She always wanted people to think of her as sizzling hot.
You don't see many photos like these. They were published in Playboy Italy in 1980, and feature Italian actress Maria Rosaria Omaggio, who appeared in such films as Roma a mano armata, aka The Tough Ones, and Squadra antiscippo, aka The Cop in Blue Jeans. These images are yet more imaginativeness from famed photographer Angelo Frontoni. This time he took his cue from Omaggio when she said she collected writings on witches and the occult. Playboy shared an example: The candelabrum: go at night to the place reputed to hide a treasure, carefully watching the oscillations of the flame. When the flame goes out, it will be a sign that you have the coveted treasure under your feet. Groovy.
The text goes on to note that during the Italian Renaissance, and later during the Counter-Reformation, contraception, birth control, and infertility came to be defined as witchcraft. So the eclectic Frontoni, in collaboration with Omaggio, took all that info onboard came up with this immolative concept. Don't forget, this was during an era when photographers and models generally saw nudity as an expression of freedom and power. In other words, Frontoni and Omaggio, by using nude-witch-at-the-stake imagery, were saying, “Strip away all the excuses and this is what many men really hate and fear most: women.” Heavy handed? Maybe. But very much on target, we think.
Is Django le carogne hanno un prezzo a disaster from start to finish? Why of corpse it is!
We love it when a plan comes together. We told you we hoped to watch this movie, and luckily it premiered today in 1971, mere weeks after we featured co-star Dominique Badou and her bizarro butt stripe. What you're seeing is a poster for the spaghetti western Anche per Django le carogne hanno un prezzo, known in English—amazingly—as Django's Cut Price Corpses. But a unique and snazzy title does not a good movie make. Pardner, this is by far the worst western we've ever seen. It has to be a satire. It absolutely must. But as we've discussed before with satire, if it's poorly made you often lose the ability to discern whether the filmmakers actually are just inept.
This one—and by the way we don't actually think it's a satire—is the sad work of Luigi Batzella, whose other movies include Achtung! The Desert Tigers and The Devil's Wedding Night. So it turns out Django's Cut Price Corpses isn't such a unique title after all. The movie is about bounty hunter Jeff Cameron searching for the notorious Cortez Brothers, who recently stole gold from a Silver City bank and kidnapped a woman. Cameron rides into town and pre-orders some coffins, signaling his firm intent to kill, in a bit that is possibly—no definitely—stolen from Clint Eastwood. He makes an uneasy partnership with Gengher Gatti and John Desmont, who both want the Cortez Brothers for their own reasons, and off they go into the hills on their hunt.
However, Cameron may secret motives. Oh, hell, why are we bothering to be coy? He's really there to rescue his fiancée Dominique Badoue, who is the kidnappee from the bank job. This twist is revealed by the undercover cowboy in the final two minutes. Yes, that's a spoiler, but we care about you, and now maybe you'll watch a better movie, or read a good book, or drink a bottle of mezcal and hurl, or get an eyelid tattoo, or have someone smash your fingers flat with a meat tenderizer on a marble countertop. All are better options than Luigi's cut price western. How bad are we talking? In the wide shots we kept expecting to see cars passing and—bingo!— at moment 36:34 in a stagecoach scene, there it was. No horses were harmed in the making of Anche per Django le carogne hanno un prezzo, but numerous careers should have ended up in the glue factory.
There are very few limits to how fur she'll go for fashion.
This shot of Italian actress Femi Benussi made by prolific lensman Angelo Frontoni is from a 1977 issue of Ciné-Revue, and shows her wrapped (sort of) in a fur vest, probably made of skunk, which was a trendy choice for coats at the time. Benussi appeared in more than eighty films, among them Tarzana sesso selvaggio and Nude per l'assassino, aka Strip Nude for Your Killer. At some point she became a fixture in commedie sexy all'italiane, a sub-genre of goofy titillation flicks, with humor so sophomoric you'll beg for mercy. Well, you don't have to beg to see Benussi back on Pulp Intl. There are a few more movies of hers we'd like to check out, so she'll return.
Hmm... not bad. Of course, the real test of strength is whether someone goes down when I bust them in the mouth.
