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.
July 12
1971—Corona Sent to Prison
Mexican-born serial killer Juan Vallejo Corona is convicted of the murders of 25 itinerant laborers. He had stabbed each of them, chopped a cross in the backs of their heads with a machete, and buried them in shallow graves in fruit orchards in Sutter County, California. At the time the crimes were the worst mass murders in U.S. history.
July 11
1960—To Kill a Mockingbird Appears
Harper Lee's racially charged novel To Kill a Mockingbird is published by J.B. Lippincott & Co. The book is hailed as a classic, becomes an international bestseller, and spawns a movie starring Gregory Peck, but is the only novel Lee would ever publish.
1962—Nuke Test on Xmas Island
As part of the nuclear tests codenamed Operation Dominic, the United States detonates a one megaton bomb on Australian controlled Christmas Island, in the Indian Ocean. The island was a location for a series of American and British nuclear tests, and years later lawsuits claiming radiation damage to military personnel were filed, but none were settled in favor in the soldiers.
July 10
1940—The Battle of Britain Begins
The German Air Force, aka the Luftwaffe, attacks shipping convoys off the coast of England, touching off what Prime Minister Winston Churchill describes as The Battle of Britain.
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