Vintage Pulp Jun 17 2014
LA STRADA SYMEONI
Sandro Symeoni presents an Italian vision of Japan.

We often share Japanese movie posters, but today we thought we’d look at Japan through the eyes of Italian illustration master Sandro Symeoni. This poster is for La strada della vergogna, which was a Japanese movie made by Kenji Mizoguchi entitled Akasen chitai, aka Street of Shame. No shame in this art. 1956 on the original film, 1959 on this poster.

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Vintage Pulp Jun 15 2014
SOAP OPERA
Out of the bath and into the fire.

You can see this poster for the 1966 comedy Boy Did I Get a Wrong Number! around the internet, but we thought we’d share our scan anyway because we like the art and the graphics. Concerning the latter, that isn’t a big 70 in the middle of the poster—those are Japanese characters meaning “flow.” Combined with the rest of the text, the entire title reads “Queen of the Bath.” Maybe Lana Turner would have something to say about that, but in any case the title isn’t as random as you’d think. The movie is about an actress who is famous for her bath scenes but wants to be taken seriously. In a fit of pique she goes AWOL from her latest production and ends up hiding out in Oregon in the cabin of a married real estate agent, who spends the movie trying to keep his wife from finding out. It’s classic, 1960s style romantic slapstick, and the best thing about it is Elke Sommer in the starring role, though Bob Hope is always watchable. We uploaded many production stills below. Why all the imagery? Because Sommer is good for you. Boy Did I Get a Wrong Number! premiered in the U.S. this month in 1966. 

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Vintage Pulp May 21 2014
ZERO SUM GAME
Idle handcuffs are the Devil’s playthings.

We’re into the Japanese pile again today, but for a different type of poster, and a different type of movie. This rare promo is for Yukio Noda’s Zeroka no onna: Akai wappa, aka Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs, starring Miki Sugimoto. It’s a limited edition piece painted by the artist Shindo, who we can’t find much about, but who presumably was pretty famous. We’ll look into that. Anyway, we watched this movie recently, and we’d tell you all about it, but do you really need another blog review, even an extraordinarily (ahem) witty and erudite one? Thought not. It’s widely available, so search it out, queue it up, and enjoy it. Zeroka no onna: Akai wappa premiered in Japan today in 1974.

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Modern Pulp May 20 2014
HART EXHIBITION
A good time is in the cards.

We’ve dug into our collection of adult film posters again, and today you see online for the first time a Japanese promo for A Scent of Heather. It starred Veronica Hart in the story of a convent-raised rich girl whose arranged marriage goes wrong when, after the ceremony, she and her new spouse discover they’re siblings. Stuck in the marriage but unable to consummate the union, they seek sexual satisfaction with numerous other partners in interesting ways. The film helped launch Hart on a trajectory that quickly made her one of the most popular adult performers of the 1980s. In addition to porn, she later appeared in the mainstream films Boogie Nights and Magnolia. Promo photos of her from her early career are a bit rare, so this is not only an amazing poster, but also quite possibly the best image you’ll ever see of her. A Scent of Heather opened in the U.S. in 1980, and eventually premiered in Japan today in 1983. You can see more Japanese promos of this type by clicking here. 

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Vintage Pulp May 7 2014
CAT PEOPLE
It may be a classic but it’ll probably leave you wanting something more.


The Black Cat has been called one of the greatest horror films ever made. Taken in context it’s creepy, no doubt, and it stars spookmeister Bela Lugosi alongside Boris Karloff, he of the sinister widow’s peak and cinderblock head, so they alone make it somewhat unsettling. But it was produced in 1934, and much has changed since then in terms of what is truly terrifying. Plotwise, what you have here are two honeymooners in Hungary who encounter a mysterious traveler and who all end up stuck in the dreaded hilltop manse—not the gothic pile you would expect, but rather a linear, art deco box. The house is occupied by Karloff, a sort of war criminal, and it turns out Lugosi has traveled there with revenge in mind, for it seems Karloff had something to do with the deaths of Lugosi’s wife and daughter. The honeymooners are basically hapless bystanders to this situation, and their approach to the predicament doesn’t remotely resemble the approach you or I would take, but people had better manners back then. Eventually, though, manners are jettisoned and that’s when the movie gets interesting.

