Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films / Machete Maidens Unleashed! [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - Australia - Umbrella Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: James-Masaki Ryan (7th April 2017).
The Film

“Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films" (2014)

When you watch a movie that starts with the Cannon logo, you know you are in for a treat. Dominating cinemas in the 1980s with a variety of films that were everything from trash to art in a variety of genres, the company was both loved and hated by the people who watched films and the people who made them. But who was behind Cannon and where did they go?

Though it was in the 1980s that Cannon was at its peak, the company made its start as an independent distribution company in 1967 by Dennis Friedland and Chris Dewey. The Swedish import “Inga” was its first major hit, and their self-produced “Joe” from 1970 starring Peter Boyle was a major success critically and financially, but throughout the 70s their output was minimal in returns or attention. It was in 1979 that Friedland and Dewey sold the company to Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus - two Israeli businessmen/filmmakers who would transform the company with their unconventional practices. Golan was a filmmaker in Israel who had previously directed and produced “Lemon Popsicle” - a sex comedy that took Israel by storm with its exploitive nature and becoming a massive financial hit. His cousin Globus was the businessman of the team, helping with the financial aspects of the productions. The two had an eye for Hollywood and expanding their business even further, and with 500,000 dollars they were able to buy Cannon and turn it into their own film company to hit the international market.

Golan and Globus were all about quantity, by making as many films as possible in various genres on limited budgets. They made action films such as “Invasion USA”, “Enter the Ninja”, and “Death Wish II” and its sequels. There were music inspired films such as “Breakin’”, its sequel “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo”, and the musical “The Apple”. Period dramas such as “Mata Hari” and “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”. Adventure films like “King Solomon’s Mines” and “Hercules” were also produced. Science fiction films such as “Lifeforce” and “Invaders from Mars”. In addition the company produced some high profile arthouse films such as “King Lear” by Jean-Luc Godard, “Tough Guys Don’t Dance” by Norman Mailer, Andrei Konchalovsky's “Runaway Train” based on a story by Akira Kurosawa, “Love Streams” by John Cassavetes, and Franco Zeffirelli’s adaptation of “Otello”. Golan and Globus did not care much in terms of quality of the films but by having their product made quickly in small budgets but with high returns. The formula worked for many productions that became big hits. For the others that bombed, the hits made up for the loss. The cousins’ reign came to an end by 1990, where Golan left the company and Globus remained with Pathe - the company that bought out the Cannon group. The 90s saw barely any noticeable output from the Cannon group and the studio closed its doors in 1994.

But during the time that Golan and Globus ran the company, it certainly was the unlikely B-grade studio that started to take control of the Hollywood system for better or for worse. “Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films” is exactly what the title says. It’s a chronicle of the company through the people who went through the experience. The various directors, actors, and crew members who worked on the many productions through the golden 1980s are interviewed to share their experiences. There are many funny stories about the limited budget works and how the penny-pinching was done, there are also comments on frustration and criticism of the work, and many comments about the cousins and how they ran the studio in their own uncompromising way. Sadly missing from the documentary are Golan and Globus who both refused to be interviewed for the film. But in fact at the same time, made their own documentary about their years at Cannon entitled “The Go Go Boys: The Inside Story of Cannon Films”. With “Electric Boogaloo”, it may have not been the image of the company that Golan and Globus saw, but through the eyes of the people who experienced it firsthand, and it certainly is borderline insane.

“Machete Maidens Unleashed” (2010)

From the late 60s onwards, The Philippines was an ideal place for filmmaking. It was an exotic location with jungles, seas, and beauty, and also a place where labor was cheap. Filipino horror productions such as “Mad Doctor of Blood Island” were making waves in American drive-in theaters with its formula of the 3 B’s: Beasts, Blood, and Breasts. This attracted American producer Roger Corman for his productions at New World Pictures to make his films there, as shooting in the United States became a bit more expensive over time. Women in prison films such as “The Big Doll House” and “Black Mama/White Mama” were big successes, Blaxploitation films like “Savage!” and “TNT Jackson” were also hits. Corman’s productions were cashing in but the people working on set and behind the cameras on location were not all about smiles.

