11th Dec2014

‘Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films’ DVD Review

by Mondo Squallido


2014 has been a good year for fans of psychotronic cinema, especially when it comes to documentaries. We have had Jake West’s Video Nasties: Draconian Days, his follow up to Video Nasties: Moral Panic Censorship & Videotape, Andrew Leavould’s Search for Weng Weng, Wiktor Ericsson’s The Sarnos: A Life in Dirty Movies and my personal favourite, Mike Malloy’s wonderful Eurocrime! The Italian Cop and Gangster Films. Another film related documentary released this year was the highly anticipated Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films directed by Mark Hartley, who many cult film fans will know for his other documentaries, Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozsploitation, Machete Maidens Unleashed and his remake of Richard Franklin’s cult classic, Patrick. I remember hearing about Electric Boogaloo (which is how I will be referring to it for the rest of this review) when it was still in the early stages of development. Ever since then I have been waiting with much anticipation. Will it deliver a killer blow like Chuck Norris in Missing in Action or fall flat on it’s face like it’s namesake Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo?

Growing up in the 90’s, I unknowingly experienced the slow demise of VHS (albeit temporarily, it seems the VHS collecting market is making a small comeback). Of course, being a child, that meant nothing to me. Nearly every weekend, my parents would take me to the local corner shop, Mike’s Fruit & Veg. Aside from providing the locals with their daily essentials, they also rented out videos. Here, I would have free pickings of that weekends entertainment. Well almost, mum never did let me get that tape named Grandma’s Naughty Girls! Of course, I was more drawn to Garfield and Looney Toons tapes as opposed to some of the more exploitative offerings. Oh what I would do to be able to go back in time being the psychotronic pilgrim I am now! Why am I dragging you down memory lane? When I think of Cannon Films I am instantly reminded of VHS tapes sporting exaggerated artwork. Mainly an obscenely muscled, bandana wearing manly-man wielding a gun that slaps science and common sense right in the face. Films like Cobra, The Delta Force and American Ninja also spring to mind and bring a smile to my dumbfounded face. That’s where Electric Boogaloo comes in.

This is more than just a documentary romanticising these over the top exploitation films we have come to love. It goes a lot deeper. It’s a documentary that I found to be a more personal experience rather than a film focusing on Cannon’s vast filmography. It documents the humble beginnings of Golan and Globus, two Israeli cousins with a passion for cinema, their acquisition of Cannon Films and the roller-coaster journey the pair embarked on. Of course, we all know how the story ended, and the film along with the talking heads pull no punches when it comes to revealing the dark truths. That’s what I enjoyed about the documentary, the fact that even if when there were negative things to be said, they would be with a stern but fair honesty. Golan and Globus’s story is a rags to riches one with a not so happy ending. Excuses could have been made and negatives could have been completely ignored, but they weren’t, and that is a good thing in my book. The range of talking heads is amazing, and it’s easy to see why the process of making the documentary took as long as it did. We get accounts from members of Cannon’s production teams as well as actors who appeared in many of the films. As I touched upon earlier, some have nicer things to say than others. On a personal note, I did enjoy hearing what people had to say about the ever so charming and dearly missed Michael Winner!

The documentary is much more than a collection of interviews however. There is some fantastic animation work from Marcus Cobbledick, who also worked on Hartley’s other previous major documentaries. Not only that, but we get treated to some fantastic archive footage of Golan and Globus as well as clips from various Cannon productions. I also have to give major praise to the film’s opening titles sequence, a technicolour onslaught if I ever saw one! All in all, Electric Boogaloo is a wonderfully crafted documentary that has style and more importantly, content. With around 100 separate interviewees ranging from stars like Dolph Lungdren, Franco Nero, Sybil Danning and Robert Forster to directors like Tobe Hooper, Luigi Cozzi and Sam Firstenberg, as well unsung heroes from throughout Cannon’s history, there is a lot chew on, but it never drags or outstays it’s welcome, which is a feat initself as the documentary has a runtime of around 107 minutes. There is a perfect balance of film excerpts and interview footage. Maybe more archival footage would have been nice, but that being said, there is a fair share of that too.

Overall, I was very impressed with Hartley’s latest offering. It’s an informative and entertaining experience that tells the story without slipping in to the territory of being overly romanticised or full of false praise. Fans of everything Cannon will genuinely appreciate the hard work that has gone in to the documentary. If you aren’t too familiar with Cannon or the history, then there is enough there to keep you interested. Of course, get yourselves a pen and paper ready before watching! You will be jotting down the names of so many films for your Amazon Wish list.

Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films is only currently available on a barebones DVD from Australian distributor Umbrella Entertainment.


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