Interview with The Cannon Film Guide author Austin Trunick part 5

Thanks to Austin Trunick, writer of The Cannon Film Guide Volume I and The Cannon Film Guide Volume II, for spending an entire week on our site discussing all things Cannon.

Stay tuned — August will be the second Cannon month on our site. To check out every Cannon Film we’ve covered so far, check out the Letterboxd list.

B&S About Movies: Some Cannon movies are just so hard to find.

Austin: Didn’t you have trouble finding The Secret of Yolanda?

B&S: Yeah.

Austin: You’re not missing much. It’s worth a watch for the whole premise, but it’s not a great movie. The Berlin Affair is another one that’s a tough watch. It’s supposed to be this steamy love affair and this love triangle between the characters but there’s no chemistry at all.

B&S: It needs someone other than Liliana Cavani to direct it. Like if Jess Franco directed it…is it your least favorite Cannon Film?

Austin: It’s supposed to be this forbidden erotic film and nothing feels that forbidden or feels very erotic and you’re not even sure if the actors even like each other. I’m very hard on Mio Takaki in the chapter in the book. That’s probably my least favorite one.

B&S: Not Bolero?

Austin: Bolero is tough. Whenever I do a podcast about Cannon, people always ask if I want to do that movie and I ask, “Can we do another movie?” (laughs)

B&S: It’s supposed to be this erotic movie filled with so much sex and it’s robotic.

Austin: On Karina Longsworth’s podcast You Must Remember This her current series is the erotic 80s. And she did episodes on both Bo Derek and Brooke Shields. And in particular, the Brooke Shields episode was good. They both have very interesting paths into their careers and definitely both worked on some pretty skeevy projects on the way.

B&S: Cannon threw both of them a lot of money.

Austin: They’re both sex symbols and Menahem just fell for that. He wanted to be part of that phenomenon.

B&S: Luigi Cozzi is another person that Cannon worked with a lot. Menahem did after Cannon, too.

Austin: Menahem just saw him as someone reliable. His movies look like they cost twice as much as they did. He’s a very creative person and Hercules has great effects. The Adventures of Hercules may have a crazy production history and people may make fun of it because they don’t have the money to do it the same way as Clash of the Titans. But he made the monsters robots so that would explain why they’re moving choppy and they had that sort of stilted motion.

He can squeeze a lot out of a little and for a while, he was going to do Lifeforce even before he did Hercules. Klaus Kinski was going to be in it.

I love finding stuff about Cannon stuff that didn’t happen. Like I have the paperwork from Joe Don Baker with Golan and Globus, pre-Cannon, that voids his contract for their 70s attempt to make 52 Pick-Up

My files are just full of canceled projects and that’s going to be so much of the third book.

B&S: What’s the best one?

Austin: I’m probably going to cover around 150 projects that never happened. The most famous might be the Charles Bronson and J. Lee Thompson movie The Golem, which was based on the Jewish legend, and this guy was controlling the golem and using it to kill people and then it would down and escape through the pipes. He’s going in and out of these New York City apartments with no evidence.

The plan was to do it with the stop motion animation with clay and actually do this monster. I would have loved to have seen that. Yeah, it was just way too expensive for Cannon to make. That would have been one I would have loved.

They were going to make Cobra 2 with Marion Cobretti wiping out the entire cocaine racket. Death Wish 4: The Crackdown, basically, but with Stallone instead.

Gunga Din was another one they advertised again and again with Roger Moore, Michael Caine and Ben Kingsley. Menahem wanted to make it and finally Moore said, “We’re too old to play these soldiers now.”

They were even planning a Barbie movie when working with Mattel. The idea was that a girl wasn’t fitting into school and Barbie could come to life and help her. Bo Derek playing Barbie would have been Menahem’s dream casting. Or maybe Victoria Barrett.

There was also Pinocchio the Robot by Tobe Hooper with Lee Marvin as Gepetto.

These ads were pre-Photoshop just getting things put together as fast as possible before Cannes. A lot of them were made at the last minute. Like the ad for Death Wish 3, they took Bronson to the roof of a hotel to quickly get pictures of him holding the gun. And for Death Wish 4: The Crackdown, all they had was just a picture of Bronson from 10 to Midnight.

Thanks again to Austin for spending so much time discussing his books with us.

Grab Austin’s books now. They’re amazing and I use them constantly as reference material. The Cannon Film Guide Volume I covered 1981 to 1984 while the new The Cannon Film Guide Volume II is all about 1985 to 1987 and has sixty Cannon movies, more than forty new interviews and 300 images across 1,000 pages.

You can — and should — get both books from Bear Manor Media by clicking the links. You can also find Austin on Twitter.

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