ELECTRIC BOOGALOO: THE WILD, UNTOLD STORY OF CANNON FILMS
For anyone who came of cinematic age during the heady days of cheesy 1980s film, Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films - the new documentary by Australian writer/director Mark Hartley - will be like a nostalgic blast of fresh air in today’s world of PC-obsessed blockbusters.
With help from a galaxy of stars - ranking everywhere on the scale from A to Z - Electric Boogaloo charts the career ups and downs of filmmakers Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, who changed the face of modern cinema as we now know it. The Israeli cousins, who clearly made films because of their straightforward love for the medium, had one aim: to provide audiences with entertainment pure and simple, as opposed to many of today's movie hotshots who often appear to have ulterior motives behind their productions.
Cannon Films, the ailing production company which Golan and Globus bought in 1979 and proceeded to rejuvenate during the following decade, were never known for a particularly high-end product - they had been responsible for such dubious dramas as 1971’s Maid in Sweden and 1976’s Northville Cemetery Massacre. However, under the guidance of Golan and Globus - who were as much showmen as they were professional filmmakers - the company began to do something which it hadn't been doing before, namely make money. Launching the careers of many high profile Hollywood stars - without the help of Cannon Films the world would probably not have become aware of Dolph Lundgren and Chuck Norris - the company was also responsible for such cult films as 1985’s sci-fi, vampire epic Lifeforce as well as milestones in the fantastic film genre like 1987’s Masters of the Universe. In Electric Boogaloo, an endless stream of iconic names, including actors Mimi Rogers, Bo Derek, Elliott Gould and Martine Beswick along with director Tobe Hooper, queue up to reminisce in both glowing and not such flattering terms about their memories of working with the company.
The cinema-going public are however, on the whole, a fickle bunch, and the days when everything these celluloid magicians touched seemed, for a while anyway, to turn to box office (if not critical) gold, were numbered. Audiences began to lose interest in films whose production values appeared unable to keep up with the times. As the youngsters who had grown up with Cannon’s films began to become more sophisticated, they also became increasingly turned off by the company’s dodgy effects and slapstick gore and violence. Eventually, by the early 1990s, Cannon had folded, whilst Golan and Globus themselves had gone their separate ways, each pursuing other avenues in both film and television production.
The fact that Golan and Globus refused to take part in Electric Boogaloo - they were co-operating at the time of its production with a rival documentary on their careers - may be interpreted in one of two ways. Either their lack of involvement could portray the film as a scandalous piece of muck raking on two men whose only crime was to bring pleasure to countless millions of movie goers, whilst providing some of the most iconic and enduring, though not necessarily erudite, moments in cinema history. Equally, the absence of any input from two such strong characters - who would most likely have believed that they should have had some degree of control over the direction of the finished film - could be seen as playing in Hartley’s favour; if a documentary has no participation from its subjects it allows a filmmaker the possibility of taking a middle-of-the-road, and hopefully unbiased, approach to the story around which their project revolves, resulting in a more rounded and honest final product. Whether Hartley achieves this with Electric Boogaloo may be open to conjecture. There’s no denying, however, that, like Cannon’s films themselves, the end product is a wonderful, if perhaps slightly trashy, piece of fun.
INFO: CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: MARK HARTLEY / SCREENPLAY: MARK HARTLEY / STARRING: MENAHEM GOLAN (ARCHIVE FOOTAGE), YORAM GLOBUS (ARCHIVE FOOTAGE), SAM FIRSTENBERG, DAVID PAULSEN, SYBIL DANNING / RELEASE DATE: JUNE 5TH
Expected Rating: 7 out of 10