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Steve Long

A Very Pulp Hero Movie

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I saw the preview when I saw Return of the King last weekend. Showed it to my wife last night (she's a Pulp fan too) and it looks great. I just hope it does well. Pulp period pieces tend to not do well because most folks don't understand the genre, and most movie critics want to know why the subject matter was not updated for modern times.

 

Sorry... enough rambling from me.

 

Aroooo

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Originally posted by Aroooo

I saw the preview when I saw Return of the King last weekend. Showed it to my wife last night (she's a Pulp fan too) and it looks great. I just hope it does well. Pulp period pieces tend to not do well because most folks don't understand the genre, and most movie critics want to know why the subject matter was not updated for modern times.

 

Sorry... enough rambling from me.

 

Aroooo

 

Most movie critics these days have their heads so far up their

Fourth Point of Contact that they wouldn't recognize a period

piece (decent or not), much less understand the fact that

they're not supposed to be updated for modern times.

 

Space Cadet :cool:

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It's been a while

 

Originally posted by Aroooo

I saw the preview when I saw Return of the King last weekend. Showed it to my wife last night (she's a Pulp fan too) and it looks great. I just hope it does well. Pulp period pieces tend to not do well because most folks don't understand the genre, and most movie critics want to know why the subject matter was not updated for modern times.

 

I, too, hope it lives up to its promise.

 

The last good pulp movie I saw was Disney's "Atlantis: The Lost Empire." You have to go back to the trio of "The Rocketeer," "The Phantom," and "The Shadow" before that. You're right about the critics. Reviewers of "Atlantis" kept trying to compare it with Japanese animation, never realizing its family relationship to "King Solomon's Mines" and "The Lost World."

 

Other films are pulp movies in disguise. "Big Trouble in Little China" and "The Last of the Dogmen" (good Western) fall into this category. And "Dark City" certainly had its pulpish elements. I'd probably include "Pirates of the Caribbean" here, too, because of its army of zombie pirates.

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Re: It's been a while

 

Originally posted by Kevin Scrivner

I, too, hope it lives up to its promise.

 

The last good pulp movie I saw was Disney's "Atlantis: The Lost Empire." You have to go back to the trio of "The Rocketeer," "The Phantom," and "The Shadow" before that. You're right about the critics. Reviewers of "Atlantis" kept trying to compare it with Japanese animation, never realizing its family relationship to "King Solomon's Mines" and "The Lost World."

 

That was probably the reason i avoided "Atlantis" -- that and the reviewer i read who said it was one of the most racist films he'd ever seen. (How could a people forget how to read their own language?) Then again a lot of the pulp writers WERE racist, often viciously so. The anime comparisons were more a case of films like "princess Mononoke" having raised the bar for cel animation so far that Disney could not keep up.

 

I ADORED "The Shadow". I loved the idea of a secret conspiracy of do-gooders, Alec baldwin wasn't bad as a hero with a tortured, secret past who nontheless perissted in doing the right thing in spite of all temptation, and the ending was absolutely delicious. And it had ian McKellan in it! That it never made it at the box office is a great pity, and I'd buy a copy on DVD if i could find it.

 

Other films are pulp movies in disguise. "Big Trouble in Little China" and "The Last of the Dogmen" (good Western) fall into this category. And "Dark City" certainly had its pulpish elements. I'd probably include "Pirates of the Caribbean" here, too, because of its army of zombie pirates.

 

Many have described ian Fleming as a pulp writer after the age of the pulp writers (he certainly made more money and more best-seller lists). The James Bond series certainly has many pulp characteristics, from the incredibly competent and seemingly omniversally appealing hero (How Bond can get even his enemies into bed with him is one of the great mysteries of the universe) to the outlandish plots of his adversaries, a tendency exacerbated in the movies -- the first few, which stuck close to the novels and were made during Fleming's lifetime, were restrained by comparison to the outlandish villains and apocalyptic schemes of the Bond films of the '70s. In a sense Michael Myers is satritizing the pulps as well as bond with the Austin Powers series.

 

One could also describe the original Star Wars trilogy as pulp SF with mystical trappings, that just happened to latch onto something universal. the fact is that many of the themes that are common to popular fiction, especially to the kind that is turned into Hollywood movies, originated with the pulps. every genres, from fantasy and science fiction to superheroes, was influenced by the writers of the '20s and '30s, whether or not they are willing to admit it.

