Serious trouble just rolled into town.
Furyô banchô: Ikkaku senkin, for which you see a killer poster above, was known in English as Wolves of the City: Fast Money, or sometimes Wolves of the City: Instant Fortune. It starred Tatsuo Umemiya, Reiko Oshida, and Bunta Sugawara, and we hear it's good, but we weren't able to find it to watch. We may circle back to it, though, because we located more promo art Toei Company made for it—for example the cool photos of Umemiya and Oshida you see below.
You notice the swastika tattoo on Oshida's back? We've mentioned before that the symbol's usage predates its appropriation by Nazi Germany, and has different meanings in Japan. However, in this case we suspect those meanings—good luck, eternity, etc.—have been set aside and the filmmakers meant to use the symbol's association with Nazis to suggest rebellion or lawlessness. If asked, they may have claimed they weren't, but they'd have been messing with people's heads in the same way as the Prussian cross in this post was meant to. But we won't know until we watch the film. We'll keep the rest of our promo material in reserve in case our search is successful. Furyô banchô Ikkaku senkin premiered in Japan today in 1970.
A long time ago there were three deadly assassins...
Kunoichi ninpo: Kannon biraki, for which you see a tateken size poster above, was known in English as Female Ninjas - In Bed with the Enemy, as well as Magic Female Ninjas: Open Altar Doors. The movie was a Toei Company production, and though it's a period piece set during Japan's Edo era, it has all the expected elements from Toei's mid-1970s output—those elements being action, nudity, and tough-as-nails women.
Three ninjas named Oyou, Oen, and Oran are sent on a mission to recover 30,000 ryou in stolen gold meant for the king as tax payments. The trio have at their disposal acrobatic physical abilities, masterful sword skills, magic spells, and super tight vaginas. They use the latter to perform tricks like the “insect pinch”—trapping a guy's penis until he confesses out of sheer pain. Sounds crazy, we know, but what can you say? Japanese films have a bit of a vagina fetish. Remember Onsen mimizu geisha and Reiko Ike's extraordinary pussy that feels like worms writhing? From that point, being able to crush dicks is just a logical progression.
In any case, the trio of ninjas, played by Megumi Hori, Keiko Kinugasa, and Maki Tachibana, set off across the land in search of the gold, and along the way they brave dangers, slice and dice, resist emotion, and get help from an unlikely quarter, finally realizing that the Sanada and Kuwagata clans were the culprits. Or were they? Tricks and betrayals may loom. As a hybrid ninja drama/pinku flick, we enjoyed Kunoichi ninpo: Kannon biraki quite a bit. It premiered today in 1976.
Miki and Reiko rock and rule Osaka in 1973's Sukeban.
We already shared this rare circular poster for Sukeban, aka Girl Boss Revenge: Sukeban, in a group post years ago, but since it's so rare and interesting we're bringing it back for a solo look, and as you see below we've split it in half to allow you to have your own copy of reasonable size, if you're inclined to put the two pieces together. We might as well comment on the movie too. When we first shared the art for this, we figured why discuss the film in detail when there were already plenty of reviews online? We even linked to one back then. Little did we know that Pulp Intl. would still be going ten years later and would be a top repository for vintage Japanese poster art online. That being the case, we figure we'll tell you about the movie this time.
It stars two of the brightest stars of the Japanese grindhouse era—Miki Sugimoto and Reiko Ike. Miki plays a gang leader who calls herself Kantô Komasa, while Reiko is the girl gang leader of Namairu High School. They meet in a prison van and escape simultaneously, headed different directions but destined to cross paths again. Miki forms a new gang in Osaka called Gypsy Dance, gets into the usual delinquency, and meets a director of dirty movies who she enlists in a revenge plot. But all the fun and games take a nasty turn when she runs afoul of the North Dragon yakuza and they start dishing out pain and suffering. Only with the help of a young North Dragon footsoldier named Tatsuo is Miki able to escape her predicament.
