Vintage Pulp Nov 22 2017
MAKING MARI
Everybody wants a piece of Mari Atsumi.

The movie Hadaka de Dakko, aka Be Naked premiered in Japan today in 1970, and as you can see from the promo poster, it starred the prolific Mari Atsumi. She made twenty-six films by our count, which means we've talked about her a lot. Here she plays a snack bar employee who dreams of bigger things, and who, along with her friends, try to accumulate 3 million yen they can use to buy a yacht. The reason it's called Be Naked is because every moneymaking scheme hinges on using Atsumi's body. The beauty shop needs her face to draw customers, the gambling house needs her sex appeal for the same reason, and when she becomes an artist's nude model, well, ditto. And in fact, the same can be said of the movie itself, and we're pretty sure its makers knew it too. Want to see more Atsumi? Start here.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 20 2017
HELL TO PAY
Nobody wants to be around when the bill comes due.


We've seen a few posters for the Japanese horror classic Jigoku, but never this one. The title is a Japanese word meaning “hell,” and that idea comes across pretty strongly on this bizarre promo. If you haven't seen the movie, it's about a group of people, all who have committed sins of some sort or another, that find themselves in hell. What's that like? Well, there are lakes of pus, pools of boiling water, fields of spikes, etc., as well as numerous baroque tortures, including people buried alive head first up to their ankles, chopped up, torn apart, de-toothed by various brutal means, and worse. In short, the filmmakers showed everything they had the efx capabilities to depict. It must have scared the bejesus out of people, but the movie was so successful it was remade three times. Real film buffs will want to check out the original, which premiered in Japan today in 1960. 

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Vintage Pulp Nov 19 2017
RV READY TO DO THIS?
I had new shocks installed, so theoretically nobody outside should be able to tell we're in there humping like beasts.

In Sin on Wheels a virgin moves into a trailer park with her new husband and discovers he and most of the other residents are swingers. He's cheating on her within a week, she's cheating back days later, and pretty soon everyone wants a piece of her wedding cake. Of course, it was always the husband's plan to share his bride, which means the friction, so to speak, derives from her attempts to resist being turned into a trailer park plaything. It's all written from her point of view, so it's basically a male fantasy of a woman's descent into the sexual gutter. This is credited to Loren Beauchamp but it was written by Robert Silverberg. If you're thinking this is somehow a diamond in the rough we'll tell you bluntly it's not distinguishable from most other light sleaze. It's fun and quick, though, with lots of heavy drinking, strip poker, and round robin intercourse. It's 1962 copyright, with Paul Rader cover art of one of his best temptresses, an aspect that contributes to the book's collectibility.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 16 2017
1-1000 NIGHTS
The real counterfeit is the film.


Southside 1-1000, which premiered today in 1950, is a crime drama in documentary style about the U.S. Secret Service chasing counterfeiters. It opens with narrated propaganda about the free world (the U.S.) fighting the enslaved world (commies), complete with Korea combat footage. The narration then morphs into a paean to the U.S. dollar before finally setting the stage for a story about a wave of funny money originating from a California prison. Any plot nuance is overshadowed by b-level acting, along with the voiceover and its message—that the Secret Service is holy and the dollar is noble. One character even corrects his minister, who had said in his sermon that money is the root of all evil. “But that isn't what Paul said in his epistle to Timothy,” this sad sack intones. “He said love of money is the root of all evil.” Is there really a distinction there? Semantically, yes. Realistically, no.

But at least the movie is honest about its intentions—to indoctrinate, with entertainment a distant secondary consideration. As with all older films, reviews on Southside 1-1000 are generally positive. But that's due to what we call the flickering celluloid effect—any old film will seduce certain viewers by virtue of the inherent romance of its setting. All those old cars. Those elegant dresses. And the hats! One thing we try to do here at Pulp Intl. is be nostalgic (for an era we never lived through, but whatever) while avoiding being blinded by it. Yes, popular movies were, in our opinion, generally better back then, but the percentage of debacles was, objectively, still fairly high. Southside 1-1000 has a single redeeming sequence—a fight involving an overpass, a speeding train, and a villain the audience isn't sure is a villain until late in the film. Otherwise, it's a turkey, but with promo art worth sharing anyway.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 15 2017
ALLEY OF THE DOLLS
You're damned picky all of a sudden for a dame I found dumpster diving behind White Castle.


