"This is the sort of shit you do, isn't it?" said Mostly Film's editor as he passed me the review copy of Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story Of Cannon Films. (I'm paraphrasing, but it was something like that.)
There's no denying that it's exactly the sort of shit I do. And initially, I was reluctant to take on the job simply because it's shit I've already done once before: Electric Boogaloo played at last year's LFF, and I reviewed it then. I wasn't sure if I could come up with a sufficiently different angle to justify a second review. But then I found one: this is the third in a series of documentaries made by Mark Hartley on the subject of exploitation cinema, so why not watch them all back-to-back?
Not Quite Hollywood was a favourite of mine at LFF 2008, and I'm already the proud owner of the Australian two-disc special edition, which includes a second disc of Ozploitation trailers that's longer than the main feature itself. Machete Maidens Unleashed never had a theatrical release in the UK, so it came as a surprise to discover that it's downloadable on iTunes for a ridiculous £1.89. Electric Boogaloo, meanwhile, is hitting UK cinemas tomorrow (June 5th), with a home video release to follow on July 13th.
I talk about them all in my piece on Mostly Film entitled Wild Untold Stories, but obviously the main focus is on the film that's getting released this weekend. So the Red Button Bonus Content you're getting here is no fewer than twenty trailers for films by the Cannon Group, all of which are discussed in the Electric Boogaloo documentary. One of the points raised in the film is that Cannon weren't all about tacky exploitation, and balanced their roster out with serious movies made by overlooked genius directors. Rest assured, though, this collection of trailers is more skewed towards the trashy, so expect tits and gore all over the place, and don't try to watch it at work.
- Operation Thunderbolt (Menahem Golan, 1977) A pre-Cannon movie from Golan, and a local hit in Israel - not surprising, as it's a gung-ho take on the Entebbe Airport raid.
- Lemon Popsicle (Boaz Davidson, 1978) The film that made Golan and Globus internationally: a very Israeli sex comedy with a very British trailer.
- The Apple (Menahem Golan, 1980) A rock musical set in the wild dystopian future of 1994. If you only watch one trailer out of the 20 here, this has to be the one.
- The Last American Virgin (Boaz Davidson, 1982) Davidson remaking Lemon Popsicle for the Americans - in some scenes, as you'll see here, it's a shot-for-shot copy.
- The Wicked Lady (Michael Winner, 1983) Winner's whips 'n' tits historical romp, made in the gap between Death Wish 2 and Death Wish 3.
- Breakin' (Joel Silberg, 1984) Known as Breakdance in the UK. Famously followed up by Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo, a title that's been parodied more times than the actual film has been watched.
- Bolero (John Derek, 1984) Bo Derek's husband directs her in a spectacularly tacky erotic drama. Judging from her interviews in Electric Boogaloo three decades later, she's got one hell of a picture in her attic.
- Ninja III: The Domination (Sam Firstenberg, 1984) Previously discussed here.
- Missing In Action (Joseph Zito, 1984) Chuck Norris. Not much else to be said, really.
- Lifeforce (Tobe Hooper, 1985) Possibly the least safe-for-work trailer in this set, because they couldn't resist using Mathilda May's boobs as selling points.
- American Ninja (Sam Firstenberg, 1985) It's boldly claimed in the documentary that nobody in the West knew the word 'ninja' until the Cannon films. Nevertheless, as this trailer shows, in the UK they called it American Warrior.
- Death Wish 3 (Michael Winner, 1985) See if you can spot Alex Winter, aka William S. Preston Esq., as one of the thugs terrorising New York. No way, dude!
- King Solomon's Mines (J. Lee Thompson, 1985) One of the best gags in Electric Boogaloo is the story of how Sharon Stone was cast in this film by mistake.
- Runaway Train (Andrei Konchalovsky, 1985) Okay, there's a trailer for a genuinely great film in here, apologies for the inconsistency. Note the recycling: it's the Lifeforce theme music again!
- The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (Tobe Hooper, 1986) Funny to think that censorship in the UK used to be so tight, this sequel didn't come out over here till 2001.
- Over The Top (Menahem Golan, 1987) Despite Golan's best efforts, arm-wrestling films never really took off as a genre.
- Superman IV: The Quest For Peace (Sidney J. Furie, 1987) Useful tip: if you're making a big-budget Superman film and shooting the Metropolis scenes in Milton Keynes, your budget isn't big enough.
- Masters Of The Universe (Gary Goddard, 1987) It was already a hugely popular line of action figures and an even more popular TV cartoon: how could a movie version fail? I think you know the answer to that one by now.
- Lambada (Joel Silberg, 1990) Yoram Globus' Lambada film.
- The Forbidden Dance (Greydon Clark, 1990) Menahem Golan's Lambada film. You'll need to watch Electric Boogaloo for an explanation of all this.