Vintage Pulp Feb 23 2024
MANILA HEAT
Caffaro knows how to Handle her business.


Why do we spend our valuable time watching exploitation movies? Well, because we watch all pulp related genres of movies, from film noir to horror. So why discriminate? We also watch such movies (which is a set we figure includes sexploitation, blaxploitation, women-in-prison, and more) because owing to their sexual, racial, and political aspects, their like will probably never be made again. Last month we completed our look at Cheri Caffaro's infamous Ginger McAllister sexploitation-spy trilogy. Now we're moving on to her later work in Too Hot To Handle, which premiered this month in 1977.

Set in and around Manila, Caffaro plays an experienced and wealthy assassin named Samantha Fox who takes on a difficult triple-contract. In order to succeed she'll need all her skills of disguise, deception, and sexuality. Meanwhile the cops are on her trail. When one of the investigators gets close—real close—Caffaro takes a liking to him and, passing herself off as her alter ego Melinda Burroughs, tries to navigate sleeping with the enemy while fulfilling her murderous obligations.

All Caffaro movies are low budget, and all are bad. This one is poorly written and acted, and as usual there's a touch of the kinky, both in front of the camera, as well as behind, as Caffaro's husband Don Schain directs her getting her squeezebox fondled by hairy co-star Aharon Ipalé. That's called commitment to the product and your art—or alternatively, finding a way to monetize your spouse-sharing fantasies. It didn't improve the movie.

The only surprise here was that former top European star Corinne Calvet somehow got suckered into playing a brothel owner named Madame Ruanda, later dying as one of Caffaro's targets. Alas, Corinne—sexploitation is a welcoming mistress for those desperate to pay bills, but next time we recommend a loan shark. The vig is a bitch but at least you get to hang onto your dignity. But even if Too Hot To Handle was too bad for Calvet to be in, it isn't too bad for you to watch. Caffaro is weirdly great. In the sexploitation realm nobody did more with less.
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Modern Pulp Oct 1 2023
SYSTEM TERROR
Erin Moran and co-stars have some unhappy days in outer space.


Galaxy of Terror, which premiered in the U.S. today in 1981, was produced by New World Pictures and Roger Corman, and you know what that means—no budget. Corman must have really licked his chops when he heard this pitch. In his genius, he probably realized immediately that he could avoid millions of dollars in costs by making his sets extra cheap and simply bathing them in darkness in order to save on production design. He also went cheap on script, direction, sound, music, special effects, and costuming. The result was one of many terrible outer space movies to hit multiplexes in the wake of Star Wars and Alien. This one is distinct in being influenced by both of those classics while sharing none of their advantages.

The plot deals with an intrepid crew of nine who embark on a military style rescue mission, seeking a ship lost in a distant star system on a planet called Organthus. After various travails, they land on the accursed world, find the lost ship, and make the mistake of entering it. Giant leeches, deadly shuriken, and other horrors bloodily whittle the crew down to an unfortunate few, at which point comes the infamous moment—which may be the only reason Galaxy of Terror is remembered—when poor Taaffe O'Connell is raped and killed by a giant maggot. The mission only goes farther downhill from there as Corman digs deep into the New World prop department for a couple of mothballed monsters to terrorize the survivors.

The thing about science fiction movies back then is that it was impossible to have an inkling of what the end result might be. Basically, the producers said, “Trust us, it'll look good.” The cast of Stars Wars took a leap of faith and were rewarded. The casts of imitator movies hoped to capture the same magic and failed over and over. Galaxy of Terror's budget of five million dollars probably sounded okay, considering Stars Wars cost eleven. The heady desire to roll the dice and hope for the best is probably what enticed co-star Erin Moran into taking a little moonlight ride from her hit television show Happy Days to appear in this turkey. Afterward, she may have considered a lobotomy to help her forget the entire ordeal.

There are, however, a few plusses to Galaxy of Terror. First, young production designer James Cameron probably learned that in sci-fi there's a budgetary floor beneath which disaster is assured, and would later make three of the best and most successful science fiction movies of all time (no, we're not counting Avatar). Second, co-star Zalman King probably realized sci-fi was for suckers, went softcore as a producer and director, and churned out such memorable (and now anachronistic) erotica as Red Shoe Diaries, Two Moon Junction, and Wild Orchid. And third, the poster art by Charo (not the singer) is nice. Also, the movie brought our special consulting critic Angela the Sunbear out of her cave. Watching Galaxy of Terror with her was really fun.