Alley Girl has some of the harder boiled characters we've come across in mid-century fiction. We're reminded a bit of James Ellroy, whom we suspect must have read and been influenced by this book. The style of author Jonathan Craig, aka Frank E. Smith, is not similar to Ellroy's, but the feel is a match. The lead male Steven Lambert is a crooked cop, a sexual predator, and a serial swindler. His girlfriend is a hardcore drunk, a nymphomaniac, and a self-destructive thrill seeker. Most everyone else is a victim or a dupe, particularly the innocent man Lambert is framing for murder, and the man's beautiful wife who Lambert coerces into sex by promising not to go through with the frame-up. We throughly enjoyed this book. It's anchored by just the sort of irredeemable heel that makes crime fiction so entertaining. The only problem is a 1954 edition from Lion like you see here could cost you a fortune. The 2013 re-issue, which comes from Black Curtain Press—but without the excellent cover art from Robert Maguire—is much more economical. We recommend reading it in any case.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 14 2017
SOUTHERN BELLICOSITY
Come on in boys. I've got hot lead sandwiches for everybody.


This November 1958 cover of Man's Life magazine is uncredited in the masthead, but it was painted by Wil Hulsey and illustrates the story “The Girl Who Made War Hell for Gen. Sherman” by Gene Channing. The girl is Maryellen Stone, and she stalls Sherman's advance scouts using bullets, brainpower, and her body. The story is written in a biographical style, but we found no record of such a person. Even if she existed, the tale still falls into a category of fantasy fiction about a mythical non-aggressive South and how its way of life was cruelly obliterated. This narrative is astounding, not only because it overlooks the aggression of forced bondage against millions and how that caused the South to go to war, but also because southern leaders had formulated plans to invade Latin America.

Destabilization operations were staged in Mexico and a war mapping expedition was sent to Brazil. These were mere forays, but high ranking Southerners made their opinions crystal clear in hundreds of speeches and newspaper editorials. Calls to invade Cuba were constant. Influential Mississippi Senator Albert Gallatin Brown wrote in 1858: “I want Cuba, and I know that sooner or later we must have it. If the worm-eaten throne of Spain is willing to give it for a fair equivalent, well— If not, we must take it. I want Tamaulipas, Potosi, and one or two other Mexican States; and I want them all for the same reason—for the planting and spreading of slavery.” The imperative to expand was even written into the Confederate Constitution, and Confederate president Jefferson Davis was careful to select only pro-expansionists for his cabinet. We wouldn't call any of that peaceful.

Man's Life throws peace aside as well by going heavy on murder with profiles of Theresa Maguire, Leona Vlught, Thelma Rabail, and other women who died at the hands jealous men—and one jealous woman. The story is titled “Kiss Me or Die” and it comes with some pretty explicit photos. There's a lighter side to the magazine too. “Female Skippers Turn Waterways into New Lovers' Lanes” regales readers with tales of boatborne sexploits on the lakes and coastlines of the U.S. It's amusing stuff, as much of a fantasy as the Civil War story, but with happy endings for everyone involved. Elsewhere in the issue you get more adventure fiction, an extensive photo feature on model Ann Edmondson, and the usual ads and comics. We have several more entries on Man's Life in the website, and you can see two of them here and here.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 13 2017
A CASE OF MEDICAL NEGLIGEE
You're lovely in that, but for pure sexiness nothing beats a woman in an assless hospital gown.


