1 March 2015 | Red-Barracuda
Hugely entertaining look at a time when B movies were so much fun
I remember pretty clearly the Cannon Films logo and its distinctive loud crashing sound accompaniment that introduced so many films I watched on video in my teenage years in the 80's. I never really thought too much about it until now, having seen this wildly entertaining documentary about these B movie mavericks. A few years ago I saw another similarly fun documentary about specific genre films, Machete Maidens Unleashed, a film also helmed by the same director Mark Hartley. Well, he sure has a knack for these things because this one follows a pretty similar template where we get to hear anecdotes from a large selection of people who were involved in the making of these flicks and, better still, many clips from a wide ranging assortment of the crazy, fun and stupid movies that Cannon became famous for. They were run by two Israelis Menahem Golanand Yoram Globus (neither of whom appeared in the documentary deciding in true Cannon style to make their own documentary on the subject simultaneously).
Their main decade was the 80's where they unleashed a huge number of low budget movies from horror to sexploitation to action and dance movies plus a whole lot in between. They were mainly known to be purveyors of schlock entertainment and with good reason as, despite releasing some acclaimed films and working with some important directors such as John Cassavetes and Jean Luc Godard, they were in the main responsible for straight-ahead genre pictures. Their films have a refreshing absence of any political correctness whatsoever and often feature copious amounts of nudity and violence, quite often at the same time as in the case of some notorious films in their catalogue such as Death Wish II (1982). Other times they featured laughably bad special effects like can be seen in Hercules (1983), some were blatant bandwagon jumpers like the hip hop dance film Breakin' (1984), they also released the notoriously sexy Bo Derek vehicle Bolero (1984) which so outraged MGM who had set up a distribution deal with them, they released the very silly sequel The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986), while some of their output simply defies description like the extremely strange and silly musical The Apple (1980). They made many Charles Bronson and Chuck Norris vehicles; they discovered Jean Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren and gave a platform for cult directors like Tobe Hooper to make movies. Things only started to go wrong in 1987 when they began to over-reach themselves and spent multi-millions on three box office disasters - the Sylvester Stallone film Over the Top which was about
.arm wrestling; the superhero movie Superman IV: The Quest for Peace which was very expensive for them but not expensive enough to execute good enough special effects resulting in a laughable film; and finally Masters of the Universe, a film based on the popular 80's toys. So there is a dramatic story arc to this, which helps it function as a narrative but in the main it works so well simply because it is chock-full of entertaining clips from an array of movies and has some funny observations from the people involved. For any B movie lover this really is a must. And what's more, you are guaranteed to be led to seek out a few new flicks off the back of it.