Vintage Pulp May 17 2024
LUST AND DEATH
Do not centerfold, spindle, or mutilate.


The Centerfold Girls has a pretty anodyne poster for what is a decidedly provocative film. It hit cinemas today in 1974 and is about a religious fanatic played by Andrew Prine who wishes to save (read: murder) three women who've posed nude for a men's magazine called Bachelor. The film is divided into chapters, with the story around each stalking target—Jaime Lyn Bauer, Jennifer Ashley, and Tiffany Bolling—given about one third of the running time. Obviously that means—er, sorry, strongly suggests—that at least two of the trio die. Spoiler alert! There could also be collateral damage. Spoiler... allusion?

The movie lacks the tongue-in-cheek aspect of so much sexploitation cinema, falling more into the category of in-your-face grindhouse efforts like Thriller - en grym film and I Spit on Your Grave. In other words, it's a mean little movie. But one with serious intent. There's real effort made at character development, for example Ray Danton's feckless playboy in chapter two. There's also effort made to make the film look good. It's cheap but competent, with some Hitchcockian touches added by experienced television and b-movie director John Peyser meant to let cinephiles know he's no hack.

We came across comments in several places saying the movie is disrespectful toward women. That's true. Any film that casts any distinct category of human as victims (and in grindhouse it's usually women) can automatically be seen by some as targeted oppression—especially when that oppression is rampant in the real world. No film called The Centerfold Girls is interested in avoiding that criticism, so you go in knowing that. The result? It's pretty good. You know what would have been really fun? If they'd made a sequel called The Centerfold Boys about Playgirl models. Beautiful, superficial, basically helpless male models. We should have been 1970s movie producers.

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Modern Pulp Apr 13 2024
ORGIEN OF THE SPECIES
Nygren and friends teach moviegoers all about natural selection.


We'll return to paperback covers tomorrow, but for the moment we're running with the same sort of material we posted a couple of days ago, because as the weather warms thoughts naturally turn to sensual pleasures. We can't think of a movie more sensual than Emmanuelle IV. Set in our planet's most sensual country, steamy Brazil, it was the entry in the Emmanuelle series that ushered original lead Sylvia Kristel out the studio gate, and brought in the first of several new Emmanuelles, in this case Swedish actress Mia Nygren.

This West German poster, on which the film is titled Die orgien der Emmanuelle, or “the orgies of Emmanuelle,” caught our eye because—well, for several reasons—but mainly because Nygren is pushed into the background by Camella Donner, aka Camella Thomas. Why is that so interesting? Because she isn't in the cast. She probably wasn't even on the same continent. We guess the West German distributors wanted to sex up the poster a bit more. Donner would have been a great addition to the film, but even without her it was fun. Ridiculous, stupid, carnivalesque fun. They don't make 'em like that anymore. Emmanuelle IV premiered in West Germany today in 1984. Bonus imagery below.

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Vintage Pulp Apr 10 2024
ISLAND HEAT
It's the same old story. Take a trip to the tropics, lose every bit of self control.


We ran across this Italian locandina for the shot-in-the-Dominican Republic sexploitation flick Il pavone nero, known in English as Voodoo Sexy, and thought it made a nice alternate promo to the one we posted years back. The movie premiered in Italy today in 1975, and with a title like Voodoo Sexy you know what it's about: white skin + tropical heat = a total loss of inhibitions. Flicks of this ilk were an unofficial subgenre of ’70s and ’80s cinema. We love them, and you know why? Because they aren't wildly inaccurate in terms of northerners going crazy down south. The star of this one was German actress Karin Schubert, and that's the other reason we revisited the film—it gave us an excuse to share the photo of her below. Hope it helps you get over hump day.

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Vintage Pulp Mar 25 2024
HER EYE ON YOU
In the land of the blind the one-eyed woman is queen.


We've done a lot on Sandro Symeoni, which means that just for the sake of completeness we can't overlook these. They're his Italian posters for the Christina Lindberg grindhouse classic Thriller, which was originally made in Sweden as Thriller - en grym film, and in English speaking countries was known as Thriller: A Cruel Picture and They Call Her One Eye. We've already talked about it, and its star.
 
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Modern Pulp Mar 8 2024
TOKYO PAYBACK
In Japan business is war—complete with innocent bystanders.


