Austin Trunick is a Connecticut-based film historian and author of The Cannon Film Guide, a series of books about the beloved (and infamous) ’80s b-movie studio, Cannon Films. He also serves as an editor for the nationally-distributed music and entertainment magazine.
Under the Radar. He has written about movies and pop culture for Mental Floss and Consequence of Sound.
Enjoy my conversation with Austin Trunick.
Austin Trunick 0:00
Both those deals fell apart. Cannon suddenly didn't have the money to shoot them and ever Pune comes up with the idea to let's try to recoup what we spent already. Like, I will write a movie that uses the sets we built, the half built sets from Spider Man and the costumes and everything and the actors we've already gathered here for mass universe to yes,
Alex Ferrari 0:25
This episode is brought to you by the best selling book Rise of the Filmtrepreneur how to turn your independent film into a money making business. Learn more at filmbizbook.com. I'd like to welcome to the show, Austin Trunick, How you doin Austin?
Austin Trunick 0:40
I'm doing very well. Thank you for having me on Alex.
Alex Ferrari 0:42
Thank you for coming on man. I you know, you reached out to me about your new book Hold on, I need to work out just to get this up. It's the Canon film guide, volume to 1985 to 1987. This out of all the guests that ever had. Yours is by far the thickest book I've ever had on the show. And this is, by the way, part two. So that means there's another part one, which is as big if not bigger than that. And for everyone listening if you're if you want to learn about canon, Canon films, the 80s amazing film studio, sit back and relax, because we're going to be talking about one of my favorite parts of the 80s in the 80s growing up, because I'm not sure if you know this or not awesome. But I worked at a video store in 88 to 93 I think I was going there to and I saw all of these boxes. And as I was skimming through because God I can't read it all. But as I was skimming through the book, I was like I saw that one. I saw that one saw that one. And if I didn't see the movie, I remember the cover and the boys were very good at putting the cover together. But if Alright, so for everybody listening, Austin. First question is, can you tell everybody what Cannon Films was? And why are we talking about them? All these years later? Because there's a lot of film studios that were around in the 80s. There was Orion Pictures there was you know, the new world new world, there's so many, you know, really great, but why is canon? What is canon? Why does it have this kind of grab on the zeitgeist, as you will?
Austin Trunick 2:28
Well, Canon is a company that as far as what we think about usually when people refer to as canon, they're looking at Canada in the 1980s. When it was under the command of two Israeli cousins, the producers named manakin, Golan and Yoram Globus who had bought the company in 1979, and started pumping out these films in 1980. And these started as really exploitation pictures, low budget, very low budget movies that they start out. But those snowballed really quick, the movies got bigger, they had some success, they were able to make basically bigger and better movies and more and more films. This was a company that very much recognized that there was a market especially at the time 1980 8182 market in the video stores, rentals were new home video, and there's a really a big space for content, they stores needed to fill those shelves, and Canon was happy to help do it. As well as cable cable had, especially premium cable had hours and hours of space to fill. So canon was a company that under golden GLOBIS would sell movies to these markets, primarily. Before they even made them they would take big books full of ideas, big spreads in Hollywood reporter and variety. And they would wait till enough companies had agreed to buy the movie, and they would go and make it. So this is a company that could make films very, very fast. And because of how they did the films, the quality wasn't always there. These weren't always great movies, but to say the least. But they were entertaining. And if you're a fan of especially B movies, a lot of a lot of great magic can happen when a movie is shot for half the budget it needs and half the time it needs. This was a company that could have an idea marketed at the Cannes Film Festival in May and habits in theaters that fall. So that was how quickly going and globalist worked. But people know them nowadays they remember them now for their their eight ninja films. They're 10 movies with Chuck Norris the eight movies they made or Charles Bronson discovering, discovering Michael Duda coffin John Claude Van Damme. These were guys who cannons bread and butter was this sort of low to mid budget action movie. And if you were in the video store, especially in the Action section, but really, oh, yeah, you couldn't go anywhere, edit videos or when probably when you worked there without being able to spin around and knock five or six canon boxes off of a shelf no matter where you were standing in the video store.
Alex Ferrari 5:01
It's pretty it's pretty remarkable what these guys did and you know, I think it was I don't know if I had I've had sand Sam fine Feinberg Furstenberg person Furstenberg on and Sheldon Letich on the show we've talked cannon in the past. But I think when we when I talked to with Sam, I think it was the kind of like he was we were talking about because he was there with the boys almost from the beginning. You know he was there with the ninja movies and all that kind of stuff, which we'll get into in a minute. But it was a perfect storm of these crazy guys making these crazy movies at a time when there's two new technologies coming on that needed content. And the studios were scared of VHS and home video for for probably a good five or six years that they weren't they weren't they didn't want to put anything on VHS and cable was like, What's this cable thing? I'm not sure all this stuff. So there was a hole that can and filled a lot of content in? And do would it be fair to say that once the Studios decided to come in and start flexing their muscle cannon kind of lost? Its it lost its marketplace couldn't do what it was doing in the early 80s? Because in the you don't hear about Canada in the 90s? You know, not really and then it obviously after the 90s you don't hear them at all, really? So what happens? What was the kind of downfall of of canon and why didn't it continue?
Austin Trunick 6:35
Well, Canon there were, again, a perfect storm of things going wrong. There were several factors that contributed to it. One was that their movies got bigger. And when you're spending 16 to 25 million on a movie that makes 5 million at the box office that that's what has trouble when you start making these $5 million movies that you pre sell for 10. It's they just got out of what they did very well. There was also a string of bad investments. Canon took a lot of money that they had earmarked was given to them to invest in films and they use that to buy 30 mi Elstree Studios, the studio where Empire Strikes Back and register the Lost Ark was shot and Canon only ended up shooting two movies there. But if you're a company that makes mid low budget Chuck Norris movies, I don't know what you need with the biggest production facility in London. But this they they made a lot of bad investments with with money that they should have spent on movies that that fit them very quickly. And then as you mentioned, and by the late 80s. The studios were no longer afraid of these formats. And when you're competing on the shelves with the studio action films with your your Dirty Harry's and your your other Clint Eastwood movies and lethal weapon and things like that that's suddenly one year low budget, low budget action film just just isn't going to compete, it isn't going to command the same same amount of real estate on a video store shelf or in cable rotation. So they really got kind of pushed out in those markets that they were early adopters early. One of the earliest studios to really embrace.