It just so happens that Tatsuo is Reiko's boyfriend. Reiko has been missing since her escape from the prison van, but arrives on the scene just in time to find Miki in bed with her man. That puts Reiko and Miki at odds in the worst way, but Reiko has no idea Tatsuo is working for the North Dragon. She'll find out, though, via a stunning betrayal. We'll end the synopsis there, but add the warning that the North Dragonare mean as hell and the tortures they administer are hard to watch. But gangsters gonna gangster—if they spent their time at garden parties and poetry readings there'd be a different word for them.
Sukeban, which was directed by Norifumi Suzuki, is a prime example of Toei Company's pinky violence genre—wild, colorful, gritty, and bloody, with moments of humor to leaven the hard tone. Movies of this style influenced many later directors, but apart from Quentin Tarantino and maybe a couple of other mavericks such operatic exploitation is a relic of the past. The film is basically Miki's show, and whether rolling fabulously down a hill in her fur coat and platforms or getting dirty in an alley fight, she delivers a freewheeling performance in a production that isn't for the faint of heart. It's worth watching for its historical value as well as for entertainment, but in either case, hold onto your hat.
As a bonus, below we have some production photos, including a rare image of Miki striking the topless pose used to create the promo poster. We always thought her head looked a little warped on that poster. Turns out it's a defect in the original photograph—someone either shot her off-kilter or introduced the flaw during the developing process, and she stayed that way. We're guessing, but we're pretty sure because normally her head is very symmetrical. As is the rest of her. You'll see what we mean below about the photo. Sukeban premiered in Japan today in 1973. You can see our other write-up on it here.
That's no lady. That's a sexual predator.
This is a pretty rare poster, very hard to find in uncensored form. It was made for Kamakiri fujin no kokuhaku, generally known in English as Confessions of Lady Mantis, a bizarre little movie about a woman who's a serial life destroyer. Midori Sasaki stars and plays a well known television host who embarks on a spate of affairs, with misfortune soon striking each of her involvements. But before we go on, let's take a moment to appreciate the movie's unusually beautiful opening credit sequence. Midori is photographed in similarly loving fashion throughout the film:
Getting back to Midori's affairs, her first is a formula one driver who's later killed in a crash. Then a neighbor she tempts gives up his perfect wife and beautiful house only for Midori to abandon him. Five flings all end badly for the men, but number six happens to be a contract killer. We won't tell you what happens next. It's amazing Midori gets through all these men in a movie running just over an hour. You really have to appreciate the conciseness of Japanese b-cinema. That being the case, we'll be concise too: Kamakiri fujin no kokuhaku is interesting, occasionally funny, and worth a look, but not special. It premiered in Japan today in 1975.
Reiko and Miki chew over a very tough problem.
Reiko Ike (front) and Miki Sugimoto pose together in a rope gnawing b/w promo made for their pinky violence actioner Zenka onna: koroshi-bushi, aka Criminal Woman: Killing Melody, which premiered today in 1973. We found this on Reddit, so thanks to whoever originally uploaded this slightly bizarre item. We have plenty on the movie in our website, including some amazing posters. We recommend clicking its keywords below and scrolling.
There's hell to pay and the only currency she takes is cold hard ass.
Above is a rare bo-eikibari style promo for Sukeban burûsu: Mesubachi no gyakushû, known in English as as Girl Boss Blues: Queen Bee Strikes Again, or sometimes Girl Boss Blues: Queen Bee's Counterattack. It premiered in Japan today in 1971. You can see the standard promo at the top of this group post, and you can see the tateken promo here. Basically, Reiko Ike, Miki Sugimoto, Yayoi Watanabe, et al are members of a gang of hot young thieves who extort hapless middle-aged squares by luring them, drugging them, and robbing them. The movie has a little of everything—and lot of Ike, one of the towering figures of Japanese b-movies. We find it interesting that Sugimoto didn't make it onto the poster (nor the other promos made for the film) while Yayoi Watanabe (prone and restrained) did. Rest assured, Miki is in the film. She gets as much screen time as anyone except Ike, especially in the first forty-five minutes. Mysterious are the minds of pinku poster designers. This isn't the first time they've thrown us a curve by leaving someone important off a promo. Anyway, this movie is well worth a watch for fans of pinky violence. We already showed you a promo image of Reiko Ike yesterday, but what the heck—let's bring her back, below. And Sugimoto too. We can't have one without the other.
