SIFF 41: How Trashy Movies Paved Our Future

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Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films

The story of Israeli cousins Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus is steeped in the American Dream.  Menahem being the dreamer and creative powerhouse, and Yoram being the staunch business man, the two acquired Cannon films in the late 70’s and pioneered a whole new level of trashy, exploitative filmmaking.

If you’re like me and many of my friends who were children of the 80’s, the Cannon logo alone meant so many things.  Those things being hardcore action, lots of blood and guts, ass kicking, and boobs.  Every Cannon film made sure that you got not only the soup and salad, but some badass breadsticks besides.

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Without Cannon films, we wouldn’t have CHUCK NORRIS!!!

Known primarily for their own style of action films they were also responsible for their own stable of action stars such as Charles Bronson (Death Wish 2-80), Michael Dudikoff (American Ninja), and the great Chuck Norris (Missing in Action, Invasion USA, Delta Force).  Cannon’s churn and burn mentality was like throwing spaghetti at the wall, if the couple pieces didn’t stick, eventually a nice long one will and that will make it all better.

Golan and Globus wasted nothing financially (finished projects excluded), every dollar that was begged and borrowed was put up on that screen.  There were no expense accounts or elaborate Hollywood dinners, they would steal employees lunches just to have something to eat while pitching their films to foreign distributors in the Cannon offices.  These men lived the dream.

Cousins Menahem Golan and Yorum Globus

Cousins Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus

Of course the quality of their films were lackluster, just like the spaghetti analogy, for every two or five bombs, they’d put out something that would put them into the black.  The documentary’s director Mark Hartley knows a thing or two about exploitation films and could even be considered a modern day aficionado of the genres based on his last two films Not Quite Hollywood: the Story of Ozploitation films and Machete Maidens Unleashed.  Both of which are great watches.

The film’s narrative is streamlined from the cousin’s early beginnings in Israel to their takeover of Cannon films.  The story is told through the wild interviews of those on both sides of the camera. Stars such as Olivia d’Abo, Bo Derek, Lucinda Dickey, Michael Dudikoff, Richard Chamberlain, and Dolph Lundgren tell their tales of working for the notorious production company.  Everyone seems to have made peace with their roles in the company’s history, but some still harbor anger towards the men who many referred to as slave drivers on the sets.

As a documentary about movies that I care about and many others in my generation do as well, this was an entertaining and fun retrospective on a company that paved the way for the new action films of this century.

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