Category Archives: Pulp fiction in the 70s and 80s

Pulp Friday: Christopher Lee's "X" Certificate

LeeI’ve been holding onto this gem of a horror anthology for a while now with the intention of eventually posting it as one of my Pulp Friday offerings. The death last week of the great Christopher Lee makes this an opportune time to share it.

Christopher Lee’s “X” Certificate was published by Star Books in 1975. The book includes an introduction by the late actor, although it’s doubtful Lee had anything to do with the anthology, which includes stories by Fritz Leiber, Robert Bloch, Richard Matheson, Robert E Howard and Bram Stoker. I’d be surprised if he even knew it existed.

As pulp fiction aficionados will be aware, numerous anthologies like this appeared in the late sixties and seventies, under the imprimatur of well known personalities involved in suspense and horror film, such as Alfred Hitchcock and French director, Roger Vadim.

The cover image may be familiar to fans of Jame Bond movies. It’s from the 1974 film, The Man With the Golden Gun, in which Lee played the hitman, Francisco Scaramanga.

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Pulp Friday: The Chain Reaction

The Chain ReactionLast week I posted on the paperback tie-ins for the first three Mad Max films. Continuing my Australian dystopian road movie theme, today’s Pulp Friday offering is the rare paperback tie-in to the 1980 Australian film, The Chain Reaction.

I wrote about The Chain Reaction in a recent piece for the British Institute on Australian dystopian road films. Not every movie mentioned in that article had, in my opinion, necessarily aged well, but this one certainly had. Billed in some places as Mad Max Meets the China Syndrome (George Miller was associate producer and apparently worked on an early draft of the script), not only is it a great road movie, it’s also an interesting artefact from the time when Australia was less enamoured with being part of America’s nuclear state than we are now.

An earthquake in rural Australia causes a dangerous leak at a nuclear waste disposal site, contaminating the surrounding ground water. A scientist, badly injured in the accident, escapes with knowledge about what has happened and is rescued by a holidaying couple, Larry, an ex-Vietnam Vet mechanic (Steve Bisley, who got the role off the back of his performance as Goose in Mad Max) and his wife, Carmel (Arna-Maria Winchester). The shadowy American company that own the facility dispatch a couple of hired killers to track down and eliminate the scientist and anyone he has had contact with.… Read more

Pulp Friday: The Zebra-Striped Hearse

The Zebra Stripped Hearse

To celebrate the 100th birthday of iconic crime author, Ross Macdonald, today’s Pulp Friday offering is the stunning cover of the 1964 Bantam edition of The Zebra Striped Hearse.

The Zebra Striped Hearse was one of eighteen novels written by Macdonald, a pseudonym for the Canadian writer Kenneth Miller, to feature the private investigator, Lew Archer. The story, first published in 1962, is a decided bent tale of murder and potential multiple identities, set amid the supposed idyllic suburbs of California.

Since his death in 1983, Macdonald’s fame as a writer of hard boiled private investigator tales has tales has reduced somewhat. That’s a pity because in books like The Zebra Striped Hearse, Macdonald, through Archer, interrogated the sin and depravity that existed in the suburbs of San Francisco and Los Angeles.

I have no idea who did the striking cover to this book and would be keen to hear from any Pulp Curry readers who do.

Pulp Friday: The Name of the Game is Death

The Name of the Game is Death

Today’s Pulp Friday offering will be familiar to fans of hardboiled crime fiction, the 1972 edition of The Name of the Game Is Death, by Dan J Marlowe, published by Fawcett Gold Medal.

Although Marlowe is not well known today, aficionados acknowledge he had a major impact on the genre. His books are often compared to Jim Thompson and he influenced writers such as Steven King, and no doubt many others.

I first heard of The Name of the Game is Death during an interview I conducted last year with New Jersey-based Wallace Stroby for issue 17 of Crime Factory (that interview is available in full here). I asked Stroby about some of the lesser-known sixties pulp paperback crime writers who had influenced him, and he nominated Marlowe and, in particular, this book.

Originally published in 1962, The Name of the Game Is Death begins with three criminals pulling a bank heist in Phoenix, Arizona. One of the team is killed in the attempted getaway, another flees to Florida with the money, while the third, the narrator, plans to meet up with him later when police attention has died down. When the accomplice breaks contact, the narrator suspects something is up and travels to the small town from which the accomplice last contacted him, to see for himself what has happened.… Read more

Beat Girls, Love Tribes, Real Cool Cats draft cover & pre-order information

test pulp cover layout-3b (1)

I’m incredibly proud to be able to show you the draft cover to the upcoming book I’ve co-edited with Iain McIntyre, Beat Girls, Love Tribes & Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction & Youth Culture from the 1950s to 1980s.

Iain and I were both keen to do an examination of pulp fiction that went beyond simply focusing on paperback covers, as most pulp fiction related books do and I am sure we and the twenty plus writers who contributed to this tome, have delivered.

Beat Girls is first comprehensive account of the rise of youth culture and mass-market paperback fiction in the postwar period in the US, UK and Australia. It is not just a comprehensive selection of covers, but an in-depth look at the authors, how they worked and what influenced them. It is a must-read for anyone interested in retro and subcultural style and popular fiction.

As the young created new styles in music, fashion and culture, pulp fiction followed their every step, hyping and exploiting their behavior and language for mass consumption. From the juvenile delinquent gangs of the early fifties, through the beats and hippies, on to bikers, skinheads and punks, pulp fiction left no trend untouched. Boasting wild covers and action-packed plots, these books reveal as much about society’s desires and fears as they do about the subcultures themselves.… Read more