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Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films

Year: 2014
Production Co: Fury Productions
Director: Mark Hartley
Writer: Mark Hartley

Yes another tale of Hollywood hubris and excess, where the character live where they want their means to be rather than where they actually are. It's an excellent companion piece to Aussie director Mark Hartley's Not Quite Hollywood, another story from the more salubrious end of the moviemaking world genteel Hollywood society would rather forget exists.

It's the story of Cannon Films, started by two ambitious, fast talking but questionably talented Israeli immigrants – Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus – who, after successful careers at home, came to conquer Hollywood and ended up with a lavish office building in LA before their true financial situation caught up with them and bought it all crashing down. I actually remember the Lemon Popsicle films very well, released in my native Australia on VHS with very bad dubbing (as they were in Yiddish) and enjoying a mild following because they looked so much like Porky's.

Talking heads and film clips take us through the very visible rise of the company. After starting out like the King Brothers Productions depicted recently in Trumbo (sex, schlock and violence) and having a reputation for fast, cheap productions, Cannon gave us films like Delta Force, Breakin': Electric Boogaloo 2 and Missing in Action.

After a spectacular rise to the pinnacles of the business on nothing but hot air and cheap tat, they eventually produced projects with far weightier names like Masters of the Universe, The Company of Wolves, Lifeforce, Runaway Train and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.

Like many houses of low art, you can see they had pretensions apparently above the level of their skillsets. Stories about threatening a director with a chainsaw and talking directly to Clyde (the Orangutan from Every Which Way But Loose) in a meeting rather than his agent and handler seem to prove what it was like working with the company.

Amid all that production activity, however, they also owned a swathe of cinema real estate around the world, including a theatre chain in the UK, and it only took a handful of expensive flops to bring it all to an end.

There's no real insight into the personalities involved, it's more a blow-by-blow account of yet another short-lived Hollywood empire, but even aside from how funny and entertaining it is, it's worth remembering that names like Jean Claude van Damme, Chuck Norris, Tobe Hooper, Bo Derek, Charles Bronson and Sylvia Kristel wouldn't mean what they do today without Cannon.

And perhaps the most fascinating tidbit? Cannon Films once owned the rights to Superman, Spider-man and Captain America, characters currently making enough money to probably buy its entire slate at its height ten times over. In Hollywood, timing is indeed everything.

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