Palatable: Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films

Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films (2014)
Written and directed by Mark Hartley
Produced by James Packer, Brett Ratner, Veronica Fury, Mark Hartley, Nate Bolotin, Todd Brown, Jeff Harrison, Hugh Marks
Starring Menahem Golan, Yoram Globus, Boaz Davidson, Alex Winter, Gary Goddard, Avi Lerner, Sybil Danning, Tobe Hooper, Catherine Mary Stewart, Alain Jakubowicz, John Thompson, Rusty Lemorande, Frank Yablans, Tom Luddy, Chuck Norris, Charles Matthau, Albert Pyun, James Bruner, Sam Firstenberg, Michael Winner, Richard Chamberlain, Daniel Loewenthal, Michael Dudikoff, Lucinda Dickey, Mark Goldblatt, Adolfo Quinones, Michael Chambers, Barbet Schroeder, Diane Franklin, Charles Bronson, Mark Rosenthal, Robin Sherwood, Marina Sirtis, John G. Avildsen, Dan Wolman, Michael Hartman, Elliott Gould, Bo Derek, Pieter Jan Brugge, Luigi Cozzi, Christopher Pearce, Stephen Tolkin, Dolph Lundgren, Quentin Falk, Franco Zeffirelli, Richard Kraft, Cynthia Hargrave, Sheldon Lettich, Michael Armstrong, Just Jaeckin, Roni Ya’ackov, Olivia d’Abo, Mark Helfrich, Molly Ringwald, Franco Nero, Yftach Katzur, Greydon Clark, Edward R. Pressman, Malcolm J. Christopher, Danny Dimbort, Itzik Kol, Harrison Ellenshaw, John Frankenheimer, David Paulsen, David Womark, Martine Beswick, Pete Walker, Lance Hool, Gary Nelson, Christopher C. Dewey, John Cassavetes, John Grover, David Engelbach, Roy Langsdon, William Stout, John Platt, Sheldon Renan, Allen DeBevoise, Al Ruban, Alan Roderick-Jones, Oliver Tobias, Laurene Landon, Gideon Porath, Jerry Schatzberg
A rapid embarrassment of footage from the Cannon catalog and scores of interviews form this arresting, alacritous account of the famously fearless, tasteless, brash, brainish cousins Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, chronicling their chaotic character and career from penurious origins to a dizzying, schlocky summit of cinematic production to a downfall proceeding from routine overextension, arrearage and incompetence. An industriously crafted string of low-budget hits resulted in the domination of their native Israel’s filmic industry and first few tacky international hits; their acquisition of exploitative B-studio Cannon as a North American beachhead capacitated an initial mass-production of racy horrors, glitzy pet projects and softcore pornography marketed as bodice rippers antedating a diverse glut of goofy genre pictures proposed to please both international and American audiences; from an aggressive, incessant generation of cartoonishly violent original flicks and sequels to theretofore respectable properties, outstanding profits were parlayed to purchase the British Thorn EMI Screen Entertainment, Dutch Tuschinski Theatres, American Commonwealth Theaters, and to unstintingly sponsor struggling, accomplished auteurs (Cassavetes, Zeffirelli, Godard, Altman, Frankenheimer, Konchalovsky) and cult figures of lesser repute (Schroeder, Schepsi, Schatzberg, Mailer, Harvey) whose preferred projects weren’t likely to materialize without such largesse. Another generous investment by junk bond lord Michael Milken enabled Cannon’s annual rate of feature production to exceed by magnitudes of three to nine times those of Hollywood’s majors as the firm devoured theatrical chains before soaring debt and condign flops sank their largely chintzy yet pioneering substantive endeavor. Anecdotic narration by the performers (Winter, Danning, Stewart, Chamberlain, Dudikoff, Dickey, Quinones, Chambers, Franklin, Sirtis, Gould, Derek, Lundgren, d’Abo, Ringwald, Sherwood, Nero, Katzur, Beswick, Tobias, Landon), directors (Davidson, Goddard, Hooper, Lemorande, Pyun, Schroeder, Avildsen, Zeffirelli, Clark, Firstenberg, Wolman, Cozzi, Jaeckin, Walker, Nelson, Schatzberg) and journeymen (Jakubowicz, Bruner, Loewenthal, Goldblatt, Rosenthal, Tolkin, Kraft, Armstrong, Helfrich, Ellenshaw, Paulsen, Grover, Engelbach, Langsdon, Stout, Platt, Renan, Ruban, Roderick-Jones, Porath) once employed by the cousins Globus and their associated producers (Lerner, Thompson, Luddy, Hartman, Brugge, Pearce, Ya’ackov, Pressman, Christopher, Dimbort, Kol, Womark, Hool, Dewey, DeBevoise) characterizes them as exhaustively as their uncommon, effective emporeutic strategies, and frequently catastrophic approach to their medium. A perfect pair for purveyance of lowbrow fare, the adolescent aesthetics and dauntless drive of moviemaker Menahem meshed well with the financial knack of relatively reserved Yoram, a remarkably artful businessman unique for an M.O. whereby unproduced pictures were financed by sales to foreign distributors on the strength of promotional materials. Their ambitions far outstripped their art, and from miserly budgetary practices, atrocious quality control and silly sensibilities arose a half-dozen frustrated blockbusters (Lifeforce, Masters of the Universe, Superman IV) that might’ve proven as proportionally profitable as hits produced for far less, as Delta Force, Invasion U.S.A., Breakin’, Missing in Action, the hysterically flamboyant sequels to Death Wish and Rocky, etc. For the sheer sweep of their collaborations, Hartley’s history of the indefatigable Go-Go Boys is a treat for cinephiles of any palate; whatever one’s taste, they’re likely to spy someone whose work they appreciate. Still chafing from his own association with the overbearing Israelis, quondam MGM head Yablans derisively contrasts Golan-Globus with the Weinstein brothers, but in retrospect, history’s likely to favor the former duo. Cannon boasts for its brief foray into art over twice as many great films by great filmmakers than Miramax, and their bloody, hokey, gawky appeals to both Israeli and American nationalism are far more enjoyable than the ostentatious, overproduced agitprop plied by the Weinsteins before Harvey’s weakness for sexual harassment and the occasional rape doomed their own professional prospects. Despite their abounding artistic and commercial failures, Golan-Globus and their legacy denote the fullest potential of independent filmmaking, and most garish actualization of the American dream.

