Vintage Pulp Mar 29 2022
SCENT OF A MADWOMAN
Something in Mimsy Farmer's creepy old apartment building definitely doesn't smell right.


It's been a year, so we're retruring to giallo cinema today with Il profumo della signora in nero, known in English as The Perfume of the Lady in Black. The waifish Mimsy Farmer plays a chemical engineer working in Italy who begins experiencing macabre visions or hallucinations. Are these hauntings due to emerging psychological trauma triggered by the suicide of her mother years earlier? Are they somehow related to her university professor friend Andy, an expert on African religious rituals? Or maybe they're being staged by her pervy neighbor, or dissatisfied boyfriend, or weirdo girlfriend Francesca. An eerie psychic reading set up by her friends certainly doesn't help Farmer's mental stability. Shortly after that fiasco a little girl shows up at her door. Is she a manifestation of Farmer's younger self? What the hell is going on?

Well, it's giallo, so you just can't know. The genre typically involves an intersection of horror and mystery sprinkled with visual non sequiturs, indecipherable clues, and incomprehensible behavior. Mixed in are the usual details: garish lighting, rain and thunder, a disconcerting music box, unexplained disappearances, random cats, bug-eyed strangers, discordant violins, and so forth. In addition, the endings of giallos are usually meant to surprise, and in most cases you'll say to yourself, “Wait—wasn't there an easier way to get all that accomplished?” This one, which has a big reveal in more ways than one, brings up that question. But don't think about it too deeply. It's giallo. We can't say this example is good, but we will say Mimsy Farmer is extremely appealing. You might even call her... appetizing. You'll see what we mean if you watch the film. Il profumo della signora in nero premiered in Italy today in 1974
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Femmes Fatales Apr 29 2021
GREENHOUSE EFFECT
With warmth and tender loving care you can grow anything.


Above are two photos of actress Monica Strebel, who was born in Switzerland but mostly appeared in Italian films. She also, like many actresses of her era, appeared in photo novels and posed nude in magazines, such as the French publication Io, which is where the above shots originated in 1969. Several of Strebel's films had amusingly unwieldy titles, among them 1970's La lunga notte dei disertori - I 7 di Marsa Matruh, aka Operation Over Run, and the 1971 giallo La bestia uccide a sangue freddo, aka Cold Blooded Beast. Perhaps her most notable role was in 1972's Racconti proibiti... di niente vestiti, aka Master of Love. We have a promo shot from it below. Strebel plays Death in the form of a naked woman, and she and star Rossano Brazzi run away together across an open field. They don't make 'em like that anymore.

*smack* *smooch* You're so beautiful. I'll follow you anywhere. What's your name again? Did you say Lady Death? That's weird but whatever... *nuzzle* *smooch*

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Vintage Pulp Feb 16 2021
LOST AND CONFOUNDED
In giallo it's not the final destination that matters. It's the endless journey in circles.


Spasmo is what you used to call your little brother, but amazingly it's also the name of an Italian giallo flick, and like other giallos, this one comes with sly looks, loaded dialogue, appearing mannequins, disappearing bodies, creepy bit players, coincidences that aren't really coincidences, and baffling extraneous events. The plot here here is set into motion when Robert Hoffman shoots an intruder. The body disappears and he spends the rest of the film trying to figure out what happened. Which is impossible, of course, because in giallo the plots are often nonsensical and the characters behave irrationally in ways both minor and major. At one point co-star Suzy Kendall, who needed a long soak in a tub after this torturous journey, says, “I don't understand. I don't understand anything!” And that neatly sums up the film. But giallos (or gialli for you purists) aren't usually meant to be understood. They're puzzles with no solutions. Extremely self-conscious and stylish mindfucks. Some are better than others, but for us, everything about this one falls short except the three excellent, creepy promo posters you see above. Spasmo premiered in Italy today in 1974

I am a normal... and well adjusted... adult female... human being.

Hide? Heh-heh. What makes you think I have anything to hide?

I just pop up and scare the shit out of people when they least expect it. I'm really good at it, too. I'm like the Hendrix of that.

Giuseppe said my plaid leisure suit was ugly and now he must die.
 
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Femmes Fatales Jun 20 2020
INCOMPARABLE INCONTRERA
Annabella is molto bella from every angle.