 

And if Stephen King had been a contemporary of lovecraft he would have been doing exactly the same sorts of work lovecraft was doing. The only difference between the two is that King wins more awards in his lifetime, gets filmed more often, and makes a ton more money than Lovecraft ever did in his lifetime. Lovcraft was a pulp writer. So was Howard. So was Robert Bloch back in the day. And so it goes. The infleunce of the pulps is inescapable.

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Epiphany about Dark Champions and the pulps

 

Okay. I don't mean to hijack the thread, and I'll start another one somewhere if it warrants it, but reading about this film just helped me realize what Dark Champions is about. It's the pulp stories, brought forward to the modern day -- not necessarily their attitudes, but the kinds of stories they tell. They were about things like street level crime, costumed crimefighters, private investigators, the Untouchables, reporters, international adventurers, espionage, and the like. This realization hit me like a ton of bricks.

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Re: Re: It's been a while

 

Originally posted by Michael Hopcroft

That was probably the reason i avoided "Atlantis" -- that and the reviewer i read who said it was one of the most racist films he'd ever seen. (How could a people forget how to read their own language?) [/b]

 

How's your Middle English? ;)

 

From "The Three Deid Pollis",

 

O sinfull man, in to this mortall se,

Quhilk is the vaill of murnyng and of cair,

With gaistly sicht behold oure heidis thre,

Oure holkit ene, oure peilit pollis bair.

As ye ar now, in to this warld we wair,

Als fresche, als fair, als lusty to behald:

Quhan thow lukis on this suth examplair

Off thy self, man, thow may be richt unbald.

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Re: Re: It's been a while

 

Originally posted by Michael Hopcroft

One could also describe the original Star Wars trilogy as pulp SF with mystical trappings, that just happened to latch onto something universal.

It didn't just happen - it was a result of Lucas reading Campbell's The Hero With A Thousand Faces, an analysis of the elements which make up the universal story.

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>>>>The last good pulp movie I saw was Disney's "Atlantis: The Lost Empire.

 

You don't consider the Mummy movies to be pulp? Or you don't consider them to be good? Or is it that you haven't seen them as yet?

 

I'm very big on pulp stories. I've been running a pulp game for the past two years now. Atlantis, The Mummy movies, the Indy Trilogy all live on my shelf in DVD. Rocketeer, Phantom, and Shadow are all waiting in the wings for me to pick up cash. I own Big Trouble in Little China but don't consider it pulp. It's a very direct pastiche of HK action films which may have been influenced by pulp but are more influenced by Asian mythology.

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It's really an interesting question considering what is pulp and what is not. Strictly speaking, anything not set between the world wars, with lots of wild tech or magic, with western protagonists taking on either alien threats, mad scientists or ancient magic is not pulp.

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You don't consider the Mummy movies to be pulp? Or you don't consider them to be good? Or is it that you haven't seen them as yet?

 

===

 

Frankly, I forgot about them. I saw and enjoyed them both, and yes, they could be considered pulpish. So could "The Mask of Zorro" since Zorro is a quintessential pulp character. Simon Templar, the Saint, was originally a creature of the 1920s and '30s.

 

Which brings up an interesting point. The Western is the one pulp subgenre that has survived intact. Despite pulp's sporadic success at the movies, actual pulp fiction is hard to find. Not many reprints lately of the Shadow, the Spider, Doc Savage, G-8, or the innumerable detective and aviator heroes. Tarzan and Fu Manchu have become politically incorrect and aren't often seen around despite their fame. Sure, the influence of the various pulp heroes is wide in pop culture and you can find their adventures on the Internet or occasionally on the dusty back shelves of used book stores. But they're a historical curiosity to most readers.

 

But the Western is still going strong. The works of Zane Grey, Louis L'Amour, and others are still prominently displayed on bookstore and library shelves. Many classic films ("Stagecoach," "Destry Rides Again," "3:10 to Yuma") are based on the novels and short stories of pulp writers. Audiences who look cross-eyed at the "Sky Captain" trailer will watch or read a Western and never realize they're participating in pulp. And Zorro, a sub-subgenre of the Western, is still a viable commercial property.

