Modern Pulp Oct 26 2017
INTO THE FIRE
Worse comes to worst in a dusty western town.

We told you the film was on the slate. When we noticed its premiere date was right around the corner we watched it immediately after finishing Hell Hath No Fury. First order of business—the poster and tagline are terrible. It shows how easy it can be for a studio to screw up both. The text tells you The Hot Spot is a film noir, but the triptych style art provides no compelling imagery. Worse, you don't see Don Johnson clearly, though as a huge television star thanks to Miami Vice he was the movie's greatest asset. And you don't see Jennifer Connelly at all, who even back then was one of Hollywood's most beautiful women. Posters are seen before they're read, and the visuals here give no reason to examine further. We grade it a major fail.

But what of the film? Well, it got generally good reviews, but the public never turned up to see it. Johnson is nicely cast as the drifter/grifter Harry Madox, so he isn't to blame. Jennifer Connelly and Virginia Madsen were less known, but as supporting characters they more than did their part. Other modern noirs had performed well in cinemas, so it's not the style of The Hot Spot that hurt it. The direction from Dennis Hopper sticks reasonably close to the novel, and he gets the overheated small town atmosphere right, so we'll give him a pass too. Most likely the studio simply didn't make an effective push behind the movie—a theory backed up by the bad poster.


But The Hot Spot holds up well these years later. Some might find Madsen's honeydripping femme fatale improbable, but she's channelling both the source material and classic noirs. Other viewers probably doubted a nineteen-year-old Connelly could develop feelings for a Johnson on the far side of forty, but it happens. People who doubt that just haven't spent enough time in the real world. In the film the age difference does not go unaddressed. Johnson's feelings for his inappropriate crush prompt him to act against his best interests. Whether he pays a price hangs less on his cunning than on chance. Or perhaps it hangs on someone else's cunning—that's where the best femmes fatales always come in. The Hot Spot premiered in the U.S. today in 1990.

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Hollywoodland May 30 2010
LAST RIDE
The man who went looking for America.

Promo photo of Dennis Hopper, actor in Rebel without a Cause, Cool Hand Luke, and Apocalypse Now, also co-writer, co-star and director of the eternal Easy Rider, seen here circa 1955. Easy Rider's official tagline was: A man went looking for America—and couldn't find it anywhere. It was meant to describe Peter Fonda's character Captain America, but it is real-life maverick Hopper for whom the line always seemed more apt

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Modern Pulp Feb 27 2009
ALONE IN THE DARK
Francis Ford Coppola makes a long day's journey into night.

You know what's curious about Apocalypse Now? That a movie with such a quirky (some would say botched) ending is considered a classic. We are not among those who think Francis Ford Coppola fumbled in the fourth quarter, but even if we were, one viewing of the documentary Hearts of Darkness would dispel that notion, and make us realize the true curiosity of Apocalypse Now is that it was ever finished in the first place. What with the heart attack, and the devastating monsoon, and the capital flight, and Hopper on drugs, and Brando on donuts, it's a mystery how Coppola survived. But there's no mystery why we love this Turkish one sheet—it's a genius piece of promo art that exudes both menace and chaos. Apocalypse Now aka Kiyamet (Turkish for "doomsday") premiered today in Istanbul in 1980.

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Vintage Pulp Jan 31 2009
DUO IN THE SUN
So you say you wanna be free.

Neither of us at Pulp Intl. were around during the 60s. Articles and reviews tell us Easy Rider—heavy with symbolism, sparse of dialogue, and low on budget—perfectly captured the unsettled mood of the times and changed moviemaking forever. But we weren't there, so we watch this film as latecomers, like people examining the high water mark of a flood that long ago receded. If the waters had risen higher perhaps we’d be living in a different world now, a better world rebuilt from scratch. But maybe not. Easy Rider was released in Japan today, 1970.

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Modern Pulp Jan 21 2009
HIDE & FREAK
Hey, you wanna go for a ride?

When Blue Velvet opened in 1986 it received decidedly tepid notices from several high-profile reviewers, one of whom was aghast at the sexual humiliation endured by Isabella Rossellini. But it was clear David Lynch meant to shock, even if his totally nude wife was doing the shocking. His disturbing neo-noir freakshow went on to win a nice collection of festival and critic’s awards, including the grand prize at France’s now defunct Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival. Above you see the Avoriaz promo art. Blue Velvet premiered there in mid-January 1987, then went into wide release across France today.

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Hollywoodland Nov 17 2008
MELROSE SPACE
Television vamp got so high, she still hasn’t come down.

Heather Locklear made a career playing the sexpot, but even she couldn’t beguile her way out of a Santa Barbara, CA traffic stop back in October. Now a judge has formally charged the actress with misdemeanor DUI for driving under the influence of pills. Precisely what kind of superpills these were we don’t know, but the last time we saw a girl look so spaced out she was running around in a cemetery with Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
October 29
1901—William McKinley's Assassin Executed
Leon Czolgosz, the assassin of U.S. President William McKinley, is executed at Auburn State Prison in Auburn, New York by means of the electric chair. Czolgosz had shot McKinley twice with a cheap revolver and the President had lingered for several days before dying. After Czolgosz is executed, he is buried on prison grounds and sulfuric acid is thrown into his coffin to disfigure his body and result in its quick decomposition.
1982—Lindy Chamberlain Convicted of Murder
In Australia, Lindy Chamberlain is found guilty of the murder of her nine-week-old daughter. The baby was killed during a camping trip in the Australian interior. Chamberlain claimed a dingo had taken the baby, but a jury decided Chamberlain cut the infant's throat and buried her. The body was never found, but forensic experts played a large role in the conviction. Four years after the trial the baby's jacket is found inside a dingo lair, backing up Chamberlain's claim, and she is released from prison.
October 28
1919—Volstead Act Passed
The U.S. Congress passes the Volstead Act over President Woodrow Wilson's veto, paving the way for alcohol Prohibition to begin the following January. The Act, named for Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Andrew Volstead, was supposed to create a better society but instead helped lead to the rise of violent organized crime gangs. The law wouldn't be repealed until 1933.
1922—Mussolini Comes Into Power
During the second day of the event known as the March on Rome, Fascist leader Benito Mussolini officially takes control of the Italian government when King Victor Emmanuel III cedes power. Supported by a coalition of military, business, and right-wing leaders, Mussolini remains in power until 1943, when defeat in World War II begins to look inevitable.
October 27
1994—U.S. Prison Population Reaches Milestone
The U.S. prison population tops 1 million for the first time in American history. By 2008 the U.S. Justice Department pegs the number of imprisoned at 2.3 million, and the overall U.S. correctional population, i.e. those in jail, prison, on probation or on parole, at 7.3 million, or 1 in every 31 adults.
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