|Modern Pulp||Oct 15 2022|
Machete Maidens Unleashed! is a mandatory look at grindhouse moviemaking during the untamed 1970s.
Machete Maidens Unleashed! is a film we've watched a few times, and whenever a movie racks up multiple viewings we think it needs to be highlighted. It's a fast paced documentary about the wave of low budget exploitation flicks made in the Philippines from the late ’60s through the ’70s. We weren't old enough to see any of them during the actual grindhouse era, but caught them in later years, and one reason we came up with this website was for the opportunity to riff on these types of flicks. Over the last decade-plus we've had the pleasure of writing about entertaining dreck like Savage Sisters, The Big Doll House, Night of the Cobra Woman, and Cleopatra Wong.
Built around interviews with stars such as Pam Grier, Sid Haig, Margaret Markov, Gloria Hendry, and directors/producers like Eddie Romero, Jack Hill, Joe Dante, and Roger Corman, Machete Maidens Unleashed! is an insider's look at a unique era in cinema history. It compellingly juxtaposes snippets of cinematic insanity against clips of the performers involved laughing over the craziness of it all. While the moviesdiscussed often fall into the category of sexploitation, at the time they were also considered an adjunct of the women's liberation movement—a point made by a couple of the actresses interviewed. Coming out of the sexually repressive decades of the fifties and early sixties, nudity was seen as a rebuke to patriarchal control.
Covering productions ranging from 1964's The Walls of Hell to 1979's big budget war flick Apocalypse Now, this is a wide ranging documentary, and by far the most entertaining one on the subject matter we've seen. What with our website's Philippine provenance, and with PSGP having spent a couple of years in Guatemala, another country where life was cheap but fun was unparalleled, this also hit us directly in the nostalgia gland (PSGP feels like the only reason these films weren't made in Guatemala is because everyone actually would have been murdered, instead of just thinking they would).
All the interviewees seem to understand that they're from an extinct breed of very brave film performers, making entertainment for audiences ready to see absolutely anything happen. It sometimes seems that modern audiences have forgotten that the filmmaker is not the material, and the actor is not his or her character. The message comes through strongly here that movies are simply make believe. The creators maywant to outrage, or teach, or push censorship envelopes, or illuminate themes that leave audiences enriched in some way, but it's still just a job they perform before going home to their real lives. We wouldn't be surprised if some of the interviewees now feel they'd been traumatized, but during this movie, at least, they shrug off the difficulties of filming—ranging from extreme weather to graphic nudity to military revolt—as obstacles true professionals must navigate.
The title cards of some of these films should be enough by themselves to intrigue you. We have a set below. We've also mixed in some screenshots. We'd love to have uploaded actual production photos, but the films are so low budget those are close to impossible to find. But why look at photos when you can watch the movies? Give it a shot. Quarts of booze are optional. Machete Maidens Unleashed! had its world premiere in Australia in the summer of 2010, and first hit U.S. shores today the same year at the Philadelphia International Film Festival. We've pointed you toward a few Philippine grindhouse flicks above, and you can read about more—there are so many, so please excuse the avalanche of links—here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
PhilippinesAustraliaManilaPhiladelphiaPhiladelphia International Film FestivalMachete Maidens Unleashed!poster artcinemasexploitationblaxploitationmovie review
|Modern Pulp | Sex Files||Oct 4 2022|
There's never a cop around to perform a cavity search when you need one.
You probably suspect at a glance that this is a Japanese poster for an x-rated movie, and you'd be right. It was made for Trinity Brown, starring Sharon Kelly, aka Colleen Brennan, who's backed by a supporting cast of stalwart porn studs and b-level starlets. This is the fourth movie of Kelly's we've looked at, after Love, Lust and Violence, Gosh!, Scream in the Streets, and Ilsa, Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks. Do we have a special affinity for her? Not really. But the Japanese did, apparently. We've found Japanese posters for many of her flicks. They've retitled this one 弾を握る女, which means “woman holding a bullet.” Or possibly they've retitled it SEXリボルバー, which means “sex revolver.” The rest says, “Right now, a miraculous comeback, Sharon Kelly. A trap of terrifying passion, the scent of lavender drifting in the cloudy darkness. A man never forgets the smell of Sharon.” Indeed.
