21: Top 5 Cannon films


Ben Smith

He solves the puzzles and bakes the cookies. Co-host of the EuroWhat? podcast.

Thrill to the sounds of podcaster and movie-lover Ben Smith, sharing his top five shlockbusters with Mark Steadman. You won’t believe your ears! List Envy, in select theatres now.

Ben is the co-host of the EuroWhat? podcast with previous guest Mike McComb, and hailing from the same state as Mystery Science Theater 3000 has a keen eye for a film that’s so bad it’s good. But that’s not all the Cannon studio had to offer; some of the work is surprisingly meaningful, if buried under piles of rubble caused by explosions set off by breakdancing ninjas.

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Honourable mentions

Spoiler alert

Mark especially is quite liberal with the spoiler sauce in this episode, so if you plan on watching any of these films, just be warned that the element of surprise — at least in terms of plot — might be diminished.

Ben’s picks

In order of discussion:

The Apple

Also known as Star Rock for some reason, The Apple is a 1980 film telling the story of a global Eurovision competition equivalent. It’s a musical turned up to 11.


The film that spawned a thousand spoof sequel titles (yes, this is the one that had the sequel called Electric Boogaloo ), Breakin’ , from 1984, is the “save the rec center” story told through the medium of breakdancing.

Ninja III: The Domination

This time, the ninja is a woman! In 1984’s Ninja III , the main character is possessed by the spirit of a fallen ninja who must seek to regain his/her honour, sometimes on a golf course.

Invasion USA

This Chuck Norris vehicle from 1985 is essentially why we have Chuck Norris jokes. With Invasion USA , Norris was able to make the jump from karate star to full-on action star. If you only see one movie that destroys a mall in Atlanta this year, make it this one.

Mark’s picks

In order of discussion:


Mark’s top pick, from 1985, also makes Ben’s list. The film has a good pedigree in both its writer and director, and is a Anglo-American collaboration based on a novel. But perhaps it was the bonkers premise that means it’s been relegated to something close to B-movie status.

House of the Long Shadows

This tongue-in-cheek horror from 1983 is a who’s who of British stars from scary movie days of yore. It’s also set in Wales, so that’s nice.

Runaway Train

This Jon Voight number from 1985 was based on an Akira Kurosawa film that never got off the ground. It’s a tense prison escape movie that turns into an action suspense story with the kind of heroic ending you just don’t see anymore.


1987’s Barfly stars Mickey Rourke as a smart writer whose only real ambition is to make enough money from his work to buy the next round. It’s a rare departure into considered drama, for the studio.

More of Ben Smith

Ben is the co-host of the EuroWhat? podcast, and you can follow him on Twitter @benmsmith.