I’m sure it’s pretty obvious from this Pulp Appeal article, but I love Akira Kurosawa’s movies.
Drunken Angel is one of my favorite films by acclaimed Japanese director Akira Kurosawa, who is mainly known in the west for his samurai films, particularly Seven Samurai and Yojimbo. Drunken Angel is an earlier film, the first collaboration between Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune, probably one of the most widely known Japanese actors outside his home country. He went on to star in 15 other Kurosawa films, including both the classic Seven Samurai and Rashomon, the latter frequently cited as one of the greatest films ever made.
Drunken Angel is the story of the broken-down, curmudgeonly Doctor Sanada, played by perennial Kurosawa compatriot Takashi Shimura, and his ministrations to the poor in the slums of post-WWII Tokyo. The film’s plot begins with Toshiro Mifune, a low-ranking yakuza gangster named Matsunaga, seeking out the doctor to treat a gunshot wound. In the process, Sanada diagnoses Matsunaga…
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In today’s Pulp Consumption, Matt highlights the 1997 movie L.A. Confidential.
L.A. Confidential is a 1997 film based on a novel by James Ellroy, set in the 1950s but filmed in a very ’90s style. It is a master class in adaptation, taking what many people thought was an unfilmable book and boil it down to its essential elements. In many ways it also acts as a spiritual successor to that other great Los Angles noir film, Chinatown.
At first blush, the story is that of two competing story lines. Gangsters are being killed or run out of town in the wake of Mickey Cohen’s imprisonment, as evidently someone is consolidating power in his absence. There’s also been a massacre at a local diner, evidently an armed robbery gone wrong. Three very different types of policeman get wrapped up in the investigations, eventually learning that they are more interconnected than you would think. There’s Bud White, played by Russel Crowe…
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In today’s article, I talk a little bit about HBO’s True Detective.
True Detective was a short-lived HBO anthology series, with each season covering a different plot, sort of like American Horror Story on FX. That’s where the comparisons with the longer-lived show end. True Detective combines multiple sub-genres within pulp, including noir, saucy sex, and supernatural horror, and uses a framing device of police interviews to weave together a complex non-linear narrative into a coherent whole, in much the same way that Quentin Tarantino and Christopher Nolan have done with Pulp Fiction and Memento, respectively. This sort of device shows up frequently in literature and film, including pulp, though it becomes far more widespread after Citizen Kane and Rashomon.
The two main characters are Louisiana detectives investigating the possible resurgence of a dormant serial killer. The show is set against the backdrop of a dilapidated and decaying urban infrastructure filled with corruption, decadence, and possible devil worship, all…
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A new column debuts this week. Similar to Pulp Appeal, but focused on recently consumed media and its connections to pulp.
This is the first in a new series of articles to add into our rotation. After six months of weekly Pulp Appeal articles, it felt like a good time to add in a new, shorter article series, one in which we talk about pulp we’ve recently consumed. And serendipitously, I just finished watching John Wick Chapter 2.
John Wick, deftly played by Keanu Reeves, is a modern day action noir antihero. He’s heavy on the action end of things, but the basic conceit of the story is definitely noir. He’s a retired professional assassin who is pretty much James Bond if Bond was for sale to the highest bidder. This sort of antihero is popular in the modern media, what with video games like the Hitman series, movies that star Jason Statham (seriously, almost everything that guy has starred in from The Transporter to Fate of the Furious), and…
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We’d be lying if we said we weren’t super excited that Luke Spooner/Carrion House did the cover for issue two of Broadswords and Blasters. The image you see is based on one of the stories, “Feathered Death” by Steve Cook.
We are still working on finalizing Issue 2 but plan to have it available for preorder by the end of the month and available for general order by middle of July.
In the mean time you can check out issue 1 here!
Today I talk about H. Rider Haggard and his influence on pulp fiction.
Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress – http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/ggbain.06516/
H. Rider Haggard was not really a pulp fiction author, having been a “respectable” author of Victorian literature whose first stories were published in literary magazines in the late 1870s. He was a lawyer but paid more attention to his writing, probably for the best as he was an excellent writer. So you may ask yourself why I’m talking about a Victorian author who was published in the slicks, whose work predates the height of pulp fiction as a trend. Like Rudyard Kipling, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Edgar Allan Poe, it’s because his work had an outsized impact not only on pulp fiction, but fiction in general.
His most famous creation, the English explorer Allan Quatermain, was introduced in the 1885 novel King Solomon’s Mines. While there are earlier examples of Lost World fiction, including Journey to the Center of…
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In today’s Pulp Appeal, Matt introduces Jirel of Joiry by C.L. Moore, one of the more famous women authors of pulp fiction.
C.L. Moore, stands out as one of the godparents of sword and sorcery and science-fiction, and nowhere is this more apparent than in her creation, Jirel of Joiry. Jirel stands out for several reasons as a character of the Golden Age of Pulp. She is a female character being written by a female writer, a rarity for the time. (While there were other women writing for the pulps at the time, a large percentage of them were writing hard-boiled detective stories, not fantasy). She is a creature of her passions, frequently overcome with rage that dictate her actions. She is also placed in a historic setting, in this case medieval France.
Jirel is a noblewoman, to be sure, but one that is more likely to don armor and meet her foes head-on then to sit behind her castle walls and busy herself with embroidery. In the…
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In today’s Pulp Appeal, I talk briefly about Erle Stanley Gardner, the creator of Perry Mason.
You can’t read pulp fiction, particularly gumshoe detective stories, without stumbling across Erle Stanley Gardner. The guy was such a prolific writer that the eighty, yes EIGHTY, novels he wrote featuring his most famous character, Perry Mason, don’t even account for half of his total bibliography. Holy crap.
Perry Mason is one of the most iconic lawyers in American pop culture. Fun fact: Ozzy Osbourne has a heavy metal song about the character. Before the original tv series run in the 1950s–60s, there were no filmed legal dramas. Of course, you say, because it was the 1950s and there were few tv shows. Yes, but nearly every trope of every legal drama that has come since was copied from the show and the novels upon which it was based. Perry Mason wasn’t just an iconic television legal drama; it was THE archetype for everything from Columbo to Law & Order
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In today’s Pulp Appeal, I briefly cover Zorro.
Millionaire playboy whose identity is known to only a few puts on a black costume and mask to parade around at night, ensuring that justice and peace is maintained as well as possible in the face of corruption, political meddling, and law enforcement incompetence.
No, not Batman. This is the story of Zorro, the fox, a thorn in the side of the early 19th Century Mexican government of California. But despite the parallels to the caped crusader, the story of Zorro more closely parallels that of the English hero Robin Hood and, more directly, that of Sir Percy Blakeney, the Scarlet Pimpernel, created by Baroness Orczy about 15 years before the first Zorro story was written. Because of the existence of Robin Hood, you can’t really say that Johnston McCulley, creator of Zorro, stole the idea of the masked hero with the noble alibi from Orczy, but the parallels are…
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Today Matt shares his feelings of Elric, a character I have literally never read. I keep meaning to rectify that, but never do.
art by Robert Gould
I can pinpoint exactly when I first came across Elric, the doomed albino sorcerer-king of Melniboné. I was a freshman in high school, and there, among the rest of the science-fiction and fantasy books in the school library were two collections of Michael Moorcock’s most famous creation. In retrospect, that is probably the best and worst time to be exposed to that particular character.
Elric is brooding and introspective, at the same time sickened by the traditions he stems from while simultaneously a product of them. Unlike other pulp heroes, who conquer and strive for a kingdom of their own, Elric is born into nobility and abdicates that responsibility. He is the product of a decadent race in their twilight years, having gone from a world-spanning kingdom to being reduced to a single island. He spends as much time entreating sorcerous entities as he does battling…
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