I think the crew should have stayed in hibernation.

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Vintage Pulp Jul 23 2023
AFTER A FASHION MODEL
Hopefully there's a direct correlation between runway experience and runaway capability.


Master illustrator John Solie made this promo poster for the low budget exploitation flick Cover Girl Models, and it's another example of his incomparable work. The movie, on the other hand, is very comparable—it's similar to 1973's Fly Me, but with models instead of flight attendants. Cirio Santiago, a legend in the exploitation field, directed both movies, and the plots develop in identical fashion, as a trio of carefree women travel to Asia for work and accidentally become embroiled in a criminal plot. In the case of Cover Girl Models, spies want to secretly transport microfilm, so they arrange to have it sewn into one of the model's dresses. But when the seam rips and the microfilm disappears, bad men come after her.

The three models are played by Pat Anderson, Lindsay Bloom, and Tara Strohmeier, with John Kramer as their photographer and Mary Woronov as their agent. You'll also see a few familiar faces from other made-in-Asia grindhouse productions, such as Vic Diaz and Tony Ferrer. None of this group are extremely talented, however the point is for the lead actresses to look beautiful, and they do that well, especially Anderson. We can't call the movie good. Nobody could and be serious. But like many exploitation efforts it's funny in parts. Unintentionally, we mean. Therefore, you know the drill here—watch it with friends and booze, and it might turn out to be one of the more enjoyable nights you've had in a while. Cover Girl Models premiered today in 1975.
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Vintage Pulp Apr 4 2023
BURY BAD PEOPLE
Mess with her and you'll end up six feet under.


We can't say the promo poster you see above is expertly executed, but it has a quality we appreciate. It was made for the low budget action flick Bury Me an Angel, which premiered this month in 1971, and stars Dixie Peabody. She plays a tough biker chick named Dag Bandy whose brother is messily murdered via shotgun, sending her humping a hot steel hog on a roaring mission of revenge. Nice copy there from the promotional scribes behind the poster. It's a wonder people walking past the cinemas where the movie played weren't sucked bodily into the front row, such being the irresistible power of those words. Note to our non-U.S. readers (and thank you for your visits): a “hog” is a motorcycle. Normally, it's even a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. And to hump it, well, is— Oh, never mind.

The star here, Dixie Peabody, is obscure. She appeared in only two other films, Night Call Nurses and Angels Die Hard, both of which, like Bury Me an Angel, issued from Roger Corman's grindhouse mill New World Pictures. She was seventy-two statuesque inches tall—seventy-six counting her hair—so she definitely looks the part of an action hero, but even action heroes gotta act, and as Hamlet said so concisely: There's the rub. Peabody can emote, but she can't act. There's a difference. Of course, numerous b-movie performers of the 1970s couldn't act, so if we adopt the principle of willing suspension of expectation™, what do we have here? We have a lead performer with flashes of talent and more than a bit of presence, but who's stuck in a cheap-ass movie that doesn't feature much in the way of script or structure. It worked for Easy Rider, but not here.

You won't necessarily go away disappointed, though, because you get the expected cheapo movie fare: a drug montage, a bar fight, a skinny-dip, the three b's (boobs, bush, and booty), counterculture lingo, and cheesy mysticism. Somewhere in there you also get future Grizzly Adams portrayer Dan Haggerty as a guy in a diner who entices Peabody into bed, which somehow doesn't collapse under their combined weight. If you ever wanted to see a naked Grizzly, this is your chance. Eventually the film gets back on track toward Peabody's roaring rampage of revenge, which has been all roar and no rampage to this point, but finishes with a climax that asks the age-old question, also possibly from Shakespeare, since he seemed to ask every question ever: If you murder a murderer, is it justice or murder?

We can't actually recommend Bury Me an Angel, but as with its promo poster, though it isn't expertly executed, it has a quality we appreciate. It seems to us that, combined with the inhalation or ingestion of a psychoactive substance, you might find some real enjoyment here. Maybe in the end that's the surest sign of a worthwhile b-movie: it's much better high. As a side note, it was written and directed by Barbara Peeters, one of the few women who called the shots behind the camera during the grindhouse era. She would helm five motion pictures, all of them bad, reaching her apogee with 1980's Humanoids from the Deep, which took sexualized schlock to virtuosic levels. We'll be checking out one or two of her other efforts later.
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Vintage Pulp Nov 28 2020
LAYOVER IN HELL
The skies may be friendly, but the ground is an entirely different story.


