I returned to the Festival on Monday for an evening screening of a film I missed catching on Sunday, which means I REALLY must have wanted to see it to be willing to drive back into the city on a weeknight. I did and I’m glad I did because, as a film buff, I’m always fascinated by films that take a look at film.
Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films is a documentary on one of the most prolific film studios of the 1980’s, You may not think you’ve seen a lot of their product, but I assure you, you have. If you’ve watched anything starring Chuck Norris (before TV), Charles Bronson (at the end of his career), or Jean Claude Van Damme, then you’ve probably watched a Cannon Film. Titles like Death Wish (2.3.4. and 5), Missing in Action (three of those), American Ninja (four of them ) and Delta Force (three of them) were all released by Cannon Pictures, the 1980’s equivalent of the 1960’s American International Pictures.
Before you think that Cannon never had anyone the equal of AIP’s Roger Corman, be aware that the following director’s all had films produced or released by Cannon Pictures: Jason Miller, John Cassavetes, Neil Jordan, Tobe Hooper, John Frankenheimer and Franco Zeffirelli! And before you think that all they released was cinematic cheese, here are a few titles that may surprise you: That Championship Season, Grace Quigley, The Company of Wolves, Otello, King Lear, Little Dorrit, Tough Guys Don’t Dance, Love Streams and Runaway Train.
Then again, they did release the Happy Hooker series, the Emmanuelle series, Masters of the Universe, and Breakin’ and its sequel, Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.
Full of archival footage and new interviews, the film is a terrifically entertaining trip through bad-movie memory lane and the story of Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, the men most affiliated with the studio. Israeli filmmakers with a love for and appreciation of Hollywood, Golan was the director and Globus was the money-man. They had a talent for marketing, but not much else. The film takes you from their days as Israel’s top exploitation filmmakers, to their glory days in Hollywood and finally to the collapse of the company – all over a span of only ten years.
There’s something about “B” movies and the glorious insanity that goes into making them. Cheesey? For sure. Entertaining? You bet, as is this documentary.