You can attain enlightenment through years of mental discipline, rigid study, and incessant ritual. Or you can just get properly laid once.
Above you see a poster for Yakuza kannon: Iro Jingi, known in English as Yakuza Justice: Erotic Code of Honor, and to dive right into this one, the movie starts bizarrely when a fisherman hooks the corpse of a drowned woman. She died pregnant, and defying all scientific laws, the fisherman delivers the child, though a cadaver obviously can't produce the labor contractions needed to push a baby out. But perhaps there's something mystical at work.
The infant grows into handsome Jirô Okazaki, who has been indoctrinated into monkdom and lives and works on the grounds of a vast temple complex. Onto those grounds one day comes Nozomi Yasuda, who is the daughter of a yakuza boss, and is promised to another yakuza boss. But she's broken the engagement, and when her erstwhile fiancée sends men to kidnap her the attempted snatch happens right in front of Okazaki. Boy saves girl, and sparks fly.
Okazaki's days had been filled by the typical meditation and drudgery of monks, but dealing with the slick yakuza and getting some sweet, sweet Yasuda lovin' changes him to the point where he soon sees the world through a modern, violent, sexual lens. He says at one point (speaking about himself in third person, which we guess monks do): “Seigen has had a taste of earthly life—starting with the tip of his cock.” The eloquence of the man is stunning.
The tale then takes a circular route that explains how Okazaki's mother ended up dead in that river in the first place. It's a stretch, but when it comes to Japanese films from this era that was their stock-in-trade. Okazaki continues down a dark path and eventually risks losing himself. Or finding himself, if you believe this is always who he was under his monk's robes. Birth or rebirth—in either case, Yakuza kannon: Iro Jingi is a pretty interesting story of transformation. It premiered today in 1973.
JapanNikkatsuYakuza kannon: Iro JingiYakuza Justice: Erotic Code of HonorJirô OkazakiNozomi YasudaChizuyu Azamiposter artcinemayakuzamovie review
|Vintage Pulp||May 23 2022|
Victor Mature goes one blonde over the recommended limit.
This Japanese poster was made to promote the Victor Mature/Diana Dors drama The Long Haul, which deals with a truck driver who discovers that his outfit is in the grip of organized crime. For that reason the film was given the Japanese title Yakuza tokkyū, or “Yakuza express.” Our favorite part of the poster are little speed lines on the title. This one does move pretty fast, as we mentioned last year, and Dors makes a particularly tempting femme fatale. After opening in England in 1957 The Long Haul premiered in Japan today in 1959.
|Vintage Pulp||Feb 28 2022|
Bunta Sugawara spits hot lead in Machine Gun Dragon.
Cagney! Bogart! And... Bunta? This poster, if you look at the text in the righthand margin, suggests that Bunta Sugawara is a gangster on that level. We'll see about that in a minute, but one thing is sure—this is a kick-ass image of him. It was made for his crime flick Yokohama ankokugai mashingan no ryu, known in English as Yokohama Underworld: The Machine-Gun Dragon. Sugawara plays a rogue gunman, thief, and fashion plate who decides to rob the Matsumi yakuza clan of a billion yen worth of drugs. Ill gotten gains are hard to keep in crime movies, so you know already what the story arc is here: the people he robbed come looking for him.
However, there are some quirks. For example, Sugawara has a disturbingly close relationship with his mother. The two take baths together, as mom dispenses parental wisdom like, “The most important thing in the world is money. A guy without money is garbage. He might as well not have a dick,” while peeking at Sugawara's dick, which thankfully is out-of-frame. It's under mom's influence that Sugawara robs the Matsumi group, a heist the pair pull off in the first moments of the film. They plan to hold the goods until the heat cools, but another gang deduces that Sugawara was involved and demands half the drugs for not turning him over. The cops are soon closing in too, since the robbery resulted in a quadruple homicide.