Above is an alternate cover for a book we featured a couple of years ago—Frank G. Slaughter's Eastside General. The previous art was from 1957, but this edition is from 1952 with cover work by Owen Kampen. It struck us for a couple of reasons. First, the patient is wearing a negligée, and second, she's smoking. Possibly the doctor would tell her smoking is bad for her, but in 1952 the link between cigarette smoking and cancer was suspected but not established. Sometimes it takes a while but science always reaches a consensus. So do we, and our consensus on this cover is that it's great. You can see our original write-up on Eastside General at this link.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 10 2017
COUNTER INTELLIGENCE
Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest—and you all know it!

You know the aphorism about intelligence, right? The one where smart people never feel smart enough and stupid people never realize they're stupid? The lead character in Jonathan Gant's, aka Clifton Adams' Never Say No to a Killer constantly brags about how smart he is. He even claims to have a genius I.Q. He puts this brainpower to use in escaping prison, setting himself up in Lake City, gaining possession of a million dollars worth of blackmail material, and sparking interest from the most beautiful woman he's ever seen, but you have a sneaking suspicion the entire time he isn't really that smart.

Since the story is told from first person point-of-view you have no evidence he's a blowhard, but for a guy who's allegedly so much smarter than everyone else plenty of things go wrong with his schemes, and the corpses he generates don't inspire confidence in his self assessment. And indeed, later you discover definitively that he isn't bright at all—he just has an enormous ego, one that allows him to bluster his way through problems, but which keeps him from spotting obvious dangers and prevents him from understanding it's he who's being played.

He believes beautiful women are his reward for being so much better than everyone else, which makes it especially satisfying when these women begin giving him trouble. If he was really a genius he'd have known that you never cross a femme fatale. Never Say No to a Killer is not an especially well written book, but the story is great and the character of Roy Surratt is rare. Well, rare in fiction. In real life people like him are everywhere. Recommended stuff from Ace Double Novels, circa 1956, with uncredited cover art, and Louis Trimble's Stab in the Dark on the flipside.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 10 2017
URBAN DECAY
Population 1280. Correction—1274.


Purely by coincidence, we also read a novel that's the dark twin of Never Say No to a Killer. The book was Jim Thompson's Pop. 1280, and in this one the main character is a self-described moron, and so is everyone else. At least it seems that way at first. Or maybe it's kinder to say they're simply unpretentious and earthy. Check out this exchange between two lawmen from adjacent counties:

Pre-zactly! Ken said. “So I'll tell you what to do about them pimps. The next time they even look like they're goin' to sass you, you just kick 'em in the balls as hard as you can.”

Huh? But don't that hurt awful bad?

Pshaw. 'Course it don't hurt. Not if you're wearing a good pair o' boots.

I mean, wouldn't it hurt the pimps?

Once we're immersed in this chaw-and-cornbread milieu, one character emerges to be considerably more cunning than the others. The aphorism applies again. Though he doesn't consider himself to be smart, somehow he's more than up to the task of conniving his way through multiple nefarious schemes to reach his ultimate goals, which consist of getting laid and not working too hard as sheriff.

The book is set during the Great Depression and its portrait of man-woman and white-black relations is both horrifying and hilarious. Thompson's approach is partly satirical, but the actual ideas espoused by his characters are deadly serious, as well as historically grounded, such as in a conversation about whether the county's black residents have souls. The consensus is they don't. Why? Because they aren't really people.

It's a pointed commentary on the distant Jim Crow south, yet the very same question of black humanness festers at the core of America's 2017 problems. If you doubt it ask yourself how the same observers who have limitless sympathy for a white rancher shot after initiating a standoff with federal lawmen somehow have none for unarmed black men shot in the back, or why rich white ranchers who refuse to pay their federal grazing fees are perceived as persecuted, while a poor black man trying to survive by selling loose cigarettes is not.

