Vintage Pulp Jan 18 2015
NO HELP NEEDED
Mansfield gets top billing but the rockers steal the show.


Above is a vintage Japanese poster for Jayne Mansfield’s 1956 musical comedy The Girl Can’t Help It. They don’t make ’em like this anymore—a gangster hires a boozing agent to transform his girlfriend into a star, but the girlfriend has no talent, and the agent falls in love with her. This might be Mansfield’s most important movie due to the role it played in popularizing early rock music. For example: 

Little Richard
 
Eddie Fontaine
 
The Chuckles
 
Gene Vincent
 
Eddie Cochran
 
The Treniers
 
The Platters
 
And the unbeatable Fats Domino.
 
Though they aren't rock and rollers, the lovely Julie London and the amazingly beautiful Abbey Lincoln, who you see just below, also put in appearances. The Lincoln number is especially wonderful, and it's well-staged too, with the backdrop of deep violet curtains set against her crimson gown.
 
The only uncute thing about this exceedingly cute movie is poor Jayne Mansfield’s bazooka bra and strangling corset, the latter of which producers have cinched her into in order to give her a twenty-inch waist. It's cringe-inducing. Otherwise, awesome stuff.


 
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Vintage Pulp Jan 15 2015
VAMP STAMP
The girl with the draggin’ tattoo.

The three posters above promote the Japanese psychological horror movie Irezumi, aka Tattoo, directed by Yasuzô Masumura and starring Ayako Wakao as woman kidnapped into geishadom who is forcibly tattooed upon her back by a disturbed tattoo master. His creation is the monstrous, woman-faced spider you see on the posters. This act sets Wakao on a path toward vengeance, violence, and evil. Some reviews of Irezumi note that the tattoo is in some sense alive, like the portrait of Dorian Gray, however the actual art doesn’t change its aspect—we checked, using a handy invention called rewind, and the lady-spider is the same in the beginning and end of the movie. The tattoo does, though, unleash something, and Wakao changes, quite drastically, her journey from relative innocence into femme fatale depravity giving Irezumi its power and dread. While not splashy and filled with shocks in the style of modern horror, the movie is, all in all, a highly recommendable mind trip. There's another Irezumi from 1982 with a different plot, but this one, the first one, premiered in Japan today in 1966. 


 
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Vintage Pulp Jan 6 2015
WAR AND TERROR
They don’t show mercy. They don’t negotiate. They don’t listen. They don’t care.


Kampf der Welten is, we’re sure you can guess from the art, the West German title for War of the Worlds. This cinematic adaptation of H.G. Wells’ famous 1897 serial starred Gene Barry and Ann Robinson, and if you haven’t seen it we suggest it’s worth the time, though it’s quite different from the novel. Actually, we recommend the novel too. It’s grimmer than the film, and has a distinct, rationalist point-of-view that was whitewashed for cinema audiences. Actually, not whitewashed—more like inverted to portray the clergy heroically, where in the novel it is characterized by cowardice. Spielberg and Cruise left that out, too, in their 2005 interation, but in other respects their movie is very close to the book. In addition to the German promo, we also have the three English language posters below. War of the Worlds premiered in the U.S. during the summer of 1953, and reached West Germany today in 1954.


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Vintage Pulp Jan 5 2015
MORBID INTEREST
Do I make you horny, baby?


Morbosità di una orientale, which would translate as something like “morbidity of an easterner,” was originally a 1977 Japanese film called Tokyo Chatterly fujin, and was released in English as Lady Chatterley in Tokyo. Katsuhiko Fujii helmed the production, and Izumi Shima starred, but every other name on these promos is a Western pseudonym for a Japanese performer. Ann Charlton, Janet Glythe, Price Williams, and King Byrbo never existed except as credits created for the art you see here, and are in reality Junko Miyashita, Kyoko Aoyama, Tatsuya Hamaguchi, and Minoru Okochi. What was the point of doing that? We don’t know. Japanese films had played in Italy before without being Westernized in this way, so it’s a mystery we presume we’ll never solve.

The film keeps to the themes—but not the plot—of D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover. When a millionaire’s son is rendered impotent by an accident, his wife succumbs to the charms of the groundskeeper’s willy, the chauffeur’s stickshift, and the construction worker’s retractable ruler. We last saw the amazingly striking Izumi Shima being molested by an invisible man, and here her paramour punches through a windowpane and fondles her through the splintered glass. That’s horny. Not to be outdone, Shima humps a tree. That’s horny. Also, a stallion fucks a mare. Really. So every living in creature in this film is incredibly horny. Did it make us horny? Hey, you think we typed this with our fingers? Think again.


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Vintage Pulp Jan 3 2015
CRAZY FOR YOU
Meiko Kaji takes the Stray Cat Rock franchise out for a final spin.


