My friends, I just don't know. Falling in love with a real atrocity is a mystery for me. It's not all about pathetically proving my self-worth by laughing at someone else's failed effort: "better to have never made a feature film at all than to make a monstrosity like this! Haw haw! Oh, I'm so very superior." I know I ought to be saving my limited spare time for masterpieces instead of outlandish dreck. But I still have one particular friend who knows where to find this stuff, and we sit side by side on a couch and laugh ourselves into hypoxia. Companionship is part of the experience. But so is the out of body experience ... it's like my brain is trying to reject the very message the eyeballs are trying to convey to it.


If I knew what my feelings about cine mauvaise was, I wouldn't be so obsessed with seeking out these really infamous ones. And The Apple's infamy proceeds it. It is the most atrocious disco-era musical ever, beating stiff competition like Xanadu and Can't Stop the Music, two other films released just as disco's coolness had moved on elsewhere, oh, restless beast that you are, Cool. More than this, The Apple distances itself from the competition by attempting to tell the story of the Fall of Man in terms of a nightclub full of glitter-encrusted beardoes in feather boas. And it is a story of good v. evil capped with one of the few literal, genuine cases of actual Deus ex Machina you'll ever see in a film. And since a movie about God is only as good as the Devil in it ... kneel before the evil of Vladek Sheybal of From Russia With Love (above) threatening our very souls with hell fire while wearing one (only one) gold-lame horn.

1994! In the future, all will dress like Jobriath! We can see that from a smallish arena where the 1994 song competition is taking place. What the Sex Pistols did in two minutes in the song "EMI", The Apple tries to do in an hour and a half, by going after a fictional evil musical conglomerate called BIM, short for Boogalow International Music. Their newest manufactured hit "Do the BIM" is tested with a sonic heartbeat meter. But whose heart wouldn't beat fast when stimulated by all the laser, plexiglas and prisms in the auditorium?. They're shocked, though, as a pair of toothy, scrubbed, white-clad teenagers mount the stage.

They're Alphie (George Gilmour) and Bibi (Catherine Mary Stewart) from Moose Jaw, Ontario. Strumming an acoustic guitar, they duet on a simple love ballad which makes the hearts flutter despite the lack of glitz and easily remembered choruses. Boogalow scoops them up and intends to give them a makeover. Meanwhile he dispatches his current big-sellers Pandi (Grace Kennedy) and Dandi (Allan Love) to seduce and split up the couple.

Soon Bibi is making videos togged out of Vulcan eyebrows, skimpy costumes and padded shoulders. Alphie has more worries about the contract he's signing with BIM, since he hallucinates earthquakes and a hell-number. The inferno sequence is perhaps the highlight of the The Apple, where writhing chorus boys offer him an evil watermelon sized apple: "Juju apple! Voodoo apple!" Alphie hits the skids, though in his dingy flat he's nursed by the best actor in the film Miriam Margolyes, oy veying it up as his bosomy Jewish landlady. (Yes, she does make chicken soup for him.)

BIM swells in power, and some watchers have discerned the sense that a few years go by, though there doesn't seem to be any indicator, like some line about "1996 turned out to be a bleak year" or something. It's still the future, anyway, with billy-club wielding fascist police and sky trains and futuristic architecture; you could probably convince a chump that The Apple was the Lucas-suppressed musical version of THX 1138.

The automobiles are futuristic, too--glass-domed, finned predecessor of "The Homer " as seen during Homer Simpson's short tenure as a Detroit car designer. And Boogalow now has a federally-mandated mark of the beast. All our forced to purchase and wear holographic triangles on their person. As Boogalow sings, "Like a bleary baboon, to an organ grinder's tune," the world must shuffle to his infernal pop.

And in an orgy of the damned, Pandi seduces the innocent Alphi, seemingly ending the pure sacred love between the two Canadian pop stars. Fortunately, a subculture of hippies lurks in the park, grooving on blankets. The two Adam and Eve surrogates escape and are purified by living in a cave for a year. It seems their mysterious leader (Joss Acklan) will liberate the world from Boogalow's evil.

I'd love to spring this movie on a Vacation Bible Study class, but then there's the matter of the clingy acetate shirts, satin baseball caps, and scads of men in sequined eye shadow. I suppose a pastor would balk at the "let's get it on" number titled "I'm Coming For You" with a synchronized team of lovers copulating, half-glimpsed through Vaseline-coated lens. Truly, a Biblical Mystery Play as if staged by Sid and Marty Kroft with assistance from the Ohio Players and the porn-producing Mitchell Brothers.

You need a point by point by point description of this film, and here it is, courtesy of jabooutu.com. This mind-roaster is directed by Menahem Golan, later partnered with his younger cousin Yoran Globus in Cannon Films. During the 1980s this pair took cinema fans "to Sorrow's Kitchen and made them lick all the pot and pans clean," as Zora Neale Hurston once put it. Pioneers of the Direct to Video ethos before there was direct to video sequels, Cannon films cranked out Arab-bashing thrillers. Take Delta Force--the ultimate durka durka movie, with the late Joey Bishop claiming "Beirut had everything! It was the Las Vegas of the Mediterranean!" Looking like Captain Kangaroo, the grandfatherly Charles Bronson punishes thugs by gunfire, electrocution and prison sodomy, in the later installments of the Death Wish series. And the final Christopher Reeve Superman movie, made on a microscopic budget, was another debacle...it has its defenders, though.

To be fair, Cannon also released a few quality films, such as the tough-for-its-day Runaway Train, Barfly and Godard's King Lear. Finally, hubris struck the pair, who crashed and burned in a head-on collision, on Lambada Weekend, March 16-18, 1990. Returning to the popular music craze he'd started out with, Menahem cooked up a story of an Amazonian princess (Laura Harring of Mulholland Dr.) who brings her sacred dance to America; meanwhile, as we hear from this interview with former Globus associate Joel Soisson, Globus speedy ordered the rewriting of an East L.A. Blackboard Jungle script to include some lambada in it. Released side by side, Golan's The Forbidden Dance: Lambada and Globus' Lambada: Set the Night On Fire spelled the end of a berserk creative team. But what could be more berserk than The Apple, where the bottom-line crazed Golan, gives his all to a musical that protests against the diabolical commercialization of art?

The site Fast Rewind has one of the more comprehensive message boards about The Apple, pointing out that the locations of the future were all West Berlin. Another common urban legend: lyric writer George S. Clinton is not George Clinton, so there's no Parliament/Funkedellic connection to this movie, despite the glittering wardrobes and the cut-to-the-navel costumes. One correspondent at Fast Rewind claims to be the former Iris Recht, the allegedly stiffed co-composer of the soundtrack, "so it seems like Bugalow-Satan showbiz unfairness does exist after all." Then, may we hope that, just as in this film, a celestial floating Rolls-Royce will someday arrive to gather up God's children, taking them to that endless bad movie festival in the sky.
CATEGORIES Features, Cinematical