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Good Pulp Movies to watch


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  • 2 months later...

Trancers (1985) made by the same company, and with some of the same stars, has a Pulp feel especially in the beginning despite being a Time Travel movie.

TRANCERS could be a mini-campaign for Hero System.  A lot of the EMPIRE films could be.


"Dry hair's for squids," is a line around these parts.  The weird retro 50s feel of the future scenes clinch the pulp feel.

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I have to recommend one of the seminal pulp-era film serials, the twelve-part Daredevils of the Red Circle from Republic Studios (1939). Besides its quality, one thing that sets it apart is that it features a team of protagonists with their own specialties and fighting styles.


You can watch the entire serial on the file-sharing website, Daily Motion: http://www.dailymotion.com/playlist/x2t78f_Mister_Curious_daredevils-of-the-red-circle-1939/1#video=x13un0v

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

If you like pulp-era sci-fi, such as Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers,

is now on YouTube. This is an animated movie created by Filmation in 1979, which was the basis for their watered-down NBC Saturday-morning cartoon series. The movie itself was finally shown in its entirety on prime-time television in 1982.


This is one of the most faithful adaptations of the style and characters of the original comic strips ever committed to film, much more mature than the series version. The voice acting is top-notch, and the animation is high quality and ground-breaking for the era.


A VHS version of the movie has been uploaded to some websites in the past, but this upload is reportedly from a rare laserdisc rip and is of higher quality.

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Noir always struck me as rather cynical at its core. Pulp adventure, on the other hand, is almost naively optimistic in its belief that righteousness always wins out.


In a mystery writing workshop I took, they described Noir (as opposed to other forms of mystery stories) this way:

Structure of Noir:

Noir is the most realistic of all subgenres of mystery.

1. Urban setting. And it is crime-ridden.

2. It's dark, gritty, sensory-filled and nasty.

3. Character-focused in relationship to the setting.

4. The ending: the crime gets resolved, but it's not pretty and it's rarely uplifting.

5. Voice is off the charts: deep, resonant, powerful, worth listening to. A riveting storyteller telling you a horrible, horrible story.


Other things about Noir (not necessarily the case):

1. Often the main character is a vigilante or someone outside the law.

2. It's the anti-cozy.

3. It rarely has a moral compass. Sometime the moral compass is broken. Morals don't exist at all in most noir stories. Morals are for people who have money, time, a "real life." They can afford it.

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Big Trouble in Little China

Most film noir of the era

The Buster Crabbe pulp sci fi serials, Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon

The Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan films(rated R for retro-era racism)

There's some HK films set in the 1920s or 1930s in Japanese occupied Manchuria or Colonial Hong Kong.  Jet Li or Donnie Yen stuff. 

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The Librarian Trilogy and the ten episode sequel television programme The Librarians


Perpetual student, Flynn Carsen is recruited by a mystical secret library underneath the New York Metropolitan Library, to be the new Librarian. He is sent around the world to retrieve dangerous mystical artifacts and stop them falling into the wrong hands. Sort of like Indiana Jones, if he didn't need the gun or the whip because he was the smartest, most well-educated man in the world.

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  • 4 weeks later...

The ones you picked were great choices and easily should get you (and your players) into the mood, however I'll throw in a second vote for Secret of the Incas -- if you want to see the movie that Lucas and Spielberg pretty much ripped off to make Raiders of the Lost Ark, this is it.  Complete to the leather jacket and the fedora, and beam of light in the hidden treasure/map room.  Plus, it's got Charlton Heston in it, and his work was usually worth a glance.


I'll also second The Librarian movies -- they're campy, and get progressively worse as you go through the three of them in terms of acting and plotting -- but they've got some interesting ideas in them and most of the pulp tropes make an appearance sooner or later.  If they moved a little faster, and such things were still made in the modern day, they would have potentially made good cliffhanging serials to show before the main picture show.  ;-)


High Road to China and King Soloman's Mines, in my opinion, are pretty much on a par with The Librarian series as far as acting goes, but lots of ideas and scenery there!  Even something like Wild Wild West (the movie -- which is really more steampunk than anything else) has the evil mastermind/wierd science thing going which is pretty classic as pulp.

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