Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films is a documentary that charts the rise and fall of Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus’ Cannon film company. Mark Hartley’s film digs deep, showing how the Israeli cousins started making films in their home country before arriving on US shores with dreams of taking on Hollywood. Their dubious taste meant that they never achieved their dreams but that didn’t stop them from making dozens of ridiculous exploitation films throughout the 1980s. Things came crashing down at the end of the decade when financial troubles saw the cousins going their separate ways. The title for Hartley’s documentary stems from the company’s now notorious 1984 film Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.
Hartley’s film hits all the right marks, offering a tremendous overview of the company from a wide range of people who worked for and with the company in the ‘80s. Actors like Dolph Lundgren, Molly Ringwald, Alex Winter, Franco Nero, Olivia d’Abo, Robert Forster, Bo Derek, Elliott Gould and Richard Chamberlain join likes likes of Franco Zeffirelli, John G. Avildsen, Barbet Schroeder and Avi Lerner (whose Millennium Films upgraded the Cannon ethos). They offer mixed testimony about Cannon’s business practises but they all admit that the brothers had a deep passion for cinema – even if their talents never matched their vision.
Golan and Globus were able to pre-sell their movies in advance making sure that they had a steady stream of schlockbusters to release. They were eager to be taken seriously but Hollywood failed to greet them with open arms. They made a killing from using Chuck Norris and Charles Brosnon as the stars of multiple action pictures but when they scored a bonafide superstar like Sylvester Stallone they couldn’t get the material to match their aspirations. Over The Top, an arm wrestling drama directed by Golan and starring Stallone, failed to become the next Rocky.
The cousins over extended their finances and dwindling box office returns saw them cut costs on their already slight budgeted films. This was painfully evident on Superman IV: The Quest For Peace, when the budget was slashed from $30 million to just $17 million. This was kryptonite for the superhero film and it crashed and burned at the box office.
A great look at how not to make movies, Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films is perfect fodder for those who love to hear about the behind the scenes machinations of the movie business. It’s essential viewing for those who grew-up in the 1980s, knowing that the Cannon logo meant something ‘special’.