New main ingredient, same old Female Prisoner Scorpion.
We've already shared two posters for Yumi Takigawa's women-in-prison pinky violence flick Shin joshuu sasori: 701-gô, aka New Female Prisoner Scorpion: 701, which premiered today in 1976. Above is the slightly different tateken sized poster, added here for the sake of completeness. The film is a reboot of the original Female Prisoner Scorpion series starring Meiko Kaji, and most consider it to be of lesser quality than the first four films, but quality is a relative term in pinku. Some would say all the films are bad. Not us. But some would say that. Bonus material: a Yumi promo image below. And you can see the other posters here and here.
When the going gets tough the smart leave town.
You see what we mean about roman porno posters? How can we not share something this pretty? And if we share the poster we have to watch the movie, at least to have an idea what the art is about. And the movies? Well, they've been a years-long exploration into some deep dark places. Other people's, not ours. This poster was made to promote Pinku saron: Kôshoku gonin onna, aka Pink Salon: Five Lewd Women, which premiered in Japan today in 1978. You've noticed by now that many of these films were based on novels. It wasn't just cinema that was delving into challenging themes during the ’70s. But this, surprisingly, is based on a work of anthological fiction written by Saikaku Ihara in 1686, during Japan's Edo period.
Broadly speaking the plot deals with the struggles of five women—Kyôko Aoyama, Erina Miyai, Eiko Matsuda, Machiko Ohtani, and Miyako Yamaguchi—who work in Tokyo's strip clubs, or pink salons. Obviously, the stories in Ihara's source material have been moved forward three centuries to the grey, concrete Tokyo you see in so many Japanese films from the ’70s. These pink salon workers aren't satisfied with their lives, and what develops is a sort of counterculture road trip film, as they and a few male companions drive from Tokyo to Otoko in a graffiti covered microbus. Do they find a better place in the world? You'll have to watch the movie yourself. But you can be certain that, as in most cinema about misfit dreamers and restless outcasts, the odds are against them and the errors of the past are not far behind.
Pink Saron has sex but no fetish, and violence but little gore, so we wonder if the age of the source material has anything to do with that. Nikkatsu Studios usually pushed its roman porno movies beyond the far edge of good taste, but not this time, and it was rewarded for its restraint. Pink Saron won Noboru Tanaka a Japan Academy Film Prize for best director—the first time a roman porno film had been thus honored. Yes, this movie is something a little different. We'd like to say it's appropriate for those seeking an entry point into the genre, but it's so different from most it would only mislead you. And next thing you know you'll find yourself watching women chained up in dungeons. So consider this a stand alone film. A pretty good one.
If you're looking for a tale with a happy ending look somewhere else.
We're doing a pinku double-dip today because life is short and the shit we want to post keeps piling up. Even at an increased rate it'll take another ten years to get this stuff uploaded. Will websites as we understand them even exist then? Will blogs exist? We've already read that blogging is dead. Multiple times. Well, we keep chugging along, and today's journey involves two more promos, these for Nikkatsu Studios' infamous roman porno drama Dabide no hoshi: Bishôjo-gari, aka Beautiful Girl Hunter, which is based on a Maasaki Soto manga and premiered in Japan today in 1979. That's Hiromi Namino on the art, who as far as we know made only one other film.
So we watched this, and yup, it's twisted. Long story short, an escaped lunatic commits a rape which results in a pregnancy, and the rape child grows up to become a rapist. Every taboo is shattered in this one, including ones you've never imagined. As we always note for readers unfamiliar with this genre, there's no actual sex, no frontal nudity. Everything is done with camera angles, the power of suggestion, and acting. Still... holy fuck. But what you really want to know is whether the movie is any good. Objectively it's well made, but it also made us question whether liking roman porno posters and being interested in the genre's history and culture are sufficient enough reasons to keep watching the films.
Yet there are also serious points in this movie about intergenerational violence, and whether it's at all possible for parents to love (or even treat decently) a child conceived via rape. To us, neither question feels responsibly examined enough to justify the existence of the movie. After all, it's first and foremost a piece of sexploitation, and the steady supply of nudity sort of undercuts any serious intent. We much prefer Toei's Company's pinky violence films. The women in those either win or cause a hell of a lot of trouble trying. By contrast films like Beautiful Girl Hunter feel deliberately regressive, as we've noted before. These Nikkatsu guys will be the end of us yet.
What you see is exactly what you get.