Young directors and actors were excited to go abroad to shoot but things were less than ideal. Safety standards were non-existent with Filipino stuntmen risking their lives. There were massive bugs, heated weather, and unsanitary locations which were not monitored by any health standards. With no set rules, the filmmakers were basically allowed to do anything that was possible in their limited budget. But in 1972 when Ferdinand Marcos came to power and establishing martial law, this could have led to censorship and a stop to productions. But instead the opposite happened, as Marcos and his wife Imelda Marcos were more than happy to accept bribes from foreign producers in exchange for help on productions. The Filipino military were given cooperation in war movies and combat scenes, helicopters were borrowed for aerial shots, and there was no issue whatsoever with censorship as these were for export and not for Filipino audiences, so content that was anti-government or directed metaphorically about the Marcos regime passed by unnoticed. And it was not only the foreign productions making a splash - the native Filipino films were gaining ground, especially with the films starring Weng Weng - the tiniest film superstar at only 83 cm tall. Featuring interviews with Corman along with filmmakers such as John Landis, Joe Dante, Allan Arkush, Eddie Romero, Jack Hill and with actors such as Pam Grier, Sid Haig, R. Lee Ermey and more, “Machete Maidens Unleashed!” is a hugely entertaining documentary about filmmaking that didn’t play by the rules.

Mark Hartley has made a name for himself in the Australian music video world and the Blu-ray/DVD market directing many award winning works. He has made more than 150 music videos for various acts including The Living End, You Am I, Powderfinger among many other Australian acts under his credit, with multiple award nominations and wins. As for the home video market, working at Umbrella Entertainment and creating bonus features such as the eye opening making of “Turkey Shoot” and acclaimed the nearly 2 hour “A Dream Within a Dream: The Making of 'Picnic at Hanging Rock'” documentary. With works focusing on the history of Australian cinema, a project that was eight years in the making came to fruition with 2008’s acclaimed documentary “Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation!”, which chronicled the rise of independent and innovative work from Australia from the 1970s onwards. The film was acclaimed around the world bringing a genre and movement unknown to both Australians and non-Australians. Hartley’s hope was to go into fiction feature filmmaking, but that was put on hold as the next project commissioned was yet another documentary - and this time focusing on The Philippines.

Taking a crash course by watching about 100 films shot in The Philippines by both Filipino filmmakers and by foreign productions, the project took Hartley and his film crew around the world - The US, the UK, France, Singapore, the Philippines for a series of interviews. Directors, producers, actors were interviewed about their experiences and their reactions to the films along with information on the Filipino cinema industry and the changing political landscape of the country where safety standards were basically non-existent. The movies made were crazy but the behind the scenes stories were sometimes crazier. Unconfirmed info that real dead bodies were used in some films as “props”, real violence to the stunt people rather than “faking it”, and how a few extra Pesos could go a long way with under the table cooperation - just some of the many stories featured in the documentary “Machete Maidens Unleashed!” which was released in 2010.

Hartley was able to film his first narrative feature film in 2013 - a remake of the Ozploitation cult classic “Patrick” which was received very positively. But fans wanted more documentary goodness. 2014’s “Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films" was another grand production for a documentary by Hartley and led the same great formula of his previous two genre documentary works. But Cannon wasn’t particularly a “genre” like Ozploitation in “Not Quite Hollywood” or the exploitation films of Roger Corman in “Machete Maidens Unleashed!”. Instead it was a focus on the methods and the weirdness of the two Israeli moguls that ran the company in the 1980s. Golan and Globus had the mindset of Roger Corman by making cheap films and churning them out, but unlike Corman who had a genuine eye for talent and an invaluable school of low budget filmmaking, Golan and Globus were closer to that of Ed Wood. They thought they had the talent but most of the time it wasn’t true. To counter the B-grade movies and negative criticism, they made arthouse films to appease those who ridiculed. Though the Cassavetes and Godard films were not money makers, it still seemed to offer “cred” missing from the average Cannon production, where nudity, explosions, and violence ruled.