Alex Ferrari 8:21
Yeah, and it's it's it's interesting, because I was as I was scanning through your book I saw saw like two I think at least two Lethal Weapon rip offs. The one with Billy Dee Williams, and then and then there was the obvious Indiana Jones rip off with Richard Chamberlain. Have Firewalker with Chuck Norris and Louis Gossett, Jr, which is kind of like a mix. I guess if lethal weapon in Indiana Jones it was kind of like this weird. Hybrid. I mean, as I'm saying, It sounds awesome. As I'm talking about it out loud. I'm like, You know what, I think I should go watch Firewalker again, and then you watch it for 15 minutes you go. Oh, okay. I understand. I understand. I understand now. So. So the success that these guys had early on? Well, the big thing that they think will be on their gravestone is they brought ninjas into the mainstream. There was no talk of ninjas prior to I think it's it's not American Ninja, I think was revenge of the ninjas. And if I'm entered the Ninja, enter the ninja thing. Yes. Yeah, that was the first ninja movie that came in into American audiences. Because before that it was but it's so hard to tell people what an impact that was because I had a Ninja throwing star. I had a ninja outfit. I was sad Eight, seven. I was going to ninja stores where there were ninja like nunchucks and, and throwing stars and there was ninja schools. Like you could like you could go to a jujitsu school you can go to a ninja school and like, you know train in the dark. was like this. It was insane but this was all started by the cannon boys when they brought the world ninja and Ninja had been around for ever in Japan right i mean it's How long has it been like ninjas when did they first come into the into the world stage but it's it's a what like that 1000 years ago I can't remember anymore
Austin Trunick 10:19
Well before during the samurai period,
Alex Ferrari 10:22
Right exactly they were kind of like the more sneaky less honorable samurai
Austin Trunick 10:27
Guys you got to do the dirty work
Alex Ferrari 10:29
Right there's acids they were saying they were assassins so they brought ninjas into the world and can you explain to the audience what kind of I mean impact financially you know enter the ninja had to the point where they had and then you could tell me how many other ninja movies
Austin Trunick 10:45
Yeah well so ninja did Canada did two things with the ninjas that really I think led to this explosion this phenomena the ninja phenomenon are they a is that led you doing just a card with our shirts wrong and there was a they put dangerous front and center in memory. There had been a couple ninja movies, the Octagon Chuck's one of his early ones he fought them but they looked like you know bad guy martial arts and pajamas. They weren't the cool ninjas that we have in the 1980s them at the center, the middle awesome. They got show Kosugi to really come in. He was the guy who was an expert. It was a martial artist but an expert on ninjas and brought a lot of the tools a lot of the weapons a lot of his students to help on on these films and show Kosugi played the bad guy in an enter the Ninja. But so cool. The movie opens with showcase two gauges demonstrating all of these different Ninja weapons against that black screen. And really, it's the these are the weapons that we associate with ninjas. This this is something that to talk about the impact that entered the ninja had in 1981. Historically, a nunchuck talks are not something you would ever associate with ninjas before that that was not a weapon they would use that's not really a stealth weapon. But manakin Kalon the colorful head of Cannon Films The Director of enter the ninja had seen that in Enter the Dragon of course Enter the Dragon enter the ninja you can draw a little line there and he wanted nunchucks in his movie isn't even if they weren't historically accurate. So those became part of that film. And now you know any kid who grew up with Ninja Turtles and who loved Michelangelo was their favorite character. Ken thank manakin Golan for making turning nunchucks into one part of the ninja ninja can with a single end but the movie was did very well the sequel directed by our friend Sam first and Berg did even better and Canon continue really putting these outs as fast as they could Revenge Of The Ninja followed ninja three the domination
Alex Ferrari 12:54
Which is a classic I mean let's just throw it out there right and I know it's Quentin Tarantino is favorite one of his top three favorite a Cannon Films is is it's a three a Revenge Of The Ninja three whatever the hell the domination one Yeah, just like part Flashdance. Part exorcist part ninja movie.
Austin Trunick 13:15
Yeah, little bit of poltergeist sprinkle.
Alex Ferrari 13:18
A little bit of like, why not? That is just brilliant. But then what I found fascinating is that he's like, we need to throw an American in there. And he's like, You know what would be cooler than just having ninjas? Will have American Ninja that would be kind of cool. Like a white guy doing ninja stuff. And boy, was he right? I remember seeing American Ninja in the theater.
Austin Trunick 13:43
That's all I am. And American Ninja is a great film. It turned Michael Dudek off from being a you know a minor comedy actor. He had done bachelor party with Tom Hanks he was a friend that and Happy Days and and you can see I'm in minor roles in the early 80s. And then suddenly, he's an action star not the top tier you know he's not in the same as your Stallone or Schwarzenegger but in the video stores. People would you would he was a recognizable brand name by by the late 80s. And yeah, American inches are an example of cannon. I like to call it cannon magic. They took a relatively low budget but they shot this movie in the Philippines. They got a director like Sam Furstenberg who could work in the fast the fast limitations the low budget and great great stunt stunt choreographer just they really spent what money they had went onto the screen and it looked very cool American inches what what impresses me if this is a lot of the same crew since they shot in the Philippines that had worked on Apocalypse Now that we're trained for that movie had spent all that time three years Yeah, yeah. For three months yeah. had gone through that gauntlet of fire and Then we're sitting around and in the Philippines for a few years and got hired on these Chuck Norris movies on these ninja films over and over again in the in the mid 80s And if you look at any of those jungle movies that that cannon did primarily shot in the Philippines, they look good and a lot of it is because they have this this crew that was available that was well trained that could be hired for $1 Yeah compared to what in Hollywood would have cost much much more
Alex Ferrari 15:30
Yeah cuz they were they did the mission to the the missing in action series with Chuck Norris and and let's talk about Chuck because I mean, they did chuck to I'm trying to remember the chuck to any movies outside of cannon like um, because invasion USA and and the mission missing an action series and it was octagon
Austin Trunick 15:53
That was pre canon. So Chuck had done some movies in the late 70s and early 80s really low low budget martial arts pictures lower budget than canon, actually and but he was somebody he had, he was a former karate champion. At that point, he was well known as a pro owning karate schools and having this sort of a celebrity and I'm in the martial arts world. But he wanted to be an actor and you know, the his his early, independent productions did fairly, fairly decent for our first with the Grindhouse martial arts audience and venues that they played. But when he got to Canon, they took him he was, uh, you know, in his mid 40s At that point, right? And
Alex Ferrari 16:37
He was my god sakes is great. I mean, it was like, he's my age at this point. Yeah, he's
Austin Trunick 16:43
A middle aged, retired like ex karate champion. And canon turned him into a box office star. He had number one movies with missing an action and invasion USA for Cannon and other movies that were huge when they came out if if not Delta Force Delta four Delta Force was with Cannon. And it was it's something that, again, it wouldn't have. I feel like there are very few places that sort of magic could have happened other than a place that was run so fast and loose. And Chuck Norris is someone who won he came to Canada, he was in his mid 40s. He had several low budgets, moderately successful independent movies, but very small movies, martial arts movies, and as a 44 year old 45 year old karate champion instructor, he became a box office star. He had number one movies and missing an action and invasion USA and huge films like The Delta Force that came out with Canon. And again, this is a guy who was was pushing 50 By the time he really reached his peak at at Cannon.
