Guns, gore and girls – and that is just the opening credits. Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films holds no punches as it plunges its viewer straight into the almost hedonistic sleaze of the infamous cult film-making empire of Israeli cousins Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus.
It’s difficult to fathom the sheer number of films Cannon churned out throughout the ’80s, in their efforts defining what we think of the era on screen. We’re talking lurid, naked, violent and nonsensical – ninjas, possessed ninjas, inexplicable sex scenes, Chuck Norris, Superman IV, Masters of the Universe. These are films that are so frightful they transcend back to being wonderful again. Perhaps not quite wonderful… but certainly memorable. The trouble with this kind of film is they tend not to break the box office, but they do break the bank for their makers – and therein lies the clues to the demise of Cannon. But the story of their fall from (not quite) grace itself is so fantastical it makes some of their plots seem tame.
Golan and Globus, our self-proclaimed Go-Go Boys, relied on their fool proof approach to film: design a poster, sell a film based on the poster, use the money to make, and write, the film ready for the big screen. Repeat as often as necessary until the next blockbuster comes along. Armed with seemingly endless supplies of cash, the cousins would flood Cannes Film Festival with marketing for their latest onslaught of films, ready to buy off plan. But money doesn’t necessarily guarantee success, as Cannon would later discover.
Matching the erratic Cannon pace, Electric Boogaloo sees director Mark Hartley work his way through an admirable cast and crew list, some who are proud to have been part of the gang, some not so much. There’s a roster of big names including John Frankenheimer, John Cassavettes, Franco Zeferrelli, Sharon Stone, Christopher Lee, Sylvester Stallone – several of whom feature in the film. But the highlights have to be the brave, though perhaps just as mad, editors responsible for bringing the Cannon visions to our screens, whose impressions of their passionate Israeli bosses deserve their own documentary.
Gushing with wild ’80s nostalgia, whether you have seen a Cannon film or not, Electric Boogaloo is destined to be a cult favourite, expertly edited (take note, Cannon) with fantastic archive footage and interviews and an impressive host of interviewees from both sides of the proverbial fence. With Golan and Globus certainly being no angels, with some disconcerting anecdotes of corruption and exploitation taking place not just on the big screen, Electric Boogaloo wholeheartedly honours its name as ‘the untold story’.
In typical Cannon fashion, just before Electric Boogaloo was released, another documentary was released, The Go-Go Boys, from the Go-Go Boys themselves. And we wouldn’t have expected anything else.
Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films is screening on Thursday 9 October (BFI Southbank) and Saturday 11 October (Vue Cinema)
View the full festival programme online: www.bfi.org.uk/lff