Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films
Directed by Mark Hartley
Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus were two movie-obsessed cousins from Israel who became Hollywood’s ultimate gate-crashers. Following their own skewed version of the Great American Dream, they bought an already low-rent brand – Cannon Films – and ratcheted up its production to become so synonymous with schlock that the very sight of its iconic logo made audiences boo throughout the 1980s. And yet who could have foreseen how close they came to nearly taking over Hollywood and the UK film industry?
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★★★★ review by Samuel B. Prime on Letterboxd
"If something excites you, be brave. And go! Try to do it good, but do it." - Menahem Golan
Two cousins, their sincere love of cinema, and the collapse of their empire.
Hartley's previous doc (MACHETE MAIDENS UNLEASHED!) fell victim to a sad tragedy in that it spent ninety agonizing minutes making fun of and shaming its subject matter. ELECTRIC BOOGALOO begins with the same regrettable tone, calling the films "silly," "stupid," and "low budget," but after 15 minutes, the narrative changes to one of appreciation. In their time, Golan (the artist) and Globus (the businessman) managed to create and sustain a company that above all ran on heart. Both were expert salesmen and shrewd penny pinchers, but they were in it for the love of the game. Globus is quoted in an archival clip, saying "Cannon is the only company that loves movies." I think he was probably right. Even if this oddly organic combination of passion, naivete, and short-term consideration was their eventual downfall, these were men living in the moment and creating good, weird, action-packed, sensuous, and insane art. My rating is probably too high, but I am relieved beyond words that this film doesn't (entirely) use Golan, Globus, and Cannon as punching bags for cheap jokes. Sure, Dolph admits that he felt embarrassed to participate in MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE, but on the other hand Franco Zeffirelli is practically on the verge of tears when describing his experience making OTELLO, the film he sees as his masterwork and for which - by his own admission - he is deeply indebted to both Golan and Globus.
These guys changed people's lives. That's nothing about which to be cynical.
★★★★ review by Travis Lytle on Letterboxd
"Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films" is a must-see for fans of the neo-exploitation schlocksterpieces made during the 1980s by Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus and their Cannon Film. The documentary, assembled with care by Mark Hartley, charts the rise and fall of Cannon and the two Israeli men behind it all. It is an entertaining look at art, commerce, hubris, and passion.
With vintage clips and contemporary interviews, "Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films" takes a warts-and-all look at the filmmakers and films of the Cannon legacy. The production itself is traditional, but the anecdotes recounted make the documentary completely engrossing. The audience is provided a portrait of two men and a company whose dreams were bigger than their talents. It is a study of outsized pride and passion clashing with taste and economic propriety.
Hartley presents a parade of actors, producers, writers, and directors who, in complete honesty, both lambaste and celebrate their bosses at Cannon. As clips from such films as "Breakin,'" "Lifeforce," and "Over the Top" run between interviews, Cannon is discussed in all its trashy glory.
Not just for film fans, children of the 1980s, or students of cinema, "Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films" is an accessible, amusing, and emotionally rounded documentary. The personalities on display and the stories they tell are entertaining, cautionary, and sometimes spectacular. Hartley's documentary may examine a lightweight subject, but the film is delightfully lively and fully enjoyable.
★★★★½ review by Arielrocks5 on Letterboxd
Apparently Nuclear Man in "Superman 4" was an EX Chippendales dancer and suddenly everything about that character made sense.
(Fascinating to watch the rise and fall of a company produced by two man, with one of them having one thing on his mind; to make as many movies as possible. Didn't matter what it was, just as long as it got made and everyone was working on it.
Sure, most of the stuff they made was pure schlock ((was kinda shocked by the excessive amount of nudity in the first thirty or so minutes with the clips shown off)), but hey, at least they were making money and it was getting made, something that most nowadays struggle with.
Again, I don't watch many documentaries, but this was a damn fine one. Highly recommend checking it out. It's still on Netflix if ya have it.)
★★★★ review by Geoff T on Letterboxd
Admittedly, yes, I am on a bit of a hiatus right now, Hoop-Tober really wore me out. I did however take the time to sit down and watch this documentary.
Electric Boogaloo tells the story about the rise and fall of Cannon Films, one of the defining B-movie studios of the 1980s. Their history is told in detail, how they started as a small indie/arthouse distributor until the Isreali team Golan-Globus bought them, churning out some of the most hilariously bizarre, awful, tasteless and exploitative movies of the decade.
It's all presented in a rather humorous fashion, detailing the the company's practices as they would rush out whatever films they could (predicting them as major blockbusters), announce films far from production and buy off expensive properties (including most of the UK's cinema chains), all of which would combine and eventually lead to their bankruptcy. Golan and Globus really wanted to be one of the big boys, but overspending their profits and a massive over-reliance on quantity over quality more or less pevented that.
What I like the most is the use of clips from much of their works, including stuff like Breakin', Over the Top and various Norris and Bronson action pictures, as well as interviews with stars and directors who regularly worked with them, such as Tobe Hooper, Albert Pynn, Michael Dudikoff and many more. However, some films (namely Cobra and Blood) are barely acknowledged yet alone mentioned, which is a bit of the dissapointment considering the massive cult following of those two.
They may have not understood the workings of the industry so well (Golan in particular), but their passion certainly gave the world some truly memorable and entertaining garbage. All I can is that if you've developed a taste for Cannon's schlock like me, this is a definite and insightful documentary. I would definitely seek it out.
★★★½ review by Mr. DuLac on Letterboxd
They were considered schlockmeisters.
I was just expecting some talking heads accompanied by some nostalgic clips of Cannon Group films' "greatest hits", but we also get a lot of archival footage of not just Golan and Globus but some old interviews and promotional pieces as well.
One of the most memorable pieces has to be the coverage of a black tie event held in a parking structure for the opening of a Chuck Norris film. While almost no one has anything particularly nice to say about the Israeli cousins, you still sense there is some sort of love there.
A nice stroll down nostalgic avenue that also gave me a few ideas for "masterpieces" to watch including one directed by Golan himself called The Apple that looks absolutely "epic".
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