You can always expect a plotline with vintage porn, and in this case Kelly plays a tough L.A. cop partnered with John Leslie, who she also happens to be banging off-duty. The two are assigned a murder case in which a strip club owner is thought to have shot a local gangster. Brennan and Leslie delve into the world of exotic dancers and show business to unravel the mystery. It isn't much of a mystery—psst the gangster's girl set him up—but getting to the end is reasonably fun.
Generally vintage porn features realistic sexual performances, without a lot of asinine screaming and backbreaking positions. It was made before the medium became festishistic performance art, and takes itself seriously as erotica for normal people. This particular flick was made without any of the most inspiring porn beauties from the era (Ginger Lynn, Angel, Shauna Grant, Jody Swafford, Annette Haven, et al), so it's possible some viewers might be aesthetically nonplussed by Kelly and company, but everything is real, rather than silicone, and that's worth something. We'll discuss some of those top stars again, and Kelly will be back too, on yet another Japanese poster we have. Trinity Brown premiered in the U.S. in 1984 and reached Japan today in 1986.
JapanLos AngelesTrinity BrownLove Lust and ViolenceGosh!Scream in the StreetsIlsa Harem Keeper of the Oil SheiksColleen BrennanSharon KellyJohn LeslieJoey SilveraKimberly CarsonJamie GillisTamara Longleyposter artcinemamovie reviewxxx
|Modern Pulp||Sep 25 2022|
Matt Dillon gets on an unstoppable roll.
Above is a poster for the U.S. movie The Big Town, which is a drama released today in 1987, set in 1957, based on the 1967 Clark Howard novel The Arm. We like 1950s movies. And we like new movies set during the 1950s. It's always interesting to see an interpretation of the era, versus productions actually made during those years. The Big Town is a fun rendition, as pretty boy Matt Dillon plays a skilled young dice shooter who leaves podunkville Indiana for Chicago and experiences all its pleasures and pains.
On the pleasure side is femme fatale fan dancer Diane Lane, and bringing the pain is Tommy Lee Jones as a gambler who runs a crooked nightspot called the Gem Club—and who happens to be married to Lane. It's always a bad idea to bed a bad man's wife, but it's an even worse idea to break his bank for $15,000. Dillon does both. Later he tries to engineer a high stakes double-cross that will allow him to win the Gem Club in a craps game. Along the road from rags to potential there are plenty of subplots, including revenge, good girl redemption, and the struggle to retain's one's soul.
The Big Town is often called a neo-noir, and though any film with a crime focus and numerous night scenes tends to get that label slapped on it, in this case we feel like the designation is accurate. The movie deals not only with crime and gambling, but also takes passes at burlesque, racism, and the culture clash between ’40s style tough guys and new generation hipsters, with their sculpted hair and rock and roll attitudes. On the acting front, Dillon does a good job, and Jones is excellent as always, doing that unique thing he does. If you're looking for a fast period drama you can certainly do worse.
ChicagoFawcett PublicationsGold Medal BooksThe Big TownMatt DillonDiane LaneClark HowardTommy Lee JonesSuzy Amisposter artcinemafilm noirmovie review
|Modern Pulp||Aug 25 2022|
When is a flower not a flower and a snake not a snake? In Japanese cinema.
Above you see a poster for the Nikkatsu Studios roman porno movie Hana to hebi: Jigoku-hen, known in English as Flower and Snake: Sketch of Hell. In this genre, any mention or sight of a flower is liable to be symbolic. Some call them vulvic symbols, some yonic symbols, but in either case something phallic is usually about to rear its ugly head. The movie starred Kaori Asô and Mami Fujimura, and it was second in a Flower and Snake franchise that eventually numbered eight entries, with this one premiering in Japan today in 1985. That puts it outside our vintage purview, since for our purposes we define modern as anything from 1980 and after, but we had to show you the poster art. How could we not? This amazing promo was painted by famed bondage artist Kaname Ozuma, whose work you can see with an image search. Japanese film studios were very interested in bondage, and Japanese audiences must have been too, because many roman porno films with bdsm themes did well at the box office.
