The Apple (1980)

There are movies that are bad. There are movies that are REALLY bad. Then there’s The Apple.

The Apple was Cannon Films co-owner Menahem Golan’s fever dream of a passion project. Right there, you see it? You see the three red flags of that statement? First, Cannon Films. They were the schlock studio of all schlock studios of the 80s. They cranked out movie after movie of fodder that I could cover on this site. In fact, I have! I could very easily load this blog of Cannon articles week after week after week. It is almost unfair to every other movie ever made.

Then you have Menahem Golan. Here’s a guy who is fairly fascinating. He’s not a bad idea guy. He knew how to sell his movies. He knew how to crank out that schlock onto cable, video stores, and movie theaters – all over the world. The problem was that he didn’t have very good, completely well-thought out ideas. He had almost no concept of nuance. Anyone outside the United States is either an enemy or a weak-willed wimp in the face of terrorism. Chuck Norris shows up and kills everything, but, because some of those people he killed were indeed bad guys, he is right. That’s the mindset of Menahem Golan.

Then, there’s the concept of a passion project.

Almost all passion projects with lots of money and lots of big ideas, no matter the person in the director’s chair, are train wrecks. Some can come across as simply missing the target. Some completely fall on their faces horrifically, but almost always entertainingly. Passion projects often have these massive ideas of a huge world that have a ton of lore that builds up to the moment that the movie starts. How you explain that lore is important, and needs nuance. Star Wars is an excellent example of that. However, if you don’t possess that ability to traipse that nuance, you’re totally fucked.

So here we are… The Apple. This was written as a musical by a very successful Israeli music producer Coby Recht. Recht had signed a contract with a massive French record label run by a man named Eddie Barclay. Recht found Barclay to be a tad off-putting. Barclay claimed to believe in Recht, but Recht saw something he couldn’t trust in Barclay. The relationship was so strained that Recht could only see Barclay as a villain. I don’t know much more about any of these people, but that’s wild. It led Recht to write an entire takedown of Barclay in the form of a villainous, near satanic, character named Mr. Boogalow. Recht wanted this to essentially come across as Orwell’s 1984, but to be entirely focused around music.

But then comes Golan. Recht had worked on several drafts of a screenplay. Golan, on the other hand, wanted something a little more campy, and even a little more of a parable to the idea of the expulsion from the Garden of Eden and this whole God and Devil angle. Recht felt things were spinning out of his control. He felt Golan’s take was corny and contradicted the original 1984 ideas he envisioned. Golan even complained to Recht and his writing partner, wife Iris, that there was no action in his script. You see where things are starting to get totally fucked here?

The production budget was to be $4 million, but soon ballooned to $10 million. Dov Hoening was brought on to edit the film, but he and Golan got into constant arguments and nearly came to blows over the movie. When Hoening said Golan had shot a scene out of focus (which was VERY likely to be true), Golan fired him. Meanwhile the Rechts became infuriated and returned home to Israel from where the film was shot in Berlin. It was a disaster.

There are two pretty famous stories that would come from The Apple. First, there was a to be a prologue to kick off the movie. It would feature the characters Mr. Big (Joss Ackland – basically God) and Mr. Boogalow having this dance and song number called “Paradise Day” that I think was meant to set the stage of all the religious creation shit that Golan wanted. Anyway, there were obviously fake dinosaurs as well as both real and fake animals. Pieces of the dinosaurs fell apart. There was a live tiger on set that escaped. Nothing worked and the scene itself was deemed pretty stupid and it has never seen the light of day.

Another story was that this film was shown at Montreal World Film Festival in 1980. Attendees were given vinyl records of the soundtrack. The crowd became so upset at the movie that they chucked their records at the screen. I’ve also heard that some of the records thrown damaged the screen the movie was playing on at the theater. People HATED this movie. Golan even considered jumping from his hotel window to kill himself because he was so certain it would be a huge hit and beloved by everyone. For years afterward, he still didn’t understand he made a bad movie. He just put the blame on audiences claiming they didn’t understand it.

I don’t think I can hold off any longer. I think I have to finally start watching this movie. Let’s pop this movie in and push play to see what we have…

Yup, not exactly off to a great start. There are people screaming and running toward a crazy industrial looking building for the “Worldvision Song Festival” for 1994. Now, this is a real thing and I’m sure they love being connected to the early scenes of The Apple. Inside, we have these two jerkoffs leading the crowd in an insane shout of “B!” to which the cult followers in the crowd respond “I-M!”

Just look at these idiots. In fact, the stage is loaded with assholes.

