Comfortable and Furious

Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films

It would be all too easy to attack the immense (and at times immensely shitty) catalog of Cannon Films and the insane Menachem Golan and Yoram Globus overlords who brought it all to fruition. They built a studio out of almost nothing, and began forcing into existence a fuck-ton of movies with nothing more than an avid love of Hollywood, setting to remake their own version of the Dream Factory. Electric Boogaloo is made entirely of talking heads and clips from Cannon works and tells – very quickly – the rise and abrupt implosion of an empire made on dreams and bluster, sold by hucksters who embraced the American dream beyond self-parody. It avoids being a dry Wiki article, and in no way intends to shit on their legacy despite the presence of an army of actors, writers, composers who veer from benign like to outright apoplexy in their view of the ‘Go-Go Boys’. The film dives into the process, how Golan and Globus were personally involved in every last film that left their studio, and gets to the heart of the genius and incompetence that made it all possible.

Genius and incompetence – there is no other way to put it. Though the various interviewees had impossible work experiences with Cannon, there is a great deal of pride there, and though G&G were abusive, reactionary, cheap, and boorish cunts throughout, they also managed to be inspiring. Electric Boogaloo is a joy to watch as you get a feel for being in Golan’s orbit. He would allow an idea to take root in his diseased head, immediately uproot it, turn it into a monster, and unleash it with topless teens to rampage while feverishly birthing the next Great Idea. As one of the writers stated: “He said to me, ‘This is top secret – tell no one… Naked Lambada.’”

Sure, they eventually overreached in making bigger budget yet cheap-looking films that sank the studio, or at least revealed the Ponzi scheme underneath, where each film was funded by the next three in production. And their stuff was schlock, deeply conservative, witless, badly written, terribly acted, and Chuck Norris. Still, no one can deny the brilliant lunacy at work behind The Apple, Breakin, Schizoid, Invasion USA, Lifeforce, American Ninja, and on and on. And Death Wish 3 has some guy said, is one of the greatest American films. Most of them flopped, some were unexpected hits, and all of them were fever dreams deeply loved by their weirdo Israeli fathers. For comparison, knockoffs today by Platinum Dunes or any number of sci-fi studios that release direct to DVD are mindless facsimiles of the originals. None of them – not even attempts at instant-cult status like Sharknado– approach the brilliance of Cannon. You see, G&G made shit, but they loved their work. They could have made considerably more money if they did not care.

The real draw here are the stories by those who slaved away on these pieces of shit:

– Jean Claude Van-Damme auditioned for a movie by waiting patiently outside of Golan’s office. When he emerged from his meeting, Van-Damme unleashed a roundhouse kick that missed the Big Guy’s face by an inch. He was cast immediately.

– A pilot was exhausted during the filming of Delta Force, landing a plane time after time. Golan responded to his request for a break by putting a loaded Uzi in his face, and filming resumed.

The Apple, which Golan directed, was intended as a creation story with a misguided view of hippies and what entertained them. Soundtracks were given away free at the first showing of what he termed an ‘instant classic’. The audience was so pissed at how bad it was, they threw the soundtracks at the screen, some of which remained embedded after the credits rolled.

Movie of the year? Maybe. All I could think about was how much I wanted to see every movie that played as a clip. The Adventures of Hercules with Lou Ferrigno is next on my list.



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