Today: April 21, 2024

Lovely Jon’s Celluloid Obscura: Toughing It Out

Celluloid Osbscura returns, dedicating itself to the more unusual, esoteric Blu Ray and DVD releases that may have escaped your attention.  So, get with it and wallets at the ready for this month’s round up of off radar gems.  Dig in….

I just love cinematic tough guys and there was none tougher than the grand old school bruiser George Raft – so memorable as the menacing coin flipping Rinaldo in the original 1932 Scarface.  Raft’s association with genuine gangsters, such as Bugsy Siegel, further cemented his hard man image, however, this soon became a Tinseltown constriction as his career inevitably hit the skids.  Produced at the twilight of his waning star power in 1949, Red Light (Warner Archive on Demand DVD) sees a rare transformation in the hardcase Raft persona as former hood gone straight Johnny Torno, who dotes on his younger priest brother.  When his sibling falls victim to a revenge killing orchestrated by Raymond ‘Ironside’ Burr’s deplorable ex associate, Torno goes on the rampage with fire and brimstone zeal.  Preciously balancing its noir trappings with an ornate religious sub text, Red Light hits all the correct buttons for a taut B-movie filler on a snug Sunday night.

We keep it bad boy for This Is A Hijack (Code Red DVD), where Biker Movie stalwart Adam Rourke’s hapless crim’ plans a jetliner heist but hasn’t bargained for greasy, out-of-control psychopath Dominic played by the always demented Neville Brand from Tobe Hooper’s delirious Death Trap.  Shot quick n’ straight with a punchy, taut script this is perfect retro fodder for the low rent drive in crowd looking for a 70s fix.

Let’s go over to the UK for wonderful spiv B-thriller Wide Boy (Network DVD) shall we? Chain smoking Sydney Tafler (Alfie) is down at heel Benny, whose borderline criminality takes a disturbing turn when a simple blackmail plan backfires much to the chagrin of his blonde dolly bird Molly (a great sarcastic turn from Susan ‘Fire Maidens From Outer Space’ Shaw).  The chirpy kitchen sink vibe soon dissipates in to ominous dark alleyways and foreboding dread as the duo’s plan dovetails in to deceit and murder.  Part of Network’s never ending British Film Collection, Wide Boy has been rescued from obscurity using the original vault materials for a lovely remastered presentation.

When it comes to iconic Far Eastern ball breakers, you only have to mention the name Bolo to martial arts fans and instant respect will flow your way.  UK imprint 101 Films’ recent Cult Film Collection seems intent on resuscitating all those quick jack video fillers so prevalent in the 90s. With Blood Fight, they capture the muscular one in bone-breaking form as the unbeatable kick boxing killer Chang Lee (The Vietnamese Cobra).  When The Cobra mercilessly destroys his star pupil in the ring (a young Simon Yam), retired pro Masahiro Kai (Yasuaki Kurata) dons the gloves for a no holds barred re-match.  This quirky Japanese Rocky clone was a big rental tape seller back in the day and whilst 101 Films’ transfer is shoddily transferred from a VHS source (a cool thing for retro heads?) the print is fully uncut featuring much full-on gore, mercilessly trimmed by British censors back in the day.

If you’re looking for camp laughs and extraneous ultra violence, look no further than Macho Man (Cine Club DVD) a ridiculous German kung fu action trash fest featuring the pouting wannabe Rene Weller.  Director Alexander Titus Benda ensures that proceedings remain exhaustingly mindless with a plethora of slo-mo rucks in which expendable European stuntmen crash into retro glass tables while Weller gets close to a bevy of topless frauleins, replete with 80s peroxide hairdos.  Yes, it’s a mind melting, late night classic for the fried-brain crew who need to be on midnight movie cruise control…

As we approach the early hours, let’s scrape the barrel even further with the mind bogglingly low rent The Russian Ninja (Movie Gallery DVD) – a jaw-dropping piece of garbage favoured by only true hardcore bad movie scholars.  Originally released as The Russian Terminator, this putrid stinker from Sweden’s incorrigible Mats Helge is inept in just about every department. Never have I witnessed such out of synch dubbing in all my years of psychotronic film going.  The bare bones narrative offers the usual ‘CIA rescuing the scientist’s secret formula’ nonsense while a ridiculous Arnie clone shows up to blast a few poorly choreographed ninjas on a posh country estate.  Helge (responsible for the UK pre-certification video hit The Ninja Mission) nonetheless has created an unintentionally weird action atrocity that countless ‘post irony’ wannabe’s are presently trying to replicate via their crowd funding projects on youtube.

Until next time…..

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.

Previous Story


Next Story

The Wolfpack

Latest from Blog


Memory (2023)

Memory is an exquisite American drama in the tender embrace of Michel Franco’s cinematic prowess.

The Holdovers Unboxing

In any other year, Alexander Payne’s The Holdovers would’ve swept the Academy Awards. But awards be damned. This gentle, poignant comedy is destined for classic status and will surely become a festive

Queen Rock Montreal Unboxing

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Queen remains one of the biggest and most influential rock bands in music history. This year saw their iconic 1981 Montreal concert film unleashed for the first

Banff Mountain Film Festival Tour

Thrilling adventure on the big screen! 2024 UK & Ireland Tour The Banff Mountain Film Festival is bringing thrilling new adventure films to the big screen at venues around the UK and

Kind Hearts & Coronets

75 years after its release, StudioCanal’s crisp and bright 4K UHD restoration makes the prefect gift to mark the film’s Anniversary and the lasting legacy of the Ealing Comedy. Kind Hearts &
Go toTop

Don't Miss


From ultra-stylish visuals, to the cool, jazz soundtrack, and the


If you’ve been following Eureka’s kung fu releases, then their latest