• Craig Hunter

PT - Movie - 029 - Cannon Films vol 1







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The Cannon Group, Inc. was an American group of companies, including Cannon Films, which produced a distinctive line of low- to medium-budget films[2] from 1967 to 1994.[3] The extensive group also owned, amongst others, a large international cinema chain and a video film company that invested heavily in the video market, buying the international video rights to several classic film libraries.

This episode is the first of a series where i will review the films that I have in my personal library that were produced by The Cannon Group during the Golan-Globas era from 1980 to 1990. We'll review 5ish films per episode so we're looking at 5 or 6 parts to cover them all.

As always, i'm relying on Wikipedia for much of the information about The Cannon Group and the films covered and I'll put links in the show notes

The Cannon Group

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cannon_Group%2C_Inc.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_The_Cannon_Group_films

This episode was inspired by the wonderful 2014 documentary Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films which you should all check out.

Here is the high-level story of the Cannon Group during the Golan-Globus era

  • formed in 1967 by Dennis Friedland and Chris Dewey and gained success producing English language versions of Swedish soft porn

  • in the 70's a string of unsuccessful films and a change in tax laws led to a drop in Cannon's value and in 1979 Friedland and Dewey sold Cannon to Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus for $500,000

  • They tapped into a ravenous b-movie market

  • Financing for films was precarious. Pre-sales of next years films were used to complete films currently in production.

  • By 1986, output reached an apex with 43 films in one year. Golan remained Chairman of the Board, while Globus served as President.

  • Film critic Roger Ebert said of Golan-Globus in 1987, "no other production organization in the world today—certainly not any of the seven Hollywood 'majors'—has taken more chances with serious, marginal films than Cannon."[13] That year, Cannon gained its greatest artistic success: its 1986 Dutch production The Assault won the 1987 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and a Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Meanwhile, Otello, based on the opera of the same name, also received a Golden Globe nomination that year.

  • On the verge of failure, Cannon Films was taken over by Pathé Communications, a holding company controlled by Italian financier Giancarlo Parretti. Financed by the French bank Crédit Lyonnais, Pathé Communications' takeover of Cannon immediately began a corporate restructuring and refinancing of $250 million to pay off Cannon's debt. By 1989, Golan, citing differences with both Parretti and Globus, resigned from his position and left Cannon to start 21st Century Film Corporation, while Globus remained with Pathé.

...just to wet your appetite, i'm going to read from wikipedia a section on some of the films that brought Cannon success...

Although they are most remembered for the Death Wish sequels and Chuck Norris action pictures such as The Delta Force and Invasion U.S.A., and igniting a worldwide ninja craze with "The Ninja Trilogy", an anthology series which consisted of Enter the Ninja, Revenge of the Ninja, and Ninja III: The Domination all starring Sho Kosugi, as well as producing the first two American Ninja films, and even the vigilante thriller Exterminator 2 (the sequel to 1980's The Exterminator), Cannon's output was actually far more varied, with musical and comedy films such as Breakin’, Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, The Last American Virgin, and the U.S. release of The Apple; period drama pictures such as Lady Chatterley's Lover (1981), Bolero, and Mata Hari (1985); science fiction and fantasy films such as Hercules, Lifeforce, and The Barbarians; as well as serious pictures such as John CassavetesLove Streams, Zeffirelli’s Otello (a film version of the Verdi opera), Norman Mailer’s Tough Guys Don't Dance, and Andrei Konchalovsky's Runaway Train and Shy People; and action/adventure films such as the 3-D Treasure of the Four Crowns, King Solomon’s Mines, and Cobra.

The Godsend (1980)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Godsend_(film)

Director/Producer:

Actors:

Production/Distribution:

Release Date:

  • 1980-01-25

Budget:

Running time:

  • 93 minutes

Plot Summary:

from wikipedia

Alan and Kate Marlowe are out an walk with their kids, Davy, Lucy, Sam, and baby Matthew. Kate meets a pregnant stranger and she comes home with them. It's apparent that Alan finds something "off" about her right away, as she intensely stares at him, but he doesn't say anything. Left briefly unattended, she cuts their telephone line. Alan is about to drive her home, but she goes into labor, and Kate helps her deliver a baby girl. The next day, Kate sees the woman is gone, having abandoned the child with them. Despite Alan's reservations, Kate wants to keep the baby, whom they name Bonnie. Later on, they find Matthew dead in a playpen with Bonnie.

