Interview for The Bad Movie Bible, Rob Hill
01 You were closely associated with Cannon
for a significant chunk of your career. How did you first meet Menahem and Yoram?
I met Menahem Golan when I was 22 years old and a film student at Columbia College in
Los Angeles it was 1972. By then Golan was the most famous and most prominent filmmaker in Israel, a household name. Like
every other Israeli, I had heard his name and saw his Hebrew speaking movies, but I had never met him before. He had just
arrived in Hollywood with his partner and cousin Yoram Globus, to produce and direct his first American movie, "Lepke" with
Tony Curtis under the banner of AmeriEuro Pictures. At a New Years Eve party I suddenly found myself in the room with him,
and during the party I learned that he was about to embark on that production. I expressed my desire to be part of it, or
more exactly, just to be around. Learning that I was willing to work even without a salary, I was invited to join the production
the next day. For the next few years I worked for Golan and Globus off and on as general "go for" office runner, second assistant
director, and finally my first AD job. AmeriEuro Pictures did not last long and they moved back to Israel,
02 Did you have much of a say over the projects
you worked on or were they assigned by the two men? I'm particularly thinking about Revenge of the Ninja and Ninja III, but
also more generally.
I have known Menahem and Yoram for many years, in fact many years before I directed Revenge
of the Ninja - I worked as an assistant director on many of their films, even one that Menahem Golan directed (Diamonds with
Robert Shaw). The way they worked was that Yoram Globus was in charge of finances, and had little input on the creative side;
Menahem Golan was the creative producer, involved in all the stages of making the movies. His main interest was in the script
and in the editing. During the shooting I was basically left alone. I would say that in this sense, it was very easy to work
with them, as long as we did not go over budget or exceed the schedule - which I never did. They trusted me and we had a very
03 Sho Kosugi found his feet as an action
star in your early movies. Are you able to tell me anything about what he was like to work with?
Sho is an accomplished martial artist, knowledgeable in all fields of martial art; he
was also a teacher (sense) with a group of dedicated students. When we first met we hit it off right away, I did not know
a thing about the martial arts and did not pretend to know any so I rather adapted Sho as my teacher and gave him the necessary
respect therefore eliminating any potential conflicts regarding that area he in return excepted my as the director the final
authority on all cinematic matters. This mutual respect and appreciation lead to an actually friendship later on during shooting
the years we worked together.
05 One of the things that really stands out
about Ninja III is the way it looks. The first possession scene in Christie's apartment is particularly beautiful, with strobe
lights, the neon giving off a great buzzy glow, the pink and blue, the smoke and wind. The scene with the attempted exorcism
is really good too, but in a different way. Who do we have to thank for the look of the movie?
After the release of Revenge of the Ninja Menahem Golan head of Canon Film wanted to produce
a third sequel to the Ninja franchise but this time with a female heroin at the lead. This
time Sho Kosugi was given a secondary role, he insisted that women did not receive Ninjitsu training and have no strength
for all the ninja action. We had to come up with a solution, I just saw the movie "Poltergeist" and was very impressed and
so in its spirit I come up with the idea that the main character the actress Lucinda Dickey will be possessed by the spirit
of a dead Ninja and this possession will propel the plot of the movie. Since we already dealt with that genera we throw in
also some elements from the movie "The Exorcist" that I saw years earlier and impressed me a lot as well.
06 Was the opening sequence on the golf course
always intended to be as large scale as it is in the final movie? I recently counted 31 killings by the Black Ninja. I've
never heard of anyone not loving that scene.
Well, when we started to film this scene most of the action elements were in place but
as we moved on with the filming, in every segment of it, the stunt coordinator, Steve Lambert, and I would entice each other
to be creative, invent, expend, and elaborate as much as we could within our limited budget. That’s how we got to 31
07 I have to ask about the V8 juice. Was
it a tongue-in-cheek choice or the only thing available?! It was late to catch on here in England and for years I had no idea
what it was!
Off course it was kind of tongue-in-cheek it was not an accident but at that time it was
a popular drink in the US for health nuts and was accompanied by a funny advertisement campain on television. So we (Lucinda,
Jordan, and me) decided to go little bit corky and use the V8 instead of the usual chocolate or alcoholic drink that you see
in other movies.
08 If it's not too personal a question, can
I ask if you're officially and permanently retired, or is there still a temptation to make more movies?
I am retired because it just happened. My work was always unstructured and not constant.
Sometimes I was working and sometimes doing nothing in between movies. So there was never an "official" retirement, and to
answer the question of "permanently" all I can say is that one should not try to predict the future may be another movie,
the right one, might happened one day.
09 Lastly, as a big movie fan the thing I usually want to know most about others is what their favorites are. I understand
a lot of people find it difficult to single things out. But are you able to give me a few of the titles that have inspired,
entertained or enlightened you over the years?
Just like all movie lovers in my life I have seen tens of thousands of movies of all kinds but to name some classics that
inspired me I would chose Yojimbo by Akira Kurosawa, City lights by Charley Chaplin, Laurence of Arabia by David Lean any
western by John Ford and then Midnight Cowboy and The Godfather trilogy. But off course this are only a fraction of a very
My web site is www.samfirstenberg.com and I also have a Facebook page, they are both full of photos and stories regarding