When you come across a ’70s movie with bad acting, bad scripting, vaudevillian humor, nude women, and a foreign setting, there's a good chance you're dealing with the output of either American International Pictures or New World Pictures. Fly Me comes from the latter studio, and was directed by Cirio Santiago, one of the kings of Asian sleaze cinema. He directed more than one hundred features, including TNT Jackson, Ebony, Ivory & Jade, and The Muthers. With that kind of résumé you know you're in for a wild ride.
 
Fly Me deals with three flight attendants played by cinematic obscurities Pat Anderson, Lyllah Torena, and the gorgeous Lenore Kasdorf, who get into various pickles in Hong Kong and Manila—and get various pickles into them. One stew is secretly working for a drug cartel and is kidnapped after failing to perform up to expectations, a second meets and falls for a guy who turns out to be a British secret agent, and the third mostly tries to ditch her mother and get laid.
 
We'd love to tell you the movie is good, but no such luck. It lurches back and forth from sexploitation to lowbrow comedy, and as usual with Cirio Santiago's films, the action scenes are inept. We'll admit to enjoying TNT Jackson, but based on the preponderance of evidence he appears to be a real hack as a director. He's a Filipino legend, though, who helmed something like a hundred films, so he'll certainly have opportunities to redeem himself as we continue our explorations. We'll keep you posted. Fly Me premiered today in 1973.
We love being stewardesses. The pay isn't great but you can't beat the travel.

Oh, Captain, I've always wanted to join the five-inch high club.

This chick is freaking the fuck out. Excuse me, sir. You're one of the hosts, right? You might want to toss this one with the rest of the empties.

Oh no. A creepy foreigner. I heard they attack if you show fear, so just keep walking. Stay calm. Don't run.

Screw that plan. Cork-soled wedge sandals, get me outta here!

I have an idea. Let's go to your room and have screaming hot monkey sex, okay?

Oh! Mom! Hi!

Remove your grubby fingers from my daughter's big fat ’70s bush this instant!

Incongruous crash-zoom of an actual bush!

Hey everyone, I'm looking for my missing girlf—

Er... did I say missing? I meant dead. And I miss her very much and would like a replacement.

I'll take that one. Don't bother wrapping her or anything. I'm gonna eat her right in the car.

Drop dead, creep!

I didn't mean on top of me! Ugh, how rude!

That's him! The head of the sexual slavery ring! Rip his balls off and stomp them into cracker spread!

I've seen things in my police career that were hard to watch, but this is the worst of all.

By the way, you okay? Wanna have sex again or do you need a few hours to recover from your trauma?

Well, girls, Manila sure was a hoot. I wonder what Mogadishu will be like?

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Vintage Pulp Jan 17 2017
ACTION JACKSON
Jeanne Bell karate chops her way across Hong Kong.

TNT Jackson, for which you see the U.S. promo poster painted by John Solie above, is a mid-budget blaxploitation flick shot in the Philippines and Hong Kong, built around clumsy martial arts, a flimsy plot, and shoddy acting. But it has Jeanne Bell. Playboy magazine had made Bell a centerfold in 1969. From there she launched a movie career, with TNT Jackson coming ninth in her filmography.

She plays Diana “TNT” Jackson, who learns that her brother was killed by Hong Kong drug dealers and seeks payback. While the plot is nothing special, Bell certainly is. She was twenty-five and wore a bouffant hair-do when she first appeared in Playboy; in TNT she was thirty and had blossomed into an unforgettable beauty with a frosted afro, kicking and chopping her way across the movie screen.

All the fight scenes are hilarious, with their cut-rate choreography and claw-handed posing, but they're fun to watch, especially the one in which she kicks the shit out of a bunch of guys while wearing only panties. That bit seems to us a clear homage to Reiko Ike's totally nude fight in 1973's Sex & Fury, another movie that surpasses its limitations by piling on style and attitude. Is TNT Jackson actually good? No—but we bet it'll make you smile. It premiered in the U.S. today in 1974.

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Vintage Pulp Jun 23 2016
BOXED IN
Machine gun Margaret strikes again.