Even Nikkatsu serials eventually end, and this entry in the Stray Cat Rock series, entitled Nora-neko rokku: Bôsô shudan ’71, aka Stray Cat Rock: Crazy Rider, was the final outing for Meiko Kaji in the franchise. That’s her, of course, looking exceptionally badass on an exceedingly rare promo poster, and below we have even rarer distributor sheets. Plotwise, Kaji has a boyfriend named Ryumei who has spurned the mainstream lifestyle for hippie freedom. When bikers attack Ryumei and Kaji the altercation leads to Ryumei killing one of the thugs. Unluckily for Kaji, he’s whisked away, leaving her to take the murder rap, in turn leading to her being tossed in jail. Turns out Ryumei’s father wants him to give up hippiedom and join the family business, and sent the bikers to kidnap him and bring him home.

Kaji escapes from jail a while later, seeks out Ryumei, finds him transformed into a cold-hearted suit, and is imprisoned again, this time by the father’s evil thugs. The main problem with this movie for Kaji fans is she doesn’t get much screen time. Instead much of the tale is told from the other end, as Kaji’s friends, led by Yoshio Harada, plot to free her. This isn’t fatal to the movie, though. If you can embrace the other protagonists you’ll find plenty to enjoy. The sentiment of hippies-versus-power may seem quaint, and indeed the film handles certain elements of their lifestyle comedically, but all these years later, with Japan’s rich getting richer while its poverty rate is among the highest for developed nations, is anyone still laughing? Nora-neko rokku: Bôsô shudan ’71 premiered in Japan today in 1971, and you can see more posters for the series here and here.


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Vintage Pulp Dec 30 2014
STRIPED SCORPION
The smaller the animal the deadlier the poison.


This excellent Japanese poster promotes the film Joshuu sasori: Dai-41 zakkyo-bô, aka Female Convict Scorpion: Jailhouse 41, starring Meiko Kaji as the female convict of the title. This is second of ten movies dealing with the character of Scorpion, but Kaji played the role only four times before passing it off to Yumi Takagawa in 1976. We shared posters for Kaji’s four excursions back in 2010 and mentioned there was alternate art we didn’t possess. Well, we do now. This was painted by Toru Shinohara, who also created the manga the movies are based upon. It’s a rare piece.

The movie itself is sinister, psychedelic, and extraordinarily stylish thanks to director Shunya Itô’s clever set-ups and shot-framing. For most fans, Kaji is the only Scorpion that matters, and it’s hard to argue otherwise. She’s about five-feet-four and probably didn’t hit triple digits on a scale back then, but with eyes and posture she radiates lethal menace. As far as plot, this fits end-to-end with the previous movie, so consider watching that one first. Female Convict Scorpion: Jailhouse 41 premiered in Japan today in 1972.

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Sex Files Dec 27 2014
EARTHY ANGEL
She only looks sweet.


So, we’re digging into our big stack of x-rated Japanese promos again today. We’d do it more often, but when we do our girlfriends give us a hard time. Anyway, above you see the American actress Angel in a very nice publicity image from around 1985, and below you see two promos for her movies Too Hot To Touch and L’Amour, from 1987 and 1984. Her very presence in the industry speaks to the mainstreaming of porn in America. In previous years it had been impossible for the adult industry to entice women as beautiful as Angel in large numbers, but the early/mid-1980s videocassette revolution meant more fans, which meant more money to earn, which made adult films more viable as a career, and changed the status of adult actresses from that of fringe celebrities into true stars. 

After some early modeling that saw her earn a cover of Seventeen magazine, Angel turned eighteen and leaped immediately into the adult industry. During a two-year period bracketing her arrival, actresses such as Stacy Donovan, Crystal Breeze, Candy Evans, Jacy Allen, Traci Lords, Southern California prototype Shauna Grant, the luminous Ginger Lynn, and an entire busload of other beautiful women made the same move. Angel, aka Jennifer James, made about forty films during her x-rated career, acting for seven years and retiring in 1991. Of all the stars who emerged during the first half of the 1980s, she remains one of the most fondly remembered. You can see nine more x-rated posters from Japan here.

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Vintage Pulp Dec 26 2014
AMERICAN HUSTLE
It should have been a classic but is really just a wasted opportunity.

Paramount execs probably wet themselves when they finally made a deal to get American star Burt Reynolds and French icon Catherine Deneuve together onscreen. The promo poster tells us they’re hot—true, and it especially applies to Deneuve, who probably can't vent heat efficiently while shrouded beneath her enormous helmet of immobile, golden hair. You know those war flicks where a soldier in a ditch has a photo in his pocket of his beautiful girlfriend, and during lulls in combat he gazes at her and mutters about how he can’t wait to get back home to her? In Hustle Catherine Deneuve is a living version of that photo. Instead of being overseas she’s just across town, but she’s no less a signifier of impending doom than if she were a snapshot in someone’s pocket. We think writer Steve Shagan dropped the ball here, and not just by making her purpose in the film so obvious, but by making her role so thin. She has a key piece of evidence (she witnesses the villain making a phone call that leads to a murder) in a case that is never made, which we found bizarre. Hustle is mildly involving thanks to stylish direction and Reynolds’ innate watchability, but ultimately unsuccessful. It premiered in the U.S. yesterday in 1975.

