Who says cats don't like to get wet?
We're back to Japan today, with another Nikkatsu Studios pinku flick, this time Mesunekotachi no yoru, known in English as Night of the Felines. We like cats, so this one should be a slam dunk. It's about three women who work in a sort of massage parlor in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo called Turkish Paradise, where they provide soapy rubdowns and other services to male customers. They manage to get involved in efforts to convert an ostensibly gay youngster named Makoto to heterosexuality. Two items of note here: apparently soapy rubdowns are a thing in Japan; and apparently the filmmakers considered sexuality a strictly a-or-b deal. But whatever, in this all-or-nothing milieu conjured up by writer Akira Nakano and director Noboru Tanaka, men can be converted from totally gay to totally straight, which totally leads to troubles in typical Nikkatsu fashion. The movie is partly comedic in nature, and lurches between laughs—or attempts at generating them, anyway—to surprisingly dark interludes involving voyeurism, suicide, and more. It was interesting, and the gender bending nature of it was different. For us most of its value was in watching the Turkish Paradise felines and their bubbly slippings and slidings. Soapy rubdowns. Who'd have thought? Since we can't visit Turkish Paradise we're going to show the movie to the Pulp Intl. girlfriends and see if they can learn some tricks. Wish us luck. Mesunekotachi no yoru premiered in Japan today in 1972.
He kills, robs, and terrorizes—yet still has panache. How very French.
This is one of the oldest book covers we've shared. Fantômas, written by Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre, was originally published in 1911 by Librairie Arthème Fayard with uncredited art. We located a digital translation and were treated to a complex and somewhat episodic novel pitting the titular murderer and thief Fantômas against a clever and determined detective named Juve in a deadly pan-Parisian cat-and-mouse. Juve knows that many crimes committed in and around the city are the work of Fantômas, but catching him—when many believe he's just a figment of fearful imaginations—is another matter.
Fantômas and Juve are both adept with disguises, and a third character disguises himself as a woman. The focus on such playacting makes us believe costumes held a particular fascination for the French at that time. The main surprise for us with this book was how evil Fantômas is. He kills one guy, crams him in a shipping crate, and injects his body with some chemical or other to keep the smell down. He shows his brutality in other instances as well. It's hard to wrap our heads around the fact that French readers embraced a tale that starred a serial killer, but then again the French were traditionally ahead of the artistic curve.
For francophiles Fantômas is probably a can't miss, and while it's perhaps less on target for readers used to structure and action from books written post-1970, it's certainly atmospheric as hell. Successful too—the book sold mountains and Fantômas became a franchise character. We're sorry to give away that he survives this novel, but it isn't as if you have a choice about finding that out, considering this book is referred to in numerous places as Fantômas #1. We wouldn't quite label him #1, but he's pretty fun.
Alarms, security, police... As a master jewel thief I thought I'd considered every possible obstacle. Just goes to show.
This Avon Publications cover for The Deadly Game by Norman Daniels was painted by Bob Abbett. The book has a promising premise, though there's no nude that interrupts a safe cracking. The story concerns a high society jewel thief who's being constantly dogged by a determined police detective, and who decides to get revenge by bedding the cop's wife, then, for good measure, implicating her in his next heist. It's revenge to the nth degree—cuckold the cop, further humiliate him by succeeding with the crime, then railroad his wife to prison. We're talking cruel. Too bad this one is undone by substandard writing. But it wasn't bad enough to stop us from sticking with it until the end and finding out how it all resolved. If you find it for five bucks or less, it's probably worth taking the plunge.
We get to the beach so rarely, shame to waste the trip. Who's up for a swim before we haul this stiff to the morgue?
Today in 1954 a man named Nathaniel Smith who was walking on Venice Beach in Los Angeles spotted something floating in the surf behind the breakwater of the old Venice Pier. He waded into the ocean and discovered the something was a person. Smith pulled him to shore, but the man was already dead, a victim not of drowning but of a gunshot wound to the head. Was he a murder victim or a suicide? There's no info available on that, nor on his identity. Whoever he was, we bet he never could have imagined thousands of people would be looking at photos of him nearly a lifetime later. We're doing that thanks to the University of Southern California, which holds these and tens of thousands of other images in its archive of Los Angeles Examiner press photos. You can see many more shots from the collection by clicking its keywords below.
