Isabel Sarli is too hot to handle.
Fuego is a movie from Argentina but we were so taken with this Japanese poster that we decided on it over the original promo art. The colors laid atop the black and white background are nice. As for the movie, which originally premiered in 1969 and reached Japan today in 1971, it's a bizarre sexploitation flick about Isabel Sarli and her servant Alba Mujica, who carry on a lustful lesbian affair while Sarli is simultaneously pursued by local alpha male Armando Bo. The triangle is complicated by the fact that Sarli has a little problem: she wants sex so much she doesn't care where, when, or from whom she gets it. The movie's theme song tells the story:
Fuego en tu boca,
Fuego en tu cuerpo,
Fuego en tu sangre,
En tus entrañas,
Que queman mi alma,
Fire in your mouth,
Fire in your body,
Fire in your blood,
In your guts (eww), or alternatively, bowels (eew)
That burns my soul,
It's a good thing Sarli has fire in her blood, because she makes love in the snow. No blanket under her or anything. She's so overheated she goes around her provincial Patagonian town randomly flashing men. She's so inflamed she even squirms and moans when she sleeps. “I don't know if I'm fickle or wicked,” she muses. Her problem is neither. It's really that she's hostage to a cheeseball sexploitation script. She tells her suitor Bo she'll be unfaithful if they marry, but he doesn't care. “I want to be good,” Sarli says. Mission unaccomplished. As her doctor explains, her condition is caused by sexual neurosis. “A neurosis that is particularly manifested in the genitals.”
Okay then. It's unsurprising that the quack doctor next takes a comprehensive feel around Sarli's vagina. But no cure is to be found, there or anywhere, and her condition continues to consume her. Bo (who wrote and directed, as well as did most of the boob kissing) presents her narratively as an almost cursed figure, a kind of tragic sex goddess of the Andes. But even so, the movie is no more than a bad South American soap opera. Or really, even a classical opera—it needs only an aria to complete its ascent up majestic Mount Melodrama. Sarli is a legendary sex symbol in South America and she shows why, over and over, but in the final analysis we can't recommend Fuego. However, we doubt we'll ever forget it.
Unlike mama's boys, they're fully able to take care of themselves.
Ages ago we shared a Turkish poster for the blaxploitation flick Black Mama, White Mama, with Pam Grier and Margaret Markov. Today we're sharing the U.S. promo, as well as a nice production photo of the stars. The movie, which premiered today in 1972, was a regendering of The Defiant Ones, but done with a lot more skin and a lot less budget. Even so, it was pretty fun, as women-in-prison flicks go—if you start with modest expectations. You can see more promos from the film here.
There's something very fishy going on.
This promo poster just screams winner, don't you think? If it isn't a good movie, it's got to be deliciously terrible. It was made for L'isola degli uomini pesce, known in English as The Island of the Fishmen, a movie that starred Richard Johnson, Barbara Bach, and Claudio Cassinelli. No surprise what it's about, thanks to the title, but nothing is spoiled—the fishmen show up within the first few minutes of the film when a group of convicts in a lifeboat are attacked and the five survivors end up stranded on a swampy island. Since the fishmen hunt there, the attrition rate on this parcel of land is a bitch. Two cons are killed almost immediately upon arrival, and a third barely survives a pit trap. They soon learn humans live there too—paranoid misanthrope Richard Johnson, his companion Barbara Bach, their servant Beryl Cunninghman, and others, all residing in and around a baroque slave plantation house.
Johnson, who is a quack scientist, is trying to train the fishmen for what shall here remain undisclosed purposes. It involves going deep underwater where humans can't survive—but strangely, not so deep that Johnson can't simply drop down in his unpressurized wooden submersible and watch them at work. It's all a crock, even for bad sci-fi. But there are three points of note with the film: first, you can actually see that some budget went into creating the fishmen; second, Johnson speaking in a constipated Dick Dastardly voice is flat hilarious; and third, Barbara Bach is Barbara Bach. Or maybe we should have listed her first. The producers at Dania Film, perhaps realizing Fishmen was a total woofer, rode Bach hard, putting out a bunch of skinful promotional photos and getting her a Fishmen-themed nude shoot in Ciné-Revue. There's always a silver lining in 1970s exploitation cinema—and on Pulp Intl. L'isola degli uomini pesce premiered in Italy today in 1979.