This brilliant promo was painted for Hana to hebi: Shiiku-hen, known in English as Flower and Snake 3: Punishment. It starred Minako Ogawa of Dan Oniroku ikenie shimai, aka Sisters To Be Sacrificed, and in fact the same painter must have produced both posters. Have a look. The central figure is almost identical, no? Right down to her hairy armpits. Since there's no official info on who the artist is we'll throw in our two cents. It was bondage painter Kaname Ozuma. He painted at least one other poster for the Flower and Snake series, which you can see here. In the meantime this piece is literally nowhere else to be found in the quality you see here. At least, as far as we can tell.

We watched the film and it's a typically perverse roman porno tale about a powerful businessman married to Minako Ogawa, who he stole from a subordinate who was helpless to prevent it. When he later declines to help a business associate out of a jam that person has Ogawa kidnapped—literally thrown into a giant bag—taken to an isolated house, sexually assaulted, and coercively trained using bondage, a kielbasa, and other esoterica in order to turn her into a performer for live sex shows. That's a hell of a twisted retaliation for being refused financial help, but twisted is what roman porno is all about.

Of technical note is the fact that, though it was illegal to show pubic hair in Japanese movies, the ever clever roman porno filmmakers found a loophole. They have Ogawa's captors, as part of her torment, cut off her pubic hair with scissors. Though it couldn't be shown attached to her body without bringing down the wrath of censors, they got away with showing it falling into bathwater. You gotta give the pervs credit. They were always thinking outside the—er—box. Hana to hebi: Shiiku-hen premiered in Japan today in 1986.

After a long day on the set filming sex and bondage...

 

I'm very happy to spend the evening doing this.

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Vintage Pulp Mar 1 2024
SPECIAL EDUCATION
Their grades aren't great but their extracurriculars are incomparable.

Two years ago we shared a brilliant Japanese poster for Schulmädchen-Report 5. Teil - Was Eltern wirklich wissen sollten, aka Schoolgirl Report Part 5: What All Parents Should Know. Above you see an alternate poster, front and back. It's a strange movie, part of a series of thirteen, which you can read about here

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Vintage Pulp Feb 18 2024
MANILA HEAT
Caffaro knows how to Handle her business.


Why do we spend our valuable time watching exploitation movies? Well, because we watch all pulp related genres of movies, from film noir to horror. So why discriminate? We also watch such movies (which is a set we figure includes sexploitation, blaxploitation, women-in-prison, and more) because owing to their sexual, racial, and political aspects, their like will probably never be made again. Last month we completed our look at Cheri Caffaro's infamous Ginger McAllister sexploitation-spy trilogy. Now we're moving on to her later work in Too Hot To Handle, which premiered today in 1977.

Set in and around Manila, Caffaro plays an experienced and wealthy assassin named Samantha Fox who takes on a difficult triple-contract. In order to succeed she'll need all her skills of disguise, deception, and sexuality. Meanwhile the cops are on her trail. When one of the investigators gets close—real close—Caffaro takes a liking to him and, passing herself off as her alter ego Melinda Burroughs, tries to navigate sleeping with the enemy while fulfilling her murderous obligations.

All Caffaro movies are low budget, and all are bad. This one is poorly written and acted, and as usual there's a touch of the kinky, both in front of the camera, as well as behind, as Caffaro's husband Don Schain directs her getting her squeezebox fondled by hairy co-star Aharon Ipalé. That's called commitment to the product and your art—or alternatively, finding a way to monetize your spouse-sharing fantasies. It didn't improve the movie.

The only surprise here was that former top European star Corinne Calvet somehow got suckered into playing a brothel owner named Madame Ruanda, later dying as one of Caffaro's targets. Alas, Corinne—sexploitation is a welcoming mistress for those desperate to pay bills, but next time we recommend a loan shark. The vig is a bitch but at least you get to hang onto your dignity. But even if Too Hot To Handle was too bad for Calvet to be in, it isn't too bad for you to watch. Caffaro is weirdly great. In the sexploitation realm nobody did more with less.
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Modern Pulp Feb 7 2024
PARADIS LOST
The lawless of the jungle.