Alex Ferrari 17:55
It's pretty remarkable too, because I remember like invasion USA, watching the invasion USA on HBO, or Cinemax or something like that. And all my family was watching a rat, like sitting around watching it. And it was like the coolest thing you'd ever seen in your life. It was just such it. I mean, but really, Chuck, you know, before there was before Ken and Chuck, and after Ken and Chuck, and after Kennett, Chuck, which is again, he's probably my age, at that point in his mid 40s. turned them into a complete movie star. And I don't know that Chuck. I mean, obviously, Texas Ranger was a it's a Monster Monster television hit after but this is years later, this thing that was in the 90s, if I'm not mistaken, when Chuck did that, and that was a good that was almost like a good retirement plan for Chuck. Because he just went off. He's like, Oh, good. I want to stay this one location. I'll just keep shooting these things. And they went on for like, what a decade? I think that show went on for a decade or so.
Austin Trunick 18:54
Yeah. And that was actually produced by Canon television, the very first set of episodes, unfortunately, they were on their last dying gasp by the time that came out. Yeah. So that was really, again, something where if the dominant if the chips fell slightly differently, where we might still have a cannon today. But Walker, Texas Ranger came out just really as they were barely hanging on to
Alex Ferrari 19:22
And if they would, Texas Ranger would have held them would have definitely held them together if they would have been able to hold on to it. But it's interesting. And it's it's a lesson for people listening because they view the VA veered away from what made them successful. They started thinking bigger and bigger, bigger because they're, I guess I'm assuming ego got into into place and like, I'm gonna buy L Street Studios, I'm gonna be as big as Warner Brothers. And I already saw, you know, you could start seeing it in the movies that they were attempting to make, you know, so like, you know, cuz I don't want to skim over these movies because they're such great amazing things. But so Superman for the quest for peace. Arguably just one of the most horrific things I've ever seen in my life. It's it's it's up there with the room. It is just one of those things you watch and you just like, what and I know Christopher Reeve only agreed to do it, because it was something to do about nucular. He wanted to have make a commentary about nuclear liberal affiliation and and how it needed to stop. And he had the he didn't direct it, but he had a lot of creative control over the project. Is that Is that a fair statement?
Austin Trunick 20:32
That's correct. Canon basically checked three boxes for Chris Reeve, who a few years earlier had gone on the record had gone every talk show saying he would never play Superman again. He backed out of his cameo in Supergirl movie even because he was so done with Superman, but they offered him creative control of the plot. He also got to direct some of the B unit some of the action scenes. They gave him a lot of money that that played into it, obviously. But they also they took on basically a pet project of his called street smart. Oh, yeah,
Alex Ferrari 21:07
I remember that was a good,
Austin Trunick 21:08
A great movie.
Alex Ferrari 21:10
A young Morgan Freeman or a young girl Morgan Freeman.
Austin Trunick 21:13
Yes. A 50 year old Morgan Freeman. Actually, his first Oscar nomination,
Alex Ferrari 21:19
How many hold his mortgage cheeses. I mean, he, he's God, He is God. He literally is God. He doesn't die. He's just there. It just keeps going and going. God bless his heart. No, because I remember him in streetsmart. And that was a dark, edgy film for Christopher Reeve at the time.
Austin Trunick 21:39
Morgan Freeman, I think ages one year for every 10 that actually passed years,
Alex Ferrari 21:45
Cat years, it's like cat years.
Austin Trunick 21:48
He streetsmart was a movie that Chris Murray wanted to be disassociated with Superman he was afraid of being only being seen as you know, this man and a cape and tights. And one of the one of the things he thought would get him away from that was having a critical and commercial success. That was something that was very different. So streetsmart was a role that there was a script that he'd had for a while and he took the cannon because he wanted to get it made. It's about a basically a journalist who lies about a story, he makes up his story in this magazine profile. And it leads to this sort of great success for me becomes a television reporter he gets his own new show. He is the talk of New York City. But it's all based on a lie. And it's a lie that closely resembles the story of the life story of a character played by Morgan Freeman, a pimp named fast black who is on on trial at the time for for homicide for killing somebody. And Morgan Freeman's character sees this as an opportunity to sort of give him an alibi. Use Christopher Reeves characters notes to give them an alibi. And it's a it's a great film about these two characters who are just sort of using each other. And they're both awful people. Christopher Reeve plays a character who could not be further away from Clark Kent, and they have the same profession, but one is just despicable. And the other one is this symbol of everything that is great and in humanity in our world. And it is a it's a movie that Canon made for a very low budget and was very well done. It was very well reviewed. And it's it won it earned Morgan Freeman his first Oscar nomination. I'm not sure offhand up out of how many but many, many Oscar nominations that have come since. But unfortunately, it came at a time where we're canon when they had a movie. That was good. I want to say good in the, I guess critical sense. That's good. It's getting record reviews. It's getting award spas and things like that Canon did not know really what to do with that. Right.
Alex Ferrari 24:01
They called the Weinstein's unlike the Weinstein's with Miramax. They knew what to do with that they built the whole their whole the 90s around. You know, in many ways I think Miramax is almost a sequel to Canon but a you know a higher quality sequel, bringing in foreign films and doing and you know, we'll do the disclaimer Harvey is an evil horrible human being but what that company did in the 90s cannot be ignored without question and I think it's almost like that because they knew exactly what to do. But and that's another thing is like we all make Hahaha You know Chuck Norris and ninjas and all that stuff, but they made some really good movies. Runaway train 52 pickup, fool for love, you know with Kim Basinger and Sam, Sam Shepard. I mean, then the list goes on. There's a bunch of great movies, right?
Austin Trunick 24:56
Yeah, this is a company that again, Canon there Written butter was these actions were these action movies, these ninja movies this Chuck Norris films, but they would take that money and they would channel it into a lot of times projects from great filmmakers, classic filmmakers who couldn't get them made elsewhere. And that's where you have people like Robert Altman approaching them for full for love. You have John Cassavetes coming to them to make love streams because no other studio wanted to invest right? The money
Alex Ferrari 25:27
And John Frankenheimer as well.
Austin Trunick 25:30
John Frankenheimer, who had had a hit a rough patch in his his career there and came to Cannon. And there are many examples of that runaway train was a script that had been written by Akira Kurosawa in the 60s and had been translated and floating around Hollywood for 10 years and more. And canon finally brought it to the screen that championship seasons a lesser known one from 1982. But it's a Pulitzer winning play by Jason Miller, who this is a movie that had been with every studio and the project kept falling through. And canon finally said, if you can make it on a Canon budget, we'll let you make it how you want it with with who you want in it, if this is the the amount of money that you have. So this is a company where not just filmmakers, but stars would we've had these sort of pet projects like like Raven streetsmart, and Katharine Hepburn and a project called Grace grace quickly that she'd been trying to get made since the 70s. They felt safe to bring these projects to Cannon, especially by at 345 when they really hit their peak. And Canada took chances, they took chances on on movies that really the studios would not. And because they were doing it on a budget, though, that's why they were doing it on a budget and they were pre selling it. They knew a star's name if they could sell Katharine Hepburn in a movie. Yeah, they could sell that around the world and they're they've made their money before it hit. You know, it went before the camera.