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Vintage Pulp Dec 23 2014
KNOW THE SCORE
Who’s the man? If you don’t know you better ask somebody.


After scoring a huge hit with the 1971 detective drama Shaft, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer doubled down by rushing out a bigger budgeted sequel the next year. It was called Shaft’s Big Score, and you see the Japanese promo above, made for its Tokyo premiere today in 1972. Some of the acting in Score isn’t great, which was also true of the first film, but as a whole it makes a nice companion piece with Shaft. John Shaft gets in the middle of the Italian and black mobs in New York City, and along the way there are brawls, bullets, and lots of badassedness. The movie also features blaxploitation heavyweights Moses Gunn, Wally Taylor, Drew Bundini Brown, and female foils Kathy Imrie, Rosalind Miles, and the amazing Kitty Jones. 

A long while back when discussing the 1968 movie 100 Rifles, we talked about the honesty of cinema from that period. It's a quality that extends into blaxploitation as well. When we say honesty, we don’t mean correctness. Casual racism abounds in blaxploitation, and of course sexism and homophobia make appearances too. But at least the genre acknowledges racial discord as an everyday element of American life. Unfortunately, Hollywood has devoted more and more time over the last thirty years to making soulless action epics and laughless comedies, constantly reassuring ticket buyers that everything is hunky dory. Yes, Hollywood would occasionally take on racial issues in big, Oscar grubbing dramas, but nearly all of those movies, no matter how downbeat, had an implicit message that America was getting better. Well, guess what? It isn’t.

Nearly half of America’s prisoners are inside for drugs, and 40% of that subset is black, even though whites are more likely to sell drugs, and they consume the same amount as blacks—not only per capita, but by percentage. Multiple studies show the same result. Despite this, black drug offenders land inside the increasingly for-profit prison industry at 10.1 times the rate of whites. Uncomfortable facts, but facts they are. Blaxploitation movies acknowledge a wide range of social problems while weaving them into the fabric of popular cinema. Nobody walked away from Shaft’s Big Score thinking that America was becoming a post-racial Eden, yet nobody walked away denying that the movie was immense fun. Entertainment that reflects the real world. Is that really so hard to do?


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Vintage Pulp Dec 23 2014
MEMOIRS OF AN INVISIBLE PERV
What would you do if you had the power of invisibility?

Tômei-ningen: okase! was known in English by two titles—Lusty Transparent Man, which sounds pretty innocuous, and Invisible Man: Rape!, which sounds horrible. We’re really more interested in sharing the poster, but with regard to the film what you get here is a Nikkatsu roman porno production about a college student who invents an invisibility elixir. At that point he clumsily pervs his way like a dirty Jerry Lewis from one voyeuristic entanglement to the next, bumbling his way inside the lady parts of the female leads. How do you shoot love scenes with an invisible man? You have the women writhe around by themselves. They’re all taken by surprise, but all end up enjoying themselves. There’s some doubt whether they even realize their partner is a man, rather than a horny ghost or a figment of their own imaginations, but in any case these encounters aim for laughs, not eroticism. The question is whether you think they’re funny. We didn’t. Tômei-ningen: okase! premiered in Japan today in 1978. 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
January 26
1924—St. Petersburg is renamed Leningrad
St. Peterburg, the Russian city founded by Peter the Great in 1703, and which was capital of the Russian Empire for more than 200 years, is renamed Leningrad three days after the death of Vladimir Lenin. The city had already been renamed Petrograd in 1914. It was finally given back its original name St. Petersburg in 1991.
1966—Beaumont Children Disappear
In Australia, siblings Jane Nartare Beaumont, Arnna Kathleen Beaumont, and Grant Ellis Beaumont, aged 9, 7, and 4, disappear from Glenelg Beach near Adelaide, and are never seen again. Witnesses claim to have spotted them in the company of a tall, blonde man, but over the years, after interviewing many potential suspects, police are unable generate enough solid leads to result in an arrest. The disappearances remain Australia's most infamous cold case.
January 25
1949—First Emmy Awards Are Presented
At the Hollywood Athletic Club in Los Angeles, California, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences presents the first Emmy Awards. The name Emmy was chosen as a feminization of "immy", a nickname used for the image orthicon tubes that were common in early television cameras.
1971—Manson Family Found Guilty
Charles Manson and three female members of his "family" are found guilty of the 1969 Tate-LaBianca murders, which Manson orchestrated in hopes of bringing about Helter Skelter, an apocalyptic war he believed would arise between blacks and whites.
January 24
1961—Plane Carrying Nuclear Bombs Crashes
A B-52 Stratofortress carrying two H-bombs experiences trouble during a refueling operation, and in the midst of an emergency descent breaks up in mid-air over Goldsboro, North Carolina. Five of the six arming devices on one of the bombs somehow activate before it lands via parachute in a wooded region where it is later recovered. The other bomb does not deploy its chute and crashes into muddy ground at 700 mph, disintegrating while driving its radioactive core fifty feet into the earth, where it remains to this day.

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