Vintage Pulp Feb 7 2018
FAMILY PLOT
If anybody can recover the ancestral farm it's Mari.


Zoku Imokinchaku*, for which you see the poster above and which premiered in Japan today in 1970, was the sequel to the previous year's Imokinchaku, but shot in color. Atsumi plays a high school girl named Hamako who tries to save enough money to buy her family's ancestral land. Her plan to obtain it through work seems sound enough, but trouble in finances and love, including the theft of her money and a doomed infatuation with a dreamboat who happens to be gay, present serious obstacles. Of course, if the previous film taught Mari anything it was to persevere, and she makes forays into nude modeling and singing in efforts to cobble together a sufficiently large nest egg to buy the land. Do any of these schemes actually work? You'll have to add this one to your queue if you want to find out.
 
On a related note, we learned that Daiei Co. released an Atsumi record in conjunction with this film, and that it also engineered the publication of a photo book. Cross promotion of pinku films was a common tactic back then. In fact, many stars performed live in cinemas between double features, either singing, dancing, or reenacting bits from the films. Japanese law was strict about nudity onscreen, but we've been told these live performances sometimes featured full nudity, which is interesting to contemplate. Atsumi made a lot of public appearances. Below, for example, she's in Shimizu Park in Chiba, where a gaggle of photographers shot pictures of her in her undies. We have images from another Atsumi public appearance we'll share later.

*We can't find a romanized title for this film anywhere, but Zoku Imokinchaku is probably right. It's at least close. If anyone wants to correct us feel free. The official title is 続・いそぎんちゃく.  

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Vintage Pulp Feb 7 2018
MOVING VIOLATIONS
Nikkatsu pushes the envelope of taste—and social responsibility—with Okasu!


Above, a poster for the roman porno flick Okasu!, which premiered in Japan today in 1976. The title here, in a rare occurrence and complete contrast to the above film, translates directly—Rape! Considering that hundreds of roman porno (short for “romantic porno”) movies were made by Nikkatsu Studios during the ’70s and ’80s we take them seriously and seek to understand them. So we watched this and... we don't understand. Starring Natsuko Yashiro, who you may remember from her female diver movies, and co-starring Naomi Tani and Yuri Yamashina, Okasu! is the story of a rape victim who develops an obsession for her attacker and searches the city for him, constantly exposing herself to similar dangers.
 
To be clear, we make no cultural judgments here—around the same time in the U.S. on the soap opera General Hospital, Luke raped Laura and became the number one hunk on daytime television. So we're not failing to understand Okasu! from a cultural vantage point, but from a generational vantage point. We don't find non-consensual anything sexy. From our perspective this dubious flick has only two plusses: there's a highly ironic, even grimly comical, ending; and Yashiro masturbates with a walnut, which we never knew was possible. Wanna try it? Follow her lead below. But when you're making your way through vintage Japanese movies give this one a pass.

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Vintage Pulp Jan 27 2018
DEATH ON A RIVAL
Even in Japan payback is a bitch


Above, a nice but slightly damaged poster (it had a strip of tape across the top) for Joshigakuen Yabai Sotsugyô, aka Girls' School: Wild Graduation Song, starring Junko Natsu and Yoshiko Ikebo in a movie about students at two girls schools—White Rose Academy and Harbor Junior High—and how their rivalry turns into open conflict. There's a really funny scene in this where the two schools' volleyball teams get into a massive brawl after one of the girls is hit in the crotch. We knew serves could be underhanded, but that's just plain evil. Joshigakuen Yabai Sotsugyô premiered in Japan today in 1971.

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Vintage Pulp Jan 24 2018
CELL SERVICE
You only get partial coverage, and that's if you're lucky.


Let it be known—if you cheat on Hitomi Kozue she'll come after you with a samurai sword. At least, that's what happens in the intro of Shin jitsuroku onna kanbetsusho: Rengoku, aka New True Story of a Woman Condemned to Hell. After Kozue slices her cheating man and his mistress, we smash cut to her chained in a prison van headed toward the rest of the movie. Jail time starts with a complimentary cavity search, and from there the amenities continue to disappoint. No pillow mints. No DSL. There's cell service, though, which comes in quite strongly after dark. But in general Kozue finds incarceration to be a bummer. Oh well. These deprivations are nobody's fault but hers—you've gotta keep a level head even when your partner is dicking a local tramp.
 
Kozue is lonely, but she soon learns that a man can easily be replaced by a piece of polished wood, or a religious figurine, or an inflated condom, or a willing finger or two. If she'd known all those possibilities before she kebabed her boyfriend she might have avoided imprisonment. But maybe not—we learn in flashback that what seemed like a straightforward case of catching her man cheating is more complicated. We won't say more. You'll just have to watch the film, which is a better-than-average women-in-prison entry, with that unique pinku flair, and a special beauty in the lead role, plus Yuri Yamashina in support. Shin jitsuroku onna kanbetsusho: Rengoku premiered in Japan today in 1976.