Two titans of U.S. culture meet in this photo showing boxing champ Joe Louis examining the muscles of strongman Charles Atlas (née Angelo Siciliano) at Madame Bey's, a New Jersey camp for professional boxers. While Louis and Atlas are legends in their fields, Bey was an interesting personality too, though now mostly forgotten. Her camp was used by top rank boxers who needed to train for upcoming fights, and because the rules banned alcohol, swearing, women, etc., it was considered an ideal place to hone skills while shutting out distractions. The photo was made in 1938.
Mess with her and you'll end up six feet under.
We can't say the promo poster you see above is expertly executed, but it has a quality we appreciate. It was made for the low budget action flick Bury Me an Angel, which premiered this month in 1971, and stars Dixie Peabody. She plays a tough biker chick named Dag Bandy whose brother is messily murdered via shotgun, sending her humping a hot steel hog on a roaring mission of revenge. Nice copy there from the promotional scribes behind the poster. It's a wonder people walking past the cinemas where the movie played weren't sucked bodily into the front row, such being the irresistible power of those words. Note to our non-U.S. readers (and thank you for your visits): a “hog” is a motorcycle. Normally, it's even a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. And to hump it, well, is— Oh, never mind.
The star here, Dixie Peabody, is obscure. She appeared in only two other films, Night Call Nurses and Angels Die Hard, both of which, like Bury Me an Angel, issued from Roger Corman's grindhouse mill New World Pictures. She was seventy-two statuesque inches tall—seventy-six counting her hair—so she definitely looks the part of an action hero, but even action heroes gotta act, and as Hamlet said so concisely: There's the rub. Peabody can emote, but she can't act. There's a difference. Of course, numerous b-movie performers of the 1970s couldn't act, so if we adopt the principle of willing suspension of expectation™, what do we have here? We have a lead performer with flashes of talent and more than a bit of presence, but who's stuck in a cheap-ass movie that doesn't feature much in the way of script or structure. It worked for Easy Rider, but not here.
You won't necessarily go away disappointed, though, because you get the expected cheapo movie fare: a drug montage, a bar fight, a skinny-dip, the three b's (boobs, bush, and booty), counterculture lingo, and cheesy mysticism. Somewhere in there you also get future Grizzly Adams portrayer Dan Haggerty as a guy in a diner who entices Peabody into bed, which somehow doesn't collapse under their combined weight. If you ever wanted to see a naked Grizzly, this is your chance. Eventually the film gets back on track toward Peabody's roaring rampage of revenge, which has been all roar and no rampage to this point, but finishes with a climax that asks the age-old question, also possibly from Shakespeare, since he seemed to ask every question ever: If you murder a murderer, is it justice or murder?
We can't actually recommend Bury Me an Angel, but as with its promo poster, though it isn't expertly executed, it has a quality we appreciate. It seems to us that, combined with the inhalation or ingestion of a psychoactive substance, you might find some real enjoyment here. Maybe in the end that's the surest sign of a worthwhile b-movie: it's much better high. As a side note, it was written and directed by Barbara Peeters, one of the few women who called the shots behind the camera during the grindhouse era. She would helm five motion pictures, all of them bad, reaching her apogee with 1980's Humanoids from the Deep, which took sexualized schlock to virtuosic levels. We'll be checking out one or two of her other efforts later.
And now, gentlemen, if you'll excuse me, I'm overdue for a flight on Wacky Backy Airlines.
In Hollywood, everything is a photo op—even one's own embarrassing release from the stifling clutches of state confinement. Above you see a progression of three press photos made today in 1949, featuring famed stoner Robert Mitchum being freed from the lock-up after his marijuana conviction. Mitchum makes the most of the moment, looking dapper and unruffled despite PTSD over some terrifying episodes in the prison laundry and a few narrow escapes from damage to that pretty face of his. Actually, we have no idea what he went through. We suspect it was reasonably untroubled, but probably only Mitch and his ganja dealer ever knew the truth.