Hartley’s productions are excellent as he has a great sense of editing the amazing amount of footage along with clips from the films and behind-the-scenes materials to create a fascinating document of a bygone era of movies. Corman is still making movies as a producer but the charm of the older films from New World that still fascinates and amazes much more than the recent SyFy channel productions. Cannon as well. Menahem Golan’s directorial films post-Cannon are rarely discussed as they did not make much of an impact critically or commercially, and Yoram Globus went back to Israel to work mostly in television productions. Golan died in 2014 at the age of 85.

People may have called many of the works featured in both documentaries as trash or low grade, but it’s undeniable that there was an audience fascinated by the exploitation genre and the non-Hollywood low budget appeal. While “Machete Maidens Unleashed!” did not get a reaction as big as “Not Quite Hollywood”, it still received high acclaim from critics. “Electric Boogaloo” also received very high acclaim with a wider release in America thanks to producer Brett Ratner and also distribution from Drafthouse Films. For audiences, you can easily watch a big budget modern Hollywood production with huge special effects and cinematography and think to yourself “How did they do that?!”, while watching the Roger Corman New World films and Cannon films you will think to yourself, “Did they really do that?!”

Note this is a region ALL Blu-ray which will play back on any Blu-ray player worldwide

Video

Umbrella Entertainment presents both films in 1080p in the AVC MPEG-4 codec in the original theatrical 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Both films have the similar basic flow of interviews, clips, and some animation to bridge the gaps. The interview segments will vary from person to person as they were conducted in different places around the world, but for the most part look quite good being shot in high definition and color corrected later for consistency. The animation segments are very clean as they come from a digital source. The weakest of course comes from the film clips used. Some are grainy and scratchy trailers, some are standard definition upscales. Overall both films are given very good transfers and it’s hard to fault the picture quality of the film clips.

The runtime of “Electric Boogaloo” is 106:19.
The runtime of “Machete Maidens Unleashed!” is 87:47.

Audio

English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Both films are given a 5.1 lossless audio track. Interview segments are mostly centered while music, effects, and film clips are used for the left, right, and surrounding speakers. Dialogue is usually clear and easy to hear. There are some moments where the interview subjects have hard to understand accents for which there are burned-in English subtitles. The film clips are sometimes scratchy and hissy due to the source material quality, but nothing too deterring from enjoyment.

There are burned-in English subtitles for the hard-to-hear accents and one or two sentences that are non-English for both films. No hard-of-hearing subtitles are offered.

Extras

Umbrella Entertainment presents both films and all the extras on one dual layer Blu-ray disc. The menus are easy to navigate with the extras for both films divided as follows:

"Electric Boogaloo" Extras

- Deleted & Extended Scenes (37:22)
With hours and hours of interview footage shot around the world, a selection is provided here in both extended interviews and completely deleted segments. It was a little strange to think that Van Damme’s “Bloodsport” got no mention in the film, but it is presented in the deleted scenes along with a few more notable films.

The complete list of chapters are:
Michael Winner Profile (extended), “10 to Midnight” deleted sequence, “Grace Quigley” deleted sequence, Arthouse Films - extended sequence, “Tough Guys Don’t Dance” deleted sequence, “Firewalker” deleted sequence, development of “Spider-Man” movie deleted sequence, “Street Smart” deleted sequence, “Bloodsport” deleted sequence, “Captain America” deleted sequence, “Treasure of the Four Crowns” deleted sequence, Menahem Golan impersonations, Mark’s t-shirt collection, and Roy and John read their favourite critique.
in 480i MPEG-2, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

- Michael Dudikoff Extended Interview (12:33)
The star of “American Ninja” gives a little more information on his discovery and eventual brushing aside by Cannon.
in 480i MPEG-2, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

- "A Word with Frank Yablans" featurette (4:07)
Screenwriter Frank Yablans gives a no-holds-barred interview on Cannon where he has nothing positive to say about Goran and Globus, and admits that he wishes that he had something positive to mention. Yablans died in 2014 at the age of 79.
in 480i MPEG-2, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

- Cannon Films trailer reel (107:51)
With an amazing roster of crazy films in their library, here is a sampling of the work by Cannon throughout the years. The trailers come from a variety of sources with some being pretty good and some looking quite awful in picture and sound quality.