 

I find the mention of James Bond interesting. How broadly do we define "pulp"? Both Sherlock Holmes and the Three Musketeers were introduced to the world serially in magazines. Could they be considered pulp fiction? What about the science fiction and supernatural tales by the likes of Rudyard Kipling, Arthur Conan-Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, and other writers whose better-known works are considered "literature"? In the pulps, the works of new authors such as Lovecraft and Burroughs were introduced by ripping good yarns by authors from the previous generation.

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I'm not so certain that Westerns as pulp have survived unscathed. Pulp really is about the Hero and his opportunities to be heroic. Much of today's Westerns are about the anti-hero who comes through town as force of nature killing all the bad guys just because but not really redeeming himself or acting heroic. These are perfectly good stories and I enjoy them greatly, but to me they are just not pulp. So that means drop any Sergio Leone film, Pale Rider, Unforgiven etc. Great stories all but not pulp. Quigley Down Under, on the other hand, is about the quintessential pulp cowboy. Quigley is a Hero, capital H, with a shining smile and a "howdy ma'am" and instead of blazing six-shooters, a really REALLY big gun ;>.

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It is true that the Western as a genre has gone through different phases. I read one Western written in the late Forties that was essentially a hard-boiled detective tale set on the prairie. You could almost see the cynical hero's trenchcoat poking out from beneath his chaps.

 

My point, however, was that pulp Westerns are still in print, as are the famous movies based on them. Grey, L'Amour, Luke Short, Jr., Max Brand, Johnston McCulley, and Clarence Mumford were pulp authors by any definition. We remember the characters they created even when we can't recall the writers themselves.

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Originally posted by Barghest

Pulp really is about the Hero and his opportunities to be heroic.

 

You're kidding, aren't you?

 

First, Horror was a Pulp genre too. Very few of Lovecraft's heroes would fit your definition - for very long, anyway.

 

Second, the Hard-boiled Detective was a Pulp convention. Characters like Sam Spade are quite straightforward anti-heroes.

 

Finally, of course, there is the other great survivor of the Pulp genres: ROMANCE!!!

 

Alan

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I tend to think the characteristics of pulp fiction are that it's concerned with genre conventions more than anything else, and that it's written for a common-denominator, mass-market audience. Modern examples are romance novels, adventure serials like Mack Bolan, licensed fiction (like my own Ultima novels), many horror novels in the 80's, many fantasy novels in the 90's, and comic books.

 

But of course in the context of Sky Captain, we're really talking about the nostalgic sub-genre revived by Indiana Jones and Star Wars. George Lucas, my hat's off to ya. :)

 

-AA

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With movies like these and the Carnivale series on HBO, any chance of bumping up the release date on Pulp Hero? I know Dark Champions is a sentimental favorite of yours, but doesn't it have less mass appeal and isn't it a sub-genre of Pulp Hero?

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Originally posted by Tempuswolf

With movies like these and the Carnivale series on HBO, any chance of bumping up the release date on Pulp Hero? I know Dark Champions is a sentimental favorite of yours, but doesn't it have less mass appeal and isn't it a sub-genre of Pulp Hero?

 

Thats a debatable question. The 'pulp' genre is generally considered 1920's-40's adventure. The classic serials of Tarzan, John Carter, The Shadow, etc. Dark Champions (as I recall) is more modern day heroic level genre. James Bond, Batman, Daredevil and such. If you take that as a generalized starting point, I think Dark Champs has more mass appeal than pulp. But thats just my opinion :)

 

Aroooo

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No Assault, I am not kidding.

 

Lovecraft is horror and not what I would really call pulp. He's in the right era but he has far more in common with Poe than Burroughs.

 

Pulp had Spicy Stories. Romance is a different animal entirely.

 

I will grant you the hard-boiled detective. I will raise you the cowboy tales, the air ace tales, the lost world tales, the mysterious crime fighter tales, the great white hunter tales, the king of the jungle tales, and space opera which is wholly pulp. All of those rest firmly on the heroic.

 

I've been reading pulp for twenty-five years thanks to a great uncle who had tons of Burroughs and Dent. I picked up Gibson shortly after that. My first fiction was pulp because I enjoyed reading it so much. I realized early on that I couldn't sell it because the glory days of that style were long gone. I moved on to SF, Space Opera primarily, because it still carries those tropes. I am firmly in the corner of the heroic tale and pulp is, for the very great majority, heroic in nature.

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