Alex Ferrari 27:03
And the studios weren't doing things like that because they didn't understand how to work in that kind of budget range. And I mean, when I think of cannon, I think of AFM I think of the Cannes Film Market. Those kind of that arena is not where the studios play. That's where the budget of the craft service table of the studio projects play. I mean, it just they don't understand how to make money in that world even to this day. You can you imagine. I mean, I've talked I've talked to filmmakers who did like how much did you make a movie before they go Yeah, I had I did a low budget movie was like only 10 million. I'm like 10 million Are you out of your like the rest of us live in a you know, sub 500,000 sub $100,000 budget world right now to make independent films. But it was so they were so smart that it looked like they were taking chances. But they these guys were really good businessmen until the ego ran away. And I think the one of the biggest. The biggest one, there's two that come to mind, Masters of the Universe, which is pure magic. absolute pure magic. If if no one's seen it, there's so much stuff going on there. It's like an onion. There's a lot of layers. Courtney Cox's in a Dolph Lundgren. Orko I mean, it's just all beautiful. And well over the top. So I'll take both of them one at a time. So over the top, ridiculous concept. Absolute absolutely ridiculous about an arm wrestling, single dad, who drives a truck, cross country and he's going to the armwrestling championship and he's trying to bring his son along. It sounds on paper horrible. And to be fair, it is in many ways, but to this young man. For years afterwards, when I would get serious I would turn my head around. No, that business was about to get done. If it just hits something so interesting in that that age group where because you look at it now you're like, Dude, seriously, if there's live like turn your head around and then that's where you get the extra force to beat whoever you're going against like it was just crazy. But from at the time from I think it was Sam who told me this was Sam Russia, a shell that forgot who it was. But they they wanted sly at the peak of slice power. I mean, you're talking about 85 and like it's you know, rocky three and Rambo and like he is the biggest star in the world. And they offered him I think they call them up and I think it was I forgot what the number was, but it was such a ridiculous number. That's still John said, Listen, if you pay me 12 million bucks, I'll do your movie. And they showed up which I think it's troubling you probably know better than I do. So please tell the story of of over the top, sir.
Austin Trunick 30:10
And yeah, totally That is correct. With $12 million. They made for a brief period of time, they made Sylvester Stallone, the highest paid actor for any one single, single film. And this was a project that I mean, Sly, supposedly, I guess he wanted to do it. It was something that's the original script he he liked. And it had sort of a at the time, he was kind of catching a lot of flack for Rambo toys being in store and his movies being so so violent, something that I thought he could point out and say, this family film that I've done, you don't have to take your kids who love me to go see Rambo, you could take them to see this. So that was that was his attraction to the project. Cannon they sold was the biggest star in the world really at that, at that very moment in in the 1980s. And especially for the types of movies that they they made. And they were willing to throw that much that much money at them. And it made a big, giant splash. This is something that as soon as Stallone agreed to it, Canon took out the two page ads in every trade. And they would say welcome Sylvester Stallone to the Canon family making over the top shooting soon. The problem was canon, this was not a company that had $12 million sitting around in cash, they they would usually take that money and they would make three ninja movies for that. So they actually in reality, this is this Stallone exclusive wisdom papers, they sent him $500,000 As a retainer as basically an option on on him doing this while they went out and then work their butts off to sell, get get the money, sell all the rights internationally sell the product placement, there's a wonderful amount of product placement of that film, from everything from car batteries to motor oil to brute cologne. It's everywhere in that movie. And then finally they ended up getting Warner Brothers to come in and help distribute the distribution. And with the distribution and also some of the financing. That $12 million is also what paid the loan for COBRA. A lot of people don't don't know that is that $12 million ended up being they ended up getting two pictures of its Warner Brothers
Alex Ferrari 32:31
Who di COBRA COBRA was in cannon, right? That was one of those deal.
Austin Trunick 32:35
That was Warner Brothers, but Canon has the Golden Globe as producers credit on it. And that is because of over the top Warner Brothers wanted to do Cobra Stallone was in line to do over the top with them. But when the steel they got Ken into Wait, push your shoot off seven, eight months. So we can shoot Cobra and we'll pay, you know, will this whole thing will pay this this amount. And we'll get it done. And you can have your movie afterwards. And over the top so fun movie like as a kid i i loved it as well. It was a movie. You know, I want to arm wrestle all the time on my desk at school. But the movie that Stallone actually had, I mean, I guess any movie stone is involved with he had a lot of inputs, but he took no pass at the script. So it's interesting to watch this. It changes greatly. And that final Stallone draft makes it even more of a family oriented movie, which is something I wouldn't expect. It's out a lot of the as your Assam there's more than the original scripts that stolen out of it, which is interesting. But also he he directed Menaka electric directed it and loan was there to advise and it still had a difference of opinion. They had an agreement, shoot it both ways. And Stallone got final choice of which version so they would read a lot of the scenes and to his credit though I can go on didn't have to go about that. He thought he's like this, Mr. Sloane, his movies have made how much of that he's directed. He's won Oscars. He's, he's very successful. If he advice I'm going to listen. What, how, how he's basically anyone asking him really like who was who was directing this. But they essentially code a lot of the scene. See in the action movie that makes armrests actually I think look kind of interesting. On screen for a that is really too large sweaty men grunting hands for about 30 seconds up makes it look like you know a rocky in the section.
Alex Ferrari 34:55
No, there's yeah, there's absolutely no question about it. You like that ends sequence is absolutely a brilliant piece of filmmaking, just the, you know, the lighting the way the skin like it was. I mean, they've used the star filter on it. So there's like the stars in the lights. And he, I mean, they did a lot. And as you're saying that that makes all the sense in the world that's like, would have just basically controlled control that film. There's just no, there's no question about it. And it is very family friendly. Like it's, it's about a kid and his dad, I mean that the movie is about a kid and his dad, that's basically what the movie is about. It has to do with arm wrestling in the background, but it's just, it's one of those was that the movie that started or wasn't Masters of the Universe is the one that really started the downward spiral of canon.
Austin Trunick 35:48
Either, it's really a two, three, because you have all in 1987, in this space of really six months, you have over the top, super more. And then masters universe, all three of these movies that Canon spent a lot of money on and there's of promotion, and they just they were not, they were not the gigantic kids that can and need them to be to really going at that point. So that was, that was when a lot of trouble really happened. I like to I like to look at and see look at the prices of stocks, Cannon stock of 1987. And then the really September of 87, it's gone from trading pretty dollars to like under $4.
Alex Ferrari 36:40
Was, was canon a public company.
Austin Trunick 36:43
They had a public sale in the six. So that was where a lot of this money that they spent on real estate Came From Beyond as well as like, basically promises of loans from banks.
Alex Ferrari 36:58
So going to Masters of the Universe, which was a monster budget for them and a big, just a huge, one of the big what was the biggest production they ever did? Was it over the top or was it Masters of the Universe?
Austin Trunick 37:14
Well, over the top would have been the highest budget and other one that was very close was lifeforce. That was oh my god, the dollar movie.
Alex Ferrari 37:23
Isn't that about that was if it wasn't about vampires in space?
Austin Trunick 37:26
And vampires from space. Yes.
Alex Ferrari 37:28
Yeah, God, I vaguely remember that movie. But I remember that but that had no major stars in it. And they spent that much money on it.
