Sunday, October 4, 2015

MD Reviews: The Cannonball Run


If you were a movie-going child of the 80s, chances are you've seen a Golan/Globus production or two, even if you have no idea who they were then or now. Israeli cousins Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus were true independent spirits who, like their spiritual forefather Edward Wood Jr., loved to make movies... they just weren't very good at it. As the heads of the production company known as the Cannon Group throughout the 1980s, they also followed in the footsteps of film renegades Roger Corman (small budgets=huge returns) and Russ Meyer (lots and lots of boobs and blood) and brought to the screen such beloved bad movies as The Apple, Enter the Ninja and Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo.

Obviously borrowing the title from that seminal breakdancing opus, Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films documents the unlikely rise and inevitable fall of the B-movie factory that cranked out everything from softcore period pieces (Lady Chatterly's Lover, Bolero) to cheesy sci-fi epics (Lifeforce, Cyborg) to the unintentionally homoerotic gay faves Hercules (starring "The Incredible" Lou Ferrigno) and Masters of the Universe. Cannon is probably best known for their seemingly endless run of action flicks starring action stars both on the rise (Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme) and on the decline (Charles Bronson, Sylvester Stallone), as well as their "sloppy seconds" sequels such as Death Wish 2 through 5 and the camp fest known as Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.

Starstruck from an early age, Yoram and Menahem had big Hollywood dreams when they came to America, and their scrappy enthusiasm was quite infectious as witnessed by the number of directors, screenwriters and actors (including Richard Chamberlain, Bo Derek, Elliott Gould, Tobe Hooper, Dolph Lundgren, Franco Nero, Molly Ringwald, Cassandra "Elvira" Peterson and Franco Zeffirelli) who show up in this Electric Boogaloo. Some confess their amused affection for the so-called "Go-Go Boys", others relate eyebrow-raising on-set horror stories, quite a few offer their best Yoram impressions, and all appear, even now decades later, slightly perplexed that it all happened at all and that they were there, fortunately or unfortunately, to witness it.

Writer/director Mark Hartley infuses his Boogaloo with a lot of the cheeseball fun of the Cannon canon, although some of the more graphic film clips (mostly of brutality toward mostly unclad women) is overly excessive, and the seemingly shadier side of the studio is pretty much unexplored. Although the largely lowbrow legacy of Cannon Films will be all but ignored in the annals of cinema, fans old and new will find Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films a revealing time capsule of the decade of greed and excess that is, like, totally awesome.

MD Rating: B+

Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films is now available on DVD:

Review by Kirby Holt, creator and editor of Movie Dearest, The QuOD: The Queer Online Database and the Out Movie Guide.

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