From Stuart Samuels’ Midnight Movies to Mark Hartley’s Not Quite Hollywood, the tales of the people behind some of the best-worst films ever projected are often fascinating and engaging in a way a big budget making of rarely is.
Continuing this trend, the excellently titled Electric Boogaloo, tells the story of Cannon Films, one of the studios that emerged into the disarray of the post-studio system, pre-blockbuster era of Hollywood and proceeded to gain a reputation for releasing the un-releasable.
Mark Hartley is once again in the director’s chair and the feel of the movie is similar to his previous ‘Ozploitation’ doc with a series of engaging, entertaining and informative talking heads talking about a representative selection of the studio’s films.
Before that though we are introduced the two men who gave Cannon its reputation, Israeli cousins Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus. The duo gained a reputation as Israel’s premier filmmakers before making the move to the US and buying into Cannon – this whole sequence sets the scene for what’s to come with a choice quote describing the overbearing Golan as being “Like Jabba The Hutt… if he were on meth”.
From there the film’s chronology gets somewhat confused but it loosely focuses on the period from the late 1970s through to the mid to late 1980s when the Golan-Globus version of Cannon went through an impressive rise and decline.
The movies focused on start with The Apple (a genuinely fascinatingly insane looking musical intended to ape The Who and Ken Russell’s Tommy), the Death Wish sequels, the ‘discovery’ of Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme and onto the likes of Superman IV and Masters of the Universe.
While somewhat run of the mill in style what carries the movie along are the stories from the various cast and crew members interviewed.
These paint the cousins, and Golan in particular, as exceptionally misguided if devoted fans of film who may have been fairly horrendous to work for and have very little idea of what would make a good movie, but loved what they were doing.
Sadly lacking from the film is any current input from Golan and Globus themselves, though they are present in archive footage, but it does make the whole thing feel a bit one-sided – though the view is so one-sided it’s hard not to believe it must be fairly accurate.
While the conclusion is fairly inevitable, Hartley does manage to get us a bit more onside with the duo – though as it is revealed they made their own version of the same story once they heard about this production it does make one wonder and rounds off a fascinating insight into an often overlooked area of the film business that has, arguably, had quite a lasting effect on the state of cinema today, especially in terms of the current, effects driven, franchise culture.