At a family picnic, Davy and Bonnie wander off, and they search for them desperately. Kate finds Bonnie on the bank of a creek with scratches on her hands, while Alan finds that Davy has drowned in the creek. Alan attempts to perform CPR on Davy, but is unsuccessful. Later, Kate and Alan agree that the scratches on Bonnie must have been from Davy saving her. Bonnie starts to break things and Sam gets blamed for them, despite him saying he didn't do it. Kate attributes this to Sam's jealousy of Bonnie. One day, the family is playing hide and go seek and Alan finds Sam dead in a barn. Later, Alan finds Bonnie's ribbon next to where Sam's body was.

The Marlowe's begin to receive letters accusing them of killing their children and Kate falls into a depression. When a reporter comes to their house and upsets Kate, Alan agrees to move the family to London. Bonnie becomes ill with the mumps, and purposely kisses Alan as he takes a nap. He becomes ill with the mumps too, and has a flashback in a dream, to the circumstances of the deaths of his sons, and Bonnie being nearby in each one.

At a playground, Alan watches Bonnie throw an unoccupied swing in the path of a swing Lucy is swinging on. The chains on the swing twist together, but Lucy does not fall off, and Alan is able to save her before she is hurt. Alan tries to discuss his concerns about Bonnie with Kate, saying she is not normal. Kate strongly disagrees, saying that Bonnie loves Lucy and was only playing. Alan says Bonnie loves Lucy the same way she loved their three boys, and Kate is disgusted at the insinuation. Alan tells Kate his theories about Bonnie being involved in the deaths, but she is still in disbelief. Alan uses an analogy about Bonnie, saying that a cuckoo lays its eggs in another nest, and the fledgling pushing the others out to get the full attention of the parents.

Alan wants to send Bonnie away, but Kate refuses, so he kidnaps Lucy. Alan goes to see Kate, who is distraught that Alan will not tell her where Lucy is. Alan gives Kate an ultimatum to choose Bonnie or Lucy. She refuses to do so and he leaves. Later, they find out that Kate has had an accident and is in the hospital. Alan rushes back to London, where he learns that Kate had been pregnant, but miscarried due to the accident.

Back at their apartment, Alan finds out from neighbor, Mr. Taverner, that Kate tripped over a doll at the top of a staircase and that Mrs. Taverner has taken Bonnie on a trip. Kate comes Alan's work to tell Alan him she wants a divorce. He is alarmed to learn that Bonnie is home alone with Lucy. Alan calls Lucy, telling her to go next door to the Taverner's. Bonnie has them locked in, and as Kate and Alan get home, Bonnie has used mind control on Lucy to make her jump out of a window to her death. Alan tries kill Bonnie, but Mr. Taverner pulls him off of her. Kate decides to stay with Bonnie, and Alan leaves her. At a park, Alan sees the strange woman who gave birth to Bonnie, and is now pregnant, and talking to the mother. He unsuccessfully runs after them to warn the family, but they are already gone.

My Thoughts:

  • themes and/or social commentary

  • any really good scenes

  • what did i like / not like

  • interesting facts

themes and/or social commentary

any really good scenes

When Alan tries to convince Kate that Bonnie is deliberately trying to harm/kill her siblings he uses the metaphor of the cuckoo that lays its eggs in another next, and the hatchlings pushing the other birds out of the nest in order to get the full attention of the parents.

The opening shot of the film is from the pov of a bird flying over the countryside, then we see the Marlowe family walking through a field and the pov passes over and in front of them. Then we see Alan Marlowe with his kids running ahead of his wife with the baby and when he turns around and looks back at his wife through the binoculars, he sees her speaking with the pregnant stranger.

The pregnant stranger stares expressionless back at Alan, even though she's too far away for a human to see clearly.

That scene was well done and fits with the cuckoo metaphor. And in the final scene of the film, Alan is walking around a pond with his friend when he sees the pregnant stranger across the pond. She is staring at him like before and she walks off with a young family. Alan runs around the pond to warn the family but is to late.

what did i like / not like

Did not like the children getting killed. It was necessary to the plot and it wasn't done distastefully but it's unavoidable.

interesting facts

The pregnant stranger is played by actress Angela Pleasence who is the daughter of Donald Pleasence clip "The evil is gone from here"

What's the Verdict?