Below: a nice promo image of Hitomi. Why? Be-Kozue we had it. More from her later.

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Modern Pulp Jan 22 2018
THE OLD BALL AND CHAIN
Need a little help around the house?


Above is a poster for Dorei keiyakushu, yet another entry in Nikkatsu's roman porno pantheon, and one that gets viewers to the usual place by a slightly different route. The film opens with Nami Matsukawa having her pubic hair shaved off by a man. She isn't too thrilled about it. Then he gives her an enema, and it's us who aren't too thrilled. Then he binds her in rope kinbaku-bi style, basically wrapping her like a gift, carefully places her in a crate with some packing material, closes it up and has some delivery guys take the container away. The parcel ends up in the house of Hidekazu Mikami, who's surprised as hell when he opens it, as is his wife, played by Izumi Shima. Imagine explaining that. A sheaf of legal documents around Nami's neck says that she's a slave and will serve as payment of a debt. And just like that it's straight to the kinky sex and domination. You can always count on Nikkatsu—they never fail to get you to bondage land, if indeed that's where you want to go. Us, we can take or leave it. Even though we have many more roman porno posters we'd like to share, we may shift more toward Toei's pinky violence action movies for a while. They're harder to find, but worth the effort—and we can only watch so many enemas. Dorei keiyakushu premiered in Japan today in 1982.

It says she'll do anything you ask. Laundry, dishes, handjobs, whatever.

Baby, I swear I didn't order a slave.

But as long as we have one...

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Modern Pulp Jan 7 2018
GIRLS NIGHT IN
When we get together we do the usual stuff—chat, drink wine, endure whippings, have a forced enema or two.


We don't share pinku and roman porno posters just because we're interested in the films. We also share them because, first, the art is always great, and second, it's easy to get. Its availability is a reflection of how many productions of the type were made—in a word, many hundreds. That's two words. Let's go with thousands—which is not an exaggeration. These were incredibly popular films is the point, made by multiple studios trying to place double features into vertically integrated, wholly dependent cinemas every weekend. Many of the movies have fallen prey to the ravages of time, which occasionally leads to us sharing art from movies that no longer exist, but today's offering, Nawa to chibusa, aka Rope and Breasts, starring Nami Matsukawa and Izumi Shima, is one we did in fact find and watch.

The movie premiered in Japan today in 1983, and it involves a couple running a traveling bdsm show who arrive in Kyoto and are hired for a private performance that turns into something more. The woman is planning to retire, but now learns what bondage and discipline really are as she and her man are teased and tortured to within an inch of their sanity. When all is said and done the woman forgets retirement, not because she loves torture, but because she realizes her life is hell anyway and if she has to live in hell she'd like to at least make money from it. Very upbeat stuff. An interesting aspect of the copy we saw is its use of pixelation to obscure the private parts of the actors (see below). Since roman pornos are softcore the masking is purely directorial flourish, designed, we suppose, to give the action a veneer of the forbidden.

For those who've missed our previous discussions about the roman porno genre, the filmmakers generally contend that the sexual abuse depicted is symbolic of patriarchal Japan's subjugation to occupying Americans, or to modern life, or to a burgeoning counterculture, etc. As a smart man once said, when something is symbolic of everything, it's symbolic of nothing. In other words, we don't buy the boilerplate on roman porno, at least not fully. We think it was primarily money driven, and the more intellectual aspects were secondary, distantly. But the main thing we try to remember as outsiders looking in is that cultural judgement is a slippery slope, and while in this particular 2018 moment of discussion about the all too prevalent dangers men present to women, it's easy to dismiss roman porno films as masculine horror fantasies sprung from the brows of unrepentant misogynists.

But times change, and there are layers to the issue that make such assessments a bit too facile. It's possible to be on one side of a cultural issue during a certain moment in time, but be judged as on the exact opposite side a generation or two later. Today's observers could easily conclude that roman porno filmmakers were conservative nationalists, but in reality they were mainly liberal feminist allies satirizing conservative patriarchs/patriots. Their sexualization of women was spurred in part by box office need, but they believed in their own symbolism and there's no doubt most of them thought of themselves as modernist trailblazers smashing social barriers. The path their output has taken through the decades is parallel to that of Hugh Hefner, hailed as women's rights hero in 1967, reviled as a cog in a destructive porno machine half a century later. Times change.

If Japanese viewers of 1980s American horror movies had demanded to know why so many productions featured people being lured into the woods to be slaughtered it would have led to some uncomfortable conversations about apocalyptic American attitudes toward sex, as well as the eternal American worship of violence. These discussions would have been much more needed than any concerning 1970s Japanese mores. But as for modern observers, they get to judge earlier filmmakers only up to a point. They weren't there. They forget that work incommercial media has its demands, if the work is to be secured at all. Old targets are no longer fully relevant, as well as being way too easy to criticize in hindsight. Subversive messages are often slipped into popular art and those messages matter. They wink at us. They say, “You and I both know this is just entertainment, but this other thing—if you are detecting it—is what we're really about here.” But modern viewers of old films often miss these important messages. As culture changes receptivity to these small signals change too.