The full list of trailers are as follows:
“Inga”, “Joe”, “Maid in Sweden”, “The Blood on Satan’s Claw”, “Hot T-Shirts”, “The Apple”, “Schizoid”, “New Years Evil”, “Happy Hooker Goes Hollywood”, “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”, “Body and Soul”, “Enter the Ninja”, “That Championship Season”, “The Last American Virgin”, “Death Wish II”, “Wicked Lady”, “Revenge of the Ninja”, “Hercules”, “10 to Midnight”, “Treasure of the Four Crowns”, “Breakin’”, “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo”, “Making the Grade”, “The Ambassador”, “The Naked Face”, “Sword of the Valiant”, “Bolero”, “Maria’s Lovers”, “Missing in Action 2: The Beginning”, “Mata Hari”, “Hercules II: The Adventures of Hercules”, “Lifeforce”, “King Solomon’s Mines”, “Death Wish 3”, “American Ninja” (as “American Warrior”), “Invasion USA”, “Runaway Train”, “Firewalker”, “Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold”, “Invaders from Mars”, “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2”, “The Delta Force”, “52 Pick-Up”, “Cobra”, “American Ninja 2: The Confrontation”, “Assassination”, “Street Smart”, “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace”, “Masters of the Universe”, “Over the Top”, “Death Wish 4: The Crackdown”, “Tough Guys Don’t Dance”, “Alien from L.A.”, “Messenger of Death”, “Salsa”, “American Ninja 3: Blood Hunt”, “Sinbad of the Seven Seas”, “Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects”, “Cyborg”, “Lambada”
in 480i MPEG-2, in various aspect ratios, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

- TIFF Red Carpet Report (6:17)
Rovert A. Mitchell interviews Mark Hartley, Robin Sherwood and Richard Kraft on the red carpet at the Torinto International Film Festival.
in 480i MPEG-2, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

- Variety Studio Interview with Brett Ratner & Mark Hartley (5:20)
Brett Ratner and Mark Hartley give an on stage interview for the press. They talk about Ratner’s involvement in getting the rights to use the film clips and vintage materials from MGM, and some of the more outrageous stunts by Cannon such as making fake film posters for sales.
in 480i MPEG-2, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

- UK Press Interview (4:33)
An on camera interview with Mark Hartley, he gives a brief summary of Cannon and comments on his favorite Cannon films.
in 480i MPEG-2, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

- Cannon Films Poster & Stills Gallery (18:47)
A very large gallery of posters and ads for Cannon titles throughout the years, and in addition includes the movie posters that were made but the films were never made such as “Pinocchio the Robot” and “Superman V”.
in 480i MPEG-2, in 1.78:1, Music Dolby Digital 2.0

- Behind the Scenes Gallery (6:25)
A collection of interview stills, travel shots, film festivals, and posters.
in 480i MPEG-2, in 1.78:1, Music Dolby Digital 2.0

- Theatrical Trailer (2:18)
The original trailer is presented here, and in HD!
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

"Machete Maidens Unleashed!" extras

- Audio commentary with the director & crew
Featuring Mark Hartley, Jock Healy (sound recordist), Angelo Sartore (camera assistant), and Melissa Hines (line producer), the group talk about various aspects of the production. Hartley talks about the smooth working condition behind the scenes as he learned what to do and what not to do from “Not Quite Hollywood”, and about some of the difficulties encountered on the making of the film by traveling around the world.
in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

- More Wild & Untold Stories (86:32)
If the film’s information wasn’t enough here are nearly an hour and a half of deleted segments. The quality on these clips are fair, but since they are not color corrected or edited completely, it is a par lower in picture and sound quality compared to the finished film.

The following segments are provided:
“More on Health and Safety”, “More from Corman”, “More from Allan Arkush & Joe Dante”, “More from John Davison”, “More from John Landis”, “More from Jack Hill”, “More from Sid Haig”, “More from Joe Viola”, “More from Roseanne Keaton”, “More from Laurie Rose”, “More from Chris Mitchum”, “More from Marlene Clark”, “More from Paul Koslo”, “More from Darby Hinton”, “More from R. Lee Ermey”, deleted scene for “Invaders of the Lost Gold”, deleted scene from “Enforcer from Death Row” and “Blind Rage”.
in 480i MPEG-2, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

- Filipino trailer reel (68:42)
More than an hour of trailers from Filipino exploitation and Roger Corman’s own productions shot in the Philippines.