When they gave out maternal instincts Izumi Shima forgot to sign up for her dose.
In Japanese, “haha” means mother, and in Waisetsu kazoku: haha to musume, known in English as Indecent Family: Mother and Daughter, there's a mother who certainly qualifies as funny. Funny as in strange. Mommy dearest is none other than Izumi Shima, one of our favorite pinku actresses, as we've demonstrated numerous times, such as here and here. The idea of her having had a child in this movie defies credulity. She was twenty-nine in it, while Yōko Morimura, who plays her daughter, was at least eighteen. But whatever, it's Nikkatsu roman porno, so you have to go with it.
Plotwise, a middle-aged sad sack played by Akira Shioji makes a connection with Morimura while she's dancing at a strip bar called Mississippi Queen, and she comes to live with him. Never let a stripper move in with you. Every man knows that. But not Shioji, apparently. In short order Morimura's mother Shima moves in too. At first Shioji is pretty thrilled with this arrangement, but it isn't long before Shima decides to show him that mothers know things daughters don't. And that, of course, is the beginning of his problems. Since this is a roman porno, we don't have to detail all the things that go on—you know what to expect, and you know things don't often end well.
You also know there's usually a leftfield subplot, and in this case it has to do with Shioji's house being coveted by his nephew in order to sell it for hotel development. Or something like that. Doesn't matter, because the plot is just a framing device for nudity and cleverly simulated sex. As we've noted before, it's amazing how raunchy a film can be yet not show very much. Shioji and Morimura's sixty-nine session about halfway through is a case in point. You'll really believe he's getting up in her rump. All very fun, and we were especially happy there was no pee. It's a roman porno staple we can do without. For that reason alone we give Waisetsu kazoku: haha to musume a cautious thumbs up. It premiered in Japan today in 1982.
Mother, homemaker, community activist, and filthy freak. She does it all. I have a hot young girlfriend for sex, and her mother to clean the house. Life doesn't get much better than this. I feel like singing! Figaro! And skipping! Wheeee! Here, why don't you watch while I sensually undress my passed out mom. Dang. I never noticed until seeing her half-naked, but she's a total milf. ...zzzzzzz... Hah! I wasn't passed out at all! I was intentionally letting Shioji perv out. Now that he realizes I'm hotter than the surface of the sun, I'm going to strip him down to the bone just like this spare rib. Sluuuuurp! Mom! Quit sucking off that rib! You're embarrassing me! No, my daughter, I don't believe I shall desist from fellating this juicy rib. I don't believe I shall desist at all. If you think my foot is nice just wait until you experience the warmer and softer parts of my body. That trip I took to Akiyoshido Cave last year was so cool. How weird that I should think of that now. Yup. Fucked his brains right out of his skull. Now back to the rib. You stole my unattractive and inappropriately old lover, mom. I'm not speaking to you. Bonus material below: a couple of promo photos of Morimura and Shima.
Sorry to scare you. Just triple checking. So it's a firm no on that dinner invitation. Any chance you'd meet me for coffee?
In one of our favorite episodes of The Simpsons, Bart is on edge because he's being stalked by Sideshow Bob, who wants to kill him. Homer decides to show Bart a new hockey mask and chainsaw he's bought. He bursts into Bart's room wearing the mask, brandishing the roaring chainsaw, and yells, “Hey Bart! Check out my new hockey mask and chainsaw!” Bart screams in terror, and Homer, realizing he's chosen the worst possible time to show off these purchases, backs out of the room apologizing. Amazingly, a scene exactly like that occurs in Mignon G. Eberhart's 1946 Miami based parlor mystery White Dress, except protagonist Marny Sanderson is terrified of a killer who's been stalking her while wearing a black raincoat with a black scarf wrapped around his head. Another character dons the same costume and walks unannounced into her room with the intention of confirming her description of the killer. He doesn't yell, “Hey Marny, did he look anything like THIS!” But he might as well have. His subsequent apology: “My God, how stupid of me. It never occurred to me that I might frighten you.” We got a hearty laugh from that.