Austin Trunick 37:36
They had no major stars, but they had John Dykstra doing special effects. They had a script by Dan O'Bannon, Toby Hooper directing, they had a lot of the team from Star Wars, Nick melee, and his his team doing the creature effects is the guy that helped design Yoda and the cantina band. This is all of that money went was spent on the screen. That's a movie that for being a kind of silly movie about space vampires is beautiful, it's all set. It's all matte paintings. It's all shot with people actually on on wires, when you have the people going through space. It is just one of those movies. As far as practical effects go. It's one of the last great showcases really for the middle 80s Because soon, very soon after that a lot of those things were going more and more digital more and more computer being involved. And that's yeah, they had no stars, because all of that money really was spent on sets and effects.
Alex Ferrari 38:39
And even then, I mean, I think that was one of the mistakes they made then and this is something I preach about all the time on the show is like you need some sort of star power the higher that budget goes up and unless the star could still be Hooper wasn't an easy yes, he's still be Hooper, but he's not Spielberg, you know, and even Spielberg, I'm not sure would have been able to pull that off. As you know, like, you know, there's very few directors that had that kind of a Scorsese or Coppola might have had that kind of box office power back in the in those days, but that was a mistake they needed if they would have put Chuck Norris in lifeforce or Michael due to cough and lifeforce. It probably would have sold better I'm just throwing that out there.
Austin Trunick 39:21
Yeah. had even just their ability to sell it abroad. If they had a name that they could pin to that film I think would have helped a lot but they had to sell it on the strength of the team behind the camera and it's hard to sell a high concept sci fi film releasing in the summer on on on that sort of
Alex Ferrari 39:45
In 87 competing with predator competing with lethal weapon. Like I mean the you're talking about like really great years of 80s action sci fi esque stuff coming out I mean, it was so good lord. And I think that, you know, it's such a fascinating story to see how these guys in such a short period within a decade rise and start to tumble and fall within a pretty much of a 10 to 12 year period. It was it was you could start watching it. And he, I have to believe that ego had such a huge part to play in it just because they just wanted to become bigger and bigger. But they overextended themselves, they over leveraged themselves, to the point where if they would have just kept sticking to what they knew, and maybe just amped into what they knew more they could have, they could still be going today, you know, in many ways, because these movies haven't gone away. You know, I remember walking into AFM for the first time and looking up at the giant poster hanging from the ceiling and it was oh, it's Mike Tyson versus Steven Seagal. I'm like, well, there you go. You know, you know, and and by the way, let's go back for a minute to a movie called which I from what I understood, was the one of the biggest cash cows ever, in the canon, Canon canon. Which was breakin the original. It was before Beach Street if I'm not mistaken in the breakdancing phase fat of the thing was 8586 is when that came out. That that that exploded that had no stars in it, but it had breakdance and get it and everybody wants to know about breakdancing and it exploded. Is that correct?
Austin Trunick 41:36
Breaking was a movie came out in May of 84. It is the the idea behind it came in Canada, supposedly because manakin Khan's daughter was on Venice Beach and saw the person suggested it to him. And that was the story he always repeated. And they looked at it and then Malcolm that Beat Street was in production. It was already in production when he had this idea. Let's let's do ours. Let's do one faster. Let's get before Beat Street. I think you heard a pair that Beat Street was coming out in June. This is early 84. So they rush this they find the dancers they find basically bang out a script really fast, they shoot it as fast as possible and they get it out. And 84 It was the first one in two theaters so hit that brick dance craze. Even though dia came later than Beat Street and beat Beat Street theaters and it was huge ship was the soundtrack the hit the movie was did spectacularly and in theaters and cannon of course, within two weeks of of the movie coming out had already had ads running in the trades for breaking to
Alex Ferrari 42:51
The electric the Electric Boogaloo. The greatest, the greatest title of all time.
Austin Trunick 42:55
Yes. And they I was gonna be ready for Christmas. So they made to break dance movies in the space of about 11 months from one idea to make a break dance movie came to when the sequel came out in theaters.
Alex Ferrari 43:10
And the thing that's interesting about it is that Beat Street is a much better breaking it break dance movie, there's just no question. I mean, it's the dark greedy it's two different kinds of movie breaking is like no more New York and I was in I was living in New York at the time so it was like more gritty in New York you know in the subway that kind of break the into the core message there's it's dark death, all that kind of stuff. And then break in is kind of like the Disney Disney asked version of breakdancing which is everyone's like, Haha, we're in sunny California was all great. So it was a completely different vibe. And I think at that moment in time, I think people wanted to see the fun, you know, oh, it was ozone and yeah, Turbo turbo. Yeah, the turbo guy and then of course you gotta get you gotta throw in the you know, the cute ballet dancer who needs to break dance and all this insanity on it. But there's one thing also about breaking that she's I have a lot of cannon trivia, as you can tell. I love it that that there was a there was a young star who played an extra role in braking, which is genius to see. It is John Claude von DOM on the beach. I think it's on Venice Beach or something in the background while they're breakdancing. And he's just doing this dancing like the most awkward, weird dance and he's got like spandex on the ad spandex on and he's a young he must have been what in his mid 20s Young Young, very Claude Van Damme in it. So I mean, I remember seeing that for the first time I remember hearing about it because after I saw Bloodsport, I heard that it was breaking and it got breaking and it was just scanning until I found him on VHS. And I was like Oh my god. So can you talk this tell the story of John Claude and how he was dis discovered if you will, and gotten thrown into because I also have a bit of junk Claude. I was he was one of my my favorite guys growing up so it we're talking about no retreat, no surrender Black Eagle, then came Bloodsport and then cyborg was in there somewhere I think was right afterwards and then the studios got a hold of them and double impact and all those other ones that they did afterwards, which were you know kickboxer and all that kind of great stuff. But Bloodsport, was the thing that blew him up. Can you talk a little bit about how the cannon boys got a hold of John Claude.
