Mondo Bizarro Jun 23 2020
WHO'S MINDING THE RESTORER?
Another valuable Spanish painting is ruined by someone who's all thumbs and no skills.


Spanish art restorers are in the news for the wrong reasons again. You may remember the infamous Ecce Homo disfigurement—the early 20th century fresco by Elías García Martínez that was ruined by amateur restorer Cecilia Giménez. The restoration, which took place in the town of Borja, was so botched that many Spaniards stopped referring to the painting as Ecce Homo—“Behold Man”—in favor of Ecce Mono—“Behold Monkey.” We've posted its Christ figure, angelic before, and afflicted after, below. We think the name change fits, though we think the after Christ also looks a bit like Leatherface.

The Ecce Homo fiasco soon grew to exemplify the divergent incentives of the modern world. The painting was destroyed. Its destruction turned the painting and the town of Borja into a tourist attraction. The restorer now claims she's proud of her work because of the money that tourists bring which can be used for good causes. The fact that these calamity tourists are posing with the painting only because it looks like Giménez restored it using a brush held between her ass cheeks is now immaterial. Only money matters. The money made has absolved her of responsibility for ruining the art.

The latest incident involves a more-than-century-old copy of Bartolomé Esteban Murillo's baroque painting La Inmaculada del Escorial, which you see at top. An art collector in Valencia hired a furniture restorer to clean the painting, but the face of the Virgin Mary was damaged. The collector then hired an art restorer to repair the damage, was forced to hire a second to fix the damage done by the first, and, well, see below. Now look up top again. Now look below.
Yeah, that actually happened. We can't figure out how the second restorer made the painting look even less like the original than the first restorer. Did they not understand why they had been hired? These paintings aren't pulp art, but their destruction is like something from a comical crime novel. Not surprisingly, some Spaniards also consider these blunders criminal, and are now calling for regulation of the art restoration sector, and who can blame them?

Spanish art experts say botched restorations are more common than people know. We searched around and found a couple more, also hilariously awful (see the sculpture of St. George from the town of Estella, below). Generally, these incidents only become public when they're reported to the press or on social media, which isn't the norm, considering the embarrassment involved. But we can't help wondering if, going forward, ancient artworks will be deliberately ruined as a ploy to generate calamity tourism. We wouldn't put it past people. Maybe Behold Monkey should be renamed again, to Behold Money. Maybe Jesus has shown the way—to financial salvation.

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Modern Pulp Jun 22 2020
AULLIDO VISUAL PRESENTATION
Today our seminar for giant monsters will cover how to get human heads unstuck from your mouth.


How can you not love this? This startling poster that looks like someone has bitten off more than they can chew was made for Aullidos, a movie better known as The Howling. It was painted by Macario Gomez Quibus, an artist who also crafted promos for the horror movies The Fog and Murder Mansion, among others. After opening in the U.S. in 1981, Aullidos premiered in Spain today in 1982. Have you seen it? No? You might need to. Read about it here.

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Intl. Notebook Jun 2 2020
SPANISH FIESTA
Raquel Welch is a one-woman party on the Costa del Sol.


This great photo shows U.S. actress Raquel Welch when she was filming the 1967 adventure Fathom in Spain, specifically in and around the Costa del Sol towns of Málaga, Mijas, Nerja, and Torremolinos. This moment, in which she shows her ability to turn men into drooling lemmings, is actually a scene from the movie in which she walks from her villa to the sea, along the way interrupting an afternoon dance party. We recognized the spot as soon as we saw it. We've been there. It's a path below the tiny historic center of Nerja and an overlook known as Balcón de Europa, leading down to Playa Calahonda, a rocky beach. Below you see the path viewed from its top, and the bottom photo shows the general area, with the Balcón de Europa on the left. As far as we remember there's no plaque or sign commemorating Welch traversing that path to the sea. Local authorities might consider rectifying that. We'd also suggest putting up a giant version of the above photo. It says Costa del Sol in a major way. As for the actual movie, we'll talk about that later.

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Vintage Pulp May 24 2020
TWO COUNTS OF MURDER
Sun, sand, and an unusually high homicide rate.