None of this is to say White Dress is bad, but it's certainly obtuse in parts. It's also old fashioned, even for a novel from the period. Authors like Dashiell Hammett had debuted more than a decade earlier and changed the conventions of detective novels, peopling them with hard-boiled men and women. Swooning flowers of maidenhood like Marny continued to exist in the sub-genre of romantic mysteries Eberhart specialized in, but ladies of leisure faced with murder don't react in proactive ways. That's where the romance comes in, as Marny attracts the attentions of a dashing Navy flier who makes it his latest mission to swoop down and save the hot damsel in distress. Though more decisive than Marny, his approach to the mystery is often ridiculous. Without getting deeply into it, suffice it to say he has a couple of dangerously cockeyed brainstorms. But you know what? For all its quirks we still liked White Dress. It's a window onto a romanticized realm we've never understood. Maybe it never truly existed. But viewed anthropologically, it's engaging and amusing.
She's a lot more dangerous than she looks.
Claudia Jennings is back today, setting a lethal mantrap in this photo made for her 1974 guilty pleasure bayou adventure 'Gator Bait. The movie is what it is—a ridiculous piece of sexploitation-lite made to take advantage of landscape and bodyscape. And Jennings is what she is—an actress trying like hell to make a bad film better than it has any right to be. Mission accomplished—'Gator Bait is watchable. Not good, but watchable. You can read about it here.
Authenticity test on horrifying Ecuadorean artifact reveals that it's a horrifying Ecuadorean artifact.
We ran across a story today that touched on an occasional Pulp Intl. subject—that of shrunken heads, those macabre delights found in the dusty basements of museums and the arcane libraries of mysteriously missing anthropologists. Vintage men's magazines such as this issue of Man to Man often contained features on shrunken heads, usually written by adventurers who claimed to have narrowly escaped losing their own. This occurred mainly in the Amazon regions of Ecuador and Peru where a people called the Jivaro live. When white men weren't available, the Jivaro used the heads of slain enemy warriors, shrinking them via an exacting, multi-step process meant to trap the spirit of the unfortunate victim so that their supernatural power could be utilized. The practice died out decades ago but old shrunken heads are scattered about the world because they were highly sought after curios, a demand that also led to the manufacture of numerous fakes. Researchers at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia had a shrunken head sitting around that had been acquired by a recently deceased university staffer during a 1942 trip to the Ecuadorean Amazon. They announced Monday that the head is indeed the genuine item. They reached this conclusion by subjecting it to numerous tests, among them CT scans, and of course the angry spirit test, which involves ridiculing the head then waiting to see if your hind quarters wither and fall off. This particular head is especially pulpworthy because it has acinema history. It was used as a prop in the 1979 film Wise Blood, John Huston's adaptation of Flannery O'Connor's novel of the same name. In the movie it was placed on a fake body, as you see just above. Mercer University plans to repatriate the head to Ecuador, continuing the recent practice of some museums and universities returning cultural items looted or bought for a pittance by artifact hunters. We agree that stolen artifacts should go back to where they came, assuming the original possessors ask for them, which they increasingly have been doing. This means there will be fewer shrunken heads in circulation, which in turn means the process for making them that we shared a few years ago is more timely than ever. Like a Julia Child recipe for boeuf bourguignon, the classics never go out of style. In fact, we think the horrible shrunken head market is about to blow up like Bitcoin. So if you feel the need to shrink the head of... we don't know, anyone ranging from your current boss to the so-called friend who stole your hopeless crush back in college, feel free to get a sense of the process from our post. It's a bit messy, but satisfying and amazingly empowering. So we hear. Just remember that you can't make a shrunken head without a decapitated head, and that's another messy business entirely.
We just can't say no—to René Roques.
Once again we're charting the output of Éditions R.R. and René Roques. His company produced some of the tastiest covers in French publishing, and this one by Jef de Wulf for the novel Choc!, or “Shock!, maintains the high standard. Just click the keywords “Éditions R.R.” below and you can see four more excellent covers.
St. Cyr escapes her gilded cage.
