Modern Pulp Nov 27 2014
TOKYOSCOPE POP
2010 lecture and film series produced uniquely stylish art.

Modern art with a vintage flair always catches our eye. The posters above and below promote a lecture and film series called TokyoScope Talks, which were held in San Francisco during 2010 at the subterranean Viz Cinema in Japantown. The cinema has since closed, and the lecture/film series has concluded, but the art is so interesting we wanted to share it anyway, even fours years late. These events were primarily organized by writer/journalist Patrick Macias, and the posters were put together by the talented Kazumi Nonaka.

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Modern Pulp Nov 26 2014
CHE REVOLUTION
Hasta siempre, Comandante.

Since we mentioned in our Kennedy post that Mercocomic had serials about other historical figures, we decided we’d go ahead and share these Spanish Che covers from 1978. The complete run was three issues in the order seen, and the art is once again from the excellent Prieto Muriana, who even worked in a Pietà on cover three. “Hasta siempre, Comandante,” by the way, is a very famous Carlos Puebla song recorded by everyone from Joan Baez to Nathalie Cardone. 

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Modern Pulp Nov 22 2014
BLOOD BROTHERS
Mercocomic re-imagines one of the darkest periods in American history.


A long while back we shared a Spanish cover of the Mercocomic publication Kennedy and mentioned that a series of six appeared in 1977. The same comics were also published in French, so today, inappropriately, we’re sharing those six covers from France with their excellent if unsettling art by Prieto Muriana. Mercocomic published serials of other well known figures, among them Che, Hitler, Mussolini, Don Juan Tenorio Garcia, and Quijote 78. None are strictly factual accounts, but rather re-imaginings of the circumstances and motivations that drove important historical episodes.

Kennedy, as you can probably guess from JFK’s exit on cover one and Lee Harvey Oswald’s dispatching on cover two, deals with events leading all the way up to RFK’s assassination, with the proceedings generously sprinkled with the sex, drugs, betrayal, and hyperviolence you’d expect in an adult comic. Years ago when we first ran across Kennedy you could download all six. Not anymore. But they’re still available for purchase online at reasonable prices and then friends can question your taste for buying them. Luckily that isn’t a problem for us—most everything we own is tasteless. 
 
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Modern Pulp Nov 18 2014
SUICIDE CLUB
Drinking over the limit.

Above, exceedingly rare Mexican cover art for a pulp-style book about the mass suicide/mass murder of more than 900 people at the Peoples Temple Agricultural Project of Rev. Jim Jones in Jonestown, Guyana. That event, from which the current U.S. English phrase “drank the Kool-Aid” is derived (though group members actually drank Flavor Aid), occurred today in 1978. 

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Modern Pulp Sep 25 2014
NO TELL MOTEL
Need to rendezvous in secret? Chas Ray Krider shows you how.


The good people at Berlin based Goliath Books sent us one of their 2014 publications, Chas Ray Krider’s Dirty Rendezvous, the third and final book in his motelesque trilogy. The first two entries of the trio were Motel Fetish and Do Not Disturb, and Krider’s meticulously staged scenes in book three continue to conjure the retro chic of those lonely highwayside stopovers of American lore. The images nod strongly toward mid-century film noir and melodrama. Anything from The Postman Always Rings Twice to Psycho could apply, but soaked in deep, lush color. Krider’s women are the dangerous type—smokers and drinkers garbed in fetish wear, and often lavishly tattooed. Despite their tough looks, there’s an undercurrent of romance—the isolated motel is linked in the American psyche to freedom, adventure, and never knowing what you’ll find past the next solitary mile marker. Or who. 

But while motels suggest travel by road and the exhilaration of unexpected encounters, the title Dirty Rendezvous and the models’ elaborate garb speak of illicit plans and long guarded secrets. Not random meet-ups, but carefully woven webs of deceit—wives lied to, hats pulled down low, furtive glances in the rear view mirror. Krider has deftly achieved all these sensations and more, and when you add in the fact that his motel sets are as clean and carefully arranged as pages from vintage furniture catalogs, the result is guilty sleaze done with considerable class. Dirty Rendezvous is a book depicting the moments just before wicked acts are committed with soul-freeing joy. You imagine Krider's women checking in wearing demure garb, then transforming once concealed in the room. Of course, the desk clerk doesn’t care either way. He smirks when guests register under obviously false names and pay with cash, but all that really matters to him is that they don't wake the family in 3B. It's a futile wish—3B is about to hear things they never heard before. Get more info at the Goliath website here, and the artist’s blog here.

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Modern Pulp Sep 11 2014
FLUORESCENT NIGHTS
Special edition Boogie Nights poster is an explosion of color.

This promo for Boogie Nights was made last year for a Paul Thomas Anderson film retrospective hosted by the company Mondo, which markets limited edition screen printed posters for classic and contemporary films. The artist is the Japanese illustrator par excellence and constant enigma Rockin’ Jelly Bean. You can see this poster around the web with little difficulty, but we have a friend in Los Angeles who actually owns one and it really shocked us how off the colors are on every scan we’ve seen online. The above image, as oversaturated as it may seem, is close to correct. Even so, what appears as red is fluorescent magenta on the real poster, and the pale teal colors are closer to bright turquoise. Compare it to the shot below, which comes from the Mondo blog. The mild skin tones of the presenter tell us the colors of the entire image are true. Which means this is one blazingly garish poster, no? We love it. We could get one for as little as $300.00, but that’s still too rich for our blood. We wanted to share the image anyway, though, because Boogie Nights made its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival today in 1997.

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Modern Pulp Aug 28 2014
ILL WILL HUNTING
Yes, in pinku films there actually is a point to all that bloodspray.