The following trailers are offered:
“The Raiders of Leyte Gulf”, “Terror Is a Man”, “The Mad Doctor of Blood Island”, “Beast of Blood”, “Beast of the Yellow Night”, “The Big Dollhouse”, “Women in Cages”, “The Big Birdcage”, “Curse of the Cobra Woman”, “The Hot Fox”, “Black Mama / White Mama”, “The Woman Hunt”, “The Twilight People”, “Beyond Atlantis”, “Savage Sisters”, “Savage!”, “TNT Jackson”, “Fly Me”, “Covergirl Models”, “Ebony, Ivory and Jade”, “Hollywood Boulevard”, “Naked Fist”, “They Call Him Chop Suey”, “Master Samurai”, “Devil’s Three”, “The One-Armed Executioner”, “The Losers”, “For Your Height Only”, “Up from the Depths”
in 480i MPEG-2, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

- Fantastic Fest Red Carpet Report (4:27)
Roger Corman was given a Lifetime Achievement Award at this event which showed “Sharktopus” and “Machete Maidens Unleashed!” back to back. There are quick interviews with Mark Hartley, Roger & Julie Corman, and Declan O’Brien. “Hero” by Foo Fighters is used as background music.
in 480i MPEG-2, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

- Fantastic Fest Interview (2:47)
A behind-the-scenes interview with Mark Hartley by Fearnet.
in 480i MPEG-2, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

- Fantastic Fest Q&A with Roger & Julie Corman, Mark Hartley & Tim League (13:27)
An audio only post screening Q&A is here, though it doesn’t sound like the complete Q&A as it seems to get cut off at the end.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

- Rue Morgue Radio Interview (29:10)
Another audio only extra, with the horror themed Rue Morgue Radio interviewing Hartley about his work on “Machete Maidens Unleashed!”. Hartley sounds like a phone recording so it was not an interview done in studio. He talks about the production, some thoughts on Weng Weng, and doing work for Umbrella Entertainment on various DVD bonus materials over the years.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

- "Up from the Depths” Monster Test Footage (3:21)
Courtesy of Joe Dante, here is test footage from the 1979 Jaws rip-off film from Corman’s New World Pictures. As it is completely silent footage, some artificial whirring film projector sound effects are played.
in 480i MPEG-2, in 1.33:1, Dolby Digital 2.0

- "The Oath of Green Blood" short (1:20)
A short that played with “The Mad Doctor of Blood Island” so drive-in theater patrons could also partake by drinking the mysterious green drink.
in 480i MPEG-2, in 1.33:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

- Filipino Poster & Stills Gallery (3:50)
A gallery of various films played with music accompaniment.
in 480i MPEG-2, Music Dolby Digital 2.0

- Behind the Scenes Gallery (4:36)
A series of photos of interview sets, travel shots, and other behind the scenes stills.
in 480i MPEG-2, Music Dolby Digital 2.0

- Theatrical Trailer (2:36)
The original trailer in HD.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

Extensive extras are provided here with over 3 hours of trailers, more than 2.5 hours of additional interviews, a commentary, and more. But is it complete? “Electric Boogaloo” did not get a commentary for some reason. But even without one, it is still a very complete package. It is a lengthy amount of extras provided along with two feature films on the same disc, but note that most of the extras are in standard definition taking up little space on the disc itself.

Packaging

The coverart is reversible, with the alternate art having a mockup artwork of “Electric Boogaloo” on VHS with the alternate backside having full artwork for “Machete Maidens Unleashed!”.

Overall

“Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films” and “Machete Maidens Unleashed!” are both essential viewings for people who love movies about moviemaking and for people looking for a nostalgic trip back to the good old days of low budget craziness. Umbrella Entertainment gives a great presentation for both films and providing a wealth of extras that give hours and hours of enjoyment. Very highly recommended.

The Film: A Video: B+ Audio: A- Extras: A Overall: A-

 


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