In the tropical Republic of San Rosario four beautiful nurses—Margaret Markov, Rickey Richardson, Andrea Cagan, and Laurie Rose—are kidnapped and forced to teach the healing arts to a revolutionary army so it can bring medical care to villages it liberates. While one of the nurses begins to agree with the captors, the others just want to escape. But when they do, they are captured by an army leader and what they learn prompts them to escape back to the revolutionaries' jungle compound to warn them of an impending government attack.
 
Scripted by Jonathan Demme and produced in the sweaty Philippines by sexploitation specialists New World Pictures, The Hot Box features most of the elements you expect from jungle sleaze, with perhaps less skin than the standard. But there's plenty of leering, drooling, and general depravity, followed by punching, kicking, stabbing, and Margaret Markov going cyclical with a machine gun. By the way, we'd not note this ordinarily, but post-massacre we'll add that mowing down people with machine guns is fine for cinema, but all other applications are idiotic and tragic. 
 
There's a debate online about whether this is a women-in-prison film. People often get obtuse online—of course it's a women-in-prison film. The nurses don't spend three reels inside a bamboo cage being hosed down with river water, but they are twice held against their will and escape both times. Textbook stuff. Do we recommend the film? Not quite. But Markov is always worth the time. Amongst a slate of atrocious performers, she can almost act. Almost. The Hot Box premiered in the U.S. today in 1972. 
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Vintage Pulp Jun 21 2015
THE CAGED BIRD SCREAMS
If you’re looking for mercy you’ve come to the wrong place.

The Big Bird Cage finds writer-director Jack Hill at the top of his form as he sticks star Anitra Ford in a Philippine jungle prison where an evil warden uses the female inmates as slave labor to process sugar. Pam Grier and Sid Haig are revolutionaries who want to recruit women for their cause, so Grier infiltrates the prison and primes the women for a big breakout. This is one of the most remembered of 70s B-romps, a sleazefest filled with iconic scenes such as Ford being suspended by her hair, and seven-foot model Karen McKevic slathering her body with grease and dashing naked through camp. The classic poster is above, a brilliant production photo appears below, and if you’re looking for actual reviews, well, there are about a thousand online. Wild, weird, and oh so incorrect, The Big Bird Cage premiered in the U.S. today in 1972.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
March 04
1969—The Krays Are Found Guilty of Murder
In England, twins Ronald and Reginald Kray are found guilty of the murder of Jack McVitie. The Kray brothers had been notorious gangsters in London's East End, and for their crimes both were sentenced to life in prison, and both eventually died behind bars. Their story later inspired a 1990 motion picture entitled The Krays.
1975—Charlie Chaplin Is Knighted
British-born comic genius Charlie Chaplin, whose long and turbulent career in the U.S. had been brought to an abrupt end when he was branded a communist and denied a residence visa, is bestowed a knighthood at London's Buckingham Palace. Chaplin died two years later and even then peace eluded him, as his body was stolen from its grave for eleven weeks by men trying to extort money from the Chaplin family.
March 03
1959—Lou Costello Dies
American comedian Lou Costello, of the famous comedy team Abbott & Costello, dies of a heart attack at Doctors' Hospital in Beverly Hills, three days before his 53rd birthday. His career spanned radio and film, silent movies and talkies, vaudeville and cinema, and in his heyday he was, along with partner Abbott, one of the most beloved personalities in Hollywood.
March 02
1933—King Kong Opens
The first version of King Kong, starring Bruce Cabot, Robert Armstrong and Fay Wray, and with the giant ape Kong brought to life with stop-action photography, opens at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The film goes on to play worldwide to good reviews and huge crowds, and spawns numerous sequels and reworkings over the next eighty years.
1949—James Gallagher Completes Round-the-World Flight
Captain James Gallagher and a crew of fourteen land their B-50 Superfortress named Lucky Lady II in Fort Worth, Texas, thus completing the first non-stop around-the-world airplane flight. The entire trip from takeoff to touchdown took ninety-four hours and one minute.
1953—Oscars Are Shown on Television
The 26th Academy Awards are broadcast on television by NBC, the first time the awards have been shown on television. Audiences watch live as From Here to Eternity wins for Best Picture, and William Holden and Audrey Hepburn earn statues in the best acting categories for Stalag 17 and Roman Holiday.
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