Austin Trunick 45:42
So John Claude came to the States from Belgium wanting to become a movie star. He actually moved here with his his enemy, his nemesis and kickbox our tongue bow. Shell kiss, they were best friends. They were watch martial arts movies, Bruce Lee movies together and then moved together and they were roommates in Los Angeles is young thing aspiring actors. And John Claude is a very smart person like I he doesn't get enough credit for how for that side of things, but he knew that he looked at Ken and it was a company that they were making these these ninja movies these show what they looked at what they did with Chuck Norris, and saw that if he was going to break in and be one of these stars that that candidate would be the company that could potentially do that for them. So he started going to the cannon offices every every chance that and he would sit in the lobby he would hang out when he wasn't working when he was driving, working as a waiter and things at that time. Here wait for go on and this and he would demonstrate his kicks he would do splits we're gonna wait and see Chuck Norris. Chuck Norris was someone who bought him early on in the in the cannon lobbies and Chuck actually hired him as an assistant for a while. John cod is credited for stunts on missing an action as because he traveled along to with Chuck when he made that movie and they would jog together they would work out together there's some great footage of John holding the the mass as Chuck Norris is kicking them like very, very early on at that age. And that's also how he ended up in as an extra in breakin cannon was making that movie really fast. There's this Belgian kid hanging out, good looking Belgian kid hanging out in their lobby. They're like, Oh, come on, get in, get in the van. We need dancers for this scene. And that's how things like that happen. But this went on for years and years. Finally, from what's the story I got from John Claude, that's a preview for Book Three. Is that I guess monogame really kind of just gave in from this kid sort of paper. Herrera. Basically yeah, trying to become a candidate star by harassing him Blitz and kicking him out him in the in his life and brought him up to his office and John Claude, you know, he doesn't he says it in his he still has that sense. Where he's like, again, in the run up to manakins office. I take off my shirt. I started doing the splits and monogame at that points as your you have to think of don't think you're gonna be a great star. But I have this project. He gets out the script for Bloodsport. And Van Damme is on a plane to Hong Kong to shoot Bloodsport. What's interesting about Bloodsport is that's a movie that sat on a shelf for a quite a while it was shot and asex and it was released in early 1988. And this was a movie that when they came back from Hong Kong Golden Globe just saw the initial which I have never seen I would be very introduced if it still existed in some form but they thought it was unreasonable they thought the looking at them we was gonna did release to a phone and call this judge something unreasonable. It's been pretty rough. But that broke John clouds heart he did but he didn't he went on to do other things in the meantime, but some did. Late at night, really after the cannon was done for the day, he would go to Canada offices and sit down with one of their house editors and they were the fight scenes. So it's John and a cannon you know underpaid over cannon editors sitting overnight, cutting Bloodsport and adding really a lot of the slow motion I think we see in the movie that you would get from Hong Kong movies where you know a plus one to three times different tastes and different angles over and over for to nail every every blow home. And that was added and so by Late seventh guy 88 in dire financial trouble, they had just had Massey University and for all these flops, all these other trades with having to pay back loans and just be not having money, they're releasing everything they can to just get some money in Bloodsport, was a movie that the new cut they looked at, okay, wow, this is this is much better. And it was a hit, Bloodsport made VanDam. But you have to think, again, I'd mentioned earlier if the chips fell differently for Canon in some way. Had they released that movie had they had a better version of it in 86. Initially, that could have been that I'm sure if, if then, if film had landed, like I did earlier on, even if it didn't make the money they needed, they would have signed VanDamme to one of their famous six picture contracts 10 Venture contracts and again, there's there's universe somewhere where and kept going into the 90s. But in that because the strength of this this bar this new star they hadn't abandoned, but in this in the same sense, we wouldn't have had the Van Damme who gave us so many studio films like hard target and sudden death. And so it's interesting. It's one of those things canon they did. They did launch Van Damme but they really fumbled with how they handled it. I could have
Alex Ferrari 51:29
They could have say this they could have saved that could have saved the studios. The studios ass I mean, essentially because the two chucks really ran the studio for a while Chuck Norris and Charles Bronson who was also in his 60s when he became a star with them
Austin Trunick 51:46
Alex Ferrari 51:48
Gotta bless a man God bless him like I God blessed the boys I mean because the Cannon boysfor doing this because I mean Lord man, there's so much amazing thing that so much amazing lore behind what they did in that decade and change and it's just a fascinating stories fascinating Hollywood story of how they were able to rise to the top of the indie space and they were one of the one of the early people to to kind of create this whole pre selling idea of like, give me a poster and I'll throw a picture on it and you give me money before the movies even made and I'll go make it that and give it to you to be able to finance their movies if I'm not mistaken correct. They were the kind of they were the the forefathers if you will of pre sales and can and AFM.
Austin Trunick 52:40
They had Yeah, that that was an idea they took Corman but they mastered it. They mastered the the art of the they did it very well and they did it at the right time with having so many places to sell their their product to in advance. And again, that led to so many movies that would never have been made it also led to a lot of movies that weren't made and lead me to wonder what what could have been canon is a company that if you Google unmade canon movies, but if you look through any old spider Yeah, yeah.
Alex Ferrari 53:21
Spider Man 86 Spider Man like they had they had a poster for it. It almost happened you know what's about what's behind the scenes story about cannon Spider Man movie? Because I remember Corman I think Corman is the one that made the Fantastic Four movie so so he wouldn't lose the rights and then never released it. I think it's now been released since then. But But Spider Man because that was Marvel was like in bankruptcy they didn't know what to do they were selling off the rights. That's why took us forever to get a Spider Man movie. What was the what was the story behind that Spider Man movie?
Austin Trunick 53:51
Well, Captain Marvel was in a lot of trouble. And this is something that's hard to imagine not in the environment. But they they are in dire straits and movies were not something that people were doing in that that was something that still considered the idea of it. But they were shopping the rights to raise money for for their company and Canon came in they bought Captain America and Spider Man rights and these were two movies these were two characters that those are the only two that have the entire Marvel catalog that they thought were thought thought had any potential for making money they they could have had the entire Marvel catalog by every hero for a song and they just cherry pick to those to the rest ended up going to New World when new world bought Marvel but
Alex Ferrari 54:44
Punisher and all that stuff.
Austin Trunick 54:46
Yeah, but manakin go on what what is funny is he bought the rights to Spider Man not having never read a Spider Man comic not being familiar with the character. He he was under the impression that Peter Parker was a college kid who turned into you know, giant tarantula like a Teen Wolf sort of thing. And the earliest SpiderMan ads, the trade ads for it that they put out because Canada would announce everything immediately as soon as they had any sort of plans in place was going to be directed by Toby Hooper with a script by Daniel Bannon. They alien guy, Ryan, it was going to be a horror film and I think I think what happened was Malcolm had conversations with Stan Lee and family was like, you know, this isn't a doesn't turn into a giant spider right? And his senses came about like, I don't think that ever made it past like, Malcolm's earliest idea there. There are scripts that exist to the Canon Spider Man's that were never made. But the Spider Man cannon movie was one that was in the pipeline's forever that half of the directors who ever worked with Canon were attached to at one point or others started with Toby Hooper that was originally going to be the third of three picture canon deal. Then for a long time Joe Zito they spent a lot of money Josie to the director of invasion USA developing that one with he spent money scouting places, just trying out some of the effects and some of the things that they wanted to do. And then finally towards the end of the Golden Globe as Eric cannon, our Pune who gave us cyborg and some really genius genius genius. Oh, so good. Such a great but that actually if you want to ask what happened with Spider Man, the camera was in very bad financial shape. I as I said 8788 But they had already put some money into developing two movies. They said they were gonna shoot these two movies back to back de Noodler antithesis facilities down in the Carolinas. And the movies were gonna be masters universe two, and Spider Man.
Alex Ferrari 57:03
Two, how could they do two? This is before the first one was released.
