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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Vintage Pulp Dec 21 2014
RITE HERE, RITE NOW
Satan claws is coming to town.

Nothing says Christmas like a cheesy horror movie, and they don’t get much cheesier than Hammer Film Productions’ b-flick Satanic Rites of Dracula. This was the seventh and last movie to feature Christopher Lee playing Dracula, a role he inhabited with great gusto, and the third with Peter Cushing as Van Helsing. In other words, Hammer really knew how to beat a dead horse. Plenty of summaries of this online, so we won’t bother. We just wanted to show you the nice art. Satanic Rites of Dracula first played in Japan today in 1974. 

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Vintage Pulp Dec 18 2014
JELLYFISH'S STING
The bright lights look pretty but they can blind you to the danger.


These two panel length posters promote the pinku flicks Neon kurage and its sequel Neon kurage: Shinjuku hanadensha. We also have a normal promo for Neon kurage below. The movies, though well known, never had any Western releases as far as we know, but would be called Neon Jellyfish and something like Neon Jellyfish: Shinjuku Float. Shinjuku is a place, so that’s easy enough to grasp, but we were unsure on the “float” aspect until we looked it up. It seems to derive from a type of Japanese tram decorated with flowers in the manner of a parade float, but its secondary meaning has something to do with sexual performance, specifically vaginal insertions of, well… anything from blowguns to ping pong balls.

We're happy to say you’ll see none of that in these movies. They’re about as explicit as your average Cinemax feature, though as we’ve mentioned before, not being able to show anything actually makes the directors—in these instances Naito Makoto and Kazuhiko Yamaguchi—go the extra mile with visual tricks and clever juxtapositions. The story in both movies revolves around star Emiko Yamauchi’s employment in seedy Tokyo sex bars. In the first movie she’s pursued by a photographer who uses devious means to turn her into a nude model, and in the second she escapes her village in the sticks and meets a professional cyclist who’s tangled up with some thugs in a race-fixing racket. Problems ensue in both instances.

Yamauchi only appeared in a handful of productions, but the term masterpiece was thrown around by some critics when writing about Neon Jellyfish. Yamaucho was also in School of the Holy Beast, which we discussed here. As a side note, there are dozens of websites now offering to stream or sell or preview this genre of movies, but of course they have nothing but malware and viruses. We are immune, thanks to Apple. If you aren’t, don’t dare go looking. You’ll get stung right in the hard drive. Neon kurage premiered June 20, 1973, and Neon kurage: Shinjuku hanadensha premiered today the same year.

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Vintage Pulp Dec 18 2014
ACCORDING TO SCHEDULE
They say art is good therapy. But maybe not in this case.


Chûsei Sone’s Irogoyomi onna ukiyoe-shi, which was known in the West as Eros Schedule Book: Female Artist, is the story of an unsuccessful painter in Edo period Japan who, after his wife is raped while picking herbs by a river, swears revenge upon the man who disrupted their lives. Meanwhile the trauma unlocks something inside the wife that she deals with by beginning to paint her own canvasses. Her violent works all include images of her rapist, and as the paintings become more acclaimed, the rapist becomes a sort of local celebrity and the husband becomes more sexually alienated and professionally jealous. This is all disturbing enough, but it’s of course merely setting the stage for the rapist’s reappearance.

The movie was well reviewed, especially for a pinku, but like many from the genre it’s almost impossible to find outside of Japan. That may be a good thing—we appreciate that the male antagonists in these movies generally suffer gruesome fates, and while that is quite satisfying, these plots just don’t play well today. Sone, who was just beginning his directorial career, would go on to helm many other movies over the course of two decades. Conversely, the star of Irogoyomi onna ukiyoe-shi, Setsuko Ogawa, like a whirlwind appeared in twenty-five films in a mere three years before pretty much vanishing from the scene. Irogoyomi onna ukiyoe-shi, which by the way is not part of the nine-film Eros Schedule Book series made around the same time, premiered in Japan today in 1971.


