A Tribute To Menahem Golan, The ’80s Genre Movie King

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MGM

Last week, Menahem Golan passed away while visiting his family. The name may not mean much to you, but that’s only because you don’t know what movies he was involved in. If you were a nerd in the ’80s and ’90s, the movies he was involved defined the pop culture of your childhood… even if they were all terrible.

Golan, along with his friend Yoram Globus, specialized in, well, crap. In fact, every bad ’80s movie you remember fondly probably had the imprint of Golan-Globus, or possibly their better known name, Cannon Films.

Here’s a short list of just the genre movies they were involved in, which reads like a list of every movie HBO and Cinemax showed at 4PM on a Wednesday: New Year’s Evil, Treasure of The Four Crowns, House Of The Long Shadows, Lifeforce, America 3000, Robotech: The Movie, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, Masters of the Universe, Doin’ Time On Planet Earth, The Borrower, Cyborg, 1992’s Captain America, and the justly infamous The Apple.

That’s not even getting into all the Chuck Norris movies they turned out, or the fact that pretty much any movie with “ninja” in the title from about 1982 to about 1992 owes its funding to Golan and Globus, or the fact that they helped launch the ’80s sex comedy, or that they deserve the credit/blame for Stallone movies like Cobra and Over The Top. There was no fad they would not exploit, no movie they would not make. Kathy Ireland’s film debut, Alien from LA, is their fault. Jean Claude Van Damme’s early career (including Bloodsport) was thanks to Golan’s insight that nobody cared what he sounded like since he was really good at punching things. They were even going to make Spider-Man hit theaters in 1986, and man, we’re glad that didn’t work out.

Cannon had a reckoning in the early ’90s, when artistic ambition and a desire to be taken seriously wrecked the studio. And Golan largely retired as an executive, occasionally directing a film here and there. But it’s that run in the ’80s nerds are going to remember. Sure, the effects were terrible, the acting was worse, and the scripts were shoddy excuses for stories… but does that matter when you’re eight?

So long, Mr. Golan. Hopefully there are video stores that need movies, wherever you are.

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