Modern Pulp Jul 26 2021
THE HELL JAR
Keeping your problems bottled up is sometimes the best solution.


We had to watch this film. There was no choice. The poster removed all free will. When we first saw this art about ten years ago the movie wasn't available, but that's been fixed. This was painted for the roman porno drama Binzume jigoku, aka Hell in a Bottle, which premiered in Japan today in 1986. You may have noticed a similarity to this poster, and indeed it was painted by the same artist, who signed it at lower left but is still unknown to us. Looking at the art, you're probably thinking there's no way it can be literal, but you'd be wrong, as the screenshots below will show. We always wonder about the genesis of bizarro films like these. In this case: a 1928 story by author and Zen priest Yasumichi Sugiyama, who wrote as Yumeno Kyusaku.

The movie stars Chiyoko Ogura, Jun Numaoka, and the lovely Hitomi Kobayashi, who in addition to being an actress was popular as a photobook model, headlining at least ten. Plotwise, what you get here is a tale of forbidden attraction between siblings Numaoka and Ogura. They're on an isolated island along with Numaoka's girlfriend, played by Kobayashi, who is pretty much gobsmacked when she realizes the brother/sister attraction she's witnessing might actually come, so to speak, to fruition. She threatens her reckless boyfriend with a gun at one point, but nothing can stand the way of feverish incestuous fantasy, and eventually Numaoka and Ogura cast Kobayashi adrift in a bottle. That's a spoiler of course, but what are we to do when the poster art gives it away? If we told you she didn't end up in a bottle would you even bother to watch the movie? The good news is that imprisoning Kobayashi isn't the only use of bottles, so there's more to see than just her hallucinatory departure.

We're not sure what the point of the movie is. The plot is foreshadowed by another unfortunate incestuous love that took place in the past, ended in tragedy, and is described in an old diary, so the point could be that history repeats—particularly within families, since the previous diary was left by Numaoka's dead father. Does this original sin angle mean that Binzume jigoku is something more than just a piece of lowbrow exploitation? Sure, we guess. Is it recommendable? Are you kidding? Recommend a movie about unquenchable carnal desire between a brother and sister? Not a chance. This is roman porno, which generally leaves us adrift like Kobayashi in her bottle, even when it strives for deep metaphor. Watch the movie if you wish, but don't pretend you got the green light from us.

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Vintage Pulp Jul 23 2021
PERIOD DRAMA
Red tide brings a flood of problems to a coastal community.


If you've been to our site often you can look at the above poster and immediately know it was made to promote an ama movie. This niche of Japanese vintage cinema, like the tides, just keeps coming. This film was called Yobai ama and was known in English as Nasty Diver. Sounded promising, so we watched it and it deals with assorted marital problems in a fishing village. Yôko Azusa plays an ama working days diving in the bay, working nights as a bar hostess, and working as a part-time domestic for a local geisha, while her husband does who-knows-what.

Trouble starts when Yôko's husband refuses to have sex during her period. He makes numerous excuses, including that it's bad for her health, but she isn't fooled for a second. She walks out on him and of course this is big news in this fishing village, which brings an opportunist out of the woodwork eager to take advantage of Yôko's separation. He's the local pimp, Yoto, glib and persuasive as movie pimps tend to be. Will Yôko end up on the game? Will she get back together with her period-squeamish hubby? You won't find out from us. This is lightweight stuff from Nikkatsu, but certainly we've done worse with sixty-nine minutes of spare time. Yobai ama premiered in Japan today in 1977.

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Femmes Fatales Jul 18 2021
BAD REIKO RISING
I keep this gun under my pillow in case of home invasion by my namesakes.