Palatable: Body Bags

Body Bags (1993)
Directed by John Carpenter, Tobe Hooper, Larry Sulkis
Written by Billy Brown, Dan Angel
Produced by John Carpenter, Sandy King, Dan Angel
Starring Alex Datcher, Robert Carradine, David Naughton, Stacy Keach, David Warner, Debbie Harry, Mark Hamill, Twiggy, John Agar, John Carpenter
In his first speaking role since his underwhelming cameo in The Fog, Carpenter humorously, hammily hosts the frame story of this playful, triplex horror anthology as an undead coroner expressing a morbid fondness for wordplay and anatomical gore. Assigned to her first night shift at an isolated Gas Station on the outskirts of Michael Myers’ hometown, Datcher’s a comely collegian contending with her inexperience and strangers creepy and clownish during a spate of serial murders. His receding hairline spurs a vaingloriously insecure bachelor (Keach) to patronize an agency touting by telecast their top-grade crinal restoration procedure; though their treatment augments his Hair to flowing locks, this restoration is but a side-effect of its pestilential objective. A car crash deprives of a major-league heavy hitter (Hamill) one vital Eye, but a successful opthalmic transplant performed by a pioneering surgeon (Agar) replaces it with another of heterochromatic hue; maddened by visions of his donor’s atrocities, the batter terrorizes his loving wife (Twiggy). These segments were initially intended to be episodes of an eponymous series pitched to Showtime as a rival to HBO’s thematically and stylistically conformable Tales from the Crypt. Though the network scuttled the series, it cablecast this feature-length alternative. Carpenter’s portions are respectively exciting and as pleasantly risible as ruffling, but Hooper’s offering is the longest and least of the three, and hardly as interesting as Eric Red’s kindred and coeval Jeff Fahey vehicle, Body Parts. Nevertheless, if the frights and frolic of Bags aren’t satisfactorily frequent to sustain the interest of Carpenter’s or Hooper’s devotees, it may for them be redeemed by its cast of fan favorites and a copiousness of cameos: Hooper, Wes Craven, Sam Raimi, Roger Corman, Tom Arnold, et al. Hardly a career highlight for any of its participants, this peripheral curiosity is nonetheless essential viewing for completists of its star moviemakers.
Recommended for a double feature paired any Creepshow feature or Tales from the Darkside: The Movie.