By Jason Godbey, Creative Director, Behind the Rabbit Productions
Electric Boogaloo -The Wild Untold Story of Cannon Films is a documentary about Cannon Films, a legendary film studio that epitomized the words “fast, cheap, and out of control.” The studio was known for producing over-the-top 80s action flicks: The Delta Force, Death Wish II, Masters of the Universe, Cyborg and Over the Top.
This film explores the rise and fall of Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, the two Israeli cousins who founded Canon Films. We learn about their history of making films in Israel, their move to Hollywood, their success, and the fall of the studio into debt and disrepair.
The story of Golan and Globus is the American dream: two immigrants who come to America hit it big and revolutionize the way movies get made in the process. They were pioneers of the movie pre-sale. They would find financing for a film by selling the title and the star, their two big stars being Chuck Norris and Charles Bronson. They would come up with a title and a poster for the movie then say to a potential backer, “which Chuck do you want?” Once they secured the financing they would write the script and make the movie. At the time it was unheard of to sell a movie that didn’t exist, but now it’s a common practice to sell a film overseas based on the names attached to the project.
Electric Boogaloo... is a cautionary tale. Canon Films cranked out movies at a frantic pace, but Golan and Globus spent money faster than they could make it. It was filmmaking by assembly line, quantity over quality. They wanted so much to be legitimate movie producers, but their way of wheeling and dealing in the industry gave them a bad reputation. Unfortunately for the cousins, Canon grew too big too fast, and they ended up being victims of their own ambition.
However, there was some art in the assembly line. Even though they made schlocky action films like Ninja III: The Domination and Delta Force 2: The Colombian Connection, they also produced Love Streams by John Cassavetes and Otello by Franco Zeffirelli. Zeffirelli would later say Golan and Globus were the greatest producers he’d ever worked with because they gave him the freedom he needed to make his movie.
The documentary’s interviews are candid, funny, and unapologetic. We see a range of feelings from love to regret to bitterness to tenderness about the cousins and the films they made. You can feel the unbridled honesty of each subject coming through the screen.
If you like movies about Hollywood lore, Electric Boogaloo one of the best. It’s entertaining, funny, charming, and you can tell the filmmaker, Mark Hartley, has a real affinity for the material. It’s the kind of story that can only happen in Hollywood. A story that you’d swear was fiction if you didn’t know it was true.