Much of the interest in the subject derived from literature, particularly the works of Oniroku Dan, who wrote the source novel for this film. His books were behind about three-dozen roman porno productions. While we don't get these explorations of humiliation and bondage, we understand that every culture has its particulars. For example, if you go on Japanese Wikipedia, celebrities' biographies often contain their blood types. On the other hand, if you go on U.S. Wikipedia, celebrities' biographies often contain their political allegiances. Objectively, both types of information are completely pointless, yet they suggest—interestingly—what obsesses each culture.
What we're saying is that since we're not Japanese, we can't offer much insight into the roman porno wave that swept Japan. We can do the when, where, who, and how of it—but not the why. But we like the posters, the films are usually incredibly well shot, and the actresses are generally stunning, so we watch the movies and tell you whether we liked them. You're probably wondering if we watched Jigoku-hen. We did, and it's what we expected—longform bondage and torture, softcore style, with little shown, but plenty implied. While it stars Asô and the amazing Fujimura, we don't recommend it unless you're okay with plenty of tears and pee. Neither of those are our bag, and if they're yours, maybe talk to someone. Below, Fujimura is happy after washing off the stain of having starred in such a mean and pointless film, while Asô calls home from vacation and tells her family she's recovering fine.
JapanHana to hebi: Jigoku-henFlower and Snake: Sketch of HellKaori AsôMami FujimuraOniroku DanKaname Ozumaposter artcinemasexploitataionpinkuroman pornobdsmmovie review
|Modern Pulp||Jul 13 2022|
A beautiful old poster turns out to be a beautiful new poster.
Yes, we just showed you a nice Japanese poster for Laura, and here we are again with another promo, this one French made and very striking. There's more than one French promo for the movie, but this is a special one. It's signed by the artist—Goldman. At first we were unable to find his first name, though we did immediately find another poster he created. That piece was for Orson Welles' 1946 drama The Stranger, so at that point we were thinking Goldman was an overlooked talent from the golden age of cinema.
We used all our internet mining skills and learned, according to an auction website we visited, that Goldman's poster for The Stranger was for a cinematic re-release that occurred much more recently than the 1940s. That meant Laura was probably made for a re-release too. We soon determined that both The Stranger and Laura were screened in France in August 2012. The Cinémathèque Française, which isa venerable film society housed in a building designed by Canadian architect Frank Gehry, each year offers a slate of vintage and restored films, often focusing on one or several filmmakers. In 2012 Otto Preminger, director of Laura, was one of filmmakers being honored, along with Welles, Manoel de Oliveira, Jean-Louis Trintignant, and others.
So, if we've gotten all this correct—which is no guarantee—the poster we thought was a rare piece of vintage promo art is actually a rare piece of modern promo art. And to think we always complain about modern promo art. So, okay, for the moment we're silenced, because this is excellent work. Still, though, we couldn't find out about Goldman. The internet is often heavy on noise and short on signal. With well known Goldmans out there ranging from Emma to Oscar to Sachs, we can't isolate our Goldman no matter what keyword/quotation mark/Boolean trick we try. But maybe the answer will turn up later. It often does.
FranceParisLauraGene TierneyOtto PremingerOrson WellesGoldmanFrank GehryManoel de OliveiraJean-Louis Trintignantposter artcinemafilm noir
|Modern Pulp||Jun 12 2022|
Caught between a rock and an ugly place.
A few days ago we wrote about the 1950 film noir Night and the City, and our poking around led to the discovery that the Blu-Ray edition comes with a box cover by one of our favorite modern artists Owen Smith. He first came to our attention because he painted covers for the Daniel Chavarría crime novels Adios Muchachos and Tango for a Torturer, and we see that he remains a unique stylist, perhaps even a modern pulp master. His depiction of star Richard Widmark trapped between tough guys Mike Mazurki and Stanislaus Zbyszko captures the essence of the movie without being an actual scene from it. We like the choice.
While Night and the City revolves around wrestling, it seems that Smith has been busy with another ring art—boxing. He's created quite a few works along those lines, and we've uploaded several below. We'd say he has the subject of men who've had the snot beaten out of them pretty well conquered. Finally, since we brought it up, we'd like to recommend—for adventurous readers—the aforementioned Chavarría novels. Due to our time living in Guatemala and traveling around the region we developed an interest in all things Cuba. He brings that island to life in a way few authors do. Read what we wrote about him here, and see more Smith here and here.