There are several Reikos in the realm of pinku but we've talked about only two—Pulp Intl. favorite Reiko Ike, who we featured a few days ago, and action star Reiko Oshida. Time for some new blood. Above you see a beautiful image of Reiko Ohara, who was also a big star in Japanese filmdom, appearing in dozens of action and comedy flicks beginning in 1965, including Furyo bancho te haccho kuchi haccho, aka Wolves of the City: Blue Soldiers, and Yagyû ichizoku no inbô aka Shogun's Samurai. She has an unusually large gun here, or perhaps is an unusually small person. We don't know which. But we know the photo originally appeared in a large art book called 大原麗子メモリーずっと好きでいて, which translates as something like, “Reiko Ohara Memory I've Always Liked.” The book was published in 2010, but Ohara was born in 1946, so we'd say the image was originally shot way back around 1970. She died in 2009, so it's possible the book was published as a tribute, but we aren't sure about that. We have other images of her and she's posing with a massive gun in many of those too. Like below, for example. We figure she thought she needed it around at all times for protection from the other Reikos.

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Femmes Fatales Jul 14 2021
THE OTHER CHEEK
Reiko starts the day out behind again.


We're beginning to get the impression that Japanese filmgoers liked pinku actress Reiko Ike's rear end. We say that because it seems to be featured more than is usual in promo images of pinku stars. Well, here it is again, attached to the rest of her lovely form, and unlike the last time we discussed her posterior anatomy, there's no confusion today, because instead of referring to it as her buns or bun, we're going with cheeks. And there's no doubt people have two cheeks—a left one and the other one. It's good to finally have cleared that up.

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Femmes Fatales Jul 10 2021
LAN OF MAKE BELIEVE
When someone says they're playing the role of their life they usually mean it figuratively.


This nice photo shows actress and singer Li Xianglan, aka Li Hsiang-lan, and based on her name you'd guess she's Chinese, but she was actually Japanese and her real name was Yoshiko Yamaguchi. Early in her career the Manchukuo Film Association noted that she had grown up in Manchuria and was fluent in Mandarin, so they decided to hide her Japanese origin, which made it possible for her to star in Japanese films posing as Chinese. The purpose was to make films promoting certain Japanese ideologies, disseminated onscreen by someone the Chinese public saw as one of their own. In other words, at a time when Japan had invaded and occupied part of China, she starred in propaganda films.

The ruse wasn't perfect. People Xianglan worked with figured out she was Japanese, but the Chinese public didn't know until 1946, when she was arrested after the Second Sino-Japanese War as a collaborator. She avoided execution only by revealing her Japanese identity to the Chinese court. It's a long and interesting story, but we won't get into it here. We'll note, though, that her tale didn't end there. She became a journalist in the 1950s using the name Yoshiko Otaka, and was elected to the Japanese parliament in 1974, where she served eighteen years. Quite an autobiography. The photo above was made to promote her 1957 film Shénmì měirén, aka Lady of Mystery. Indeed. 

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Vintage Pulp Jul 5 2021
AIN'T THAT A KICK IN THE HEAD
She likes to fly by the seat of her panties.


Just when you think you've seen every mini-trend in Japanese film posters, from sexy nuns to topless pearl divers to dirty teachers, you stumble upon another. Women high kicking with their panties showing seems to have been a thing. Mere high kicking posters, we already knew about. Like here, here, and here. But we'd seen only one previous panty-exposing high kicking poster, here. Now the tally is up to two. Where will it end? No way to know. This was made for Document porno: Shin sukeban, aka Semi Documentary: Truly High School Girl Boss, with Kenji Miyako, who was featured in seven Document porno flicks in 1973 and 1974. It premiered in Japan yesterday in 1973.

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Vintage Pulp Jun 22 2021
HOT IN THE JUNGLE
The temperature in the Amazon just keeps going up.


This remarkable Japanese poster was made to promote a film called 空手アマゾネス, which was originally released in Italy as Le Amazzoni - Donne d'amore e di guerra, and also known in English as Battle of the Amazons, The 100 Fighting Amazons, and Karate Amazons. It was also known in Japan as Karate Amazones, as you can see by looking at the poster. It starred Lincoln Tate, Paola Tedesco, and Solvi Stubing, and that looks like Tedesco on the art getting some relief from the heat by going shirtless. We talked about this movie long ago. Feel free to have a look here. It was originally released in 1973, and reached Japan today in 1974.

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Vintage Pulp Jun 21 2021
COUNT FROM 5
He's a dead man walking but he's got big plans.