So, okay, Nawa to chibusa is a weird movie. It's a weird movie hailing from a weird genre. The genre was meant to both make money and provoke people, and all these years later the films remain as artifacts of an industry embarked upon a radical social discussion, spearheaded by filmmakers who hadn't yet realized that images also carry weight apart from their alleged political intent. In other words, the question becomes whether the same goals could have been achieved by other means—i.e. other means of provocation, other types of imagery. We can't answer that. We weren't there. We don't know of anyone who has tallied the social gains and losses, if any, brought about by all this shocking cinema. All we have is an inadequate twenty-first century perspective, an inadequate Western perspective, an incomplete male perspective, and a whole lot of crazy posters.

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Femmes Fatales Jan 2 2018
HAPPY MIYAI
Here's hoping for a very good year.


Well, it's official now. We've reached a place we did not even imagine existed when we were children. Remember? You'd be like, “Wow I'd be (insert age) in 2018.” And then you'd turn your thoughts to something else because the idea was so bizarre it didn't even warrant further reflection. Well, we're there now. We have, shockingly, reached the far off year 2018. And there are no flying cars. That's the part that really kills. So to soothe our frazzled nerves, above is a photo of Japanese actress Erina Miyai on a January calendar page circa 1975, and her hint of a smile tells us everything will be fine this year, and hopefully beyond. More Miyai? Click here.

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Vintage Pulp Dec 15 2017
AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAM
Don't you want to be one of the cruel kids?


Above, a poster for Kokosei bancho: zubeko seito-ha, aka High School Boss 4: Bad Girl Group, which was the fourth film in a series after:

Kokosei Bancho, aka High School Gang Leader.

Kokosei bancho: botate asobi
, aka High School Boss 2: The All-Out Game.

Kôkôsei banchô: Shin'ya hôsô
, aka High School Boss 3: Midnight Broadcasting.

All these films came out in the second half of 1970, which is impressive but not unusual—that's just how quickly pinku filmmakers worked. We couldn't locate this one, so we can't summarize it, but you know what to expect. Kokosei bancho: zubeko seito-ha premiered today in 1970.

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Femmes Fatales Dec 8 2017
MIKI'S HOUSE
Japanese society is very formal, but around here I keep things pretty laid back.


Above, a provocative promo photo of Japanese pinku icon Miki Sugimoto, one of dozens she made, all of which are rare. If you don't know her work we suggest adding it to your life. You can start with this film, this one, and this one.

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Vintage Pulp Dec 6 2017
ROPE BURN
Fifty shades of Tani.


It's roman porno's runaway mainstream success that keeps us watching the movies. We seek to understand them from the point of view of the millions of Japanese filmgoers that made them box office gold, and we try to do it without being squeamish about the content, which is softcore, yet far beyond the pale by American standards. Made half a decade earlier than the second wave bondage flicks we've been featuring lately, Niizuma Jigoku, aka Newlywed Hell, aka New Wife's Hell stars undisputed bdsm queen Naomi Tani in a hit roman porno made with considerably more artistry than second wave films. It's still the same basic idea though—woman has no idea she's into kinky bondage until forced into it. But a more restrained approach than would be prevalent later elevates the material a bit. It's still weird as hell, but you won't feel permanently filthy after watching it. As a bonus, the amazing Terumi Azuma co-stars. Niizuma Jigoku premiered today in 1975.

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Next Page
History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
February 18
1954—First Church of Scientology Established
The first Scientology church, based on the writings of science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard, is established in Los Angeles, California. Since then, the city has become home to the largest concentration of Scientologists in the world, and its ranks include high-profile adherents such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta.
February 17
1933—Blaine Act Passes
The Blaine Act, a congressional bill sponsored by Wisconsin senator John J. Blaine, is passed by the U.S. Senate and officially repeals the 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution, aka the Volstead Act, aka Prohibition. The repeal is formally adopted as the 21st Amendment to the Constitution on December 5, 1933.
1947—Voice of America Begins Broadcasting into U.S.S.R.
The state radio channel known as Voice of America and controlled by the U.S. State Department, begins broadcasting into the Soviet Union in Russian with the intent of countering Soviet radio programming directed against American leaders and policies. The Soviet Union responds by initiating electronic jamming of VOA broadcasts.
February 16
1937—Carothers Patents Nylon
Wallace H. Carothers, an American chemist, inventor and the leader of organic chemistry at DuPont Corporation, receives a patent for a silk substitute fabric called nylon. Carothers was a depressive who for years carried a cyanide capsule on a watch chain in case he wanted to commit suicide, but his genius helped produce other polymers such as neoprene and polyester. He eventually did take cyanide—not in pill form, but dissolved in lemon juice—resulting in his death in late 1937.
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