You know what we like about pinku films? Their symmetry. Generally, slimy guys have the upper hand for about 65 minutes before the girls band together and, to the accompaniment of arterial bloodspray to spice things up, shoot them or stab them or chop off their heads. It’s nice. Balanced. In that way they’re like blaxploitation movies. In those, generally, the villain meets ruin at the hands of a black hero or anti-hero. Nice, you see? The films touch on serious problems—sexism and racism—but in a freewheeling, taboo-busting fashion that both entertains and makes the antagonist’s eventual violent demise a catharsis for audiences that know the wicked aren’t generally punished in real life. Taking all that into account then, you can see why removing the cathartic revenge from the proceedings would be problematic.

But that’s exactly what has happened with Onna kyôshi-gari, aka Female Teacher Hunting. Director Junichi Suzuki and writer Hiroshi Saitô, at the behest of Nikkatsu Studios, actually want to make a serious movie about gender roles and sex, but cloaked in a quasi-pinku flick in which a student falsely accused of sexual assault is driven by stress and rage over his predicament to later commit a sexual assault. It’s all beautifully shot andquite well acted, but what’s the message here? Was the monster always part of this man? Was he falsely accused because his accuser already saw this in him? Does the old saying about how any man will kill under the right circumstances also apply to rape? All are worthy themes to explore, but not embedded in a movie genre that by nature trivializes serious questions.
 
But the message of Onna kyôshi-gari might be something else entirely. Maybe it’s simply telling us—at a time when women were gaining more control over their own bodies and, after long last, wresting an iota of political power from the male establishment—that sexual consent was becoming a blurrier concept for confused men losing their hold on the top of the pyramid. But we don’t buy that either. For our part, we can’t remember the line between consent and coercion being blurry—at least not outside well-crafted fiction, and certainly not during the 1980s, when this movie was made. But as always there’s the one disclaimer—we aren’tJapanese, have never lived in Japan, and don’t know the culture deeply. If there’s one thing we’ve learned doing this site it’s that language, psychology, behavior, metaphors and signifiers simply don’t translate from culture to culture. In other words, for all we know this may be considered in Japan to be a wildly feminist movie. Nevertheless, we have to assess Onna kyôshi-gari as best we can with our deficiencies, and we say: interesting effort, but in pinku, realism without revenge converts the sex to sadism, and this entire movie into an anti-feminist polemic.

The star of the film (and poster), Yuki Kazamatsuri, in the final scene discovers a killifish inexplicably living in a swimming pool. She observes to her female friend, “Killifish are strong—I guess they can live even in a pool.” And of course the fish are metaphorical women and the pool is male-dominated society. But sorry, after an entire plot suggestingwomen are complicit in their own degradation, a morsel of dialogue telling us they’re tough enough to take it (and men are to be forgiven for supposed weakness) doesn’t excuse what came before. On the contrary—it makes it worse. Onna kyôshi-gari premiered in Japan today in 1982.

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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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Modern Pulp Jan 21 2014
DEVIL'S ADVOCATE
Kim Ji-woon’s thriller is hard to take but beautiful to behold.


Thanks to the wonder of downloading—er, we mean the legal purchase of a DVD at a sanctioned commercial outlet—this weekend we were able to re-screen one of our favorite recent movies, the 2010 South Korean gutwrencher Angmareul boatda, aka I Saw the Devil. Last time we watched it we didn’t write about it, but we think it’s a good time to recommend the movie because today was its official American premiere date. Amazingly, that unveiling was at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Well, nobody felt like dancing by the time the movie ended, you can be sure. Often lumped in with horror or torture porn movies, in truth I Saw the Devil is an unflinching but high-gloss revenge thriller, beautifully shot, and carefully paced. The revenge in question is directed toward a serial killer and director Kim Ji-woon’s documentation of that person’s gory exploits is where much of the movie’s early mayhem occurs.

Unlike many American films, I Saw the Devil doesn’t soften the impact of violence by turning it into a technical showcase for an fx house—the movie tries its best to make those scenes frightening yet somehow banal. No heads explode, nobody is thrown in a tire shredder, and nobody is impaled by a pair of skis. The most proximate cause of nearly every human death in history—technically speaking—has been lack of oxygen to the brain. Oxygen very often stops going to the brain because the blood needed to carry it there has gone somewhere else—the floor, for example. I Saw the Devil explores that concept with vivid clarity. Above is one of the American posters, and below is the original South Korean promo.


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Modern Pulp Jan 14 2014
THAI SCI-FI
Who knew doom and destruction could look so pretty?

Something a little different today, above are five Thai sci-fi and horror posters, showing the baroque stylings that make them so visually pleasing. The movies are, top to bottom, The Hidden, Scanners, Hex, Lifeforce, and The Believers.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
November 28
1942—Nightclub Fire Kills Hundreds
In Boston, Massachusetts, a fire in the fashionable Cocoanut Grove nightclub kills 492 people. Patrons were unable to escape when the fire began because the exits immediately became blocked with panicked people, and other possible exits were welded shut or boarded up. The fire led to a reform of fire codes and safety standards across the country, and the club's owner, Barney Welansky, who had boasted of his ties to the Mafia and to Boston Mayor Maurice J. Tobin, was eventually found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
November 27
1934—Baby Face Nelson Killed
In the U.S., killer and bank robber Baby Face Nelson, aka Lester Joseph Gillis, dies in a shoot-out with the FBI in Barrington, Illinois. Nelson is shot nine times, but by walking directly into a barrage of gunfire manages to kill both of his FBI pursuers before dying himself.
November 26
1922—Egyptologists Enter Tut's Tomb
British Egyptologists Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon become the first people to enter the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun in over 3000 years. Though sometimes characterized as scholars, Carter and Carnarvon were primarily interested in riches, and cut up Tut's mummy to more easily obtain the jewels and gold affixed to him.

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