Vintage Pulp Nov 5 2022
COME TO AMA
Italian shockumentary about Africa is all voyeurism and no reflection.


Lately we've been highlighting Italian illustrator Sandro Symeoni's brilliant paperback covers, but today we've decided to bring him back as a poster artist, which is how he first found acclaim, and why we first noticed him. He painted this for the schockmentary Africa ama, which would translate as “Africa loves,” but is known in English as Africa Uncensored. 1970s shockumentaries have an educational veneer, but are mostly about cultural titillation and making viewers in modern countries lose their lunches, as practices such as male and female circumcision, animal killing, and scarification are filmed unflinchingly and up close.

This genre of movies, particularly popular in Italy, showed all this and did it with zero self awareness, considering modern powers didn't just engage in torture and killing during their empire building, but industrialized it. It takes efficiency to slaughter millions. Of course, pointing out that indisputable fact makes people angry in this anti-truth age, so we'll move on and note that Africa ama was mostly the brainchild of brothers Angelo and Alfredo Castiglioni, a couple of guys we've run across before for their archaeology work. See what we mean here. Africa ama premiered in Italy today in 1971, and if you dare you can watch it here while the link lasts.
 
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Intl. Notebook | Mondo Bizarro Nov 10 2009
SANDS OF TIME
Lost army found in Egyptian desert by two former shockumentary directors.

It reads like the backstory of an Indiana Jones movie: 2,500 years ago an army of 50,000 men vanished without a trace in the Egyptian desert. At least, this was the account by Greek historian Herodotus. He wrote that the army had been sent by the Persian king Cambyses from Thebes to destroy the Oracle of Amun, located in the Oasis of Siwa. But the army never made it to Siwa. Instead they were swallowed up by a great storm that, according to Herodotus, “[brought] with it vast columns of whirling sand, which entirely covered up the troops and caused them wholly to disappear.” 

Now two Italian researchers, twin brothers Angelo and Alfredo Castiglioni, appear to have substantiated Herodotus’s story by locating a field of ancient skeletal remains in Egypt. Along with the bones, some of which you see above, the Castiglionis found bronze weapons, jewelry, and arrow tips. The two were already highly respected for their discovery twenty years ago of the lost city of Berenike Panchrysos, located in modern day Sudan. They presented these new findings at the archaeological film festival of Rovereto, Italy, to much acclaim.
 
However, we found it odd that two men described in all the articles we saw as “top researchers” presented their discoveries in a film rather than a scientific journal, so we did some research of our own and found that two Italian siblings/filmmakers also named Angelo and Alfredo Castiglioni gave us five controversial African shockumentaries in the 1970s, including Addio ultimo uomo, Africa ama, and Africa dolce e selvaggia, films in which audiences saw unedited footage of the severing of a penis, the skinning of a human corpse, the deflowering of a girl with a stone phallus, and a group of hunters tearing apart an elephant’s carcass.
 
Are these Castiglionis the same two guys? They’d be in their early seventies by now, but yes, it’s the same pair. Not one website we saw made this connection, so we’ll just pat ourselves on the back. We haven't seen the Castiglionis' films, but we don't particularly like the type because they present African life as something savage and cruel while helping to blind Westerners to the fact that our mass shootings and modern warfare are far bloodier and more destructive. But if you’re interested in learning how much people can mellow over the years, have a viewing of these respected researchers’ early shock flicks. They’ll probably give you nightmares, but they also prove that restless, morbid, voyeuristic minds can eventually mature. Which means there’s hope for us here at Pulp. 

Update: At least one expert has called the discovery a hoax. Details here. Those Castiglionis are sneaky devils.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
April 25
1939—Batman Debuts
In Detective Comics #27, DC Comics publishes its second major superhero, Batman, who becomes one of the most popular comic book characters of all time, and then a popular camp television series starring Adam West, and lastly a multi-million dollar movie franchise starring Michael Keaton, then George Clooney, and finally Christian Bale.
1953—Crick and Watson Publish DNA Results
British scientists James D Watson and Francis Crick publish an article detailing their discovery of the existence and structure of deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, in Nature magazine. Their findings answer one of the oldest and most fundamental questions of biology, that of how living things reproduce themselves.
April 24
1967—First Space Program Casualty Occurs
Soviet cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov dies in Soyuz 1 when, during re-entry into Earth's atmosphere after more than ten successful orbits, the capsule's main parachute fails to deploy properly, and the backup chute becomes entangled in the first. The capsule's descent is slowed, but it still hits the ground at about 90 mph, at which point it bursts into flames. Komarov is the first human to die during a space mission.
April 23
1986—Otto Preminger Dies
Austro–Hungarian film director Otto Preminger, who directed such eternal classics as Laura, Anatomy of a Murder, Carmen Jones, The Man with the Golden Arm, and Stalag 17, and for his efforts earned a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, dies in New York City, aged 80, from cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
1998—James Earl Ray Dies
The convicted assassin of American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., petty criminal James Earl Ray, dies in prison of hepatitis aged 70, protesting his innocence as he had for decades. Members of the King family who supported Ray's fight to clear his name believed the U.S. Government had been involved in Dr. King's killing, but with Ray's death such questions became moot.
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