"Everybody wants a piece of the action ..."

Menaham Golan and Yoram Globus. Two names that may not mean much in isolation. But in actual fact, they should mean an awful lot to anyone who rented out genre films on video during the 1980s. These Israeli cousins were the driving force behind masterful producers and distributors Cannon Films.

If you're none the wiser, then just consider for a moment a small sample of the films released under the Cannon roster: DEATH WISH 2, EXTERMINATOR 2, 10 TO MIDNIGHT, HOUSE OF THE LONG SHADOWS, MISSING IN ACTION, AMERICAN NINJA, THE COMPANY OF WOLVES, BARFLY, INVADERS FROM MARS, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2, BLOODSPORT, 52 PICK-UP, THE LAST AMERICAN VIRGIN, RUNAWAY TRAIN, LIFEFORCE ... Some were good, a lot were shit (the studio was very prolific in its 80s heyday), but they were always interesting.

They were, as one interviewee in this excellent 102-minute documentary puts it, "the George Foremans and Mohammed Alis of the indie world".

Although the studio came to be in the 1960s, the movie-loving pair of mavericks bought the company in the 1980s and it's from this point that writer-director Mark Hartley's story essentially picks up. Their penchant for churning out cheap cash-ins, opportunist rip-offs and sequels quickly established itself and their output consisted of several new releases per month for a good few years. The Cannon logo became synonymous with action titles on VHS during the decade that fashion killed.

From THE HAPPY HOOKER (looks terrible but fun) to CYBORG (woeful), the Israelis' contribution to exploitation cinema is relayed to us by many of the people involved first-hand.

A mixture of priceless clips from a wide array of films (including the astoundingly trashy BREAKIN' 2, the sub-title of which also acts as the title to this documentary), glorious nostalgia-inducing poster art and talking head-style interviews, this film from Hartley really is exceptionally well-made. A clear labour of love and a film that is as endlessly entertaining as it is passionately informative. Just as you would expect from the guy who gave us the sublime NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD: THE WILD, UNTOLD STORY OF OZPLOITATION (he also helmed 2013's so-so PATRICK remake, suggesting his forte really does lie within the realm of documentaries).

What's particularly great is that Hartley doesn't simply offer a one-sided account of how Golan and Globus built up their empire. There is clear affection for his subject, of course, but the director's presentation of the facts is balanced enough to avoid accusations of fanboy sycophancy. Indeed, the documentary is never more fascinating than when chronicling the studio's downward spiral caused by Golan and Globus' naivety and ill-placed passion.

Along the way, we're exposed to just how eclectic Cannon's releasing schedule was. From superhero blockbusters like SUPERMAN 4: THE QUEST FOR PEACE, through the occasional Oscar winner, to commercial and critical disasters like MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE (some of the sets of which were recycled for the aforementioned CYBORG, demonstrating that the studio wasn't above employing the cheapest routes available in its pursuit of making a quick buck), to Chuck Norris kickarse-fests, Cannon had its fingers in many different genre pies. They even signed a multi-movie deal with a coked-out Tobe Hooper, resulting in some of his most demented projects being greenlit.

On-screen contributors include Molly Ringwald, Sybil Danning, Dolph Lundgren, Martine Beswick, Luigi Cozzi, Alex Winter, Michael Dudikoff, Franco Zeffirelli, Albert Pyun, Richard Chamberlain, Hooper, Robert Forster, Just Jaekin, Elliott Gould, Pete Walker. It really is an exceptional list of game, enthusiastic interviewees that have been assembled.

The cousins appear in archive footage only, but that doesn't lessen the fun or dilute the odd, at times very funny, story of their empire's rise and fall.

Oddly enough, this documentary was completed in 2014 - the same year that another feature-length expose on Cannon Films was produced: THE GO-GO BOYS: THE INSIDE STORY OF CANNON FILMS. I haven't seen that but, despite that featuring contributions from the likes of Sylvester Stallone and Billy Drago, it would have to go some way to compete with Hartley's fast-paced, polished and sincere efforts.

ELECTRIC BOOGALOO comes to UK DVD courtesy of our friends at Metrodome.

The film is presented here in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio, and has been anamorphically enhanced for 16x9 televisions. Picture quality is, of course, pin-sharp and detailed during the interview segments. Archive footage understandably varies in quality, while the movie clips are generally good-looking. Colours are deep and true.

English audio is presented in a nice, evenly balanced and clean 2.0 mix.

Metrodome's DVD kicks off with a suitably loud, trashily colourful animated main menu page. From there, a static scene selection menu allows access to the film via 12 chapters.

There are no bonus features. Having said that, the disc does default to open with trailers for WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS, STAGE FRIGHT and THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN (the remake/sequel). But they're not extras per se...

ELECTRIC BOOGALOO is fun, insightful and entertaining. Perhaps a tad overlong at 102 minutes in length, but that notwithstanding this is likely to stand the test of time as the ultimate guide to a company the likes of which we're never going to see the likes of again.

Another great achievement for Mark Hartley.

Review by Stuart Willis

Released by Metrodome
Region 2
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review