"Watch it once"

The Happy Hooker Goes Hollywood (1980)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Happy_Hooker_Goes_Hollywood

Director/Producer:

Actors:

Production/Distribution:

Release Date:

  • 1980-05-10

Budget:

Running time:

  • 88 minutes

Plot Summary:

from wikipedia

The Happy Hooker Goes Hollywood, originally released in the UK as Hollywood Blue, is a 1980 film starring two-time Bond girl Martine Beswick, Adam West, Phil Silvers, Chris Lemmon, Edie Adams, and Richard Deacon.[1][2]

The film, the last of a trilogy, is loosely based on the life of Xaviera Hollander, a prostitute from the Netherlands, as she attempts to make a film in Hollywood based on her best-selling book about her life. She gets involved with some of the most crooked producers in Hollywood, but beats them at their own game and films the movie without them.

My Thoughts:

  • themes and/or social commentary

  • any really good scenes

  • what did i like / not like

  • interesting facts

what did i like / not like

Terrible movie. Not funny. At least there's nudity and Adam West.

What's the Verdict?

"Skip it"

Contamination aka Alien Contamination (1980)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contamination_(film)

Director/Producer:

Actors:

Distribution:

Release Date:

  • 1980-05-09 (Germany)

Running time:

  • 82 minutes

Budget:

Plot Summary:

A large ship drifts into New York Harbor, seemingly abandoned. The ship is discovered to be carrying large containers of coffee, hidden inside of which are a series of football-sized green eggs. The crew sent in to explore the ghost ship find the mutilated remains of the former crew gathered in one place, and they soon discover the reason why: when disturbed, the green eggs explode, spraying a viscous liquid over everything. The liquid is toxic to living creatures, and causes the body to immediately explode.

The military's answer to this phenomenon is Colonel Stella Holmes (Marleau). She establishes a link between the green eggs and a recent mission to Mars that ended badly for the two astronauts who descended to the planet. One of them disappeared, and the other, Commander Hubbard (McCulloch), had a breakdown and subsequently became an alcoholic. When pressed, Hubbard agrees to help Holmes in her investigation of the insidious plot to bring the deadly eggs to Manhattan, and it takes them, along with sarcastic New York cop Tony Aris (Masé), to a Colombian coffee plantation. All is not as it seems; Hubbard's former astronaut colleague is apparently alive and well and living under the influence of a monstrous alien cyclops, which is using mind control to further its plot to flood the world with the green eggs and wipe out human life on Earth.

My Thoughts:

  • themes and/or social commentary

  • any really good scenes

  • what did i like / not like

  • interesting facts

themes and/or social commentary

what did i like / not like

Wonderful film. Fast paced. Clear objective. Wacky plot. The creature was unexpected and outrageous but also really cool.

The film is heavily influenced by Ridley Scott's Alien with eggs and a large alien creature.

Director Luigi Cozzi also directed Starcrash (1978) and would go on to direct Hercules (1983) The Adventures of Hercules (1985)

It's a B-movie all the way, with poor audio quality, poor video, poor acting, and weak dialogue and yet, very enjoyable.

What's the Verdict?

"Re-watchable"

Schizoid (1980)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schizoid_(film)

Director/Producer:

Actors:

Production/Distribution:

Release Date:

  • 1980-09-05

Budget:

Running time:

  • 91 minutes

Plot Summary:

Julie (Marianna Hill) is an advice columnist for the city newspaper who begins to receive anonymous notes threatening murder and worse. At about the same time, female members of the group therapy session she attends are being stabbed, one by one, by an unknown assailant. Is there a connection? If so, why do the notes talk about murder with a gun, while the murder victims are being stabbed? At first, the police, her ex-husband, her therapist and her friends all assure her that the notes are probably unrelated, and a hoax; but with time, it becomes apparent that someone close to her is responsible.

My Thoughts:

  • themes and/or social commentary

  • any really good scenes

  • what did i like / not like

  • interesting facts

What's the Verdict?

