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ELECTRIC BOOGALOO: CANNON FILMS DOCUMENTARY

year: 2014
For the most part, there are two kinds of Cult Films: really bad cheap ones that get a following for being so fun and campy, or solid, classic blockbusters that simply won't go away, spawning sequel after sequel and endless conventions and, you know, all that jazz.

In this, ELECTRIC BOOGALOO: THE WILD, UNTOLD STORY OF CANNON FILMS, instead of celebrating (ironic or otherwise) b-movies or motion pictures that tried for greatness and failed, there's an endless hammering of really irritated people talking down the two men who made up the surprisingly successful CANNON company, Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, wheeler-dealer Israelis who loved spawning movies so much they just couldn't stop. It was like an addiction. A craze. One that, beyond anyone's opinion herein and simply fact, did eventually bring down an immense empire as, between the lines, there's a feeling the boys always wanted to create greatness on the big screen, so their cinematic turkeys probably did make them look pretty awful, at the time. In other words, if they set out to make money on junk, they succeeded (and were obviously extremely difficult to work with, or understand... verbally). But yearning to be the next, say, Sam Peckinpah or Walter Hill, and winding up, at times, digging themselves beneath Roger Corman or Troma... at least according to most of the interviews... does put some of the gripes into perspective. Wannabe Kings who turned out Jesters is an intriguing premise.

DocScore: *
The main problem here is that some of the better "b" action pictures, like exciting vehicles starring Charles Bronson and Chuck Norris, are thrown into a trashy collage of film clips without differentiating the good from the bad from the ugly of the Cannon film legacy. After a while it's apparent that only the worst, most embarrassing scenes are being shown from each and every vehicle. Martin DiBergi didn't even make SPINAL TAP look this awful, and he was trying!

In truth, and told solidly by a few of the bonafide interviews... mirroring Icarus, what killed Cannon was reaching too far beyond low-budget success. Enter their ultimate disaster, SUPERMAN IV, blasted for the awful special effects since the duo didn't want to spend the money to make it... you know... actually good. But in truth, that movie's script, a preposterously dated (even at the time), overly obvious political anti nukes message, is what made it stink to high heaven. If $100 million were put into QUEST FOR PEACE, there would be no difference. That ship would have sunk if Spielberg directed.  

Bad from the start... the plot
All in all, BOOGALOO is a "talking head" documentary, showcasing more pissed off, anti Cannon haters than movie fans being able to (without constant interruption) enjoy longer clips of the eclectic movies that, as bad as some might be... like Lou Ferrigno as HERCULES throwing a bear into outer space... are what make cult films so memorable and beloved. And that's not including the risk involved in making a movie at all, no matter what the turnout.

On the lighter side, Golan/Globus did back a few great "art appreciated" movies like BARFLY and RUNAWAY TRAIN, and in one nice moment, the latter film's director, Andrey Konchalovskiy, admits he couldn't have made his project without Cannon. But this compliment is quickly followed by someone else saying if, for example, an Orion produced the movie, it would have been a hit and not bombed. So even their successes are blasted: the Fairness Doctrine in reverse. (Morgan Freeman was discovered not from GLORY but Cannon's STREET SMART, which isn't even mentioned.) For the subjects at hand just can't win with ELECTRIC BOOGALOO, which, by the way, is the name of an extremely bad sequel to an otherwise entertaining and successful film, BREAKIN', liken to calling the biography of Henry Ford THE EDSEL.

Richard Kraft takes over
If BOOGALOO only got more in-depth with history and facts instead of forgotten actors like Alex Winter, who compared Bronson's acting to playing a lazy round of golf, or by far the most annoying and biased interviewee, tubby, flamboyant, scarf-wearing Cannon music supervisor Richard Kraft, whose closing line, which is the second to last sentence uttered in this overly bitter, monotonous documentary, goes exactly like this:

"Cannon's legacy will be the insane stories about how that many movies got made during a very specific period of time by two guys who had no business doing any of it." 

Well for starters, there weren't any insane stories at all. Not even a sane story. Not one single actual story with a beginning, middle and end! That would have been just fine, and interesting, in-depth, and what a documentary should be. Instead we have a rushed jigsaw jumble of angry, spiteful comments and particularly banal film clips to fit within whatever trash is being uttered. And as for Richard Kraft... His bosses, difficult or otherwise, did a lot of business, and at least Dick made money, and a chance to, for some strange reason, completely headline a documentary that featured Tobe Hooper, Robert Forster, Sybil Danning, John Frankenheimer and other genuinely talented folks who, like Cannon itself, are at least has-beens as opposed to a never-was (famous or remembered) grump like Kraft. It's too bad the biggest nothing had to be pretty much everything here. So for everyone who adores cult films, stay away from this festival of vengeful hatred, and simply watch some of the CANNON FILMS being bashed, because they're damn fun to experience, and quite often, pretty damn entertaining.

RATING: *1/2
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