Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films

Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films

by Sherif Awad
One of the important sections at the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) is Signals: Regained which explores cinema's treasure trove, screens restored classics, inexplicably forgotten masterpieces and films and documentaries that centre on cinema itself. In that section, the fun and fast-paced documentary Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films, directed by Mark Hartley and produced by Brett Ratner, retells the story of Menahem Golan, the Israeli-born producer who came to Hollywood along with his cousin Yoram Globus in 1979 only to take over the failing production company The Cannon Group Inc from its founders Dennis Friedland and Christopher C. Dewey. Initially, Cannon was mostly specialized in American and European-imported soft porns, but under Golan-Globus control, Cannon grew from a small company making a few obscure pictures a year to a studio that produced 35 pictures in 1987 alone varying between Romance, action and comedies. 

The documentary shows us how Golan grew up not only as a film buff but as a man obsessed with moviemaking. He, and we are quoting one of Boogaloo’s interviewees, was capable of putting his own wife and kids on mortgage in order to wrap a film production. As for Globus, he was the wiser, businessman kind of guy who decelerated some of Golan’s decision. And the combination of Golan-Globus were exactly the right one to have lawns from American banks in order their films made. Golan had also this crazy approach of getting money: he used to create teaser posters of still-unmade films then publicize them across US trade magazines in order to get some cash on the table beforehand.
The documentary is highlighted by its dynamic videobytes and interviews with Golan-Globus former collaborators: editors, directors, and actors like Richard Chamberlain who starred in two Cannon’s B-movies playing Allan Quatermain with a then-unknown blond newcomer called Sharon Stone, like Catherine Mary Stewart who made her debut in The Apple (1980) that is dubbed as the “mount everest of bad musicals”, like Bo Derek who starred in Cannon’s produced Bolero in which she was most of the time clothless. The era of erotica films produced by Golan-Globus also included two Sylvia Kristel’s starrer Lady Chatterley's Lover (1981) and Mata Hari (1985), The Last American Virgin (1982) which was a remake of Lemon Popsicle (1978), an Israeli teen sexy comedy produced by Golan in his homeland before coming to Hollywood; The Wicked Lady (1983), a costume drama that starred Faye Dunaway.

Sylvia Kristel in Mata Hari


The duo of Golan-Globus moved to another phase: producing action films: Death Wish sequels that revived Charles Bronson’s career, Missing in Action Trilogy, The Delta Force and Invasion U.S.A. with Chuck Norris. They also launched the career of Michael Dudikoff through American Ninja and Jean-Claude Van-Damme through Cyborg. They are lot of fun stuff about this action films that the viewer should discover by the watching the documentary so I will not ruin many behind-the-scenes secrets. I will only mention that Missing in Action 2 was released before the first one because they thought it was a better film. Golan also paid Sylvester Stallone from ten to twenty million to star in Over the Top, a film I personally have a good memory about since I still have its poster in my bedroom since I saw in 1987. Its soundtrack had a very nice song by Kenny Loggins called Meet Me Halfway. Later, Stallone starred in Cobra produced by Cannon and distributed by Warner Bros. Cannon were also responsible to cast Italian star Franco Nero as blue-eyed ninja in Enter the Ninja (1981). To the latter, they even made two sequels: the third was called Ninja III: The Domination and it was described as a cross between Enter the Dragon, The Exorcist and Flashdance!
Believe it or not, after making these super commercial films in addition to strange musicals like Breakin’, Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, Golan-Globus went to produce arthouse films of top internationally renowned directors like John Cassavetes’ Love Streams, Franco Zeffirelli’s Otello (a film version of the Verdi opera), Norman Mailer’s Tough Guys Don’t Dance, Andrei Konchalovsky’s Runaway Train with Jon Voight who got an Oscar nomination for his role.
Following Golan's departure from Cannon Films, he became the head of 21st Century Film Corporation. Golan continued to produce and direct films until his passing on August 8, 2014 in Tel Aviv. Globus is now the president of Globus Max, which has interests in film production and distribution and runs a 140-screen cinema chain in Israel. Last May, another Israeli documentary called The Go-Go Boys: The Inside Story of Cannon Films was also shown during Cannes Film Film Festival.