Watching two honeybaked hams like Karloff and Lugosi square off is rather entertaining, we gotta say, even if the plot doesn’t entirely hold together. But all that matters is the mood and the shadows and the evil glances and the fact that there can be only one winner—or none, considering the house is wired to self destruct. Of special note, by the way, is the music, which is almost continuous, and is comprised not of compositions made for the film, but rather a greatest hits assortment of Beethoven, Bach, Liszt, Schumann, and Tchaikovsky. It all gets a bit over the top, in our opinion, but you do get to enjoy probably the first movie usage of Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 565” (if indeed Bach wrote it, something that is in dispute). You know the tune—it’s the gloomy, edifice shaking organ solo most people associate with the 1962 film Phantom of the Opera. Well, Karloff’s character plays it here. We won’t lie—even the most chilling piece of music ever written can’t make The Black Cat scary, but if you have sixty-five minutes and consider yourself a horror buff it’s still worth the time. It premiered in the U.S. today in 1934. 


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Vintage Pulp Apr 28 2014
DELINQUENT PAYMENT
The only debt she cares about is revenge.

Info abounds on the internet about Toei Studios' Zubekô banchô: zange no neuchi mo nai, aka Delinquent Girl Boss: Worthless To Confess, but it’s a movie that falls into the our-website-isn’t-complete-without-it category, so we’re adding our two cents. The plot is complex, and really can’t be synopsized in just one sentence, but here we go: Reiko Oshida plays Rika, a recent parolee from reform school who through a series of encounters finds herself in conflict with local Yakuza thugs and eventually puts together a gang to wipe them out. She and her cohorts, with their matching red jumpsuits, may look like something from a j-pop video, but of course the coats are merely cover for their katanas, which they promptly draw and begin using to murderous effect. This final battle is elaborately staged, but getting five actresses and many extras to convincingly fight with swords is impossible, which means fans of realistic action may not be impressed. However there are some cool cinematographic moments that add drama and bring to mind Kill Bill, and indeed Quentin Tarantino is said to have been influenced by the sequence. Unlike many pinku flicks, this one is widely available, so at least you can see it for yourself and not have to take our word for anything. Love it or hate it, at the very least, Reiko Oshida is worth the time expenditure. Zubekô banchô: zange no neuchi mo nai premiered in Japan today in 1971.

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Vintage Pulp Apr 24 2014
QUITE CONTRARY
Hitomi Kozue as a streetwise cop named Dirty Mary? Worked for us. But it didn’t for the Japanese public.

So, we’ve returned from our brief vacation, and we’re gearing back up with three Japanese posters we meant to share during the week we were away. Sukeban Deka: daati Marii, aka Sukeban Deka: Dirty Mary, is a Dirty Harry style thriller from Nikkatsu Studios starring Hitomi Kozue. Kozue had already appeared in a number of erotic movies, so Nikkatsu made a right turn with her career, scaling back sex and nudity in favor of gritty action. At least, that was the idea. But there actually isn’t much action. The plot involves Kozue investigating murder, which in turn leads to her uncovering blackmail and illicit photos, and in the process there’s a couple of minutes of gunplay, a couple of foot chases, and a dynamite explosion. The lack of compelling action probably explains, at least partially, why the movie was a commercial failure. Despite its shortcomings you have to give Kozue this: she looks convincingly badass. And it’s worth noting that the film has become more popular over the years as viewers have reassessed its merits. However, it’s not so highly regarded yet that it’s easy to find, which means this poster is all you’ll probably get to see of it for now. As consolation we’ve uploaded a nice Hitomi Kozue promo shot below. Sukeban Deka: Dirty Mary premiered in Japan April 20 1974.

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Vintage Pulp Apr 24 2014
DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL
She was ready for her bath, but Japanese censors weren’t.

Above is a poster for Yukio Noda’s 1975 pinku Seishun Toruko Nikki Shojosuberi, aka Young Turkish Bath Diaries: The Sliding Virgin. This is yet another film that possibly may not have had a western release. It certainly has no IMDB entry, even though Noda is a well-known director who gave the world Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs and a whole raft of Wolves of the City movies. This one stars Reika Yamakawa, who was born in 1957, making her eighteen when the film premiered, but sixteen when it was shot two years earlier. Once word got out she had headlined this effort, child welfare authorities came calling and Toie Studios had to shelve the footage for two years. Why that made a difference we don’t know—underage scenes are underage scenes, even after two years have passed. But of course, pinku films have no actual sex and no pubic nudity, so the problems derived from a provocative “bubble dance” performed by Yamakawa and others. In any case, nobody went to jail, and in fact the movie screened last August at Tokyo’s Shibuya Cinemavera Theater as part of a cult film festival called Mondo Cinemaverique. The promo poster is legally available for sale in Japan, so any problems with that were solved as well, but you can never be too careful in this day and age, so we’ve added pixilation across Yamakawa’s torso.
 

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Vintage Pulp Apr 23 2014
PRIMAL SCREAM
Make all the noise you want. Nobody is listening.