Above are two striking pinku posters, both from the roman porno sub-genre. The first is for Osasuri hentai musume, aka Harassing Perverted Girl, with Rina Nagisa. The English title of this is interesting. You can't be sure if it refers to a perverted girl being harassed, or a perverted girl who harasses. It's the former—the Japanese title, which would translate to something like “caught hentai girl,” makes that a bit clearer. The second poster is for Onna kyôshi: Himitsu, aka Female Teacher 6, with Miyako Yamaguchi and Etsuko Hara. As the title suggests, it was part of a series, a run of thirteen Onna kyôshi movies, made between 1973 and 1983. How in the hell did Nikkatsu Studios manage to milk the concept for so many films? Because audiences didn't care a whit about the plots as long as there was what's known in Japan as fan sābisu, or “fan service”—i.e., giving consumers (usually males) what they want. It's technically a manga term, but we think it applies here, as both posters promise it, and in a laudable example of truth in advertising, the films deliver. Osasuri hentai musume and Onna kyôshi: Himitsu both premiered—in what was a banner weekend for roman porno fans—today in 1978.
The more you Zoom the weirder everything looks.
Above is a poster for Zûmu appu: Bôkô hakusho, aka Zoom Up: Sexual Crime Report, the fourth film in the Zoom Up series. This installment starred Yuki Kazamatsuri and Rie Hirase, and premiered in Japan today in 1981. Where do we start with this? Kazamatsuri plays a disc jockey married to a powerful businessman. One night on her way to the radio station she's raped by a gang of creeps on motorcycles, and it turns out this was not a random attack. That's already a spoiler, so we'll stop there.
As always, we try to remember that Nikkatsu Studios was in the business of making money. The directors and screenwriters had a lot of artistic freedom, and occasionally tried to embed social commentary and deep metaphor in these films. But you know how it goes with metaphor—if you suspect it's there you'll look for it until you strain your brain. Broadly speaking, roman porno avoids the feminist patriarchy smashing of pinky violence films, usually denying women any sort of cathartic retribution. We stress usually. Even in this retrograde genre women sometimes get the opportunity to make men eat cold steel, or hot lead, as the case may be. Which path does Zûmu appu: Bôkô hakusho take? We ain't saying.
If you look around the internet the very few reviews of roman porno films you find are by males, usually in Japanese. We sometimes add to the all-male chorus, but just as often we keep our write-ups vague, focusing mainly on the poster art. We hope one day there'll be a more diverse online analysis of these, particularly of two types: in English from Japanese viewers who can provide social context we can't; and from women. The latter you might expect us to get from PI-1 and PI-2 (did we mention they're out of town?), but they refuse to watch these. Maybe, truly, that's the most incisive analysis of all.
Wait, so this is all a cinematic metaphor?
Ahh, a wonderful, relaxing metaphor for womblike security.
Oh no! A terrible, disturbing metaphor for survival in a hostile world!
Lalalala... slurp.... gurgle... metaphor.... lalalalalala...
Shhh... trust me. This is a metaphor you're really going to enjoy.
Maybe these metaphors will be clearer without my glasses.
No wonder divorce rates are sky high.
Did we mention that the Pulp Intl. girlfriends are out of town? No? Well, they are, so it's time to screen the craziest shit vintage cinema has to offer—’70s roman porno. We don't truly understand the films, but we try. What we do understand is that on some level the previous decades' restraint in Japanese cinema was being challenged by filmmakers given almost total artistic control, as long as the films had four sex scenes per hour. So what you get is a lot of daring explorations of previously untouchable themes, and a lot of visual artistry designed to titillate without violating censorship restrictions. Japan's oldest studio, Nikkatsu, made these films, and many were hits with both audiences and critics (who we suspect in both cases were preponderantly male).
The above poster was made to promote Dan Oniroku hanayome ningyo, aka Bridal Doll, which is based on the writings of acclaimed author Oniroku Dan, and stars Asako Kurayoshi in her cinematic debut as a woman who's sold to a man as a bdsm sex slave. It's pretty twisted. Not only does he dress her as a bride, but he has a glass walled bathroom so he can watch her do her business, and at one point literally has her shackled to a ball and chain. But his idyllic set-up goes awry when a neighbor learns what's going on and decides to save Asako. He does this by kidnapping the sadist's wife, who's played by the luminous Izumi Shima, putting her through similar ordeals, then proposing a swap.
Does this swap go as planned? Well, we won't tell you that. We will, however, remind you that there are three true outcomes in roman porno: irony, tragedy, and ambiguity. Nobody ever gets out happy. At least not often. They're always transformed by their ordeals, one way or another. As always, not being Japanese and lacking the lifetime of cultural knowledge that would bring, we know there's more going on here than we can discern. But we still can't recommend this one as anything other than Shima eye candy. And you get that by looking below. So maybe save the seventy-one minutes for a walk in the sunshine. Dan Oniroku hanayome ningyo premiered in Japan today in 1979.
Junko Mabuko is unjustly detained yet again.
It's Junko Mabuki again, beset by her usual troubles on this poster for the roman porno flick Dan Oniroku joen fujin, which premiered in Japan today in 1980. This movie seems to have been retitled for its English language release either Blazing Bondage Lady or Madam Rope Flame. Different sites say it's one or the other, but both titles kind of mean the same thing, so both are probably correct.