Every side is Italian actress Annabella Incontrera's good side, as you can in the four shots above. We should all be so lucky. Despite a name that comes off the tongue like poetry, Incontrera sometimes acted as Pam Stevenson, and well, no offense to any Pams or Stevensons out there, but that pseudonym surely had to be the idea of an unimaginative agent or studio head. In the end it was as Incontrera that she made her mark, appearing in several notable Italian giallo and horror films, including La tarantola dal ventre nero, aka Black Belly of the Tarantula, Sette scialli di seta gialla, aka Crimes of the Black Cat, and Perché quelle strane gocce di sangue sul corpo di Jennifer?, aka These Italian Movie Titles are Purely Nuts. She also popped up for a moment in Dean Martin's tongue-in-cheek caper flick The Ambushers as a slaymate. Well, she slays us. These photos are undated but from around 1968.

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Vintage Pulp Apr 12 2020
LAYING IT ON THE FELINE
Look what the cat dragged in.


Cats get a bad rap in ’70s horror films. They're always shown lurking, staring, yowling, hissing, flying into frame from some elevated position off-camera, and standing sentinel over murdered bodies. Felines come to the fore once again in the Italian giallo-horror flick La morte negli occhi del gatto, aka Seven Deaths in the Cat's Eye, as beautiful young Jane Birkin ventures into the Scottish countryside for a stay at creepy old Castle Dragonstone, which seems cursed or haunted by a feline or felines. Shortly after her arrival bodies start appearing. Who's doing the killing? Is there really a curse? Why does that darn cat keep turning up?
 
All of the answers and more are revealed, as is the reason behind the carnage, and guess what? It isn't the cat's doing at all. The problem is entirely human and has to do with coveting the castle. Seems everyone wants their own pile of rocks in windblown bumfuck Scotland. Yes, the plot is as blah as we made it sound, but at least the poster art is excellent. There's a another poster, an even better one, with Birkin on it. We digitally restored it to hi-rez perfection, then Photoshop corrupted the file right when we were putting the final touches on it. We aren't going to repeat all that work, so you'll never see what we did. Maybe there's a curse after all. La morte negli occhi del gatto premiered in Italy today in 1973.

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Femmes Fatales Mar 30 2020
SHINING BRAIT
Who needs sunscreen when you have imagination?


This photo of Italian actress Carla Brait using the local flora to improvise a little shade was made when she was appearing in the 1973 giallo flick I corpi presentano tracce di violenza carnale. Translated literally that means, “The bodies show traces of carnal violence.” For its U.S. release it was retitled Torso, which we think was a good move. Brait appeared in fifteen movies during her career, and speaking of torsos and good moves, she often played dancers, since that was her other profession. When she eventually retired from cinema she became a dance instructor. We've been watching a lot of giallos the last year or so, which means we may see her in Torso later.

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Vintage Pulp Aug 18 2019
THUS SLAYETH THE LORD
When you're rich you're never insane. You're just a little eccentric.


La notte che Evelyn uscì dalla tomba, aka The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave, premiered in Italy today in 1971, and is an Italian made, set-in-England, gothic giallo flick for which we shared an unusual Greek poster some years ago. The art on that was retasked from the original poster, which was painted by Sandro Symeoni, a genius we've featured often. If you don't know his work, click his keywords below and have a look. He's worth your time.

In the movie a British lord violently obsessed with his deceased redheaded wife goes nuts and is committed to a mental institution. When he gets out he immediately brings disrepute to the entire psychiatric profession's notion of “cured” by going on a redhead killing spree. While he's busy reducing rural England's carrottop population one pale person at a time, his headshrinker, who knows nothing of the murders, is encouraging him to remarry in order to get over his dead wife.
 
That doesn't strike us as responsible psychiatric advice, but as we mentioned, there are lousy doctors in this film, so the Lord indeed picks out a suitable spouse, who's blonde, importantly. Things go fine until Mrs. Lord notices a redheaded maid in the manor. This is impossible, you see, because the Lord hates (and kills) redheads. So it goes without saying he'd never hire one. Who was this woman, and why was she there? Soon we're treated to the reliable giallo staples of imposters, unknown people creeping through the woods at night, disappearing corpses, and the question of whether what's happening is real, or is an attempt to induce insanity.