Critic Stephen Marche once described Pop. 1280 as “preposterously upsetting,” which is as apt a description as we can imagine. The idea of who's really human, what is sexual consent, what are the obligations of lawmen, and what is evil are played for laughs by Thompson, but always with an incisive twist that lets you know where his sympathies lie. Yet as shocking as the book is to read, it's addictive and consistently entertaining, particularly when various characters dispense their tabacky soaked wisdom…

… about women: “I'd been chasing females all my life, not paying no mind to the fact that whatever's got tail at one end has teeth at the other, and now I was getting chomped on.”

... about the mentally challenged: “You probably ain't got as long a dingle-dangle as him—they tell me them idjits are hung like a stud hoss.”

… about learning: “I mean I caught him reading a book, that's what! Yes sir, I caught him red-handed. Oh, he claimed he was only lookin' at the pitchers, but I knew he was lyin'.

We recommend Pop. 1280 highly. The Gold Medal paperback you see above with its Robert McGinnis cover art is expensive, but numerous later printings are available at reasonable prices. Just go into the reading with your psyche girded. You'll root for the main character Nick Corey, but he's merely one of the most charming bad apples in a town that's rife with rot. That rot leads to the reliable pulp staples of adultery, betrayal, and murder many times over, but in the most unique and enjoyable way.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 9 2017
REPELLENT INSECTS
Ever watch a movie that really makes your skin crawl?

The above poster was made to promote the Italian release of the sci-fi movie L'allucinante fine dell'umanità, which was originally made in Japan and called 昆虫大戦争, or Konchû daisensô. The chaotic Japanese poster appears just below. It's a mutant bug movie obviously, an angry bug movie, a swarming bug movie, a planes-crashing-because-of-bugs-ganging-up-on-jet-engines movie. Basically, these insects get into everything, including your sinus cavities. If you know the film at all, it's probably as War of the Insects or possibly Genocide, which were its two English titles. It is, amazingly, part of the Criterion DVD Collection, which consists of “important classic and contemporary films,” but we can't call it anything better than adequate.
 
It's interesting on one level, though. Japanese creations such as Godzilla are often called a reaction to being the victims of two nuclear bombs. If so, then Konchû daisensô fits that category too, as the rogue insects that turn on humans can only be defeated with a lost but undetonated American atomic bomb. Germany is worked into the plot as well, so with three major World War II powers involved there may be war psychology at work. Entomopohobia is at work too, so if you hate or fear insects, definitely give this one a pass. Konchû daisensô premiered in Japan today in 1968, and began its run in Italy as L'allucinante fine dell'umanità at some unknown date afterward.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
November 22
1963—John F. Kennedy Is Assassinated
In Dallas, Texas, U.S. President John F. Kennedy is killed and Texas Governor John B. Connally is seriously wounded as they ride in a motorcade through Dealy Plaza. Lee Harvey Oswald, an employee of the schoolbook depository from which the shots were suspected to have been fired, was arrested on charges of the murder of a local police officer and was subsequently charged with the Kennedy killing. He denied shooting anyone, claiming he was a patsy, but was killed by Jack Ruby on November 24, before he could be indicted or tried. Today, Americans who believe JFK was killed as the result of a conspiracy are routinely dismissed in the press, yet the vast majority of them believe Oswald did not act alone.
November 21
1959—Max Baer Dies
Former heavyweight boxing champ Max Baer dies of a heart attack in Hollywood, California. Baer had a turbulent career. He lost to Joe Louis in 1935, but two years earlier, in his prime, he defeated German champ and Nazi hero Max Schmeling while wearing a Star of David on his trunks. The victory was his legacy, making him a symbol to Jews, and also to all who hated Nazis.
November 20
1945—Nuremberg Trials Begin
In Nuremberg, Germany, in the Palace of Justice, the trials of prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of Nazi Germany begin. Among the men tried were Martin Bormann (in absentia), Hermann Göring, Rudolph Hess, and Ernst Kaltenbrunner.
1984—SETI Institute Founded
The SETI Institute, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence, the discovery of extrasolar planets, and the habitability of the galaxy, is founded in California by Thomas Pierson and Dr. Jill Tarter.
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