MIFF 2014 Review: Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films (2014) — A Schlock-Till-You-Drop Insight Into One of the Great Bad Studios


Director Mark Hartley has a terrific track record producing documentaries about sub-genres of cult cinema; his first, Not Quite Hollywood, was a fascinating look at the low-budget Australian New Wave films (“Ozploitation”) of the 70’s and 80’s, and that was followed up by Machete Maidens Unleashed!, a look at exploitation films coming out of the Philippines in the 70’s and 80’s. He makes it a trilogy of cult film documentaries with Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films, which focuses on the films produced by Israeli cousins Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, together putting together the Cannon Films production company — a production company famous for their cheap, but cult-favourite exploitation films.

A symbol of excellence.

A symbol of excellence.

Cannon was known for churning out low-budget films at a rapid rate, with a distinct company ethos of quantity over quality. Although universally panned by critics, Golan-Globus stayed in business throughout the 80’s through savvy marketing and by taking advantage of the booming home video market. They produced a large number of popular genre films featuring action (Chuck Norris films Invasion USA and Delta Force), science fiction (Lifeforce, Invaders From Mars), and sequels to pre-existing films (Death Wish, Texas Chainsaw Massacre). They also produced many horror, dance (the titular Electric Boogaloo), and adventure movies. If anything was in the popular zeitgeist of the moment, Cannon was sure to take advantage of it, at minimal cost.

To attain legitimacy, Cannon then began to partake in risky bookkeeping; financing films off the profits of the previous release, which was a haphazard process and ultimately led to them biting off more than they could chew. Those larger risks involved enticing Hollywood stars with larger payouts, with the hope of a larger financial reward for the bigger outlay of production costs. This never came to be; failed, expensive productions such as Sylvester Stallone’s arm-wrestling ‘epic’ Over The Top, Masters of the Universe, and Superman IV (allowing Christopher Reeve creative freedom to return to his iconic role was another mistake), led to Cannon straying from their low-budget business model and would be the eventual death of the company.


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