Monday, 29 September 2014

LFF 2014:
Electric Boogaloo: The Wild,
Untold Story of Cannon Films

If there's an overriding impression with which I came away from Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films, it's that I haven't seen enough Cannon films. If there's a secondary impression with which I came away, it's that I should probably count myself lucky I haven't seen many Cannon films. Quality-vaccuums like The Apple ("the Mount Everest of bad movie musicals"), Mata Hari, with its topless fencing ladies, and Ninja III: The Domination (synopsis: an aerobics teacher is possessed by the evil spirit of a fallen ninja, who uses her body to seek revenge on his killers) all look tremendous, trashy fun, but you just know you'd need a shower after each viewing.
Mark Hartley's affectionate documentary about Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, the over-excitable, over-enthusiastic Israeli cousins behind exploitation factory Cannon Films, is enormously enjoyable, largely due to the sheer number of clips stuffed into its running time. Cannon made the perfect films to be chopped into four-second nuggets and crammed into a documentary because they work so much better as clips than as actual films, and Hartley is acutely aware of this. Almost every mention of another Cannon misfire - and there really are quite a lot - makes you want to pop down to Blockbuster and rent the battered VHS immediately.

But Hartley's doc also includes a preposterous amount of interviews with the people who became Cannon fodder during the studio's turbulent lifetime, and they've all got a story they need to get out of their system. Each expresses disbelief that the pair got away with curling out cinematic turd after cinematic turd for so long - some are downright furious about it - but there's an overarching sense of admiration for the cousins' hubris, spirit and balls. It's just a shame the Go-Go Boys themselves chose not to take part.
Breathlessly tracing Cannon's story from birth to death, Electric Boogaloo rattles through the studio's output like a runaway train. Or, indeed, like Runaway Train. It's a little too frantic at times and fails to go deep into the reasons behind specific decisions, successes or failures, but that just mirrors its subjects' work ethic: get in, get out, move on. It does at least pause long enough to press home what an appalling creature Michael Winner was, how Chuck Norris and Charles Bronson were Cannon's Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, and how Golan and Globus managed to fuck up a Superman film even more spectacularly than Zack Snyder. And any documentary that culminates in an examination of the great Lambada movie war of 1990 has to be worth at least a passing glance.

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