The rare promo you see here is the Japanese poster for Carl Monson’s thriller A Scream in the Streets. We’ve seen this movie described as the first cop buddy picture. We don’t know if it was the first, but the dynamic is there—a straight-laced family man partnered with a wild hothead, their relationship residing at the core of a plot involving murder and mayhem in Los Angeles. So yes, it’s a buddy movie perhaps, but just barely—A Scream in the Streets is in actuality a sexploitation movie that spends far more time on the down and dirty than on crime solving, something you can probably deduce from the fact that the promo features a nude Sharon Kelly, aka Colleen Brennan, and by the fact that the alternate promo below features an even more nude Kelly/Brennan. 

While not hardcore, A Scream in the Streets was certainly too extreme to receive an R, and today it remains unrated, a garish display of flesh, blood, and profanity, as the cop combo wend their way through Los Angeles during a hot summer week rife with sleaze and crime, trying to keep the city from imploding as they also track a killer who targets women while dressed as one. If there’s a lesson in the movie at all it may be that it’s pointless to try and go unsullied by such rampant depravity—you can try not to touch it, but it’ll reach out and touch you. Either that or the lesson is if it looks like a man dressed as a woman and acts like a man dressed as a woman, it’s probably going to try and kill you—even if you’re a cop. A Scream in the Streets premiered in the U.S. first, then in Japan today in 1973.


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Vintage Pulp Apr 17 2014
KILLER SEX
She bent over backwards to please everyone and what did it get her?


The above poster, which is very rare, promotes an American x-rated flick called Farewell Scarlet, starring Terri Hall acting under the bizarre name National Velvet, a decision we’re sure didn’t go over well with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Made during the days when adult films were real cinema, Farewell Scarlet is a porno murder mystery about a woman who is murdered at an orgy. The cause of death? Asphyxiation via a large, wiggly dildo. The moment is actually depicted on the lower left quadrant of the poster, which is fine because the genre requirements here are sex, not suspense, so presumably nobody in Japan cared if the art fingered the killer. You’d think the death of the star at the 5:40 mark would leave a void in the film, but Hall’s many other scenes are shot in flashback as the character of Dexter Sleuth attempts to unravel the mystery.

And of course there are other performers present to fill the running time, notably Kim Pope, who had been ko’d by a mugger prior to filming and had to perform with her jaw wired shut. That’s really no laughing matter, but unfortunately, watching her deliver cheesy dialogue through gritted teeth is unavoidably funny. On the bright side for her, perhaps being unable to talk was for the better, since it probably prevented her from strongly protesting her key participation in a sado-masochistic Nazi sex scene while wearing swastika pasties. How does the movie get there? Doesn’t matter. Ultimately it’s as much a comedy as it is a mystery, and that’s part of its murky, 35mm charm.

And then there’s Hall. The former ballerina would later flex her muscles in golden age classics like The Opening of Misty Beethoven, Rollerbabies, and the frighteningly titled Gums, in the process becoming one of the era’s most famous stars. We'd show you some promo shots of her, like we usually do with the stars of movies we write about, but she seems to have traversed her career without a single good photo ever being made. Which means her movies are the only real evidence of her work. Are we recommending Farewell Scarlet? Not so much. But it is an interesting curiosity. It premiered in the U.S. in 1975 and had its Japanese debut today in 1976.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
September 19
1934—Arrest Made in Lindbergh Baby Case
Bruno Hauptmann is arrested for the kidnap and murder of Charles Lindbergh Jr., son of the famous American aviator. The infant child had been abducted from the Lindbergh home in March 1932, and found decomposed two months later in the woods nearby. He had suffered a fatal skull fracture. Hauptmann was tried, convicted, sentenced to death, and finally executed by electric chair in April 1936. He proclaimed his innocence to the end
September 18
1919—Pollard Breaks the Color Barrier
Fritz Pollard becomes the first African-American to play professional football for a major team, the Akron Pros. Though Pollard is forgotten today, famed sportswriter Walter Camp ranked him as "one of the greatest runners these eyes have ever seen." In another barrier-breaking historical achievement, Pollard later became the co-head coach of the Pros, while still maintaining his roster position as running back.
1932—Entwistle Leaps from Hollywood Sign
Actress Peg Entwistle commits suicide by jumping from the letter "H" in the Hollywood sign. Her body lay in the ravine below for two days, until it was found by a detective and two radio car officers. She remained unidentified until her uncle connected the description and the initials "P.E." on the suicide note in the newspapers with his niece's two-day absence.
September 17
1908—First Airplane Fatality Occurs
The plane built by Wilbur and Orville Wright, The Wright Flyer, crashes with Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge aboard as a passenger. The accident kills Selfridge, and he becomes the first airplane fatality in history.
1983—First Black Miss America Crowned
Vanessa Williams becomes the first African American Miss America. She later loses her crown when lesbian-themed nude photographs of her are published by Penthouse magazine.

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