Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cannon coulda-beens from 1980

The following movie projects were announced by the newly revamped Cannon Films in October of 1980.

THE DOROTHY DANDRIDGE STORY was going to be a musical biopic directed by Michael Schultz (because his SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEART’S CLUB BAND two years earlier had turned out soooo well) with music by John Barry and lyrics by Carol Connors, to be produced by Leon Isaac Kennedy and starring his then-wife Jayne Kennedy.

Speaking of the Kennedys, their Cannon-backed 1981 remake of BODY AND SOUL was originally going to be helmed by busy actor-director Georg Stanford Brown, but George Bowers (in between Crown International films) ended up directing it instead.

Brian Garfield’s Death Sentence, the continuing story of CPA-turned-vigilante Paul Benjamin, was published in 1975 as a response to the controversial film adaptation of Death Wish, the first novel about Benjamin's exploits. To find out how this project very quickly lost Garfield’s approval and ultimately morphed into DEATH WISH II, pick up a copy of Paul Talbot’s excellent book Bronson’s Loose!: The Making of the Death Wish Films (iUniverse, 2006).

Following in the footsteps of Chuck Norris (GOOD GUYS WEAR BLACK), Joe Lewis (JAGUAR LIVES) and James Ryan (KILL OR BE KILED), undefeated karate champ Mike Stone wrote a screenplay titled Dance of Death that was designed to showcase his skills and hopefully launch his career as an action star. After purchasing his script and assuring him that he would be the star, producers Golan and Globus fired everyone -- the director, the crew, the cast (Stone included) -- brought in new screenwriters and gave the lead role to Franco Nero. Stone was rehired, but as the fight coordinator and also to double Nero for the action scenes. The resulting film was a hit that helped launch Sho Kosugi’s career as an action star.

We know nothing about this black-themed horror film from the writer of FIVE ON THE BLACK HAND SIDE and BLACK BELT JONES (Oscar Williams) and the director of COOLEY HIGH and CAR WASH (Michael Schultz again), except that it was never made.

Emmett Alston made NEW YEAR’S EVIL for Cannon instead of this slasher movie starring Wayne Newton!

Optical effects master Zoran Perisic, who had just won an Oscar for his groundbreaking work on SUPERMAN, was supposed to make his directorial debut with this big-screen adaptation of Colin Wilson's novel. It eventually became LIFEFORCE (1985), directed by Tobe Hooper from a screenplay co-written by Dan O'Bannon.

X-RAY is better known as HOSPITAL MASSACRE (1982). Boaz Davidson filled in for Emmett Alston as director and Barbi Benton replaced Jill St. John as the star.

2 comments:

Emily said...

I for one would of wanted to of seen Space Vampires!

Nathan Martin said...

Great article. I'm a huge Bronson fan and it's especially cool to see that "Death Sentence" ad mat.