One of our favorite documentaries that we got to see last year was ELECTRIC BOOGALOO: THE WILD, UNTOLD STORY OF CANNON FILMS (2014). Naturally, it was filled with wild and untold stories from folks sucked into the crazy orbit of Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus. While some of them are jaw-dropping and others larger than life, I think the one that made me laugh the most was what happened when the Go-Go boys split up in the late ‘80s. Not only was it acrimonious, but the cousins soon became competition for each other and decided they were going to both make a film about Lambada, a dance crazy that wasn’t exactly sweeping the United States
BREAKIN’ films. It appears Cannon hit first as it was declared in Variety on December 6, 1989: “LAMBADA THE MOVIE will begin production Dec. 15, marking the first film produced by Cannon Pictures since the new management of the company took over this past summer.” Globus was still with Cannon, while Golan had left and gone to run 21st Century. No less than a week later it was announced that a rival project was coming from Golan in the form of LAMBADA! THE FORBIDDEN DANCE. According to production logs, the first one indeed went into production on December 15, 1989 while the second effort went into production on January 16, 1990.
Regardless of being a month behind, Golan was aiming to beat his former company to the market. So it ends with no greater irony that both films ended up coming out on the same day – March 16, 1990. One of the great stories in ELECTRIC BOOGALOO is how they even had dueling premieres in Hollywood. It was all for naught though as Americans weren’t about to embrace “the forbidden dance.” LAMBADA THE MOVIE just came out as LAMBADA via Warner Bros. and opened in eighth place with just over $2 million in box office receipts from 1,117 theaters. LAMBADA! THE FORBIDDEN DANCE came out as THE FORBIDDEN DANCE via Columbia and didn’t even crack the top ten, earning just $720,864 in 637 theaters. I like to imagine there were lots of family fights that weekend on which one to see. Anyway, a perfectly madcap ending for such a bizarre ‘80s success story as Cannon. Perhaps the biggest loser in all of this was Robert Schnitzer of the Stallone reworking of REBEL/A MAN CALLED RAINBOW fame. He has announced a spoof titled LAMBADAMY: THE OPERATION in 1990 via Walter Manley Productions and it never got made. Damn, I totally would have watched that.