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Film Review: "Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films"


Connoisseurs of trash cinema will no doubt recognize the name Cannon Films, the movie production house purchased by Israeli cousins Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus. Cannon gained notoriety for churning out an endless supply of schlocky B-movies (peaking at 43 films in a single year) throughout the 1980's, before flaming out in spectacular fashion. Taking an anecdotal approach, Mark Hartley's wildly entertaining documentary "Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films" is packed with clips, archival footage, and talking head interviews with the studios execs, directors, actors, writers, and editors who made the company's staggering output possible. Hartley gives audiences an affectionate, appropriately breakneck tour through the company's unsavory history.

Cannon's releases ranged from grindhouse fare to low-rent action flicks starring Charles Bronson, Chuck Norris, or Jean-Claude Van Damme, with occasional art-house pictures from distinguished directors like Jean-Luc Godard, Franco Zeffirelli, and John Cassavetes sprinkled throughout. Though Cannon made the odd attempt to break into the mainstream -- notably with 1987's "Masters of the Universe" and "Superman IV: The Quest For Peace" -- the studio maintained a kitchen sink product that consisted of anything that could be made quickly and cheaply. Several interviewees praise Golan and Globus for their ability to sell a film based on nothing more than a poster; one explains the company's brand thusly: "there were cinemas out there that needed to be filled with something, and that's what Cannon did." A must-see for cinephiles with a penchant for the lowbrow, "Electric Boogaloo" makes for a wild ride.