Feature | Lights, Camera, Action! – Electric Boogaloo (Movie Review)

By Freda Cooper 06.06.2015

Image for Feature | Lights, Camera, Action! – Electric Boogaloo (Movie Review)

Electric Boogaloo (UK Rating: 18)

They were known as The Go Go Boys. Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus arrived in Hollywood in the early 80s with their reputation already made in the Israeli film industry. They bought Cannon Films and for the rest of the decade churned out films by the dozen. That's the story behind the documentary - let's give it its full title - Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films, which is out in cinemas and online, and was also covered in Cubed3's latest Talking Pictures podcast.
Image for Feature | Lights, Camera, Action! – Electric Boogaloo (Movie Review)
A wild - crazy, even - story it certainly is, too. Their films were hard to avoid in the 80s, and in the UK they also bought up Thorn EMI and the leading cinema chain, ABC. The movies themselves were also truly dire - so bad that it's hard to imagine how they ever came to be made in the first place. That boiled down to the enthusiasm and salesmanship of the two movie-obsessed cousins, who thought nothing of getting a movie funded simply on the basis of a poster. No director, no script, just the poster. When the money came in - which it always did - the film got made. Whether it bore any relation to that original poster was quite another matter!

Who, for instance, would put money into a project that was a combination of The Exorcist, a ninja film and Flashdance, or one with special effects that would have had the great Ray Harryhausen spinning in his grave? Mash-ups made on the tightest of budgets were the Cannon trademark, although they still managed to get actors like Richard Chamberlain and Elliott Gould involved. Later, when the company's finances became wobbly, Golan and Globus tried to give themselves some credibility by working with directors such as Frankenheimer, Cassavetes and Coppola, but by that time they were too closely associated with what was referred to as schlock for it to make any difference. Therefore, they returned to action, sex and blood, with a series of films that starred the actors they labelled as The Two Chucks - Norris and Bronson. By then, though, the writing was on the wall.

Director Mark Hartley has plenty of films and interview footage to draw on, especially with the more extrovert Golan, but he's also assembled an impressive and lengthy parade of talking heads, all with their own stories to tell, from the racy to the ridiculous. Richard Chamberlain is visibly pained by the money that wasn't spent on his Allan Quatermain series, which bore a striking resemblance to the Indiana Jones movies, and Sybil Danning, who co-starred with Lou Ferrigno in Hercules (long before the more recent version with Dwayne Johnson), demonstrates exactly how she feels about the company by setting fire to a copy of the DVD. The anecdotes and comments, from people both in front and behind the camera, come thick and fast and it's highly entertaining.

If Cannon's films were dreadful - and they most certainly were - the opposite is true of Electric Boogaloo. Hartley makes great use of his material, talking heads included, and wastes no time in telling his story with plenty of energy and fizz - which is all that's needed when a story is as entertaining as this one.

Image for Feature | Lights, Camera, Action! – Electric Boogaloo (Movie Review)
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10
Fans of bad movies will lap up Electric Boogaloo. Keen movie goers won't be far behind them in the queue, and even those with just a passing interest in films will have fun with the behind-the-scenes shenanigans. While Cannon Films eventually foundered, they turned out to be the forerunners of today's indie movie makers, which produced one of this week's DVDs, Whiplash. Ironic, isn't it?

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