Above is a poster for Runaway Girl, a starring vehicle for burlesque queen Lili St. Cyr. In the film, Randy, played by Jock Mahoney, runs a family vineyard, and imports low wage harvest workers every year, all of them women, all young. This year his flock of seven laborers includes an extra woman in the form of Edella, played by St. Cyr. The grape grower starts to have randy feelings toward her, and pretty soon the two are canoodling in town and country. But Randy isn't actually a member of the wine making family by blood. He was taken in by the patriarch when young, and dating the help quickly causes this fault line to open. St. Cyr doesn't belong either. She's beautiful, glamorous, and has clearly never worked hard in her life. What is she doing there? How did a glamorous blonde end up picking grapes in a vineyard? The title of the movie tells you.
Runaway Girl is a low rent drama with only St. Cyr to distinguish it, but there are two versions—a cinematic release, and a racier adult version with three nudie cutie segments. There's a group shower sequence, a skinny dipping sequence, and a striptease. These sequences are jarring because they were spliced in to heat up the stew for an adult oriented re-release that played in nudie cinemas. St. Cyr also does a little medley of her most famous burlesque numbers, as she explains in a flashback that she's—shockingly—really a nationally famous peeler running away from the overwhelming demands of life as a paid exhibitionist. This revelation doesn't sit well with the old fashioned Randy. Can he overlook St. Cyr's racy past?
Runaway Girl is a product of classic Hollywood thinking—i.e. any famous pop culture personality can be harnessed for profit. The same holds true today, as a succession of singers, rappers, reality stars, and comics trickle into movies every year. We're not putting them down. Some can actually act, particularly the comics. But St. Cyr can't. Emotively, she's flatter than a fruit roll-up. It pains us to admit that, because we think she's a celestial wonder. But there you have it. Even worse, this was her seventh full length film, so it probably represents the height of her acting skills. Woof. You have a choice. You can either avoid this turkey or watch it expressly to see St. Cyr with motion and sound, rather than merely as an amazing pin-up. We have some nice production photos below to help you make up your mind. Runaway Girl premiered in the U.S. today in 1965. |
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1926—Aimee Semple McPherson Disappears
In the U.S., Canadian born evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson disappears from Venice Beach, California in the middle of the afternoon. She is initially thought to have drowned, but on June 23, McPherson stumbles out of the desert in Agua Prieta, a Mexican town across the border from Douglas, Arizona, claiming to have been kidnapped, drugged, tortured and held for ransom in a shack by two people named Steve and Mexicali Rose. However, it soon becomes clear that McPherson's tale is fabricated, though to this day the reasons behind it remain unknown.
1964—Mods and Rockers Jailed After Riots
In Britain, scores of youths are jailed following a weekend of violent clashes between gangs of Mods and Rockers in Brighton and other south coast resorts. Mods listened to ska music and The Who, wore suits and rode Italian scooters, while Rockers listened to Elvis and Gene Vincent, and rode motorcycles. These differences triggered the violence.
1974—Police Raid SLA Headquarters
In the U.S., Los Angeles police raid the headquarters of the revolutionary group the Symbionese Liberation Army, resulting in the deaths of six members. The SLA had gained international notoriety by kidnapping nineteen-year old media heiress Patty Hearst
from her Berkeley, California apartment, an act which precipitated her participation in an armed bank robbery.
1978—Charlie Chaplin's Missing Body Is Found
Eleven weeks after it was disinterred and stolen from a grave in Corsier near Lausanne, Switzerland, Charlie Chaplin's corpse is found by police. Two men—Roman Wardas, a 24-year-old Pole, and Gantscho Ganev, a 38-year-old Bulgarian—are convicted in December of stealing the coffin and trying to extort £400,000 from the Chaplin family.
1918—U.S. Congress Passes the Sedition Act
In the U.S., Congress passes a set of amendments to the Espionage Act called the Sedition Act, which makes "disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language" about the United States government, its flag, or its armed forces, as well as language that causes foreigners to view the American government or its institutions with contempt, an imprisonable offense. The Act specifically applies only during times of war, but later is pushed by politicians as a possible peacetime law, specifically to prevent political uprisings in African-American communities. But the Act is never extended and is repealed entirely in 1920.
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