Night and The CityOwen SmithDaniel ChavarríaRichard WidmarkStanislaus ZbyszkoMike Mazurkicinemafilm noirboxing
|Modern Pulp||May 21 2022|
Something old, something new.
This is something a bit unusual. It's a life-sized promotional cardboard cut-out for 1982's film noir-sourced comedy Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, which starred Steve Martin and Rachel Ward. We thought of this film recently due to Martin's new Agatha Christie-influenced television mystery series Only Murders in the Building, which we watched and enjoyed. We first saw Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid years ago, long before Pulp Intl. and all the knowledge we've gained about film noir. We liked it much better during our recent viewing.
If you haven't seen it, Martin uses scores of film noir clips to weave a mystery in which he stars as private detective Rigby Reardon. Aside from Ward, and director Rob Reiner, his co-stars are Ava Gardner, Humphrey Bogart, Burt Lancaster, Barbara Stanwyck, Ingrid Bergman, Lana Turner, Cary Grant, and many others, all arranged into a narrative that turns out to be about cheese, a Peruvian island, and a plot to bomb the United States.
The film's flow only barely holds together, which you'd have to expect when relying upon clips from nineteen old noirs to cobble together a plot, but as a noir tribute—as well as a satirical swipe at a couple of sexist cinematic tropes from the mid-century period—it's a masterpiece. If you love film noir, you pretty much have to watch it. Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid had its premiere at the USA Film Festival in early May, but was released nationally today in 1982.
USA Film FestivalDead Men Don't Wear PlaidOnly Murders in the BuildingSteve MartinRachel WardRob ReinerAva GardnerHumphrey BogartBurt LancasterBarbara StanwyckIngrid BergmanCary GrantVincent PriceRay MillandEdmund O'BrienCharles LaughtonVeronica LakeAlan LaddKirk DouglasJames CagneyLana Turnerposter artcinemafilm noirmovie review
|Modern Pulp||May 17 2022|
Of all the different types of queens, I had to be the damn queen of S&M.
Maybe Junko Mabuki wasn't the queen of Nikkatsu Pictures' roman porno cycle, but she was certainly one of its major figures, and oh, the ordeals she went through in her fifteen films. This poster that has her looking like she somehow got stuck inside Batman's mask was made for Dan Oniroku hakui nawa jigoku, known in English as White Uniform in Rope Hell and—unfortunately—All Women Are Whores. We couldn't locate the movie, which caused us to breathe a sigh of relief. But if you want to know what Mabuki was all about, cinematically speaking, the films of hers we have watched include (English titles only) Female Teacher: Rope Hell, Female Beautician Rope Discipline, Secretary Rope Discipline, and Blazing Bondage Lady. Those titles should answer any questions. We also watched her in Hell of Roses, which, while its title seems to suggest a thematic and tonal change from Mabuki's usual fare, is also about ropes. Dan Oniroku hakui nawa jigoku premiered in Japan today in 1980.
JapanNikkatsuDan Oniroku hakui nawa jigokuWhite Uniform in Rope HellAll Women Are WhoresJunko MabukiYuko AssagiriDan Onirokuposter artroman pornopinkucinemakinbakushibaribdsm
|Modern Pulp||Apr 10 2022|
She's arrived on this earthly plane to love you to death.
We said you'd see sexploitation star Laura Gemser again sooner than you thought, and here she is—or at least here's an interesting depiction of her—on a poster made in Turkey to promote her film Ateşle Oyun. That translates as “game with fire,” but the movie was known in English as Divine Emanuelle and Love Camp. There's no Turkish release date, but we're talking about it today because it premiered today in 1981 in West Germany, where it was released as Die Todesgöttin des Liebescamps, or “the death goddess of love camp.” Death goddess, eh? That doesn't sound fun, but we'll get to that in a minute.