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Vintage Pulp Dec 6 2014
GOING FOR THE THROAT
Toei Co. tries to copy the success of Deep Throat and ends up with something not deep and not tasteful.


You know that we’re sticklers about sharing art on its premiere date. Just by coincidence we had two tabloids published today, which we’ve shared above, and we also have movie promo art. This all makes for a very naked day on Pulp Intl., but that’s the way it happens sometimes. We take no responsibility—this is the smut of previous generations, not ours, so blame your grandpa. Anyway, the above poster is for Toei Studios’ Tôkyô dîpu surôto fujin, aka Tokyo Deep Throat, aka Deep Throat in Tokyo. This is a non-pornographic film because, as we’ve mentioned many times before, such acts were illegal to show in Japan at the time, so what you have here is really a pinku or softcore flick with a lot of suggestive action—such as star Kumi Taguchi tonguing a mango, as seen on the poster art—but no actual sex.

The plot is similar to the real Deep Throat in that a woman has a clitoris in her throat. How did it get there? Well, her husband had her undergo implantation surgery after she refused to give him a hummer. We know. She won’t go down on him, but somehow he’s able to make her go under the knife. Whatever. After the surgery oral sex is equally pleasurable for both of them, though she seems to have lost her voice, and what happens is… zzzzzzzzz. Where were we? What time is it? Oh yes—plot. Taguchi can now orgasm by eating a bananathat’s not a euphemism, as she does exactly that twice—and there’s some mobster stuff and a murder that really isn’t. But none of it matters. Just know that with a disastrously crappy transfer from the original print, production values here are so low you’ll feel like you’re in a sleazy, mid-disco era Kabukicho wankhouse. Not that we’d know. Tôkyô dîpu surôto fujin premiered in Japan today in 1975.


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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
March 02
1933—King Kong Opens
The first version of King Kong, starring Bruce Cabot, Robert Armstrong and Fay Wray, and with the giant ape Kong brought to life with stop-action photography, opens at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The film goes on to play worldwide to good reviews and huge crowds, and spawns numerous sequels and reworkings over the next eighty years.
1949—James Gallagher Completes Round-the-World Flight
Captain James Gallagher and a crew of fourteen land their B-50 Superfortress named Lucky Lady II in Fort Worth, Texas, thus completing the first non-stop around-the-world airplane flight. The entire trip from takeoff to touchdown took ninety-four hours and one minute.
1953—Oscars Are Shown on Television
The 26th Academy Awards are broadcast on television by NBC, the first time the awards have been shown on television. Audiences watch live as From Here to Eternity wins for Best Picture, and William Holden and Audrey Hepburn earn statues in the best acting categories for Stalag 17 and Roman Holiday.
March 01
1912—First Parachute Jump Takes Place
Albert Berry jumps from a biplane traveling at 1,500 feet and lands by parachute at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. The 36 foot diameter chute was contained in a metal canister attached to the underside of the plane, and when Berry dropped from the plane his weight pulled the canopy from the canister. Rather than being secured into the chute by a harness, Berry was seated on a trapeze bar. It's possible he was only the second man to accomplish a parachute landing, as there are some accounts of someone accomplishing the feat in California several months earlier.
1932—Lindbergh Baby Is Kidnapped
The twenty-month-old son of aviator Charles Lindbergh, Charles Augustus Lindbergh III, is kidnapped from the family home in East Amwell, New Jersey. Over two months later the toddler's body is discovered in woods a short distance from the home. A medical examination determines that he had died of a massive skull fracture. A German carpenter named Bruno Hauptmann is arrested, tried, and convicted for the crime. He is sentenced to death and executed in April 1936.
February 28
1953—Watson and Crick Unravel DNA
American biologists James D. Watson and Francis Crick tell their friends that they have determined the chemical structure of DNA. The formal announcement takes place in April following publication in Nature magazine. In 1968, Watson writes The Double Helix, a non-fiction account of not only the discovery of the structure of DNA, but the personalities, conflicts and controversy surrounding the work.

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