Modern Pulp Jun 11 2024
BEACH BODIES
People get topless, bottomless, legless, headless—anything goes.


This fun Italian poster, which is uncredited, was created for the monster movie Spiaggia di sangue, which was originally filmed in the U.S. and released as Blood Beach in 1980, before reaching Italy today in 1981. We riffed on it many years ago because it's nothing more than a left coast remix of Jaws on a frayed shoestring budget, not really deserving of a proper review, in our opinion. The producers were even sued by the Jaws franchise for using a catchphrase—Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water you can’t get to it—just a little too similar to that for the previous year's Jaws 2Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water. We said last time that you never really see the monster. Actually, you do, briefly, at the end, in all its papier mâché glory. Total. Letdown. Don't visit Blood Beach. Instead, look at the lobby cards below and call it a day.

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Vintage Pulp Dec 27 2020
DROPPING HER GUARD
Esther Williams learns that privileged pretty boys can get very ugly.


The Unguarded Moment is one of those films that, although it's basically a lifetime old, is amazingly topical in 2020. The subtext of this mystery concerns whether a person is redeemable, whether they deserve forgiveness for their errors. When a high school football star stalks his beautiful thirty-five year old teacher, sends her provocative notes, breaks into her house, and even physically accosts her, the script positions him as someone who can be redeemed. He's just frustrated, confused, and acting out behavior taught to him by his terrible father. You know the sentiment by heart, because it still pervades today (though not for the non-white or non-privileged): “He has his whole life ahead of him and it's a shame to ruin it over one youthful mistake.”
 
Surprisingly, Esther Williams herself becomes this wayward soul's main advocate, despite the peril and fear she's endured. It's a noble turn for her character to take—and an unlikely one. Barring interruptions, Williams would have been raped. That's not our opinion. The script leaves no real doubt. The plot contrivance of giving this almost-rapist a break didn't sit well with us, but leaving that aside, it's interesting to watch Williams negotiate this role. It was a leap for the former Olympic swimmer and longtime musical star. The idea was to nix the singing and water ballet and get her into meatier roles, and sure enough, the only singing and dancing she does here is singing the praises of her attacker and dancing around her duty to assist the law.
 
The film wasn't well received by the public, though we aren't sure if the reticence had to do with performance, casting, subject matter, or something less tangible (a feeling of overall creepiness, perhaps). Even so, we think it's pretty well made, and Williams as an angel of mercy is worth watching, if only for the discussion her role might engender. Our girlfriends didn't like it at all. But for our part, we'll watch just about anything that has brand name stars in it, and Esther Williams, around this period, was about about big as they came. Watch and debate. After a special in premiere in Los Angeles, The Unguarded Moment began its nationwide run today in 1956.

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Vintage Pulp Apr 29 2019
CATTY BEHAVIOR
Marriage to a savage jungle woman is all fun and games until you get on her bad side.


This is a fantastic cover for John Saxon's, aka James N. Gifford's The Tigress, for Novels, Inc, 1952. This poor guy in the art. Takes abuse at the office all day then comes home and has to take more from his wife. Well, it's better than when she ignores him, or worse, perches on the kitchen counter and stares unblinkingly at him for minutes at a time. That's just plain unnerving. But she's worth it, because at her best she's a real pussycat. This cover, sadly, is uncredited.
 
Update: Some online sources now think this art is by Walter Popp. We'll go with that.

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Vintage Pulp Jun 1 2017
BOOZE CREWS
You can't keep a good moonshiner down.

Home brew and rednecks, fast cars and dusty roads, shotguns and lots of banjo music are what you get in Moonshine Country Express, all of which is probably abundantly clear from a glance at the U.S. promo poster painted by John Solie. You also get star Susan Howard, b-movie stud John Saxon, and support from Playboy centerfold Claudia Jennings, which means all the ingredients for a good time are here. The protagonists are righteous, the villains wily, and there's never any doubt that the family oriented 'shiners are going to upend the unctuous local strongman in this nearly scriptless flick about a daughter trying to sell her murdered father's stash of a-grade whiskey. We could say there's a metaphor here for small business versus big conglomerates, or liberty loving sovereigns versus the corrupt and connected, but we'd be making that shit up. It's just a mindless chase movie. It's hard to believe it would take another two years before this highly profitable formula finally moved to television in the form of 1979's The Dukes of Hazzard. We like to think Moonshine County Express was the eureka moment when someone realized it would work. If you watch this one, expect no more and no less than a Dukes episode in long form, but without the confederate flag, mercifully.

