Vintage Pulp Jan 22 2016
PRETTY POISON
Azuma turns to banditry and heads roll.


Dokufu oden kubikiri asa is known in English by many titles—officially it's aka Poisonous Oden and Decapitator Asa or Samurai Executioner. But in our efforts to locate it we discovered it's known online also as Decapitation of an Evil Woman and Vamp and Samurai. Do we even need to tell you about this one, considering how much info is given away by the titles?

A country girl played by Terumi Azuma goads a country boy into theivery and they and two partners quickly become notorious bandits hunted by the authorities. The story is derived from the real-life Oden Takahashi, who in 1879 became the last woman executed by decapitation in Japan. Despite this inspiration, much of the movie is played for laughs, with quite a bit of slapsticking, bungling, and yelling. Of course, it has to take a serious turn eventually, and indeed all four gang members soon become seasoned killers—just in time to start being whittled down by those annoyingly persistent authorities.

We were surprised by the comedic tone saturating much of the film, but since Japanese audiences already knew the story of Oden Takahashi, maybe some foolishness was needed to keep them interested. We could have done without it, but the movie is still pretty good, and at sixty-one minutes you don't lose too much life to it. The poster above is exceedingly rare, never before seen online we're pretty sure. The one below is more common, but still very nice. Dokufu oden kubikiri asa premiered in Japan today in 1977.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
April 22
1912—Pravda Is Founded
The newspaper Pravda, or Truth, known as the voice of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, begins publication in Saint Petersburg. It is one of the country's leading newspapers until 1991, when it is closed down by decree of then-President Boris Yeltsin. A number of other Pravdas appear afterward, including an internet site and a tabloid.
1983—Hitler's Diaries Found
The German magazine Der Stern claims that Adolf Hitler's diaries had been found in wreckage in East Germany. The magazine had paid 10 million German marks for the sixty small books, plus a volume about Rudolf Hess's flight to the United Kingdom, covering the period from 1932 to 1945. But the diaries are subsequently revealed to be fakes written by Konrad Kujau, a notorious Stuttgart forger. Both he and Stern journalist Gerd Heidemann go to trial in 1985 and are each sentenced to 42 months in prison.
April 21
1918—The Red Baron Is Shot Down
German WWI fighter ace Manfred von Richthofen, better known as The Red Baron, sustains a fatal wound while flying over Vaux sur Somme in France. Von Richthofen, shot through the heart, manages a hasty emergency landing before dying in the cockpit of his plane. His last word, according to one witness, is "Kaputt." The Red Baron was the most successful flying ace during the war, having shot down at least 80 enemy airplanes.
1964—Satellite Spreads Radioactivity
An American-made Transit satellite, which had been designed to track submarines, fails to reach orbit after launch and disperses its highly radioactive two pound plutonium power source over a wide area as it breaks up re-entering the atmosphere.
April 20
1939—Holiday Records Strange Fruit
American blues and jazz singer Billie Holiday records "Strange Fruit", which is considered to be the first civil rights song. It began as a poem written by Abel Meeropol, which he later set to music and performed live with his wife Laura Duncan. The song became a Holiday standard immediately after she recorded it, and it remains one of the most highly regarded pieces of music in American history.
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