Badlands Collective to pay tribute to the legendarily weird Cannon Films in September with a season of double bills


14th, 20th & 27th September 2015

Venues include Prince Charles Cinema, Regent Street Cinema, and Ritzy

Since their heyday in the 1980s, Cannon Films back catalog has now grown into a retro, guilty pleasure for a certain generation who grew up perusing the VHS racks in corner shops. For that is where Cannon Film's particular brand of C-grade low budget films largely ended up being consumed. The creation of the Israeli duo Menaham Golen and Yorum Globus, Cannon Films barged into Hollywood in the 80s set on world domination, backed by huge egos and uncontrolled spending. But it didn't quite work out. They were sneered at by critics and concerned parents for sleaze like American Ninja and the infamously titled Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo, yet somehow the odd well-regarded piece of arthouse or genre fare would emerge, like John Cassavetes's Love Streams. Eventually the studio imploded after a string of box office failures and wild investments, but today the Cannon filmography has achieved immortality via fans devoted to so-bad-its-good cinema.

Badlands Collective aims to show 'the bastard children of both poles of Cannon's nature' in this upcoming celebration of their output. They also promise 35mm trailers and some decorative 'bits and bobs' from the old Cannon Cinemas chain that was so ubiquitous in the UK the 1980s.

You can read our review of the recent documentary that explored the history of Cannon Films, Electric Boogaloo, here.

See details below:

This is a big one! We're organising our first 'season' of films - it's gonna be a lot of fun, and this could be make-or-break for us, so we really need you to book tickets and come to the movies with us.

We're telling the story of Cannon Films, a global brand that peaked in the 1980s and was intent on market domination. They were known for sleaze like American Ninjaand the infamously titled Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo, but they also courted top talent and were responsible for works of art like John Cassavetes's Love Streams.

Somewhere in between the impulse for exploitation and the desire for prestige was a collision through which some very special films emerged, bastard children of both poles of Cannon's nature. And that's what we'll be showing.

BARFLY (1987) / 52 PICK-UP (1986)
35mm double-bill, Prince Charles Cinema, 14 September 2015

Tickets from £7 (single) / £9 (double-bill) via the Prince Charles Cinema's website -

This is where Cannon chased box-office gold in partnership with major hard-boiled fiction authors. In Barfly, Mickey Rourke and Faye Dunaway bring movie star energy to an autobiographical Charles Bukowski tale of boozing and brawling in the gutter. 52 Pick-Up is a seedy potboiler thriller made thrilling by the writing of Elmore Leonard, not to mention the direction of John Frankenheimer and performances of Roy Scheider and Ann-Margret.

35mm double-bill, Regent Street Cinema, 20 September 2015

Tickets at £11 (single) / £15 (double-bill) via the Regent Street Cinema's website -

These were both directed by Andrei Konchalovsky, a Russian émigré to America who instinctively made poetic films that fell somewhere in between Cannon’s conflicting tendencies of making genre cash-ins and trying to attract respected talent.Runaway Train is one of the best action movies ever made, based on a script by Akira Kurosawa and featuring Oscar-nominated performances by Jon Voight and Eric Roberts. Shy People is a haunting culture-clash drama with a Tangerine Dreamscore and a Barbara Hershey performance that won Best Actress at Cannes in 1987. Both films are riveting journeys that go through and beyond melodrama to somewhere existential and primordial.

35mm double-bill, Ritzy Cinema, 27 September 2015

Double-bill tickets from £11.60 via the Ritzy Cinema's website -

A double-bill of films starring Christopher Reeve, two films that paired together tell the story of the Faustian pacts made by Hollywood players to make their dreams come true and of the over-extension that marked Cannon’s downfall. Street Smart is a gritty New York thriller also starring Morgan Freeman in a rare villainous role as a pimp, for which he got his first Oscar nomination. It was Reeve’s passion project, but to get to make it he had to sign for Superman IV. By this time Cannon was putting too much money into expensive, doomed properties and not promoting its smaller films. Street Smart bombed at the box office despite excellent reviews, probably because it wasn’t marketed or released properly, while Superman IV, in which the Man of Steel tries to save the world by ridding it of nuclear weapons, underperformed at the box office because it was perceived as bloody ridiculous.

We're also getting together some 35mm trailers and some decorative bits and bobs from the old Cannon Cinemas chain that was so ubiquitous in the 1980s, so we can bring back the atmospheric moviegoing experience these films were first seen in.


Owen Van Spall

Greetings. I am a Film History MA graduate from Birkbeck University of London and a trained NCTJ qualified journalist. Apart from a long history of film and news writing for this site and various other publications, I am also a trained photographer with my own camera kit. I write mostly every day. Along the way I have picked up work experience at Sight & Sound, The Guardian, The Independent, The FT, The New Statesman, and more. I have written hard news stories, features, arranged and conducted interviews with celebrities, film directors and other major cultural figures, arranged photo shoots, and covered film festivals, conferences and events in the UK and abroad. If you wish to commission me or enquire about full-time opportunities please find my CV and contact details below. A physical portfolio of print only cuttings can also be provided.