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Vintage Pulp Mar 11 2015
EYE OF THE TIGRESS
Just a woman and her will to survive.

This cover for The Passionate Tigress by John Saxon, aka James Noble Gifford, has art signed “Border.” We’ve never heard of him or her before, and as you can imagine, we can’t possibly hope to isolate a person with a name like that using internet searches. The people at the Greenleaf Classics website think this could be Ernest Chiriaka, and we agree the resemblance is uncanny, but absent confirmation this illustrator goes in the mystery category. 1959 on this. 

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Modern Pulp Jan 24 2009
BLOOD AND SAND
Twenty-eight years ago today Blood Beach was released. But why?

Time: circa 1980.

Place: the offices of Compass International Pictures.

People: CIP execs, several potential third party investors, and writer/director Jeffrey Bloom.

Pitch: Bloom has explained the premise of his film. He’s said it’s Jaws, but on the sand. It’s the anti-Jaws, on the anti-ocean. But it’s better than Jaws because it shows what a hollow conceit it was to assume the ocean was even reachable. What arrogance. What hubris. “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water,” Bloom says, tossing out what he hopes to use as the film’s tagline, “you can’t get to it!”

Reaction: The money men nod. All of this is of merely passing interest, because they don’t care about anything but profit, truth be told. These are the same people who just produced the theatrical release Roller Boogie. If they can get a good movie for their investment, okay, because who wouldn’t want to hear “And the winner is Blood Beach!” at the next Academy Awards? But mainly they just want to make money.

One of them says, “It sounds good, Jeffrey, but we’re worried about the special effects budget. These monster movies, they all want the moon for budget and most of it seems to go into the effects. Spielberg spent millions on that mechanical fish. He could have made eight, maybe nine percent more profit by cutting back on the fish, maybe used a rubber fish, know what I mean? But these artist types, you can’t tell them anything. So, without putting too fine a point on it—exactly how much is this vicious sand monster going to cost us?”

Response: Bloom is ready for this moment. He’s replayed it in his mind a hundred times. It’s crucial now to get the wording precise. He says, “Nothing—because you never really see it.

Result: Shellshocked silence at having bathed in the pure white light of genius, except for one money man, who makes a slurping sound as he wipes away the saliva that’s started to trickle from the corner of his mouth. And then, in unison, the money men scream: “It’s a go! Make it hap’n cap’n! What are we, paying you by the hour? Haven’t you left yet? Go go go!

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
July 16
1941—DiMaggio Hit Streak Reaches 56
New York Yankees outfielder Joe DiMaggio gets a hit in his fifty-sixth consecutive game. The streak would end the next game, against the Cleveland Indians, but the mark DiMaggio set still stands, and in fact has never been seriously threatened. It is generally thought to be one of the few truly unbreakable baseball records.
July 15
1939—Adams Completes Around-the-World Air Journey
American Clara Adams becomes the first woman passenger to complete an around-the-world air journey. Her voyage began and ended in New York City, with stops in Lisbon, Marseilles, Leipzig, Athens, Basra, Jodhpur, Rangoon, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Wake Island, Honolulu, and San Francisco.
1955—Nobel Prize Winners Unite Against Nukes
Eighteen Nobel laureates sign the Mainau Declaration against nuclear weapons, which reads in part: We think it is a delusion if governments believe that they can avoid war for a long time through the fear of [nuclear] weapons. Fear and tension have often engendered wars. Similarly it seems to us a delusion to believe that small conflicts could in the future always be decided by traditional weapons. In extreme danger no nation will deny itself the use of any weapon that scientific technology can produce.
1997—Versace Murdered in Miami
Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace is shot dead on the steps of his Miami mansion as he returns from breakfast at a cafe. His killer is Andrew Cunanan, a man who had already murdered four other people across the country and was the focus of an FBI manhunt. The FBI never caught Cunanan—instead he committed suicide on the houseboat where he was living.
July 14
1921—Sacco & Vanzetti Convicted
Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti are convicted in Dedham, Massachusetts of killing their shoe company's paymaster. Even at the time there are serious questions about their guilt, and whether they are being railroaded because of their Italian ethnicity and anarchist political beliefs.
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