She wasn't really all that nice even before the demon showed up.
The tateken style poster you see above was made for the Japanese actioner Yôen dokufu-den: Han'nya no Ohyaku, aka Ohyaku: The Female Demon, set in Edo era Japan, and starring Junko Miyazono, Tomisaburô Wakayama, and Kunio Murai. Miyazono plays woman who as little girl survived when her prostitute mother jumped with her off a bridge, and as an adult carries a scar on her back from this traumatic suicide. She's grown up to be an acrobat, but is treated shabbily by men just as her mother was.
She flees her circus life and hooks up with a handsome young samurai, only to learn that he plans to steal gold being transported via caravan from a government mint. She begs to help her young lover, as he also takes on a partner who tried to rob the same mint twenty years earlier, losing an arm in the process. His knowledge will hopefully be key, but like any heist, there are hidden dangers. It's a given some will come from the protectors of the coveted goods, but sometimes they come from partners in positions of trust. That's all we'll say about the plot, except that Miyazono is never actually possessed by a demon. What happens is she gets a demon tattoo on her back, which we guess symbolizes her transition from somewhat shady to fully vengeful.
The movie was made by Toei Company and was the first in a trilogy of films that are often cited as precursors to the studio's famed pinky violence cycle. We can certainly see the similarity, though this film is black and white rather than the vivid color you get with pinky violence. But all that really matters is that it's entertaining, starting fast, incorporating nice sword action, and covering a lot of thematic ground. Very enjoyable stuff. It premiered in Japan today in 1968.
The Zu animals break loose and Tokyo is never the same.
Above is a promo poster for Toei Company's pinky violence hit Zubekô banchô: yume wa yoru hiraku, aka Tokyo Bad Girls, aka Delinquent Girl Boss: Blossoming Night Dreams, which premiered in Japan today in 1970. We already talked about the movie years back and showed you the tateken sized promo poster. Because we had this second piece of art, today we decided to be completist. Reiko Oshida and Keiko Fuji are still the main graphic elements, but some of the other bits have been rearranged. You can see the first piece, and also read about the movie, at this link.
Brand new prison, same old problems.
The sixth and final entry in the Female Prisoner 701 series was Shin joshuu sasori: Tokushu-bô X, known in English as New Female Prisoner Scorpion: Special Cellblock X. It starred Yôko Natsuki as a woman stuck in a hellhole prison where the warden is incompetent, the guards are corrupt, and the other prisoners are hateful. The movie opens with her being returned to confinement after an escape. Via flashbacks we're told how she was originally jailed, flew the coop, but was wounded and caught. Now she's singled out for cruel treatment by both her jailers and her peers, the former group due to the damage her escape caused their reputations, the latter group due to the extra punishment meted out as an escape deterrent. All of this already makes for a chaotic prison, but hell truly breaks loose when a new head of security arrives to “reinforce discipline.” That would be this guy:
Doesn't exactly look like Department of Corrections material does he? He brings in a regime of humiliation and torture that would impress even a CIA waterboarder, but finds himself at odds with the old head of security. The conflict eventually sees one of them dethroned, which makes him an unlikely ally for Natsuki. These two—the abused and her former abuser—plot an escape from the isolated prison and are soon fleeing over a barren wasteland chained together like the Wild Ones, while chased by guards and German Shepherds. Natsuki, who was given her first starring role here (the first four movies in the series starred Meiko Kaji, and the fifth starred Yumi Takigawa), may have been hired solely because she can make steely eyes:
That's an almost Eastwood level of flintiness. When we try that look on the Pulp Intl. girlfriends they ask if we've got sand in our eyes. Even in the throes of action or torture Natsuki never drops her mask. Her expression says, “I get to kill you eventually, asshole. It's in the script.” Anyway, the last third of the movie is a pure escape thriller, but you'll get no hints from us whether Natsuki triumphs. On the whole, we think this is a solid enough women-in-prison entry, though the consensus among pinku aficionados is that it doesn't hold a candle to the Meiko Kaji episodes. We'd have to watch those again to form an opinion on that, but why make it a competition? Just watch them all. Shin joshuu sasori: Tokushu-bô X premiered in Japan today in 1977.