The curious and certainly never-to-reappear style of movies referred today as women-in-prison, or WIP, is a subgenre of sexploitation cinema that came about for one reason: it used settings in which women were helpless. Well, in theory. The dramatic thrust of the plots always derived from attempts to retain dignity and to escape captivity. The protagonist was usually an odd woman out—an unjustly imprisoned victim or an undercover operative—surrounded by a mix of prisoners who were hopeless, cruel, sexually predatory, and complicit, plus the abusive guards, one of whom nearly always was a sadistic woman.

Hotel Paradis stars Anthony Steffen, Ajita Wilson, and the slinky Cristina Lay, sometimes referred to as Cristina Lai. There are numerous posters for it, but we like the above Danish effort featuring a fight to the death. Its text notes: This film is banned in many countries because of its strong scenes.... it's shown in Denmark in uncut version. Indeed. Interracial lesbian sex might be to blame for the banning. There are other possible reasons too. We won't waste our time trying to figure it out. As an aside, the movie was filmed concurrently with the WIP flick Femmine infernali using the same cast, director, and sets. So consider this a write-up of that movie too, since the pair are basically identical.

Plotwise, a group of women are being transported to a jungle hellhole prison where forced labor is used to dig for emeralds. When their guards are ambushed and killed by patriot soldiers seeking to steal the emeralds to fund a nebulous revolt, the women agree to continue posingas prisoners in order to aid the infiltration of the camp. Behind bars is one inmate—Wilson—who has the shining or something, and keeps telling the others that violence, death, and freedom are coming. Also coming are WIP staples such as the evil wardenness, languorous shower scenes, whippings, baroque tortures, and sexual assault. It all ends pro forma with a climactic shootout.

Obviously, you have to go into these types of movies with a sense of humor if you can. When Lay first meets Wilson in the camp, she says, “My name's Maria. I'm frightened.” Why, oh why, didn't Wilson respond, “I'm Ajita. I'm a virgo”? Too bad we didn't write the script. Lay then helps herself to Wilson's pipe—which Wilson just a bit earlier had used to masturbate. If she can obtain a pipe you'd think she could get a dildo, but whatever, in prison you have to find your pleasures where you can. And in women-in-prison movies the same holds true—we thought the scene was hilarious. It was merely one of many.

It should be noted that while Wilson is the female lead, and we've shared a couple of racy images of her and highlighted her importance as a trans trailblazer, Lay is the audience draw here. She's unusually beautiful, and director Edoardo Mulargia and the movie's producers know it quite well. She gets the most loving camera work, the wettest shower scene, a nice interlude with Wilson, and goes through the entire final shootout obviously naked beneath her tattered prison tunic and with the top of it hanging wide open. It's not quite Frauen für Zellenblock 9, in which Karine Gambier and company perform their long escape sequence completely starkers, but it's notable just the same.

Hotel Paradis is obviously sexist and exploitative. As we've said before, in the same way blaxploitation movies usually show a racist power structure before the hero shatters it, sexploitation movies sometimes do the same with sexism. Sometimes. Not here. There are additional flaws. Compared to better WIP efforts it lacks the winking sense of humor, the empowerment undercurrent, and the sense of actors having fun while making something they know is ridiculous. There's a hardcore cut of this film with explicit scenes spliced in. It merely amplifies the aforementioned issues, so we suggest you avoid that version. But really, if you avoid Hotel Paradis entirely you'll probably be a better person for it. It premiered in Italy as Orinoco: Prigioniere del sesso in the autumn of 1980, and in Denmark today in 1983.
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Vintage Pulp Jan 28 2024
ABDUCTOR STRAIN
Liking this film will demand very hard work.


We're back to Cheri Caffaro quicker than you thought, finally taking a look at The Abductors, part of a trilogy of films, along with Ginger and Girls Are for Loving, in which she plays government agent Ginger McAllister. The character, who is no James Bond or Emma Peel (budget alone prevents that), usually lounges around sun-drenched climes, but occasionally is called in by her handler to deal with tough cases. This time she's needed to take down a sex trafficking ring. She recruits her pal Laurie Rose as bait, has her swallow a tracking chip, allows her to be kidnapped, and intends to follow her to the heart of the operation. But the plan doesn't quite work out—cut to Caffaro and Rose bound, gagged, and at the mercy of bad men.