Sometimes you have to hunt for something fun to do.
After watching the 1932 hunter-stalks-humans flick The Most Dangerous Game a few months ago we stumbled across a 1972 variation on the theme titled The Suckers. Both movies, surprisingly, were derived from the same source, a 1924 short story by Richard Connell. The Suckers stars Richard Smedley, Steve Vincent, Laurie Rose (aka Misty Dawn), and Sandy Dempsey, and the aforementioned variation is sex. We knew that going in, and we were thinking, hell, this might be fun—a classic pulp story adapted for the sexploitation-happy ’70s. But we were wrong. It turns out The Suckers had a $30,000 budget—which is infinitesimal even for a grindhouse flick—and the lack of expenditure shows across the entire spectrum of production, from acting, to staging and blocking, to pacing, to screenwriting and more.
In Connell's short story and the 1932 adaptation the unfortunate guests land on an evil guy's desolate island because their yacht runs aground. In The Suckers, the guests—who are models, an employee of the modeling agency, and his wife—show up voluntarily after being invited. They're soon running for their lives after being told by their host that their sole purpose for visiting is to be stalked by professional hunters. Obviously, there comes a point when they realize survival means fighting back. But they seem unlikely to manage that effectively. Why? Did we mention that they're models? And that the agency guy is a total schlub? Luckily, great white hunter Richard Smedley and his monobrow side with the prospective prey. He's a lardass but at least he has a rifle. With his help, the fashion plates just might make it back to the Garment District alive.
Even though The Suckers is a sexploitation movie, we expected the ratio of skin to action to be roughly equivalent, but the hunting scenes take up only about twenty minutes, while sex consumes about thirty minutes, a couple of sexual assaults take about ten, and bad dialogue fills out the rest of the running time. Except for one sex scene that manages to get pretty steamy the movie is a waste of all those aforementioned minutes. The film's main value, to us anyway, is as an example of what we're referring to whenever we point out that it wasn't just Japanese studios that explored unsavory themes during this period. The difference is those films were artfully made. The Suckers is just gratuitous and haphazard. Its failure is probably why it was later released as The Woman Hunt—because a certain segment of the male population would see it based on that title alone. Those who did were—you guessed it—suckers.
California stands in for Dixie as sexploitation goes country.
American movies are made today in many places other than southern California as a way to reduce production costs. Regions like Georgia, New Mexico, and British Columbia have built thriving film industries. But once upon the not-so-distant past the reverse was true. In order to avoid high location costs you filmed in and around Los Angeles no matter where your film was set, even if it looked ridiculous. Southern Comforts, which premiered today in 1971, is ostensibly set in the deep south, but one look at its bone dry Dukes of Hazzard landscapes tells you're about as close to the south as Manhattan is to the Bahamas.
A middle-aged huckster and his three mini-skirted companions drive across “the south” looking to stage a beauty contest, but get stranded in hayseedville and decide to do it in the barn of a gentleman rancher named Colonel Melany, who insists on being paid not only in money, but in flesh. Eventually some girls from around the way show up to compete, and everybody gets naughty in the hay as a hoe-down band plays in the background. When the beauty contest finally takes place, it turns into a group striptease, which is eventually raided by local cops. That pretty much covers the plot.
The director of all this, Bethal Buckalew, who had also made the softcore efforts Tobacco Roody and Midnite Plowboy, understood the box office dynamic of the early 1970s wherein it was enough to guarantee profit if you showed a lot of nudity. While less cynical types toiled with plots and production values, the visionary Buckalew simply trafficked in boobs, bush, and flashes of vulva (which earned this film an x rating). The only requirement for his formula was that a few of his actresses be totally uninhibited and somewhat beautiful, and he's covered thanks to co-star Monica Gayle and a couple of uncredited contributors.
Gayle was the reason we watched this. She was in the cult hit Switchblade Sisters, and clearly she moved up in the world, because Southern Comforts doesn't reach anywhere near the level of her girl-gang classic. But we'll give this movie credit for one thing—it looks like everyone had a laugh making it. Back during the liberated ’70s nobody worried that their awful sexploitation flicks might last forever thanks to digital technology. They figured to have fun, get paid, and maybe, just maybe, ascend into mainstream cinema. This amateurish effort helped nobody's career, but at least—along with a few drinks—it helped our Friday night.
Had a horrible trauma? Leading roman porno filmmakers say another one should fix you right up.