As you can see in panel two, the West German promo is nothing to write home about, which is why we decided to focus on the Turkish art. It's signed by an illustrator named Ömer Muz. We looked him up and got many hits, but with no way of knowing whether any of them were the Muz we were seeking. A few of them were artists, and one was even an art director in movies back in the early 1980s, but final identification eluded us.
Die Todesgöttin des Liebescamps was written, directed by, and co-starred Christian Anders, an Austrian musician/singer/composer and man-in-over-his-head in terms of technical ability. His character oversees a free-love cult on Cyprus called Children of Light. He's the servant of the Divine One, played by Gemser, who bathes in milk, parades around topless while flanked by an oiled up bodybuilder, and preaches an apocalyptic schadenfreude doctrine that sounds a lot like the Rapture. In her cult, you can give love freely, but cannot be in love. “Love for only one person is egosim,” she puts it. “When two people love each other they shut the world out. That's a sin.” Basically, that means the cult is an ongoing orgy. Rulebreakers get slapped around or whipped. Gemser even whips herself occasionally. She's a true believer.
The plot kicks into gear, sort of, when one of the cult babes decides she wants to leave and is instead thrown off a cliff by the oiled up bodybuilder guy. There had to be a dark side to all this sex, and that dark side is you can check in anytime you like but you can never leave. We next learn that the police have become suspicious about missing cult members and have inserted an undercover operative who's poking around even as Gemser tries to indoctrinate an heiress and soak her down for her fortune. Will the undercover cop learn the truth of the cult? Will Gemser expose him? Will she expose herself? On the latter score, fans will be satisfied, rest assured. But for objective film buffs, we have to tell you that, like most Gemser efforts, this flick is terrible.
But it's also significant because there's bizarre trivia associated with it. Most notably, David Koresh has a small role. You perhaps remember him? As the leader of the Branch Davidian cult he sought to create a new lineage of world leaders, had sexual partners as young as ten years old, and finally died in 1993 with seventy-five disciples during a fire that broke out at the cult's compound during an FBI raid. On top of all that, writer director Anders propagated various conspiracy theories in books and interviews. The lesson is don't take a movie script too seriously. Especially a sexploitation script. Die Todesgöttin des Liebescamps premiered today in 1981.
Witness me, little ones! Are my abdominals not out of this world?
Bring forth the divine ointments and sexual lubes!
I and my slippery, steroid enraged servant shall now engage in the holy rite of hot raw sex. You may want to rewind this part a few times.
I came here to find myself, and she gives me this room. Feels like she's mocking me.
There's something to find right under these holy raiments, little lost blonde one.
Divine One, I prefer this female version of myself. Diversity is good and all, but we're a matched set. Hope you're okay with that.
Throw them both into the pit of eternal-despair-without-hope-of-redemption-or-surcease! Hmm... probably need to shorten that name. And who forgot to order the lube for today's orgy? Throw him in the whatever pit too!
I'm a cruel goddess, it's true. But behold the everloving fuck out of this!
TurkeyCyprusWest GermanyAustriaDie Todesgöttin des LiebescampsDivine EmanuelleLove CampLaura GemserGabriele TintiChristian AndersSascha BorysenkoÖmer MuzDavid Koreshposter artcinemasexploitationnuditymovie review
|Modern Pulp||Feb 27 2022|
No matter which direction she's going we'll tag along.
The first thing we did when we saw this interesting cover from Éditions de la Brigandine for Benjamin Rupert's 1980 novel Lubrique à Braque was try to figure out what type of motorcycle this was. It's a Kawasaki, but the logo is reversed because Brigandine must have decided they liked the rider going from right to left rather than the other direction. That's when we took a look at her and recognized French film star Annie Belle. That's her for sure. No mistaking those eyes. She remembered to wear her helmet for this spin, which is commendable, but she's forgotten anything resembling outerwear. Also commendable. We don't know where she's going but it'll be a place of romance and adventure. Just watch one of her movies and you'll see. La notte dell'alta marea comes to mind. Bonus: that one also has Pam Grier. Or you could watch Laure. Bonus: that one has Emmanuelle Arsan. Or you could even watch Velluto nero. Who's the bonus in that? None other than queen b Laura Gemser. All three movies are pretty bad, truth be told, but they're also amazingly fun. Your entertainment week is now set.