Femmes Fatales Jan 22 2024
CLARK CAN'T
I give up. Short of developing superpowers I'll never get this hair under control.


This unusual image of U.S. actress Marlene Clark was made for her 1974 movie The Beast Must Die, which is not to be confused with the 1952 Argentinian thriller released in the U.S. under the same name. The ’74 movie isn't a remake. It's a blaxploitation horror flick. We won't say much about it since we're planning to discuss it in detail. We'll just note that even seeming like she just rolled out of her lair—uh, we mean bed—Clark looks great. 

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Vintage Pulp May 1 2021
CUTTING CLASSMATES
Welcome to the school of hard knocks and sharp knives.


How does an interest in bad cinema start? For us it began with Switchblade Sisters. We'd seen scores of bad movies growing up and through college, but after those years we moved toward mainstream movies and well reviewed indie cinema. Sometime after we started our magazine we received a comp ticket to a late night showing of Switchblade Sisters. It was an old b-movie also known as The Jezebels being re-released by Quentin Tarantino's Rolling Thunder Pictures, and we watched it in a landmark cinema packed with people primed to have a raucous time. It was a hell of a night*, and the afterparty was good too.

Plotwise, what you get with Switchblade Sisters is a juvenile delinquent flick about a high school gang called the Silver Daggers and its women's auxiliary the Dagger Debs. Robbie Lee plays the head Deb, while Joanne Nail plays a new girl brought into the gang. Everything is fun and games until jealousy rears its ugly head due to the fact that Lee thinks her man, who's the leader of the Silver Daggers, wants the new girl. Matters deteriorate when Nail sets off a war between the Silver Daggers and a rival gang. These are seriously murderous clans, fully intent on killing each other. Gunplay abounds, blood flows copiously, and the lesson is— Well, we aren't sure. Say no to gangs, we guess.

Switchblade Sisters is atrociously acted in parts, and mediocrely acted in all the other parts, but Robbie Lee deserves special mention for making a three course meal of her role, delivering every line as if she has a case of lockjaw. Someone must have told her tough people speak through clenched teeth. But so do constipated people. Someone should have told her that too. But some movies are more than the sum of their parts, and Switchblade Sisters falls into that category. It's terrible, but uproarious. Dumb, but immensely entertaining. We can't think of many better films to watch with friends. And that's worth a lot in this crazy world. Switchblade Sisters originally premiered today in 1975. 

*The best part of that premiere night was actually showing up for the film. The promotional company had reserved a row of seats for local reviewers. PSGP was our magazine's movie critic. He showed up in this packed cinema and took a reserved seat. Some fratboy-looking chump in the row behind him leaned forward and told him, “These seats are reserved.” It's here we should mention that PSGP doesn't look like what most people would think of as a film critic, so he knew exactly what was happening—this moron, who was not anyone of any importance or authority, and had no connection whatsoever to the premiere except he probably won tickets from a radio giveaway, took a look at PSGP and decided to play citizen enforcer.

Fratboy chump got up and told the people running the premiere that someone had invaded the reserved seats. PSGP saw it happen. Fratboy flagged down someone, had a conversation while pointing directly at PSGP, and probably felt full of power for calling the cinema cops. PSGP savored the next moment, when the guy was told the evil seat inavder was in fact one of the invited critics and was sitting in exactly the right place. Fratboy moron, crestfallen, went back to his seat, and PSGP, without turning around, said, “That didn't work out the way you hoped, huh?” He got good mileage from the story at the afterparty. And the fratboy? He wasn't invited.

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Vintage Pulp Sep 29 2017
FURIOUS VENGEANCE
He's an extinction level event all by himself.


The two Italian posters above and the accompanying production photos below are from Jim Brown's violent 1972 blaxploitation flick Slaughter, a movie we talked about in detail last month. Short version: we really need to hit the gym. The photos show Brown, Stella Stevens, and Marlene Clark. The last two aren't frames from the film—in the film Brown's and Stevens' characters meet for the first time at a swimming pool, but there's no kissing, only wary flirtation. Those two photos show them getting along quite swimmingly between takes. Stevens has given the impression in interviews that sparks flew between her and Brown, and the images seem to confirm that. You can check out our original write-up on the movie here.

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Vintage Pulp Jan 1 2009
SNAKE HARMER
Less Bang for your buck.

Night of the Cobra Woman, which opened in the U.S. today in 1972, wasn’t even remotely about top-billed actress Joy Bang getting it on with a snake, as the promo poster hints. No, the plot actually involves were-serpents—you know, people who turn into serpents. Seriously. And the lead is not Bang, but is actually African Amerian actress Marlene Clark, not deemed worthy of a place on the poster for reasons we can only guess. Meanwhile, a shoestring special effects budget denies us the thrill of believable snake transformations. But we do see a lot of Clark's flesh, and that, as they say, is at least something.

The film was shot in the Philippines, which gives it a gritty feel, but even though Philippine laws are notoriously lax concerning snake-on-girl action, it never actually occurs in the way implied on the promo. So basically, the filmmakers cruelly teased the snakes, then compounded this sin by violating truth-in-advertising laws. Had we been around in 1972, and had PETA been around, we’d have called them in, because it’s evil to give any creature blue balls, but particularly snakes, who have to slither around on them. Frankly, we expected more from an actress named Bang.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
April 21
1918—The Red Baron Is Shot Down
German WWI fighter ace Manfred von Richthofen, better known as The Red Baron, sustains a fatal wound while flying over Vaux sur Somme in France. Von Richthofen, shot through the heart, manages a hasty emergency landing before dying in the cockpit of his plane. His last word, according to one witness, is "Kaputt." The Red Baron was the most successful flying ace during the war, having shot down at least 80 enemy airplanes.
1964—Satellite Spreads Radioactivity
An American-made Transit satellite, which had been designed to track submarines, fails to reach orbit after launch and disperses its highly radioactive two pound plutonium power source over a wide area as it breaks up re-entering the atmosphere.
April 20
1939—Holiday Records Strange Fruit
American blues and jazz singer Billie Holiday records "Strange Fruit", which is considered to be the first civil rights song. It began as a poem written by Abel Meeropol, which he later set to music and performed live with his wife Laura Duncan. The song became a Holiday standard immediately after she recorded it, and it remains one of the most highly regarded pieces of music in American history.
April 19
1927—Mae West Sentenced to Jail
American actress and playwright Mae West is sentenced to ten days in jail for obscenity for the content of her play Sex. The trial occurred even though the play had run for a year and had been seen by 325,000 people. However West's considerable popularity, already based on her risque image, only increased due to the controversy.
1971—Manson Sentenced to Death
In the U.S, cult leader Charles Manson is sentenced to death for inciting the murders of Sharon Tate and several other people. Three accomplices, who had actually done the killing, were also sentenced to death, but the state of California abolished capital punishment in 1972 and neither they nor Manson were ever actually executed.
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