Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story Of Cannon Films is the unauthorized story of one of the strangest film studios in the 80s as told by the folks that survived it. Growing up in the heyday of Cannon, during the video boom of the 80s, I’ve been looking forward to checking out this doc ever since it was announced in production a few years ago.
Being a huge fan of Mark Hartley’s other two docs Not Quite Hollywood and Machete Maidens Unleashed, I was interested in what his take would be, since his style is known for being very no-holds-barred and go-for-broke. Luckily the two Israeli cousins Menahem Golan (who had directed The Apple) and Yoram Globus who were responsible for putting Cannon on the map chose not to be a part of the doc, instead making their own; which I felt gave this film a more authentic feel. I felt if they were involved, that could have possibly compromised the integrity of the film, since they probably would have spent the whole time rebutting everything stated and being on the offensive the entire time anyway.
Electric Boogaloo maps Cannon’s linear trajectory through some of their more notorious releases, filling in the back stories behind the films and exactly how some of these oddities actually ended up in the multiplexes. In extremely candid interviews that you would never find on a DVD or Blu-ray special feature, the stars, writers, and directors who worked on these films tell you exactly what it was really like working in this film factory churning out these films that were forgotten as soon as Cannon dropped them in the theater. This release style is very appropriately likened a series of bowel movements in the film.
The film begins extolling the cousins’ love of cinema and small beginnings in Israel, which eventually led them to America where they purchased the pre-existing studio Cannon Films. After immediately gaining a back catalog of exploitation and genre titles, they then started to churn out more of the same, with the few hits covering the many flops along the way. The problem was this formula wasn’t very scalable when the cousins started to make bigger and bigger budgeted films. This method of throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks eventually bankrupted the studio.
While overall being very satisfying, I couldn’t help but feel that the doc was still somewhat limited at times, which is definitely due to some of the key players being MIA. I would have loved to hear more from their stable of bigger name actors that were known for keeping the studio afloat like a Chuck Norris or Sylvester Stallone. Dolph Lundgren’s interview on Masters Of The Universe gave us a brief glimpse at just what this would have been like, aFs he reflected on the absurdity and weirdness of his role as He-Man in the bizarre film.
Even without those perspectives, the doc is still a solid watch that takes no prisoners in its often scathing portrayal of those involved. The folks interviewed really help shed some light on the strange and at times baffling decision process that produced these films that are still to this day a shining beacon of their time, for better or for worse. Also, some of the anecdotes are nothing short of priceless, but as you listen to them you can’t help but be reminded of some of the same stories that came from Miramax and the brothers Weinstein in the 90’s, which even they admit share some similarities.
Electric Boogaloo could easily be one of the best docs you see all year, the only downside is after watching the film you will be counting down the days til the film’s eventual home video release. If their previous releases were any indication the DVD/Blu-ray is going to be chock full of uncut interviews that will probably fill in the blanks for any folks like myself looking to hear about a particular project not mentioned. Electric Boogaloo is a great in-depth look at one of the strangest studios that was not only churning out films, but filling video store shelves, with a brand of insanity or madness that has yet to be seen since.