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Christopher Webster [Celluloid 09.23.14] documentary Exploitation

Mark Hartley first burst onto the scene and into our movie-mad hearts with Not Quite Hollywood, which chronicled the Australian film industry from its roots in exploitation to the well respected "Australian New Wave." It was a documentary that felt as wild and unhinged as its subjects and quickly became a favourite on the festival circuit. For his second film, Machete Maidens Unleashed, Hartley set his sights towards the Filipino exploitation scene where cheap labour was plentiful, exotic scenery was easy and safety regulations were basically non-existent.

Both of these films focus on the passion and madness of eccentric filmmakers, the hilarious anecdotes of the actors and crew who didn't really know what they had gotten themselves into and feature a ton of rare clips and behind the scenes footage. But perhaps the best thing about the docs is they alert you to films you've never heard of that you become desperate to search out immediately.

For his third film industry focused documentary, Hartley turns his attention to the eccentric bosses of Cannon Films Menahem Golan and Yoran Globus, who came to America with dreams to beat Hollywood at its own game in the early 80s and did a hell of a job doing it, releasing more films per year than any other studio at the time. And if you were a video store kid in the 1980s you'll be more than aware of some of the with some fairly big hits like Death Wish 2, 3, 4 and 5, Chuck Norris vehicles M.I.A, Invasion USA and Delta Force and Tobe Hoooper films Lifeforce, Invaders from Mars and Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 to name only a few titles.

Here are a few others:

Chin-scratching, more serious documentary types may balk at the way Hartley side-steps heavier themes of greed or perhaps the American Dream gone awry in favour of keeping the film fast paced, fun and entertaining, but I think Hartley knows how to play to his audience - people who love the weirder side of movie making where larger than life personalities make next-level bonkers shit that will make your eyes pop out of your skull.

For example, Cannon Films' first big release and what they thought would be their Tommy, "The Apple":

But it's not all schlock that's discussed here. In a bid to gain a better reputation, Cannon began working with some big names and produced some stellar films that are well worth searching out by even the most critical film fanatic including Andrey Konchalovskiy's Runaway Train, Barbet Schroeder's Barfly, and Nick Cassavetes' Love Streams, not to mention Franco Zeffirelli's Otello.

The one glaring omission from the films' cavalcade of interviewees is Golan and Globus themselves who declined to be apart of the film in favour of producing their own film about their time producing movies called "The Go-Go Boys". Ah Cannon. Ever the opportunists.

I think anyone who reads QE will love indulging in this truly epic tale of movie making history. You'll certainly go on a Cannon binge after viewing.

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billy (7 years ago) Reply

so not about Breakdancing?

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