This song is “Do the BIM!” and it sucks. It sucks hard. This whole scene is self-contradictory and it is something that I will have to deal with for the rest of the movie too. In this scene, you have the most gay rock band I think I have ever seen. Sorry, Village People, you gotta exit stage left because these folks have shown up. Yet, it’s also meant to display like mega masculinity and sexuality too? It’s completely fucking insane.

And that’s the overarching contradiction that this movie leaves me with each time I venture into this hellhole of epileptic lobotomy. I HATE this movie for its insanity, yet LOVE it for its audacity to try to make me find something to enjoy here. Anything. This movie is begging me to hang on in an tenuous attempt to understand or even sympathize with this bullfuck garbage shit. There is nothing in this world The Apple creates that I want any part of. If that is meant to be the moral of this story, then…

It is an overwhelming success.

I mean look at this. LOOK AT THIS…

This is either a Super Bowl halftime show honoring Ming the Merciless, or it’s the stage act for a gay burlesque cabaret in the slums of Mingo City. Either which way, this shit is homo-erotic Flash Gordon fantasy play here.

This contest is being looked upon by Mr. Boogalow and his cronies to see how the audience is reacting to this group, which is “Dandi and Pandi”. Apparently, these two are real contenders for Boogalow to make into the biggest starts of the 90s. They know they can make this fuck fart duo into stars because one of the read outs said that they achieved “150 heartbeats” – which I suppose means something. This gives Mr. Boogalow some very warm and fuzzy feelings about their futures with various merchandise and whatever else that will help the dummies buy BIM bullshit.

And if you are curious what the fuck BIM is, it’s Boogalow’s conglomerate company and stands for something like Batfuck Intestine Malfeasance or something.

I’ve kind of already touched upon this but I believe The Apple is somehow a gender fluid movie. It’s most definitely a sexuality fluid movie. I’m not sure how movies can do either of those things, but it is succeeding in spades – being farted out of a rainbow-colored unicorn – while that rainbow-colored unicorn masculinely fucks the shit out of your girlfriend. Again, don’t ask me how any of this works, I’m just reporting on it.

Anyway, you first have the black fella(?) in the back there decked out in your daughter’s art class glitter bottle. He’s ridiculously flamboyant. Another guy, the marketing dude with the merchandising ideas, dressed in slightly less glittery garb, but talks almost as flamboyantly feminine. It feels like the people around Boogalow are maybe corrupted by the power and I think it makes them come off as gay or something? I shouldn’t let it pass that I would think Golan would believe the devil would have all the gay and effeminate guys on his side. Just everything about the pop music and fame and celebrity sides of this movie has a thick veneer of poor representation of gay. Even Boogalow is less than manly.

Alright, let’s get to our main stars of this movie. Next up is a folk duo from innocent boyfriend and girlfriend Alphie (George Gilmour) and Bibi (Catherine Mary Stewart). They have a song called “Love – The Universal Melody”. And if you haven’t picked up on it yet, they are all about love, and folky happiness and all that garbage.

This is your standard soft rock/adult contemporary shit that the audience fucking hates. Or I should say guys in the crowd hate it but girls love it. There’s a bit of a kerfuffle over the song at first, but when people calm down and actually listen, they start really liking the song. They end up surpassing Dandi and Pandi’s 150 heartbeats measure as to whatever the fuck that means.

I hate this movie.

Mr. Boogalow realizes that this duo might be worth taking a deeper look at because of their scores. However, to make sure his horses don’t lose, he has his cronies sabotage the performance so they don’t win the contest. He does say that while love songs are out and only nostalgia, you can’t ever count out nostalgia. We see after the competition that Boogalow is answering questions from the press. Apparently, a BIM song has been incorporated into the United States’ national fitness protocols. He also threatens a reporter when asked about whether or not the competition was rigged for Dandi and Pandi.

This reporter, whose name I have instantly forgotten, will be seen again later in this movie as Boogalow continues to spread his dominance over the globe.

After the competition, Boogalow has a party and Alphie and Bibi are on their way there too. At some point, Bibi was approached by someone and invited to the party. When did that happen? Fuck off, that’s when. Alphie doesn’t want to go. He’s hip to the jazz that Boogalow is very strange and maybe some sort of personification of the devil I guess. Bibi says that this is their chance to get represented by him and maybe sign with BIM. I could give fuck all about whether or not they sign, but Bibi wants it so I guess I’m here watching this fucking movie to find out if they do or not.

Meanwhile, at the party, remember that thing I was talking about called nuance? Remember when I said that’s a very foreign concept to Menahem Golan? Yeah, I remember that too. Anyway, here are the BIM Marks that everyone is being told to wear. As a symbol of their loyalty to BIM. You know, nothing all that important I suppose.

The proper expression given when someone says, “I want to watch The Apple!”