Of all the covers we've posted on Pulp Intl., these two—the first from U.S. publisher Dell, and the second from British publisher Consul—are among the most interesting. Both illustrate books called Murder in Majorca, both feature a female figure partly obscured by foreground blinds, and both have in the background the lower legs of a man walking into the room. But Michael Bryan and Paul Tabori are different authors, and these are different tales. Is that not weird as hell? We've always wanted to read these books because Majorca, aka Mallorca, is one of the great garden spots on Earth. We've been several times and it always recalibrates us perfectly. Also, there isn't much murder there, despite the titles of these books, which is a nice add-on to the sun, sand, food, bars, architecture and beautiful people.

Michael Bryan was in reality Brian Moore, and also wrote as Bernard Mara. His Murder in Majorca appeared in 1957. Paul Tabori was in reality Hungarian author Pál Tábori, and his Murder in Majorca came in 1961. How did these two uncredited covers get to be virtually identical? No idea. Sometimes when a book was reprinted overseas a second artist was commissioned to do a riff on the original cover, such as here. So maybe the second piece was for a re-issue, but it fell through, and the art was lying around when Tabori wrote his book. That's a wild-ass guess that has very little chance of being correct, but we just know these two fronts can't be similar by coincidence, so that's all we've got by way of explanation. Maybe you have a better deduction, or even the facts. If so, we'd love to know.

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Vintage Pulp May 13 2020
MEDICAL HISTORY
Filmgoers say yes to No and a franchise is born.


Since we've already talked about two movies inspired by Bond today, why not discuss the landmark that started it all? There had always been spy movies. Even the James Bond films, with their focus on high concept action and fantastical super villains, had predecessors. But United Artists, director Terence Young, Sean Connery, and the rest took the basic notes of those earlier efforts, wove them into a fresh composition, and cranked the volume up to eleven. This Spanish poster painted by Macario Gomez was made for the first Bond film Dr. No, which played in Spain as Agente 007 contra el Dr. No. Ian Fleming's novel had been published in 1958, and the film hit cinemas four years later. Like From Russia with Love, which we watched recently, we've seen it more than once, but not for years, and decided to screen it with fresh eyes.

We imagine audiences had never seen a spy movie quite like this, with its opulent production values and near-seamless construction. Set in Jamaica, the exotic locations are beautifully photographed, and while the filmmakers' portrayal of the island isn't necessarily authentic, it's immersive, and makes the required impression of a land of mystery and danger. An altogether different impression was made by the ravishing Ursula Andress, and we suspect once word got out certain filmgoers bought tickets just to see her. Joseph Wiseman's villainous Julius No, a few hi-budget gadgets, and a secret lair filled with expendable henchmen complete the set-up—and establish the Bond template for the future. Add the unflappable if occasionally imperious spy himself and the fun is complete.

The Bond franchise's success inspired scores of imitators, as discussed in the two posts above, but with a few exceptions those movies usually work today on the level of unintentional comedy or eye-rolling camp. Dr. No, despite Bond's interjections of humor, took itself seriously. Viewers were supposed to believe its most fantastic elements were possible. In addition, they were supposed to see Bond as the uber-male, a man who fights and loves hard, is virtually immune to sentiment, and never mourns losses for long. That notion of ideal manhood has certainly changed—for the better we'd say—but even accounting for the tectonic cultural shifts in the interim Dr. No holds up like the best vintage thrillers. It's stylish, charmingly simple, and—if one assesses it honestly—progressive for its time. It premiered in England in October 1962, and reached Spain today in 1963.

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Vintage Pulp Apr 19 2020
GRADUATION DAY
Brigitte earns an advanced degree in espionage.


Above, ten more covers for the spy serial Brigitte in Accion, written by Lou Carrigan, aka Antonio Vera Ramirez, and published by Barcelona based Editorial Bruguera. The artist remains Brazilian illustrator José Luiz Benicio, and Brigitte Montfort, nicknamed Baby, remains the hottest CIA agent of the Cold War. Mid-1970s on these. See the earlier collection here.

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Intl. Notebook | Sex Files Mar 22 2020
LOVE IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS
In Barcelona a group decides that desperate measures call for hard times.


COVID-19 has caused many casualties—among them humans, finances, political stability, and baseball season. But one of the biggest casualties has been humor. Consider this next tale, which under normal circumstances could be funny: Friday night Barcelona police thwarted an orgy, an event that was in clear violation of public health measures in Spain mandating that people stay confined to their homes. But in times of isolation sexual caution is one of the first things to go, it seems. Eight people were arrested, but the event would have drawn as many as thirty had it proceeded as planned. Police were not in uniform when they arrived at the rental flat and were at first mistaken for orgy participants, but they identified themselves as real cops, really there to arrest people, and no doubt hard-ons instantly drooped when the news sank in.

