There are movies that are just awful, but then there are movies that are so mind-bogglingly terrible that they are GLORIOUS! And 1980’s ‘The Apple’ may be the most deliciously batshit movie you will ever experience. Set in the distant future of 1994 (!), the world is a dystopia ruled over by the Boogalow International Music company (BIM). How powerful is BIM? At one point, the police write a ticket to one citizen because he isn’t wearing their latest fashion statement, a BIM Mark, a holographic sticker, applied somewhere on the face. Beyond even that, every day at a certain time, everyone must stop whatever they are doing to burst out into a choreographed calisthenics routine– and I do mean everyone, as firefighters stop battling a blaze and surgeons even cease performing an operation on a patient to aerobicize their hearts out. Heck, even the patient on the table sits up and starts dancing… until he appears to die!
Directed by Israeli-born Menahem Golan, this was an early release from the infamous Cannon Films, makers of a LOT of really terrible movies in the ’80s, usually of the action variety. But with ‘The Apple’, Golan had his eye on winning an Academy Award with this epic sci-fi musical that loosely drew from the story of Adam & Eve. (The Apple, get it?!)
The main story follows would-be singer/songwriters Bibi (Catherine Mary Stewart) and Alphie (George Gilmour) who enter a (rigged) music competition, but their heartfelt ballad is met with a wave of boos, after they were forced to go on after the manufactured BIM super band.
Check out “Do the BIM” below:
ARE YOU NOT 100% ON BOARD WITH THIS AFTER THAT?!
Anyway, the head of BIM, Mr. Boogalow (Vladek Sheybal) takes a liking to Bibi and winds up drawing her into his web. Under his guidance, she becomes a major pop star, but her heart still belongs to Alphie, who is struggling to pay the rent as he wallows in obscurity.
Of course, they wind up back together, but not before another huge musical number “The Apple” which apparently takes place in Hell. They also encounter and are taken in by a group of homeless hippies who oppose the rule of BIM.
This may be a bit NSFW. I didn’t know they made thongs for men in 1980.
Once again, ‘The Apple’ was not intended to be another ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ or any other sort of camp classic. Golan legitimately thought he was making real ART with this picture.
The gyrating, blond afroed tempter, Dandi was played by Allan Love, who was apparently a terrible dancer, so the camera had to continuously cut away from him during musical numbers. Along those lines, Stewart (Bibi) was determined not to have a strong enough voice, so she wound up lipsynching to vocals provided by Mary Hylan.
Dandi was one of Boogalow’s helpers, along with Grace Kennedy as Pandi, and Ray Shell as Shake (which rhymes with “snake”).
At one point, Pandi attempts to seduce Alphie with a song entitled “Coming” which is NOT a double entendre. What’s more blatant than that? A single entendre?
Once again, probably NSFW:
At the end of the film, it is clear that Mr. Boogalow is really the Devil, and the hippie leader, Mr. Topps (Joss Ackland), is God. After arriving in a glowing golden Cadillac, God takes the hippies, Bibi, Alphie, and Pandi (who switches sides) to Heaven… or rather a new planet, where he can start over without the Devil’s influence.
‘The Apple’ made its debut at the Montreal World Film Festival. Attendees were given vinyl records of the soundtrack… which they angrily hurled at the screen, slashing it to shreds. Remember, director Golan thought this was Academy Award material! Sadly, Stewart reported that Golan contemplated killing himself that night by jumping off of his hotel balcony! (Don’t worry. He did not.)
‘The Apple’ obviously and deservedly got dreadful reviews and vanished into obscurity, which I find a little odd. This film is the epitome of camp! It’s so hilariously bizarre! This should be a classic that people attend midnight screenings for, dressed in their finest aluminum foil costumes, and belting out every word to every song! Security guards should be positioned to make sure everyone has their requisite BIM Mark… OR ELSE!
As stupid as this movie is, there are two things I actually find sort of impressive. Shake, Boogalow’s assistant, is a flashy effeminate gay man, but he isn’t used as a punchline or mocked in any way. This was incredibly progressive for a movie in 1980 directed by a native of Israel, which is even to this day is very conservative in a lot of ways.
The other interesting character is Pandi, one of BIM’s lead singers. True, she attempted to seduce Alphie, but she realized that he truly loved Bibi and she urged him to go after her. I found it rather impressive that this “seductress” turned out to be a firm observer of “girl code,” even when she didn’t really know the other woman. And at the end, she leaves Boogalow to go with the hippies to Heaven… or wherever.
Golan and Cannon films went on to produce and release low-budget flicks throughout the ’80s, some of which were actually hits, including the ‘Death Wish’ series, the ‘Missing in Action’ series, the Indiana Jones knockoff ‘King Solomon’s Mines’, and ‘Breakin” and ‘Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo’. Cannon kicked off the ’80s ninja craze with a series of movies starting with ‘Enter the Ninja’. It also took stabs at high profile projects like ‘Superman IV: The Quest for Peace’ and ‘Masters of the Universe’. At one point, Cannon had the film rights to Spider-Man, but thank Mr. Topps they never made it, because it would have SUCKED!
Golan passed away in 2014, the same year that RatPac Entertainment released the documentary ‘Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films’. That is a must-see for movie buffs, especially for fans of so-bad-they’re-good flicks like ‘The Apple’. At one point it was available on Netflix, but isn’t any longer. But it can be rented from various streaming services.
As for ‘The Apple’ itself, it is available for free on Amazon Prime Video, so mix up a batch of appletinis and get ready for a fun crappy movie night!