Eventually, Sugawara engineers his own arrest. It's the only way he can avoid capture by the yakuza, and in jail he can presumably regroup. But Matsumi has men inside. Those men have no idea how ruthless and resourceful Sugawara is, and in the film's best sequences he shows how survival inside this particular prison is about who's willing to be the most vicious. He doesn't spend long in jail, which means that upon release his problems still must be faced. But fire breathing dragons are very hard to kill. As hard as Cagney and Bogart? Well, let's just say that if Bunta goes out, he'll go out guns blazing. Yokohama ankokugai mashingan no ryu premiered in Japan today in 1976.
JapanYokohama ankokugai mashingan no ryuYokohama Underworld: The Machine-Gun DragonBunta SugawaraShin'ichi ChibaSonny ChibaAiko MimasuKyôko Enamiposter artcinemayakuzamovie review
|Vintage Pulp||Mar 1 2020|
They're planning to make a sizable withdrawal.
Above is an alternate poster for the bank heist flick Suke Yakuza, aka Female Yakuza Convict, which premiered in Japan today in 1974 and starred Reiko Ike and Yoko Horikoshi. We still haven't tracked down the movie, and since we know of no other promos than the four—including this one—we've now shared, if we ever do find this we won't be able to write about it because we'll have no art to pair with a write-up. Unless, of course, there's yet a fifth poster out there. But we doubt it. So consider this rare horizontally oriented version the last you'll hear from us about this film.
JapanToei CompanySuke Yakuza女囚やくざFemale Yakuza ConvictReiko IkeYoko Horikoshiposter artcinemapinkupinky violence
|Vintage Pulp||May 31 2019|
There's only one way out and it isn't retirement.
Above is a poster for Gendai yakuza: yotamono jingi, aka Hoodlum Yakuza, which premiered in Japan today in 1969 and starred Bunta Sugawara as a yakuza footsoldier trying to escape the life. He wants to run away with his girlfriend, and with the help of his brother hatches a scheme he hopes will make his freedom possible. Fat chance.
We shared a standard promo of this at the bottom of a collection we put together five years ago, but this piece is an exceedingly rare, horizontally oriented, two-piece promo, a style known as bo-ekibari. We have the halves uploaded separately below, and we have another rare poster for the film we'll share later.
|Vintage Pulp||Feb 10 2019|
The shot heard 'round Japan.
This unusual poster was made to promote a film called Teppôdama no bigaku, known in English by the cool title Aesthetics of a Bullet. The movie came from Art Theatre Guild, or ATG, producers of films in the loose category known as Japanese New Wave, meaning to take a new approach to filmmaking by rejecting traditional ideas and techniques. This one was directed by Sadao Nakajima and stars Tsunehiko Watase as a hot-headed two-bit hustler named Kiyoshi who tries numerous schemes to get ahead, including being a chef, gambling, and breeding rabbits. He fails at all of them, and he's desperate for a break.
When he's given a job by a local yakuza cartel known as Tenyu Group, he quickly learns about the power of a gun. With it he can command others, make them fear and respect him, make them literally kneel. With this gun his sense of self worth is first restored, then inflated. He caresses it, brandishes it, polishes it, treats it better than even the women he lusts for, and the gun confirms that he's superior to others. And once he feels superior he becomes—not to put too fine a point on it—a total asshole. He's actually an abusive chump even before the gun, but the weapon fully unleashes his destructive, hyper-masculine impulses.
The things he does are too ridiculously stupid to get into. Suffice it to say that even for a regular guy these would lead to trouble, but he's Tenyu Group's thug-at-large, which means his erratic behavior and explosive anger offends the other crime bosses. Pretty soon he discovers that he's torn a dangerous rift in the yakuza network. But what Kiyoshi doesn't know—which the audience does from the beginning—is that Tenyu Group hired him in the first place precisely because he's a disruptive fuck-up. Their theory was always that he would spark a gang war. All he has to do is fire that beloved gun once and Tenyu Group will have the excuse it needs.
