Vintage Pulp Apr 7 2024
RED TINTED WATERS
People are being eaten by sharks but the hipsters of the Mexican Riviera are too groovy to care.


¡Tintorera!, for which you see a poster above, is often presumed to be within the pantheon of Jaws knockoffs, and that's true, but barely. There's a giant shark, and it eats a few people, but ¡Tintorera! couldn't be more different in tone than Spielberg's blockbuster. It's a counterculture movie set in and around Cancún, Tulum, and the Rivera Maya. A considerable amount of script is spent exploring free love and utopian lifestyles. Shark hunters Andrés Garcia and Hugo Stiglitz fashion an exclusive three-way relationship with Susan George. They also mix and match with Laura Lyons and Jennifer Ashley, and each bed down on consecutive nights with Fiona Lewis, which catalyzes a transformation from professional rivals to friends. Discussions of sexual sharing and finding new ways to live take up far more running time than anything to do with sharks.

But sharks there indeed are—specifically, a large tiger shark whose first victim is Lewis. She's eaten during a nude swim, which is another resemblance to Jaws. But to give a sense of how different ¡Tintorera! really is, consider that Lewis appears to be the movie's star during its first half hour, and when she vanishes no trace of her is ever found and nobody much cares that she's gone. They assume she left the country. In cinema's imaginary countercultureworld, who has time to ask questions? The focus of the film shifts to Garcia and Stiglitz's rivalry-cum-friendship. Shortly afterward, Susan George arrives, and the focus shifts again, onto the aformentioned threesome. But then she leaves, and suddenly Lyons and Ashley are the main love interests. Then one of them is eaten too. This round robin approach, in our experience, is unique in a film that isn't anthological or episodic, and it's jarring, to be sure.

Another aspect of ¡Tintorera! that might jar is it usage of real sharks and extremely practical special effects. Many actual sharks are killed. A loggerhead turtle is killed via throat cutting and hung over the side of a boat to make a blood trail. We don't think the Mexican filmmakers Conacite Uno and Productora Filmica Real added a disclaimer to the credits about no animals being harmed. Somehow they got a shark to swim around with a fake human torso sticking out of its mouth. Another shark is made to carry around a human lower body trailing yards of intestines. We don't know how the filmmakers achieved these striking scenes, but they look very real. So if all of what we've written doesn't make the film's slender free love plot sound enticing, maybe watch it for the gory efx. You'll marvel. ¡Tintorera! premiered in Mexico today in 1977.
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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
June 24
1938—Chicora Meteor Lands
In the U.S., above Chicora, Pennsylvania, a meteor estimated to have weighed 450 metric tons explodes in the upper atmosphere and scatters fragments across the sky. Only four small pieces are ever discovered, but scientists estimate that the meteor, with an explosive power of about three kilotons of TNT, would have killed everyone for miles around if it had detonated in the city.
June 23
1973—Peter Dinsdale Commits First Arson
A fire at a house in Hull, England, kills a six year old boy and is believed to be an accident until it later is discovered to be a case of arson. It is the first of twenty-six deaths by fire caused over the next seven years by serial-arsonist Peter Dinsdale. Dinsdale is finally captured in 1981, pleads guilty to multiple manslaughter, and is detained indefinitely under Britain's Mental Health Act as a dangerous psychotic.
June 22
1944—G.I. Bill Goes into Effect
U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Servicemen's Readjustment Act into law. Commonly known as the G.I. Bill of Rights, or simply G.I. Bill, the grants toward college and vocational education, generous unemployment benefits, and low interest home and business loans the Bill provided to nearly ten million military veterans was one of the largest factors involved in building the vast American middle class of the 1950s and 1960s.
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