It's ride or die on the streets of Kyoto.
Toei Company goes biker culture for Boso sekkusu-zoku, known in English as Hell Riders in Kyoto and Wild Sex Gang, which combines the typical Toei action film with aspects of American b-movies like Easy Rider and The Rebel Rousers. Takashi Shirai is a nihilistic and lawless twenty-something addicted to speed, and especially to motorcycles. When he's caught speeding by police his obsession goes into overdrive, and he decides to buy a 750cc bike that will enable him to outrun even the cops. Tsunehiko Watase is also obsessed with speed. He couldn't afford a bike to satiate his addiction, which is why he became a motorcycle cop. It allowed him to ride the 500cc bike he desired. Now Shirai is outrunning him. The rivalry between these two leads to one-upmanship that spills from the roadway and into other areas of their lives, but just when Shirai seems doomed the beautiful Miki Sugimoto arrives on the scene, and he starts to see that there's some value to life after all. But is it too late? Well, maybe.
Boso sekkusu-zoku is an interesting but not great entry from Toei that, like many crime movies from the ’70s, hinges on the presumption of redeemability. Shirai is lost, and is a danger to all those around him, but with luck and love he could become a good person. Needless to say, this is a retro concept today, in the age of non-forgiveness, and the belief that punishment must be decisive, vengeful, and usually permanent. For that reason it's interesting to watch the filmmakers here weigh Shirai's potential value. And it's also interesting to see how the cop Tsunehiko threatens to be corrupted by his hatred for Shirai. But these themes are not new, and exploring them as perfunctorily as Boso sekkusu-zoku does is a fatal flaw, in our view. More plot, more depth, more stuntwork, and more commitment across the board would have helped immensely. Still, though, it's worth a watch. It premiered in Japan today in 1973. |
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1934—Bonnie and Clyde Are Shot To Death
Outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, who traveled the central United States during the Great Depression robbing banks, stores and gas stations, are ambushed and shot to death in Louisiana by a posse of six law officers. Officially, the autopsy report lists seventeen separate entrance wounds on Barrow and twenty-six on Parker, including several head shots on each. So numerous are the bullet holes that an undertaker claims to have difficulty embalming the bodies because they won't hold the embalming fluid.
1942—Ted Williams Enlists
Baseball player Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox enlists in the United States Marine Corps, where he undergoes flight training and eventually serves as a flight instructor in Pensacola, Florida. The years he lost to World War II (and later another year to the Korean War) considerably diminished his career baseball statistics, but even so, he is indisputably one of greatest players in the history of the sport.
1924—Leopold and Loeb Murder Bobby Franks
Two wealthy University of Chicago students named Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold, Jr. murder 14-year-old Bobby Franks, motivated by no other reason than to prove their intellectual superiority by committing a perfect crime. But the duo are caught and sentenced to life in prison. Their crime becomes known as a "thrill killing", and their story later inspires various works of art, including the 1929 play Rope by Patrick Hamilton, and Alfred Hitchcock's 1948 film of the same name.
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