Alphie and Bibi show up at the party. They are immediately introduced Dandi and Pandi. Alphie is paired up with Pandi and Bibi with Dandi. You know. No big significance I can think of. I mean it isn’t like Boogalow is intending for these two to seduce the other two or get the innocent looking good girl drunk or offer them things that seem too good to be true or nothing.

Then, a musical dance number breaks out about how Bibi is made and created for Dandi and how he’s going to be her man. I also wouldn’t be surprised if he would said he’d be her woman too. I’m just saying, I don’t trust anyone named “Dandi” to be the man for anyone. If Alphie and Bibi were a couple at the start of this movie, she has already started making out with Dandi and Alphie is pissed. I don’t know. I both fully understand this movie and am totally lost at the same time.

What’s one thing that always sticks with me with this movie is how bad I think everything in and around this movie smells. This is one of the hardest things to try to explain, so bear with me here. I believe that everything about this movie smells like morning breath, feet, and used condoms. I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if there was no toilet paper in any of the bathrooms on set. I mean I suppose Catherine Mary Stewart and George Gilmour are actually okay for most of this movie, but there is so much gross makeup on every single other person in this movie that it becomes especially odious to me. The one lackey of Boogalow’s has makeup ON HIS FUCKING TEETH. That doesn’t make me think that his teeth are well brushed when I see that. There’s so much grease paint on all these assholes in this movie that I think it is rotting. Now, maybe I’m wrong, but I sincerely doubt anything in this movie smells like a Sweet Pea candle from Yankee Candles. I’m just sayin’.

While Alphie and Bibi wait for their appointment with Boogalow at BIM International Airport, this shit happens:

I hate this movie.

Boogalow has given Alphie and Bibi contracts. They didn’t expect to be given separate contracts. Alphie wants to read and be careful with the contracts, but Bibi is anxious to sign. As she signs, Alphie imagines an earthquake. When he is nearly convinced to sign himself, he starts going on and on about how it is getting dark and a storm is closing in and stuff. He then pictures a hellscape that leads to the next bonkers insane musical number – the title song full of that nuance.

I bet that set smelled of dried shit. Might I add that this is supposed to be 1994? This is what they thought music of the mid 90s would sound like. Boy am I more glad than I ever was that Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, and Smashing Pumpkins saved us from… this. This isn’t even what music sounded like in 1980 let alone any other time in history.

But the audacity of this bullshit scene is winning me over.

Alphie refuses to sign the contract but Bibi is really all that Boogalow wanted. While Bibi is sad that Alphie has left and doesn’t seem to want anything to do with her anymore, Dandi and Pandi are there for her. Pandi even says that “like it or not” Bibi is part of the BIM family. Oh, that’s reassuring. I’m sure they don’t have a real fucking suspect song to sing about this situation.

Fuck…

Well, now that Boogalow has successfully transformed Bibi into a Romulan, it seems that she’s perfectly happy with being a superstar. She’s on her way to the west coast to sing at a leather daddy bar or something. No, seriously… What do you call this?

See what I mean about this being uber gay but also awkwardly meant to be super straight too? Seriously, these are leather daddies, but I also would expect for them to show up at a biker rally and try to score with all the tough bitches behind the port-o-johns. This movie is so confusing. It’s such a strange, bizarre, quick-paced series of paranoid delusions mixed with incredible brain trauma that I think this movie is successful in smoothing out the wrinkles in your brain and force you to forget how to use cutlery like a normal person.

But the song that is Bibi’s first big hit is “Speed”. Listen to this song. It’s so fast paced and and Finola Hughes is there and I think I’m having a stroke. So much so that I’m fairly sure this song is not written properly. What is the timing of this song??? What is a spoon? How do I cut with a knife?

You know what this reminds me of?

Me too, Ms. Spano. Me too.

So I guess some time has passed. Alphie is living with his landlady and still trying to sell normal, non-coked out songs, but no one is buying. Everything is becoming BIM. BIM runs the police. BIM runs the mass transit system. If you don’t wear a BIM Mark, you’ll get ticketed. However, if you get hungry, you can get yourself something at BIM Burger. So I guess you can still get some burgers and fries. Is it all that bad?

Actually, this sucks. Why? The National BIM Hour. For one hour, you must exercise to a maddening repetition of “HEY HEY HEY BIM’S ON THE WAY!” I don’t know if BIM has gone international yet or not, but I’d seriously consider renting a gun and buying a bullet if this shit happened on a daily basis. Also, all machines are shut down and you have to stop what you are doing and participate. People in surgery are fuuuuucked and old people are going to be dropping like fucking flies.