Aesthetics of a Bullet is obscure, so we knew nothing about it, but we liked it. It's concise, has a strong point of view, and a good supporting cast that includes Miki Sugimoto and Mitsuru Mori. Its only flaw—perhaps unavoidable—is that the lead character is such a misanthropic troublemaker that we could barely tolerate watching him. But we guess that's where the whole rejecting traditional filmmaking comes in. Who needs a likeable or even sympathetic lead? Real life is more complicated than that, and Kiyoshi's fictional life gets plenty complicated too. Even if you can't root for him, at least he won't bore you, and neither will the movie. Aesthetics of a Bullet premiered in Japan today in 1973.
JapanArt Theatre GuildTeppôdama no bigaku鉄砲玉の美学Aesthetics of a BulletTsunehiko WataseMiki SugimotoMitsuru MoriSadao Nakajimaposter artcinemayakuzamovie review
|Vintage Pulp||Jun 7 2018|
Once upon a time in Japan there was a badass named Reiko.
Today we're showing something special—a bo-ekibari style poster for Reiko Ike's Yasagure anego den: sôkatsu rinchi, also known as Female Yakuza Tale. The poster comes in beautiful blue and maroon tones, and the movie, a classic, comes in tones of blood. We wouldn't describe it as the number one pinku film of all time, but it's right up there. It opened in Japan today in 1973.
JapanFemale Yakuza TaleYasagure anego den: sôkatsu rinchiやさぐれ姐御伝 総括リンチReiko Ikeposter artcinemapinkupinky violence
|Vintage Pulp||Mar 1 2018|
If it were easy to steal anyone could do it.
We have some nice pinku posters lined up for this month, and above you see the first of those—the tateken and standard promos for Suke Yakuza, aka Female Yakuza Convict, aka Female Prisoner Yakuza, which premiered in Japan today in 1974 starring Yoko Horikoshi and Reiko Ike. Though we can't be sure, we don't think this movie has been released on DVD, because we couldn't find it—the first time that's happened with one of Ike's films. No copy means no firsthand rundown, but we can tell you what the Japanese websites say. It's about bank robbers who steal 30 million yen and try to elude the cops and escape with the cash. Of the three, only one manages to avoid capture. Horikoshi, a female accomplice, is tossed in a women's prison where she meets Reiko, and the two of them manage to escape. Their plan is meet up with the robber who avoided capture, get ahold of the cash, and get for away from the big city, but mishaps and twists follow. Basically, it's sounds like classic Toei pinky violence, but sadly we may not get to see this one unless we go to Japan. But the posters sure are pretty. We have bonus material below—production photos, a Horikoshi promo poster, and a Reiko promo shot from wherever.
JapanToei CompanySuke YakuzaFemale Yakuza ConvictReiko IkeYoko Horikoshiposter artcinemapinkupinky violencenudity
|Vintage Pulp||Apr 29 2017|
She may get pushed around but eventually she always pushes back.
Rashamen Oman: higanbana wa chitta, for which you see he promo here, is known in English as Foreigner’s Mistress Oman: Falling Autumn Flower. The movie starred Sally Mei, aka Sally May, an enigmatic half Anglo half Japanese actress who appeared in a handful of movies and had a short singing career, here playing the character Oman in a sequel to Rashamen Oman: ame no Oranda-zaka (poster here). She'd do one more film in this series called Enzetsu jokyo-den: Oman midarehada, and all of them premiered between March and August of the same year, which shows you how fast Nikkatsu churned these Krispy Kremes out.
The plot of the first movie saw Mei travel from Shanghai to Japan in search of her mother, only to be betrayed by her companion and sold to a brothel, where she becomes a geisha and gambler. Luckily, Mei had picked up some sword skills along the way and put those to good use julienning her captors. The sequel, then, picks up after she's served a prison sentence only to find that her sister is in the clutches of a group of yakuza lowlifes. Mei is up the challenge once again. Starring as her sister, by the way, is Yuri Yamashina, who we've looked at before. Rashamen Oman: higanbana wa chitta premiered in Japan today in 1972.
JapanNikkatsuRashamen Oman: higanbana wa chittaらしゃめんお万 彼岸花は散ったForeigner’s Mistress Oman: Falling Autumn FlowerSally MeiSally Mayサリー・メイYuri Yamashinapinkuroman pornoyakuzaposter artcinema