Things look dire at that point. There's not much upside in being tied up in a basement in nothing but your panties. However Caffaro and Rose have two advantages. First, they both know karate or something. And second, they both love sex. They don't even have to fake it. These two can get off even with the flabbiest villains. And if their martial arts and sexual prowess don't bring down the crooks, they have outside help from an entire government funded crimefighting organization. In short—they'll be just fine. The movie is less so. In the end you can say about it exactly what you can say about the other two entries in the Ginger McAllister series: it's bad but interesting; it's surprisingly equal opportunity with its nudity; and it showcases a uniquely brave actress in Caffaro. The Abductors premiered today in 1972.
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Vintage Pulp Dec 15 2023
COMING OUT IN AFRIKA
There's no better place to try something new.


This is an interesting but uncredited Italian poster for the Alberto Cavallone directed and written Africasploitation flick Afrika (clever name, right?), which premiered in Italy today in 1973. By now you know exactly what to expect. What's amazing about these set-in-Africa movies, whether Italian, German, British, French, or what-have-you, is that they portray the continent as lawless and cruel (cue gratuitous shot of ox being decapitated) in a way that's bemusingly lacking in self-awareness coming from cultures that murdered one-hundred million inhabitants of those lands in the pursuit of profit.

On the lighter side, if we'd been customs agents anywhere in the tropics during the 1970s, we'd have taken aside every white arrival, looked over their paperwork, and said with a straight face, “It indicates here you boarded the flight with your usual inhibitions, but I notice you don't seem to have any with you now.” If only we had a time machine. With luck we'd have “processed” Anita Strindberg and Yanti Somer. At this point we accept whites-in-the-tropics movies as cinematic exercises in behavioural guardrail smashing. Sometimes those exercises are actually good, loaded with cliché though they may be. However Afrika, while suffering from the same old blind spot, attempts a serious story with a modicum of depth.

Set in Ethiopia, it's about a painter played by Ivano Staccioli who's tempted to stray from his wife when he meets a handsome gay college student played by Andrea Traglia. The studious and poetic Traglia is bullied in school, even raped at one point, and finds sympathy and understanding with Staccioli, and a job as his live-in secretary. This is not an easy household in which to live because its occupants are decadent and neurotic. Staccioli and Traglia's relationship is the sanest thing going on, but needless to say, it will lead to trouble and tragedy. This is all framed by a murder-or-suicide and police investigation, which means the central drama of a forbidden gay affair is told in flashback during interrogations.

We appreciated Cavallone taking a swing at a serious drama, and we enjoyed seeing Maria Pia Luzi, one of Italy's many exploitation stars (Women in Cell Block 7, White Slave Ship), given a chance to act rather than strip, but we can't call the movie good. It isn't the performances—everyone does pretty well in that department, considering the level of writing. It's just that the film is portentous and uninvolving. Take away the anti-Africa bias and it's a noble attempt at important subject matter, but in cinema you don't get points for trying. In our opinion you can give Afrika a pass.
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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
May 20
1916—Rockwell's First Post Cover Appears
The Saturday Evening Post publishes Norman Rockwell's painting "Boy with Baby Carriage", marking the first time his work appears on the cover of that magazine. Rockwell would go to paint many covers for the Post, becoming indelibly linked with the publication. During his long career Rockwell would eventually paint more than four thousand pieces, the vast majority of which are not on public display due to private ownership and destruction by fire.
May 19
1962—Marilyn Monroe Sings to John F. Kennedy
A birthday salute to U.S. President John F. Kennedy takes place at Madison Square Garden, in New York City. The highlight is Marilyn Monroe's breathy rendition of "Happy Birthday," which does more to fuel speculation that the two were sexually involved than any actual evidence.
May 18
1926—Aimee Semple McPherson Disappears
In the U.S., Canadian born evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson disappears from Venice Beach, California in the middle of the afternoon. She is initially thought to have drowned, but on June 23, McPherson stumbles out of the desert in Agua Prieta, a Mexican town across the border from Douglas, Arizona, claiming to have been kidnapped, drugged, tortured and held for ransom in a shack by two people named Steve and Mexicali Rose. However, it soon becomes clear that McPherson's tale is fabricated, though to this day the reasons behind it remain unknown.
1964—Mods and Rockers Jailed After Riots
In Britain, scores of youths are jailed following a weekend of violent clashes between gangs of Mods and Rockers in Brighton and other south coast resorts. Mods listened to ska music and The Who, wore suits and rode Italian scooters, while Rockers listened to Elvis and Gene Vincent, and rode motorcycles. These differences triggered the violence.
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