"Watch it once"

New Year's Evil (1980)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Year%27s_Evil_(film)

Director/Producer:

  • Emmett Alston

Actors:

Production/Distribution:

Budget:

Plot Summary:

from wikipedia

As the film begins New Year's Eve is on its way and television's most famous punk rock lady icon, Diane Sullivan (or "Blaze" as her fans call her), is holding a late-night countdown celebration of music and partying, televised live from a Hollywood hotel. All is going well until Diane receives a phone call from an odd-sounding stranger claiming his name is Evil, who announces on live television that when the clock strikes midnight in each time zone, a "Naughty Girl" will be "punished" (murdered), then the killer signs off with a threat claiming that Diane will be the last Naughty Girl to be punished. The studio crew takes safety measures and heightens security but a string of murders occur across Los Angeles at each stroke of midnight across each time zone. The killer records his victims as he murders them and calls back the station each time, playing the tapes back to prove that he is serious. Diane's son Derek arrives but is mostly ignored by his mother, causing him to start behaving very erratically due to Diane's lack of interest in his life. There are many suspects as to who the mysterious killer and caller is: a crazed fan, a religious psychotic or maybe it is someone much closer to Diane than anyone could have ever expected. Evil eventually infiltrates Diane's party and upon confronting her is revealed to be Diane's husband Richard who was previously thought to be too busy to attend. Richard reveals his motivation to be a similar feeling of neglect and anger of Diane's and other women's treatment of him. He gets caught by security trying to kill Diane and flees from the scene. He races toward the rooftop where he commits suicide by jumping. Diane is loaded into an ambulance while Derek is seen wearing the killer's old mask in the ambulance with the corpse of the medic at the front.

My Thoughts:

  • themes and/or social commentary

  • any really good scenes

  • what did i like / not like

  • interesting facts

themes and/or social commentary

clip 1:11:00 to 1:13:45

fed up, just like every other lady in my life, behave around other men, turn on own son, ladies are not nice, manipulative, deceitful, immoral, selfish

son auditioned fro a lead in a tv show and got it without disclosing his family connection. tomorrow go to rose bowl with my boy and we'll let you sleep in.

This makes me think of that quote that gets attributed to Margaret Atwood https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talk:Margaret_Atwood

"Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them."

in the film, both the son and the husband seem to act this way towards the mother/wife. It seems like a comment on how men act with women

Before he commits suicide by jumping off the roof of the building he quotes Shakespeare's Hamlet, clip 1:20:50 to 1:21:05 "To die, to sleep, no more; and by asleep to say we end the heartache, and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to."

One of the themes of Hamlet is death and revenge. Hamlet is avenging his father's death and his mother's betrayal.

At the end of the film, as the killer lies dead on the parking lot, his son hugs him and takes his clown mask. Then we see the son wearing the clown mask while driving the ambulance that is taking his mother to the hospital, and there is a dead paramedic in the cab of the ambulance with him.

what did i like / not like

In the beginning the film shows lots of shots of the "punk" band performing to the live audience and party-goers dancing and it's really lame and hard to get into. Once the premise of the film has been established with a few hourly kills and phone calls to the countdown host for proof, the film begins to focus on the killer much more and the film becomes more fun and interesting in the sense of who will get killed next? how will the killing be done? will the killer have any close calls and almost get caught?

The live concert scenes fall flat with me. It felt like it was trying to be hip and cool but just came across as lame.

interesting facts

from wikipedia

The song "New Year's Evil", written by Roxanne Seeman and Eddie del Barrio, is performed on-camera by the Seattle rock band Shadow, [1]who appear as a punk rock band in the film playing the song at the opening of the movie and repeatedly throughout. The recorded studio version also appears in the film.

Play a clip 12:06 to 12:54 OR 1:23:36 to 1:24:30 ish fade out

What's the Verdict?

"Watch it once"


Special Thanks

Music for the intro:

Music from https://filmmusic.io

"Sweeter Vermouth" by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com)

License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)




Next week on The Predictably Treacherous Podcast "The Most Crucial Game" starring Robert Culp in his second appearance and Dean Stockwell. Here's a brief summary:

Paul Hanlon is the general manager of a Los Angeles professional football franchise. The new franchise owner is layabout Eric Wagner, son of the deceased former owner. In an attempt to carry out the wishes of his previous boss to create a sports empire, Hanlan murders the younger Wagner who stands in his way.

Tune in next week.

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