Sunday, August 13, 2017

Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films

Written, co-edited, and directed by Mark Hartley, Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films is about the film studio that was known for releasing low-budget to medium-budget films during the 1980s as it was run by the cousins of Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus who would make the studio successful but also notorious. The film is a documentary that explores the studio’s rise and eventual fall in the 1990s as it feature interviews with the many actors and filmmakers who were involved in the films made by the studio. The result is a fascinating and exciting film from Mark Hartley.

In the 1980s, the independent studio known as Cannon Films were creating films that catered to a demographic that just wanted loud, high-octane action, schlock-based films with cheesy special effects, movies with ladies with gorgeous breasts, and all sorts of crazy things all in the name of just wanting to be entertaining. Running this studio were Israeli cousins Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus as they were about presenting any financier with money with ideas they believe would make money and the financiers would give it to them not knowing what they would get. Much of the output of the studio ranged from genre-based films as well as a few auteur-based films from such filmmakers as Jean-Luc Godard, Robert Altman, John Cassavetes, Barbet Schroeder, Godfrey Reggio, and Nicholas Roeg.

Though the studio was founded in the late 1960s by Dennis Friedland and Christopher C. Dewey as a distributor to Swedish porn films re-dubbed in English and later getting success through the release of John G. Avildsen’s film Joe. It was when Golan and Globus that would buy the studio in 1979 for half-a-million dollars as they initially use it for the films that Golan had directed as well as other films. Much of the film feature interview with not just the people who worked at Cannon with Golan and Globus but also filmmakers such as Tobe Hooper, Franco Zeffirelli, John G. Avildsen, Albert Pyun, and Boaz Davidson who made films for the studio. Even actors such as Catherine Mary Stewart, Robert Forster, Cassandra Petersen, Bo Derek, Olivia d’Abo, Michael Dudikoff, Sybil Danning, Franco Nero, and Molly Ringwald talk about their own experiences working on a film under the Cannon Films banner.

Director Mark Hartley would go for something straightforward with the interviews with the aid of cinematographer Garry Richards while he and co-editors Jamie Blanks and Sara Edwards would compile many films from the Cannon library to showcase its history. Notably in how it rose through a brief partnership with MGM in the early 80s before becoming completely independent where financial deals with foreign financiers by selling them posters and big billboards for films that were either made or not as they would use the Cannes Film Festival for these buys. Golan was the filmmaker who cared about his product as he would tell the filmmakers working for him what he wants while Globus was the man running the business as both of them would sell their products to international buyers and make a lot of money along the way. They would use the money to make films and whatever money is made from that film would go into another production. For a few years, it would work but they had a hard time gaining respectability from Hollywood due to the films that were made as well as being a serious competition to the studios.

Hartley would play into the downfall of the studio not just through the studio’s attempt for respectability and needing to compete with studios despite having a major advantage in the international market. It was through some big-budget flops as films like Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, Masters of the Universe, and Golan’s Over the Top starring Sylvester Stallone that would hurt the studio. The financial issues of Cannon would affect other films in the making until 1989 where a deal with the Italian financier Giancarlo Parretti would end up being the end due to Parretti’s financial schemes as Golan and Globus parted ways where the former formed a new studio as the two competed against with one another by producing a film each related to the Lambada dance craze in Golan’s The Forbidden Dance and Globus’ Lambada were released on the same day as both films flopped.

With the help of sound recordist Jock Healy, Hartley would use sound from other films as well as showcase things that help play into Cannon’s rise and fall but also the appreciation for the films by those who were involved and such. The film’s music by Jamie Blanks is terrific as it’s mostly a low-key electronic score that play into some of the over-the-top music of those films.

Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films is an incredible film from Mark Hartley. Not only is it an entertaining documentary about one of the most creative studios in cinema but also the two men who were willing to stand out and give people something they could enjoy no matter how bad some of those films were. In the end, Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films is a remarkable film from Mark Hartley.

© thevoid99 2017


Dell said...

This doc was a blast to watch. Lots of trips down bad movie memory lane and lots of behind the scenes info, too. Glad you enjoyed this one.

thevoid99 said...

I like a lot of those films from Cannon. They were fun movies. Plus, what guy wouldn't enjoy those movies with Sylvia Kristel? Man, she was beautiful. I often prefer her more than Bo Derek. Bo maybe a 10 but... Kristel goes up to 11.