This flowery promo poster was made for the roman porno flick Kashin no sasoi, aka Call of the Pistil, or sometimes Temptation of the Pistil, which premiered in Japan today in 1971. The movie opens with a cool credit sequence, which you can see in the screenshots below. After that's done, you get a story about a reporter played by Keiko Maki who's traumatized by a sexual assault and whose doctor decides—this is so typical of roman porno cinema—that only by reenacting the event can she be cured.
Her older brother and boyfriend take charge of setting up these scenarios, and the experimental treatments backfire. Big shock. Later they learn that there's more to Maki's mental state than suspected, and that it has to do with her previous investigations and a conspiracy dealing with the U.S. military, and specifically with black GIs. Therefore—again, so typical—brother and boyfriend find a black GI (Peter Golden in a thankless role, his sole film appearance ever) to attack Maki.
Of course, as a roman porno—i.e "romantic" porno—there's no sex or frontal nudity shown during any of this, but it's still disturbing. All this supposed therapy is basically the equivalent of screaming, “BOO!” at someone who's previously suffered a terrible fright. If we make the movie sound a bit dumb, well, it really is. But it's certainly well shot, as all these roman pornos are, but even good production values and decent performances can't put this tale across. It's just too mean-spirited to work. “It was all a bad dream,” Maki's boyfriend says to her in the end. If only life really worked that way.
She's small but she has enormous appetites.
What would ’70s erotic cinema be without Swedish movies? And more importantly, without Swedish actresses? Above is a Japanese poster for the softcore film Justine och Juliette, known in English as Justine and Juliette, or sometimes Swedish Minx, and it starred the small wonder known as Marie Forså, who pound for pound was probably the best performer to come out of Swedish sexploitation cinema. That's what we think, anyway. We talked about the movie last year, so all we're doing today is showing you this eye-catching piece of art. Oh, and the rare image of Forså below. Let's not forget about that. We also have the rear of the poster. In addition, you can see a colorful Japanese promo for Forså's movie Butterflies here, and a very, erm, interesting one for her movie Bibi here.
They don't make virgins like they used to.
When Nikkatsu Studios attempted comedy, it may have been uproarious for audiences of the 1970s, but to us it's usually about on the same level as a Pauly Shore movie. But Joshidaisei: Nise shojo, known in English as College Girls: Fake Virgins, is, we have to admit, actually a bit amusing in parts. Or maybe it was just our mood at the time. We aren't going to watch it again to test the theory. When it comes to Nikkatsu, because its films are capable of being so shocking, when you get something pleasant you take your profits and don't look back.
Basically, what you get here is Kenji Simamura as a habitual molester who runs a real estate company. He meets Masumi Jun, Reiko Maki, and Natsuko Kurumi when he feels up Maki on a train, and is stunned when she snaps a pair of cuffs on his roaming hands. She isn't a cop. She just has them around because gropers are apparently a problem on Japanese trains of that time. From this auspicious encounter Sinamuraends up hiring the girls to pose as virgins for three unsuspecting squares who own vast tracts of land he covets. Virginity is—at least as posited by the movie—what all men want. The three land-rich marks are, of course, unattractive klutzes, and not very bright besides, but for all that, it's obvious Simamura's grand scheme won't come off as planned. The humor in this film is on a pretty basic level, but as we said, there are a few good moments. How can you not be amused when, after that groping on the train, the girls make Simamura buy them lunch—while still handcuffed to Maki? But most of the comedy is lame. Luckily, the movie has its beautiful leads to compensate. Since Jun and Maki star on the poster, we're having them star in the promo images below. Joshidaisei: Nise shojo premiered in Japan today in 1973.
Machete Maidens Unleashed! is a mandatory look at grindhouse moviemaking during the untamed 1970s.
