Today: February 25, 2024

Lovely Jon’s Celluloid Obscura: Wild, Wild West

It’s that time of the month again as Celluloid Osbscura returns, dedicated to the more unusual, esoteric Blu Ray and DVD releases that may have passed your attention. My metal detector is primed and ready to magnetise those interesting, multi-genre releases for the more adventurous cine-philes out there.

The morbid, revisionist westerns of Sam Peckinpah and Budd Boetticher redefined the ‘golden age’ historical allegory of Hays Code era Hollywood with a dark patina of negativity and blurred characterisations.  However, the benchmark of turning tides must lie with Anthony Mann’s extraordinary 1958 masterpiece Man Of The West (Eureka Blu Ray – UK). An eloquently grizzled Gary Cooper (coming on like Michael Keaton on Barbs) encounters his former gang, led by uber grouch Lee J. Cobb, whilst hopelessly trying to go straight.  Miles ahead of the ‘men out of time’ sub genre, Man Of The West offers gritty realism alongside sadistic threat, represented by Jack Hawaii 5-O Lord’s unbalanced psychopath forcing world weary madam to strip.

More old school Hollywood bravado from Sterling Hayden and Joan Crawford in the seriously cool Johnny Guitar (Olive Blu Ray – US) where Hayden’s wise cracking ‘slinger faces off against a quartet of killers.  Crawford’s tough as nails bar owner is script perfect and when she strips on her holster it all kicks off in the best western tradition.  Hayden manages to keep his roll ups closely glued to his lips giving the ‘less is more’ technique his best to complement Crawford’s spitfire delivery.

Keeping the female flavour, the Italian produced Lola Colt (Golden Star Blu Ray – US) features sexy African American songstress Lola Falana as the eponymous heroine who arrives in the corrupt town of Sant’Anna with a groovy song and dance routine.  Considered a long lost obscurity amongst Spaghetti Western aficionados, Lola Colt has its moments but only really starts firing when Lola briefly dons a super slick all in one and takes on the evil town boss.

Maintaining the Macaroni Western vain, Navajo Joe (Kino Lorber Classics Blu Ray – US) has Burt Reynolds‘ Native Indian gunslinger going face to face with a nasty bunch of head hunters led by perennial Euro bad guy Aldo Sambrell. Sergio ‘Django‘ Corbucci keeps the narrative urgent and mean with a relentless body count and rousing score courtesy of maestro Ennio Morricone.

We keep it Italiano for the action packed crime thriller Stunt Squad (Raro Blu Ray – US). The great underrated Marcel Bozzuffi (The French Connection) leads a special tactical motor bike riding crime squad in ridding the city of its most dangerous criminals while in the grip of a ruthless band of terrorists. Cue slo-mo explosions, impressive stunt work, shocking ultra violence and a super funky score from Stelvio Cipriani.

Also from Raro is the hyperbolic sex horror oddity Werewolf Women. Annik Borel believes she is the ancestor of a lycanthropic sorceress whilst undergoing psycho analysis for a deep rooted sexual trauma. Dreams and reality blur in to a neurosis of confused identity, however, the murder of her stuntman boyfriend leads to revenge and insanity. Helmed by sleaze master Rino Di Silvestro, this adults only sexy shocker is surprisingly poetic and morbid with a stand out turn from Borel as the tragic ennui.

Until the next time good people….

Lovely Jon

DJ and video archivist Lovely Jon is part of the groundbreaking and influential film/DJ collaboration “Jigoku” and has cemented his reputation as one of the foremost collectors of rare 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s underground film and film soundtracks.

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