These shots are a follow-up to our look at Mitchum going into jail on February 9. He was supposed to serve sixty days, but earned an early release for good behavior and unshakable cool. We don't know if an early release was also granted to... to... we've forgotten her name—that chick he got caught smoking with who was sent to jail the same day. Anyway, just look at ole Never-Let-Em-See-Ya-Sweat. Doesn't he look great? The hair. The perfectly tailored suit. The roguish gleam in his eye that says he's going to get miiiiiiiles high as soon as he gets home. You know what we love about Mitch? Nothing could keep him down for long.
Wake-up calls at the Hiltons' are murder.
We were drawn to Il sesso della strega, aka Sex of the Witch, because of its excellent posters painted by Lamberto Forni, an artist whose work you've seen here before. But as often happens, the movie didn't live up to the promo imagery. The strange tale begins with Sir Thomas Hilton, a wealthy wine grower, who dies of old age. His family gets a surprise when the will is read: all those closest to Hilton, including his secretary, benefit from the profits of his holdings, but nothing can be broken up or sold, his sister gets nothing, some heirs don't benefit immediately, and if anyone dies their share is distributed among the others. Basically, the will is a blueprint for the Hiltons to start murdering each other. When that happens, the spurned sister is suspected of being a witch. But is she?
None of it matters. The movie is an merely excuse for a lot of overlong softcore sex scenes of the worst kind. You know the ones we mean—interminable slow wriggling devoid of even a hint of erotic heat. You have to really drop the ball to make naked people boring—especially naked Italian women from the ’70s, with their enormous bushes*—but director Angelo Pannacciò, aka Elo Pannacciò, accomplishes that here, in his debut. It's impossible to care about the movie's central mystery, and despite Pannacciò somewhat giallo visual stylings there's just nothing to get enthusiastic about. Except those posters. Nice work, Forni. Il sesso della strega premiered in Italy today in 1974.
*We love enormous Italian bushes, both tactilely and visually. This one is large, but not stupendous. You know when a bush is really big? When the moment it's revealed you think there's suddenly been a citywide blackout.
Looking pretty sharp, Gayle.
Have you ever seen a profile like this? It belongs to Texas born actress Gayle Hunnicutt, who we last saw in 1969's Marlowe with James Garner. She also appeared in The Wild Angels, The Spiral Staircase, The Legend of Hell House, and several other pulp-pertinent flicks before migrating over to television. She retired from acting in 1999, but her sharp profile will always be remembered.
Automobile fatalities in L.A. increase by one.
This macabre image, which showed up online a while back thanks to an exhibit of one hundred years of Los Angeles Police Department photos, shows an LAPD detective regarding a muder victim whose throat was cut while he was in his automobile. There's no information about who the victim was or why it happened, but it's an arresting image of a grisly end. The shot was made by Leon Driver, who when he arrived in L.A. from Texas in the early twenties was arrested for vagarancy, but by 1925 was one of the earliest official photographers employed the LAPD. He made this photo today in 1929.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1968—Andy Warhol Is Shot
Valerie Solanas, feminist author of an anti-male tract she called the S.C.U.M. Manifesto (Society for Cutting Up Men), attempts to assassinate artist Andy Warhol by shooting him with a handgun. Warhol survives but suffers health problems for the rest of his life. Solanas serves three years in prison and eventually dies of emphysema at San Francisco's Bristol Hotel in 1988.
1941—Lou Gehrig Dies
New York Yankees baseball player Henry Louis Gehrig, aka The Iron Horse, who set a record for playing in 2,130 consecutive games over the course of fourteen seasons, dies of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease, two years after the onset of the illness ended his consecutive games streak.
1946—Antonescu Is Executed
Ion Antonescu, who was ruler of Romania during World War II, and whose policies were independently responsible for the deaths of as many as 400,000 Bessarabian, Ukrainian and Romanian Jews, as well as countless Romani Romanians, is executed by means of firing squad at Fort Jilava prison just outside Bucharest.
1959—Sax Rohmer Dies
Prolific British pulp writer Arthur Henry Sarsfield Ward, aka Sax Rohmer, who created the popular character Fu Manchu and became one of the most highly paid authors of his time writing fundamentally racist fiction about the "yellow peril" and what he blithely called "rampant criminality among the Chinese", dies of avian flu in White Plains, New York.
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