Machete Maidens Unleashed! is a film we've watched a few times, and whenever a movie racks up multiple viewings we think it needs to be highlighted. It's a fast paced documentary about the wave of low budget exploitation flicks made in the Philippines from the late ’60s through the ’70s. We weren't old enough to see any of them during the actual grindhouse era, but caught them in later years, and one reason we came up with this website was for the opportunity to riff on these types of flicks. Over the last decade-plus we've had the pleasure of writing about entertaining dreck like Savage Sisters, The Big Doll House, Night of the Cobra Woman, and Cleopatra Wong. Built around interviews with stars such as Pam Grier, Sid Haig, Margaret Markov, Gloria Hendry, and directors/producers like Eddie Romero, Jack Hill, Joe Dante, and Roger Corman, Machete Maidens Unleashed! is an insider's look at a unique era in cinema history. It compellingly juxtaposes snippets of cinematic insanity against clips of the performers involved laughing over the craziness of it all. While the moviesdiscussed often fall into the category of sexploitation, at the time they were also considered an adjunct of the women's liberation movement—a point made by a couple of the actresses interviewed. Coming out of the sexually repressive decades of the fifties and early sixties, nudity was seen as a rebuke to patriarchal control. Covering productions ranging from 1964's The Walls of Hell to 1979's big budget war flick Apocalypse Now, this is a wide ranging documentary, and by far the most entertaining one on the subject matter we've seen. What with our website's Philippine provenance, and with PSGP having spent a couple of years in Guatemala, another country where life was cheap but fun was unparalleled, this also hit us directly in the nostalgia gland (PSGP feels like the only reason these films weren't made in Guatemala is because everyone actually would have been murdered, instead of just thinking they would).
All the interviewees seem to understand that they're from an extinct breed of very brave film performers, making entertainment for audiences ready to see absolutely anything happen. It sometimes seems that modern audiences have forgotten that the filmmaker is not the material, and the actor is not his or her character. The message comes through strongly here that movies are simply make believe. The creators maywant to outrage, or teach, or push censorship envelopes, or illuminate themes that leave audiences enriched in some way, but it's still just a job they perform before going home to their real lives. We wouldn't be surprised if some of the interviewees now feel they'd been traumatized, but during this movie, at least, they shrug off the difficulties of filming—ranging from extreme weather to graphic nudity to military revolt—as obstacles true professionals must navigate. The title cards of some of these films should be enough by themselves to intrigue you. We have a set below. We've also mixed in some screenshots. We'd love to have uploaded actual production photos, but the films are so low budget those are close to impossible to find. But why look at photos when you can watch the movies? Give it a shot. Quarts of booze are optional. Machete Maidens Unleashed! had its world premiere in Australia in the summer of 2010, and first hit U.S. shores today the same year at the Philadelphia International Film Festival. We've pointed you toward a few Philippine grindhouse flicks above, and you can read about more—there are so many, so please excuse the avalanche of links—here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
Experts say the benefits include improved blood circulation, increased energy, and better eye health.
This photo shows U.S. actress Cheri Caffaro, and was made around the time she was filming her 1971-73 sexploitation-action trilogy Ginger, The Abductors, and Girls Are for Loving. We haven't watched the middle film but we'll get to it. The others are too crazy to be believed, but we attempt to describe them here and here. Caffaro also appeared in 1974's Savage Sisters, 1977's Too Hot To Handle, and mixed in a few television roles before moving into producing from 1979 onward. There was little she wouldn't do, onscreen or off. She even once gave an interview at the Sherry Netherland Hotel while completely nude. Ah, the ’70s. We'll be seeing Caffaro again a little later.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1985—Matt Munro Dies
English singer Matt Munro, who was one of the most popular entertainers on the international music scene during the 1960s and sang numerous hits, including the James Bond theme "From Russia with Love," dies from liver cancer at Cromwell Hospital, Kensington, London.
1958—Plane Crash Kills 8 Man U Players
British European Airways Flight 609 crashes attempting to take off from a slush-covered runway at Munich-Riem Airport in Munich, West Germany. On board the plane is the Manchester United football team, along with a number of supporters and journalists. 20 of the 44 people on board die in the crash.
1919—United Artists Is Launched
Actors Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, along with director D.W. Griffith, launch United Artists. Each holds a twenty percent stake, with the remaining percentage held by lawyer William Gibbs McAdoo. The company struggles for years, with Griffith soon dropping out, but eventually more partners are brought in and UA becomes a Hollywood powerhouse.
1958—U.S. Loses H-Bomb
A 7,600 pound nuclear weapon that comes to be known as the Tybee Bomb is lost by the U.S. Air Force off the coast of Savannah, Georgia, near Tybee Island. The bomb was jettisoned to save the aircrew during a practice exercise after the B-47 bomber carrying it collided in midair with an F-86 fighter plane. Following several unsuccessful searches, the bomb was presumed lost, and remains so today.
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