Austin Trunick 57:08
No, this was after. So they still it was still in all still all in a we're still all in on on masters universe. And they basically both of these fell apart. Both but they had already been doing some work. They've been building sets for Spider Man, they had shipped all of the costumes from the original masters universe to Digi Digi studios to start on that and our punes plan was and this is one of my favorite things about the abandoned Spider Man is they were going to shoot all the Peter Parker stuff. In the first I think two weeks all the stuff where he's just the nerdy normal team, Team boy. And then they're gonna take a break. They're gonna take eight weeks in the middle and they're going to shoot massive universe two in the same place with a lot of the same actors and crew. And the Peter Parker actor who was this stunt man at the time Scott Liva was his name would have just gone on a training regimen like I don't know if they were gonna get them into the gym with Lou Ferrigno or something and he was just gonna get jacked and so over this eight week like you know, just hardcore working out he'd come back and be trim and muscular and he that's how they would handle this spider man transformation then they would film all the scenes where he's in the Spider Man costume so that was I mean it's it's such a cannon way of doing it of being able to handle transformation very cheaply just by taking a break and they would shoot those last few weeks. But those both those both those deals fell apart. Cannon suddenly didn't have the money to shoot them and ever Pune comes up with the idea to let's try to recoup what we spent already. Like I will write a movie that uses the sets we built the half built sets from Spider Man and the costumes and everything and then the actors we've already gathered here for Master universe to Yes,
Alex Ferrari 59:04
So this is news to me I'm fine fascinate
Austin Trunick 59:06
Yeah, so these two movies so our Pune wrote cyborg basically banged out that script and like kind of a, you know, weekend long fever dream. Makes sense a cannon. They presented it because this was after. After Bloodsport. They still had another deal with Van Damme to do more movies. And so Van Damme picked that script. So they ended up going and shooting cyborg a script that have been written in record time. With with VanDamme using the sets from spider man and a lot of the actors from what what would have been mastered universe to the bad guy, Vincent clan who has you know, he was a surfer. He man was going to be played Dolph Lundgren was not coming back for the second one. He was we played by LAIRD HAMILTON the surfer
Alex Ferrari 59:54
LAIRD HAMILTON was going to play master of the universe Are you kidding me?
Austin Trunick 59:59
He was doll replacement. Yes for him, man.
Alex Ferrari 1:00:02
It's not as not as bulky, not as bulky.
Austin Trunick 1:00:05
No, no but he so his he brought his friends he brought his entourage his crew with him and they were all going to be sort of these barbarian like humans like sidekicks because they did not have any like the second master's was going to be a much smaller budget than the first but they stayed around and they played the bad guys in cyborg so Vincent clean as a surfer he was one of Laird Hamilton's friends who had come to be you know, a barbarian buddy.
Alex Ferrari 1:00:31
Is he the guy please remind me Is he one of the bad guys in Point Break? Oh, gosh. He like because he has such a unique look. I remember he was one of the one of the surfers that surfer group of the gang that that Kiana was Kano and Pat Patrick says Again a fight at the beach with like the red hot chili pepper dude Anthony and and a few other guys in this other just big jacked up, you know very kind of almost Samoan looking. He's I think he might be the same bag. I want to look
Austin Trunick 1:01:08
Look it up. I can't I can't confirm right now. I can tell you he was a bad guy and kickboxer 2 but
Alex Ferrari 1:01:13
Well, obviously, I mean, obviously. So So you are telling me that cyborg the junk cloud of a masterpiece was originally shot on the sets of the failed Spider Man masters universe to
Austin Trunick 1:01:27
Yes, Cyborg Phoenix that rose from the ashes of the crumbled masters too in Spider Man. You can see bits of it in there too, if you know where to look for.
Alex Ferrari 1:01:38
Oh, yeah, no. Now, I mean, if I had the time to go back and watch sideboard I mean, I might one night that I'm bored. I'll find it and go back and scan through it. But that would be that'd be pretty amazing. What I also remember so beautifully about junk Lodz movies is that every movie, they would find a way to get the split in?
Austin Trunick 1:01:58
Oh, like cyborg is one of the best splits to
Alex Ferrari 1:02:01
Split right between the two buildings. And that was, Oh, my God, it was, Oh, my God was amazing. So as we're talking about, you know, Canon and what they've done, you know, you mentioned corpsman corpsman had been doing this since the 50s. And has continued all this way has not stopped. He doesn't have obviously the influence as he used to. He's in his late 90s at this point that he did at one point, but he never lost money along the way. And continued his bet because it seems to me that he never lost his formula. He never tried to be bigger than what he was. He understood that like, you know what, this is my lane. I'm staying in it. And the Canon boys just couldn't couldn't deal they had to go outside their lane. They wanted to be bigger than the bridges
Austin Trunick 1:02:52
Cannon, the Golden Globe as they they modeled themselves over. They wanted to be the next major studios, one of the things that they always build themselves, the next major studio, but they modeled themselves really the way they did business, not after studios of the 1980s. But studios of the 30s 40s and 50s. There was old moguls nobody was signing people to 10 movie contracts these gigantic long canon was because that's that's who manakin Golan that's that's who he idolized those Louis Meyers and the these moguls of the Golden Age.
Alex Ferrari 1:03:28
It was the studio system. It was the old school studio system where they owned the actor for for 10 pictures.
Austin Trunick 1:03:34
Hmm. And that's that's what they wanted to be. But but but corpsman was somebody that they admired corpsman was actually somebody that manakin Milan, who he looked up to one of his first jobs was one of them was a corpsman picture called the Young racers back in the 60s. And that's a film that manakin Kalon worked on Francis Ford Coppola worked on Robert Towne all worked on. And this was a B, you know, almost a C level racing movie. That's that Corman did and just the people that came out of that film that that the talent and the impact on Hollywood in one way or another is just incredible.
Alex Ferrari 1:04:14
I could keep talking to you for at least another five hours about this. I do appreciate you coming on and writing this second volume of The Canon film guide. This is I think you have opened the door to anybody who ever wants to write a book about cannon, and then you shut the door behind you. Because there's no there's why why there's going to be what three volumes. The third one's coming out soon. How many pages is just over 1000 1000 1000 pages. This is volume that that first one is about the same, right? So 2000 Where I'm assuming the next one's not going to be 100 pages. So probably not. So it is. It is fascinating. There's so much I didn't talk about so many movies that we could just go over and over. And I mean each movies like a two hour episode how they did it and how to get this way and, you know, Barfly was one of like, I was like the Barfly was made by them and runaway train and all these you know these amazing films but my my last question to you, sir, I know it's gonna be very difficult question three of your favorite cannon films of all time.
Austin Trunick 1:05:27
Three of my favorite Well, I'm gonna pick three very different ones. The easiest one my go to is always going to be Revenger the ninja by Sam Furstenberg, that's the cannon box that burned itself in the back of my brain as a kid and maybe one of the reasons I want to get back to the video store over and over again so I can finally rent out was was one such movie. I love invasion USA. So I'm sitting in front of a evasion USA poster right now but as far as the Chuck Norris movies, this is a movie that is big, silly doesn't make exact sense. But the action is is so so good. And since you've got Van Damme on in my mind, I have to go with Bloodsport. Yeah, it's such a again, like bendemeer It's so many great movies. That's probably still my go to if I'm going to pick one Van Damme movie, just throw on.