What might induce insanity for you is the screenwriting of the female characters in this flick. They're pure murder magnets. For example, whenever the Lord meets a redhead he yanks painfully on her hair to see if it's real. “Ouch! That hurt!” “Sorry, I thought it might be a wig.” “Oh.” Here's some advice: kick him in the gonads and run like Flo-Jo. Yet the women instead decide painful hair-pulling is just a cute quirk, and later meet their bloody ends.
 
There's also an incredible scene where the Lord slaps his wife around until she's bloody-mouthed, only to finally be stopped by the appearance of a friend, who asks, “Why were you fighting?” Why were you fighting? A more appropriate line might be, “Why were you beating the fuck out of your beloved?” But with this latter incident there may actually be a plotworthy reason the Lord is forgiven. We could reveal it, but that would be a spoiler. Of course, saying it would be a spoiler is a spoiler too. Oh no! Everything is spoiled! We have to murder a redhead now. Is that a non-sequitur? No, it's just giallo.

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Femmes Fatales Mar 27 2019
ROMAN HOLIDAY
She's been doing as the Romans do pretty much from day one.


Italian actress Leticia Román walks across the tarmac at Fiumicino Airport in Rome today in 1962, where she had arrived to begin work on the film The Nightmare. That's what the back of the photo says, anyway. But Román never appeared in a film with that title. Since titles change mid-production occasionally, we're going to guess the film was actually the 1963 giallo La ragazza che sapeva troppo, aka Evil Eye. Furthermore, we checked the production data, and the movie has scenes at the airport, so it's possible but not certain that this isn't really a press photo but rather a production promo. In any case, nice shot.

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Vintage Pulp Mar 20 2019
BODILY NEEDS
Il dolce corpo di Deborah is pretty but inside it has issues.


Renato Casaro does solid work as always on this poster he painted to promote the Italian giallo flick Il dolce corpo di Deborah. We've featured him often, and you can see some of his best work here, here, and here. If you were translating the title Il dolce corpo di Deborah into English normally, it would be the linguistically economical “Deborah's Sweet Body,” but instead the distributors went literal with The Sweet Body of Deborah. Going with something clunkier than needed is a good metaphor for the film.
 
The story involves a newly married American woman played by Carroll Baker who honeymoons with her Italian husband in Geneva, where he runs into a former friend who accuses him of murder. The death in question was of the husband's ex-girlfriend. It was ruled suicide, but the acquaintance claims it was murder. He spends a lot of time and effort trying to convince Baker her husband is a killer, but is he telling the truth, or is there something even more sinister going on? That's a rhetorical question. This is giallo.
 
Normally we'd suggest watching the film to find out what happens, but we won't do that because this is a limp and disjointed thriller made watchable only thanks to good cinematography, interesting Geneva exteriors, and Baker pushing the envelope of allowable skin. Bad scripting and bad acting really hurt here, and the double twist ending feels perfunctory. We won't go so far as to say Body blows, but it could be plenty better. Il dolce corpo di Deborah premiered in Italy today in 1969.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 27 2018
FOTO MANIPULATION
A dirty picture is worth a thousand words.


As long as we're on Italy today we might as well highlight this Renato Casaro poster for the giallo flick Le foto proibite di una signora per bene, aka The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion. We've dubbed the pose you see here the alpha, for both its theme of dominance and the A shape made by the legs of the foreground figure. Typically the figure is male, but not always. We put together a collection of paperbacks using this pose while ago.

In the film a bored housewife played by Dagmar Lassander is convinced by a sadistic stranger that her husband is a killer. In her desperation to protect her spouse she's manipulated into the stranger's bed, which results in him having explicit photographs with which to blackmail her. When Dagmar finally tells her husband and the police what's happening the evidence disappears, which makes Dagmar look mentally unstable. This seems to have been the plan all along, but who's behind it? Is the stranger working alone? Is Dagmar's husband or best friend involved?

With its leisurely pace and unconvoluted plot, the film lacks some giallo characteristics, but it's officially considered part of the genre. Because of its relative simplicity it avoids serious logical missteps, which is a worthy achievement considering how wacky these movies get. But while it's sure handed and reasonably entertaining, you can expend ninety minutes of life in better ways, which is why we don't recommend this except for giallo completists. Le foto proibite di una signora per bene premiered in Italy today in 1970.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
May 23
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.
May 22
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.
May 21
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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