After seeing this doc last night I took a quick assessment of the movies I love and not all, but most, come from these five studios: AIP, Hammer Films, Empire Pictures, Full Moon, and Cannon Films. When I hear Cannon Films the first thing that always comes to mind before anything else is Chuck Norris. I used to be a big Norris fan back in high school and seeing as he made eleven films with the studios every time I went to the theater and the previews came up and the Cannon logo came on screen I naturally assumed I was about to see a trailer for the newest Norris movie.
I vaguely remember acknowledging Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus’ names when they appeared in the opening credits, only thinking, ‘ah, a couple of foreigners run Cannon Films,’ and thinking nothing more beyond that. Honestly they could have been aliens for all I cared, all I knew was Cannon pumped out a lot of movies that appealed to me, so who cared who ran the company, just as long as they kept doing what they were doing. Even the flicks they made I was not a fan of I either saw portions of on cable or knew of before hand thanks to Entertainment Tonight.
My favorite movie they made was Lifeforce (1985), and that flick is a good example of how cousins Golan and Globus constructed their movies. I never really thought about it but in the doc, which interviews a plethora of screenwriters, producers, directors and actors who worked for the studio, it’s brought to light how these two men loved to merge genres that probably shouldn’t be merged. In Lifeforce, you’ve got three genres working in tandem, a space exploration flick, a vampire movie and then finally an end of the world movie, with vampires! Space Vampires! The movie’s original title before the Cannon decided to rename it, but a title that was more in keeping with the source material novel of the same name written by Colin Wilson, though the movie director Tobe Hooper cranked out looks nothing like Wilson’s novel.
Believe it or not there’s another Cannon Films documentary in existence. It’s called, The Go-Go Boys: The Inside Story of Cannon Films (2014). Why two docs? Watch this one first and it’ll explain why. I have not seen that one yet, and I hope to someday, but so far this one here is a damn fine account of how these two Israeli cousins (Menahem was the filmmaker and Yoram handled the business side) went from making movies in their native homeland to running a decade long popular movie studio in America. And after seeing how they approached movie making you’ll be astonished at how they managed to stay in business for as long as they did and work with some A-list talent (i.e. John Cassavetes, Sly Stallone and Christopher Reeve).
What’s presented by the many people interviewed is that it appears, and I’m paraphrasing here, that Golan and Globus were more in love with the idea of making movies rather than the reality of it which meant working on a film until it was perfect. Most of their “failures,” now that I look at them from the distance of middle age and with the help of this doc, does make me see how truly bad they were. The Apple (1980) is described as the Mount Everest of bad movie musicals. I’ve never been a fan of musicals but have heard of The Apple, and thanks to this doc I have now seen scenes of it for the first time and it is mindblowingly bad. I used to be a fan of Lou Ferrigno’s Hercules (1983) movie and have not seen that one for decades, but seeing it through the eyes of this doc . . . holy shit, is all I can say.
Some more random things I learned: I had no idea Franco Nero’s voice was dubbed in Enter The Ninja (1981), though I had somewhat of a clue last year when I reviewed Killer Mermaid (2014), which he was in, and was a little taken aback he had an accent. I’m only a fan of Nero through that Ninja film so I’ve never seen any of his other flicks and had no idea he wasn’t American. It was also interesting to hear about the Missing In Action films and find out the sequel Missing In Action 2: The Beginning (1985) was actually the first film made, when the sequel was put into production and that one was deemed the better film of the two they decided to release that one first so as not to kill of the franchise. I personally like The Beginning better. American Ninja (1985) was supposed to be for Chuck Norris, but he declined to star in it when he found out he would have to wear the ninja uniform and have his face covered. And apparently the cousins weren’t easy to get along with sometimes. Laurene Landon, from America 3000 (1986), is interviewed and she hates that movie and Cannon, and brought her only copy of the movie with her, which looked like a VHS tape, she then proceeds to take out a lighter and try to light the VHS box on fire.
The demise of Cannon and the split of the two cousins is also covered , and how each started new studios, trying to beat each other at getting out competing Lambada movies. One was called, Lambada (1990) and one was called, The Forbidden Dance (1990). I remember these two movies, but for the longest time I thought it was one movie called, Lambada, The Forbidden Dance. I didn’t find this out actually until last night. It was also interesting to learn Breakin’ (1984) was a big hit for them. I guess that makes sense, given it was the 80s and how important music and music videos were back then.
I have to thank Cannon for also giving us Jean Claude Van Damme. No only was I a Norris fan I was also Van Damme fan when he came on the scene. I was also dabbling in the martial arts myself back then and Van Damme was just more fuel for my fire, along with Norris, Sho Kosugi’s ninja films, all of them, not just the ones he did with Cannon, and Michael Dudikoff’s (The Dudikoff as I refer to him) American Ninja flicks.
Oh, right, before I end this review I forgot to bring up the copious amounts of nudity Golan and Globus used to love to toss into their movies because they thought movies should have in them. Naked chicks! Full frontal naked chicks! God bless those two for giving me a different kind of fuel for a different kind of fire I needed to get out. Which reminds me I need to seriously add Bolero (1984) to my DVD collection soon.
Coming this September 29th Warner Brothers is set to release Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films on DVD only here in the states!
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1.78:1 widescreen—5.1 English Dolby Digital—English/French/Spanish subtitles
- Deleted Scenes (15:10): More talk on 10 To Midnight, Development Of Spider-Man, Captain America, Treasure Of The Four Crowns and Bloodsport
- Cannon Trailers (Enter The Ninja/Death Wish 2 & 3/Hercules/King Solomon’s Mines/The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2/Missing In Action/The Delta Force/Over The Top/The Apple/Lady Chatterley’s Lovers/Breakin’/Bolero/Cobra/Cyborg/Superman IV/Invasion USA/The Last American Virgin/Masters Of The Universe)
(Note: The trailers cannot be accessed individually. They’re simply listed under Cannon Trailers and play as one long extra)
The accounts from the documentary’s participants range from comical to sad to tragic since Golan is no longer alive and Globus has been diagnosed with cancer. These two guys left a lasting impression on this reviewer, with some of their films becoming cult classics (a.k.a. “memory movies,” as I like to call them in the reviews I’ve done of the ones I’ve been able to get a hold of) and I thank them from the bottom of my heart for making my teen years and my early 20s memorable on the celluloid level.