Above, a super Japanese poster for Black Tuesday, the Edward G. Robinson death row escape drama we discussed a couple of weeks ago. The distributors renamed it 死刑5分前, which means, “5 minutes before the death penalty.” The movie opened in Japan today in 1955, and you can read more about it here.

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Vintage Pulp Jun 18 2021
CELLULAR DIVISION
Brand new prison, same old problems.


The sixth and final entry in the Female Prisoner 701 series was Shin joshuu sasori: Tokushu-bô X, known in English as New Female Prisoner Scorpion: Special Cellblock X. It starred Yôko Natsuki as a woman stuck in a hellhole prison where the warden is incompetent, the guards are corrupt, and the other prisoners are hateful. The movie opens with her being returned to confinement after an escape. Via flashbacks we're told how she was originally jailed, flew the coop, but was wounded and caught. Now she's singled out for cruel treatment by both her jailers and her peers, the former group due to the damage her escape caused their reputations, the latter group due to the extra punishment meted out as an escape deterrent. All of this already makes for a chaotic prison, but hell truly breaks loose when a new head of security arrives to “reinforce discipline.” That would be this guy:

Doesn't exactly look like Department of Corrections material does he? He brings in a regime of humiliation and torture that would impress even a CIA waterboarder, but finds himself at odds with the old head of security. The conflict eventually sees one of them dethroned, which makes him an unlikely ally for Natsuki. These two—the abused and her former abuser—plot an escape from the isolated prison and are soon fleeing over a barren wasteland chained together like the Wild Ones, while chased by guards and German Shepherds. Natsuki, who was given her first starring role here (the first four movies in the series starred Meiko Kaji, and the fifth starred Yumi Takigawa), may have been hired solely because she can make steely eyes:

That's an almost Eastwood level of flintiness. When we try that look on the Pulp Intl. girlfriends they ask if we've got sand in our eyes. Even in the throes of action or torture Natsuki never drops her mask. Her expression says, “I get to kill you eventually, asshole. It's in the script.” Anyway, the last third of the movie is a pure escape thriller, but you'll get no hints from us whether Natsuki triumphs. On the whole, we think this is a solid enough women-in-prison entry, though the consensus among pinku aficionados is that it doesn't hold a candle to the Meiko Kaji episodes. We'd have to watch those again to form an opinion on that, but why make it a competition? Just watch them all. Shin joshuu sasori: Tokushu-bô X premiered in Japan today in 1977.

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Musiquarium Jun 17 2021
PLAYING WITH DOLLS
Monroe doesn't even have to be real to steal the show.


Bet you've never seen anything quite like this before. And depending on how you feel about dolls maybe you don't want to see anything like it again. The photo shows Japanese singer Junko Sakurada performing with a terrifying—er, we mean fascinating—doll of film immortal Marilyn Monroe. This is not quite as leftfield a pairing as it looks. Sakurada covered the Monroe song “I Wanna Be Loved by You” on her 1976 live album Nee ki ga tsuite yo, aka Hey! Be Aware, so she's possibly performing that tune with the help of some terrifying—er, we mean appealing—visual accompaniment. Try not to imagine this nightmare version of Monroe being somewhere inside your house when you go to sleep tonight.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
July 31
1964—Riot Stops Stones Concert
The Rolling Stones play in Belfast, Northern Ireland, but the show is stopped after twelve minutes because of violence in the audience. Some fans are carried away in straitjackets.
July 30
1935—Penguin Launched
Penguin Books is launched by Allen Lane and begins publishing cheap, no-frills paperbacks. Lane's idea of selling books not just in bookstores, but in train stations, pharmacies and corner stores, quickly revolutionizes the publishing market.
July 29
1957—Paar Takes Over Tonight Show
Today in 1957 Jack Paar begins hosting The Tonight Show. During Paar's five year stint, his unpredictable antics and strong comedic style help turn the program into a ratings juggernaut and a national institution.
1981—Charles and Diana Marry
Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer marry at St Paul's Cathedral before 3,500 invited guests and an estimated global television audience of 750 million, making it the most popular program ever broadcast.
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