Menahem Golan, best known for producing and directing scores of schlocky ’80s action pics under the Cannon Films banner—including the likes of Bloodsport and some of the Death Wish sequels—died Friday, Haaretz reports. He was 85.
Obsessed with movies from a young age, the Israeli-born Golan got his start working with B-movie master Roger Corman on 1963’s The Young Racers. He eventually teamed up with his cousin Yoram Globus to head up The Cannon Group, a fledgling production company that they bought in 1979. They transformed Cannon into a veritable force in the industry by the mid-’80s, producing testosterone-driven films for the likes of Sean Connery, Chuck Norris, Charles Bronson, Sylvester Stallone, and Jean-Claude Van Damme.
Though his action pics are certainly a product of their time, Golan did have a somewhat interesting influence on today’s superhero landscape, which might have looked drastically different had he been even the least bit successful. While churning out 30+ films a year at Cannon, Golan also oversaw the production on 1987’s Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, a somewhat notorious flop both critically and at the box office that essentially killed the franchise until 2006’s Superman Returns. The very public disaster also launched Cannon Films into infamy; it folded in 1993 (Golan resigned in 1989). Golan also tried for years to get a Spider-Man film off of the ground, but the funding fell out when his 21st Century Pictures folded and Sony Pictures eventually snatched up the rights.
Golan moved back to Israel after his next effort, International Dynamic Pictures, was seized by creditors along with all of his assets. He continued to work in films for years in some capacity in both Israel and the U.S.
In a strange coincidence, 2014 also saw the arrival of two documentaries focusing on Golan. The Go-Go Boys, made with the support of Golan and Globus, premiered at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. The second is Mark Hartley’s critical portrait of the rise and fall of Cannon, Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films. The film features interviews with Elliott Gould, Franco Zeffirelli, Tobe Hooper, and Dolph Lundgren, who apparently had been imagined for the part of the Green Goblin. It’s described poignantly as: “A one-of-a-kind story about two-of-a-kind men who (for better or worse) changed film forever.”
Golan had a unique charm that continues to resonate with film lovers, as evidenced by the cult revival of his 1980 sci-fi musical The Apple. In EW’s 2004 Must List interview, the then 75-year-old Golan said, ”I sort of had a feeling that it was a little bit, you know, ahead of its time,” before admitting that he wanted to jump out of his hotel window at the film’s premiere. ”I’m astonished to hear that it’s turned cult,” he added. ”You don’t know what news you’ve given me. I love to see people having fun and laughing.”