How does Junko get caged? It's her husband's fault. He accidentally runs over a woman who's a star S&M performer and her widower shows up to claim Junko as his own (and as a bonus also kidnaps her sister, played by the ethereal Izumi Shima). Junko's captor introduces her to aspects of bdsm such as whipping and enemas (always a favorite of roman porno flicks), and her shame and resistance eventually turn to acceptance and pleasure.
Mabuki burst onto the roman porno scene in 1979 and in 1980 made a dozen films. Nikkatsu thought they had another Naomi Tani on their hands and even staged a press conference at which they introduced Mabuki to the assembled journalists while she was done up in bondage gear. These types of publicity stunts weren't unusual for Nikkatsu. They had barely enough time to congratulate themselves for finding a new star when in 1982 Junko abruptly retired.
But Mabuki left behind more than a dozen films and established herself as one of the era's most popular stars. Even so, we rarely recommend these movies and can't recommend this one either, but we love roman porno posters, which taken out of context are always amazing art pieces. Junko is like art too, below. Rest assured, this is not the last we'll see of her.
Yamauchi and Shibata are back for an encore.
Several years ago we shared a rare tateken sized poster for Bankaku Rokku, aka Bankaku Rock, aka Ranking Boss Rock, and today, above, we're circling back to the film with the hansai sized poster, which we usually just call standard sized. We didn't share this in the earlier post because we didn't have it then. It just wasn't available at the time. That omission is now rectified. Something else that wasn't available back then was the movie. Well, we found that too. Our efforts are unceasing.
Bankaku Rokku is a juvie delinquent pinky violence flick in which the Akabane 100 Club and Ikebukuro Cavalry battle for supremacy. Emiko Yamauchi plays Yukiko, the “bankaku,” or chief bodyguard of the Akabane 100. When she's released from reform school she decides to settle an old score with the Cavalry gang's leader Taka, played by Etsuko Shibata. But Yukiko's revenge gets complicated when she's accused of a murder that was actually the work of Johuku Clan, a male gang of pimps and thieves.
This flick is all alienation and disaffection. When the police come looking for Yukiko her authoritarian father even urges them to give her the death penalty. Will Yukiko dodge the cops and get her sweet revenge? It wouldn't be pinky violence if she didn't at least get the chance. Broken bottles, supersharp scissors, and razor blades are the order of the day, along with numerous boobs and climactic bloodspray. There may not be much of a point to it all, but for pinky violence fans it should hit the spot. Bankaku Rokku premiered in Japan today in 1973.
The superstition is true—it's bad luck to cross her path.
This impressive promo poster was made for the pinku actioner Kuroi Mehyô M, aka Black Panther Bitch M, in which Japanese superstar Reiko Ike plays an assassin tasked with getting rid of a troublesome gangster. This is far easier said than done, but she has all the skills a good killer-for-hire needs—she can run fast, climb well, throw knives (and handily placed pitchforks), read lips, perform acrobatics, crush testicles, endure pain, and wear a pantsuit like a boss. We'd love to tell you the film is great, but it's all pretty silly, truthfully. But when Reiko and her soulful eyes and shiny café au lait skin are onscreen does the plot really matter? It might to you, but it doesn't to us. The Japanese title of this, by the way, is actually “Black Rose M.” We don't know where the panther thing came from, but it's an apt description for Reiko. Kuroi Mehyô M premiered in Japan today in 1974.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1916—First Battle of the Somme Ends
In France, British Expeditionary Force commander Douglas Haig calls off a battle against entrenched German troops which had begun on July 1, 1916. Known as the Battle of the Somme, this action resulted in one of the greatest losses of life in modern history—over three-hundred thousand dead for a net gain of about seven miles of land.
1978—Jonestown Cult Commits Mass Suicide
In the South American country of Guyana, Jim Jones leads his Peoples Temple cult in a mass suicide that claims 918 lives, including over 270 children. Congressman Leo J. Ryan, who had been visiting the makeshift cult complex known as Jonestown to investigate claims of abuse, is shot by members of the Peoples Temple as he tries to escape from a nearby airfield with several cult members who asked for his protection.
1973—Nixon Proclaims His Innocence
While in Orlando, Florida, U.S. President Richard Nixon tells four-hundred Associated Press managing editors, "I am not a crook." The false statement comes to symbolize Nixon's presidency when facts are uncovered that prove he is, indeed, a crook.
1938—Lysergic Acid Diethylamide Created
In Basel, Switzerland, at the Sandoz Laboratories, chemist Albert Hofmann creates the psychedelic compound Lysergic acid diethylamide, aka LSD, from a grain fungus.
1945—German Scientists Secretly Brought to U.S.
In a secret program codenamed Operation Paperclip, the United States Army admits 88 German scientists and engineers into the U.S. to help with the development of rocket technology. President Harry Truman ordered that Paperclip exclude members of the Nazi party, but in practice many Nazis who had been officially classified as dangerous were also brought to the U.S. after their backgrounds were whitewashed by Army officials.
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