Anyone who watched a movie in the 1980s featuring a ninja, break dancer, barbarian, prisoner of war, or a street vigilante is well aware of the Cannon Films logo that would cover the screen before your feature presentation began. Cannon Film became synonymous with action and exploitation films which played in the dangerous confines of grindhouses as well as the considerably safer living rooms across the country courtesy of the widespread availability of video cassette tapes.
Writer Austin Trunick’s celebration of the Cannon Films catalog in his new book The Cannon Film Guide Volume I: 1980-1984 captures the zeitgeist of this bygone era when viewers would be treated to a new low budget, high entertainment feature film nearly every weekend of the year.
Trunick’s sizable book (clocking in at over 500 pages) is arranged in a chronological fashion, save for when certain film series are introduced (such as Death Wish) and the sequels follow each other in the guide, if not in yearly succession. The Cannon Films Guide covers every genre that the company dabbled and/or reveled in and no stone is left unturned.
One of the surprising aspects of the book is that this massive text only covers a five year period, with two other volumes planned (covering the rest of the 1980s and the tail-end of the studios output at the start of the 1990s). At first glance a reader may be surprised that a 500 page book couldn’t cover Cannon Films entire output, but one quickly realizes that this is less a film guide that lists actors and short anecdotes about each film, and more of an in-depth look at each entry and series.
Trunick spends a significant amount of time sharing his exhaustive research into each film and franchise, as well as interviews with some of the principal actors and directors. The guide covers so many genres and films that even those just looking for specific entries on the supremely popular ninja films that Canon produced will be overjoyed that over 100 pages are dedicated to these films, since no other examination of them exists. Even if you enjoy or are interested in only half of the films in this volume, the information contained in the book is sure to surprise and delight those that never thought they would be able to read an in-depth chapter about their favorite comedy, horror, or science fiction film that they considered lost in the sands of time.
Let’s hope that Trunick completes this massive trilogy for fans of one of the craziest and diverse film studios that ever existed.
The Cannon Film Guide Volume I: 1980-1984 is available online and from finer book stores everywhere.