Alex Ferrari 1:06:25
All right, just on a side note. If we can go back to two then damn lore, besides JCVD which arguably is one of the best VanDamme films ever because it's it's it's just so in. It's not a normal Bondam film. It's a drama, but it's just so beautifully done. I think it I think he peaked as a quality film, not fun film quality film. I think time cop holds holds. Probably it was it was Universal Studios. It was a big budget. At least in my memory. I can't. I can't fight about it with anyone because I haven't seen it since probably came out. But I remember being like you know, this is a really good, well written good story kind of film. Bloodsport has a special place in my heart because I just could not stop watching Bloodsport. I know it's so well, but in my mind, it lives beautifully. And then the other day I turned it on. I'm like, no, no, no, no, I gotta turn it off. I can't other than the action sequences I can't watch the story or the acting because it will ruin it for me the you know those movies like the things that were perfect in your head and then you go back and going. That doesn't age well at all. But kickboxer cyborg has a special place in my heart I mean no retreat no surrenders. Cameo essentially that Vontae was that his first was that the first thing released if I remember was the black black eagle was second if I'm not mistaken.
Austin Trunick 1:08:02
Yeah, these movies were ones that came out while I was part was sitting on the shelf, which is crazy to think that this is just sitting collecting Dustin and cannons closet while he's doing these movies where he's essentially playing, you know, Soviet bad guys.
Alex Ferrari 1:08:20
Well, the funny thing is that and I talked to Sheldon about this and Sheldon was the one who wrote Bloodsport. He created and Vaughn DOM and the movie Bloodsport basically created Street Fighter and create a Mortal Kombat and the fighting games as we know him came because of Bloodsport, I mean they there's even characters. Yeah, in streetfighter that are still a little close to to Bloodsport. So it really shifted the the zeitgeist it was in the Zeitgeist and shifted popular culture in many ways. It's fascinating to see what these films that we grew up with what they've done in the course of 20 or 30 years and what they did and how they've affected pop culture and have been created. You know, stars of people that in today's world would never in a van Damme would never in a million years. Rise today. Not in the way it just too much competition too much. But without them. Would there even be a market for those kinds of films? That's the like with without a Von DOM is that without Bloodsport Is there is there above the law? You know, is there a Steven Seagal at that point? You know, what? Do you know all that without the ninja movies? Do we have a Bloodsport? You know, maybe one day who knows but that's just us talking my friend. I appreciate you coming on the show. Man. This has been such so much fun going back back into the archives of my my Canon brain. And all the the amazing stuff. I mean, you have now after the canons you have to do one a new world then you have to write a whole series of books on Orion, and then you know, you got to keep going and you get a trauma, I'm sure Lloyd will be more than happy to talk to you about making a whole series of, I mean, you've got the rest of your life to write all the rest of these books are. And one last question, man, why? Why did you sit down and write two to 3000 pages? On a B level? If not C level? Movie Studio from the 80s? What was the interviewer that said, instead of like, you want one little book about Ah, you went, I mean, deeper than anyone has ever gone before? Why did you do it?
Austin Trunick 1:10:40
I fell in love with movies at my local video stores back as a youth and Canon reigned supreme in those places, even if they weren't the best movies or the hottest renters at that point. There were a lot of cannon movies. And when you went to the video store every weekend looking for a certain type of film, that's you encountered that. And it was it was ninja movies, it was cannons and Indian movies is what made me fall in love with movies, watching Chuck Norris films with my dad, when I was probably way too young, Charles Bronson, things like that. That was they made movies that appealed to me as a young boy, I should say. And then after learning about them, if you start to peel back the you know, the cover of what, what canon was, the stories behind these movies are as crazy as what happens on screen, if not crazier, the how their genesis how they were made and how they came to be. And I wanted to find those stories. I wanted to hear every story I could from as many people that were there as possible, and collect them in a place because this is a company that did something that no one else did back then. And no one has done really since they the way the exact way they did it. And that's it's a very interesting as somebody who loves film history that fascinated me so much that I couldn't I couldn't look away.
Alex Ferrari 1:12:10
Basically, with almost any candidate movie, you can't really look away. I mean, it's kind of like watching a train wreck in a beautiful, wonderful way. It's watching these films. So awesome. Thank you so much for coming on the show. And thank you for putting this insanity together in volumes. I love that there's three volumes, the third ones coming out of this. There's so much stuff and you've made basically made a piece of film history that people can come back to in 100 years and they'll go this didn't make this is this is fiction, or not happen. This is not real. Hopefully they'll go back to this interview as well. If they find it on on whatever YouTube is at that point. And look at this interview and they'll go no it was real up. There's people talking about it as opposed to behind the guy. We'll see. We'll see what happened but awesome. Thank you again so much my friend where can people buy this and by volume one, Volume Two and Windows volume three coming up.
Austin Trunick 1:13:02
You can find them anywhere. Anywhere books are sold. So your Amazon's you and your local bookstores can order them if you got a brick and mortar bookstore try to support that that's that's that's always great. If you're if you're lucky enough to be in that position. People can find me online at I'm at Canon film guide on Twitter and on Facebook, my social media handle and I'm always sharing more canon information on there. There are so many things that as big as these books are just would not fit. And social media is the place that I can keep that conversation going answer questions and just show the weird things and crazy stories that I'm still stumbling across that even I can't believe
Alex Ferrari 1:13:41
Last last question. Did you ever talk to the boys?
Austin Trunick 1:13:44
I have not. And not for lack of trying. I have tried so hard to get a hold of your arm. So your arm if you are listening. I've said many, many emails to your assistants, I've sent letters to your office, I would love to talk to you someday. That's my dream interview.
Alex Ferrari 1:14:06
That's the dream. That's the dream. So none of the boys you've got to ever get to talk to so it's all secondhand. All secondhand stuff from like Sam and and all these interviews that you've done over the years of people who are still alive and working. And did you ever talk to John Claude or chuck or any of those?
Austin Trunick 1:14:24
Jean Claude I've spoken to so he'll be in volume three. Chuck No, Chuck does not somebody who looks back very often, but. He's never really done retrospective interviews or anything. And he sadly, I mean, I don't know that he will. He's never been on a commentary or anything like that. I would love to speak to Chuck. He's another one. But yeah, Jean Claude, I've talked to Michael Judah cough and the second one I've, I've talked to at this point, I think about 80 people who worked for Cannon at different points one point or another And, yeah, I'm still reaching every. If there's anyone who's missing from the books, it's not for lack of trying. I'll say that. I've reached out to everybody.
Alex Ferrari 1:15:11
You've done an amazing job, my friends. So again, thank you so much for putting this together. And I appreciate your time today, my friend and continue the good work you do. You're doing God's work, sir. You're doing God's work.
Austin Trunick 1:15:22
Alex Ferrari 1:15:22
Thank you, my friend.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.
- Austin Trunick – Official Site
- Books by Austin Trunick
- IFH Academy – Get MASSIVE Deals starts Black Friday to Cyber Monday!
- Bulletproof Script Coverage – Get Your Screenplay Read by Hollywood Professionals
- Audible – Get a Free Filmmaking or Screenwriting Audiobook
- Rev.com – $1.25 Closed Captions for Indie Filmmakers – Rev ($10 Off Your First Order)