You see, that story could be at least a little amusing, but this coronavirus, in addition to everything else it's lethal toward, is a humor killer. One of the detainees had a cough and fever and there's nothing funny about that. He was sent to a medical center for testing, and amazingly, came up negative. But did he know that in advance? Doubtful. Even if the pandemic robs this curious little tale of humor, it's still instructive as a preview of any potential breakdown of human society. People will inevitably divide into camps or tiny nation-states. Cable television has taught us that.

There will be the hardcore military style groups filled with people who all think they're alpha males, and which will descend into violent social hierarchies in which compassion is banished and anyone who coughs is executed on the spot and their body flung beyond the perimeter with a catapult. Then there will be the party-like-it's-1999 groups who figure they're all screwed anyway, so might as well go out on an alcohol, drug, and sex high, and whose ranks are eventually whittled away while foraging for power sources for their audio system. That would be the group from Barcelona.
 
Then there will be the start-anew-in-ecological-harmony groups that cultivate staple crops, eat wild cabbage, weave their own clothes, and include among their leadership ranks a guy who insists on being referred to as “The Teller of Stories.” And of course yet another group will consist of people with no discernible skills save a bottomless capacity for cruelty, and who won't be bothered to organize at all except to capture unlucky strays, return them to their encampments in chains, and set them on fire unless their compadres toss out half of everything they have. Scavengers, we guess you'd call them. That group is where most former bankers and politicians will end up.

What group would we end up in? Good question. The paramilitary group, forget it. We'd rather be shot and catapulted. And the fourth group is out because: bankers and politicians. Also, torturing people and taking their goods just isn't us, though it is, we'll admit, very pulp. So that leaves the second or third groups. Both have their charms. At that Barcelona party, police found, aside from guys with boners, an unspecified quantity of cocaine, speed, and crystal and liquid ecstasy. Could be fun fora while, but the companionship of constant drug users can be tedious. We worked in Hollywood, and we can tell you, get stuck next to a suit who's wired to the hairline and you'll beg for death. So maybe the hippie group is the one for us. It might take a while to adjust to eating veggies fertilized with our own feces, but that Teller of Stories gig actually sounds pretty sweet. We're going to Google some weaving techniques right now so we'll fit in.
 
Edit: Looking at everything we just wrote above, we realize another casualty of this virus must be sanity. We're losing it.
 
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Vintage Pulp Mar 8 2020
THROWING SHADE
Shadows of The Thin Man.


Above, Spanish, French, and German posters for 1934's The Thin Man, featuring interesting shadow motifs. Read about movie here, and the excellent book here.

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Hollywoodland Feb 6 2020
CAPTAIN KIRK
Master of all he surveys.


We wanted to do a small post on Kirk Douglas, who died yesterday at the astonishing age of 103, but we took time to look around for a unique photo. This shot shows him in one of our favorite cities, Donostia-San Sebastian, standing atop Igeldo (or Igueldo), one of the seaside town's several large hills. He's looking toward the Bahia de la Concha with the Torreón de Monte Igueldo at his back. It's a majestic shot, fitting for such an icon, far better than showing him greased up as Spartacus, in our opinion. It was made in 1958 when he was attending the sixth Zinemaldia, aka the San Sebastián Film Festival, which was showing his film The Vikings. We don't generally do posts on Hollywood deaths. Why? Because there are so many. Anyone who loves vintage film knows that significant performers, writers, and directors are dying regularly, and we don't want Pulp Intl. to become an obituary roll. But for Kirk Douglas, one of film's all time greats, a consummate actor, an indispensable film noir bad guy, all the rules must be broken. See another max cool image here.

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Femmes Fatales Nov 24 2019
ALL SHE SURVEYS
I can see forever from up here. Man, the smog over London is really bad.


Raquel Welch stands tall in this pin-up poster made for her prehistoric adventure One Million Years B.C. This was sold in West Germany, where the movie premiered today in 1966. In fact, it was the film's world premiere. It was made by Associated British-Pathé and Hammer Studios, and partly shot on British sound stages (as well as in the Canary Islands), but for some reason the filmmakers chose West Germany for a testing ground. They needn't have been so cautious—thanks to Welch an otherwise ridiculous b-flick became a worldwide smash.

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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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