The fucking audacity of this movie…

Now I do have the question of whether or not you have to do the coordinated dance or can I just take a walk or do jumping jacks or something as long as I am moving around? Do I have to take classes to know what to do? If I’m at home, would they know I’m not dancing like a moron? If they do know I’m not dancing like an asshole, does that mean there are cameras everywhere? This is very important. I want know if I can continue to masturbate in peace or if BIM is going to be registering that in some sort of stupid measuring graph too?

Alphie is almost able to connect with Bibi, but is held off by Dandi. Far be it from me to question anyone’s yarbles, but would I feel threatened by a guy named “Dandi” with that much leather and that head of hair on his head? Probably not, but he screams real good. So I guess it’s just more of that bullshit confusing masculinity that this movie offers up. I will say he does do a pretty good Roger Daltry impersonation.

Alphie gets busted up pretty good by the BIM bodyguards. When they get back to BIM HQ, Bibi is manhandled a bit by the same bodyguards. For some reason? She starts to see the errors in her way. I guess she’s seeing that all this fame, incredible riches, and adoring fans just isn’t worth it when you are working for a guy who is perfectly comfortable with singing song in a Jamaican style about being a master and having slaves.

You know something else this movie does? Warp space and time. There is still like 30 fucking minutes in this movie and I feel like I’ve been watching it for 2 years and 40,000 light years. If I ever score tickets to fly to some other planet after we totally buttfuck this one out of the ability to sustain life, then I’ll request this play for me because by the time I finish it, I’ll be like two galaxies over and arriving at my destination.

Alphie goes to try to win Bibi back and arrives at a weirdo BIM party. Here, he is served a “special drink” by Pandi. He demands Mr. Boogalow release Bibi from her contract. He also notices that the reporters from earlier are now working for Mr. Boogalow and acting much more effeminate than before. Se what I mean? He’s also offered sex with trans women and crossdressers. This movie is trying to be edgy, but edgy like a balloon. All smooth and full of static.

Speaking of smooth and full of staticky friction, Pandi has a very special song about coming for Alphie.

Supposedly, the actress playing Pandi, Grace Kennedy, did NOT want to sing this song. It was too suggestive for her and she felt uncomfortable. However, it was later explained to her that it’s not her singing the song to George Gilmour, but her character, a villain in the movie, singing to Alphie. That was all she needed I guess. I mean, never mind the kaleidoscope of fucking going on during the scene or that she’s grinding topless on Gilmour. I mean, it is acting, but sometimes some things go that extra step too far. Anyway, Alphie and Pandi blow their loads, but Alphie only wants Bibi and even says so much during the orgasm.

He finds Bibi, but it appears she is in bed with Dandi and she doesn’t seem to know him. When he comes out of his bad trip, he’s on a park bench and is woken by a hippie. The hippie takes Alphie to his little compound. Now, if there’s any place in this movie that you KNOW smells of total ass and feet, it’s this place. Alphie is taken by a woman named “Lotus Flower” to get some coffee and breakfast.

At BIM, Pandi tells Bibi to find Alphie and helps her escape. Back at the smelliest commune in history, the cops come to bust up the congregation at the park. Main hippie man tells Alphie where he can find the smelliest camp ever. Bibi gets away but Pandi is probably gonna get punished. She even goes so far as to say it is too late for her so I suppose Pandi’s soul has been completely destroyed or something? Also, maybe she doesn’t want to live with dirty hippies? Either answer is probably the correct one.

Bibi is taken to the hippie cave by the top hippie, who is played by Joss Ackland, best known as the bad guy from Lethal Weapon 2. He shows Bibi where Alphie is and the two are happily reunited. Some more time passes thanks to the wild time and space bending effects of The Apple. Alphie and Bibi are happy at the commune with the hippies and they have a child of their own that is at least a plural number of years old. However, the forces of BIM are closing in and planning on beating up some damn dirty hippies. They plan to arrest Bibi for, I dunno, running out on a contract? I think that is not a jailable offense, but I also know this movie is fucking stupid so…

Just as BIM arrests everyone for not giving Bibi over to Boogalow, suddenly the dumbest thing ever happens. Alphie says everything is gonna be okay because he knows “He’s” coming. “HE” is “Mr. Topps”. Someone we have not met, not seen, or even heard of up to this point. And how he arrives is even dumber.

He’s ordered to be arrested by BIM cops. However, the guy can’t move on Mr. Topps. He says he’s had enough of Mr. Boogalow. He invites anyone who wants to join and the movie ends like the motherfucking Star Wars Holiday Special with people walking off into the sky.

Mr. Topps then says that he’s thinking about starting over on a new planet free from Mr. Boogalow and his bullshit. Mr. B thinks that there can be no civilization without him, but Mr. T says he pities the fool who thinks that and decides to take off with his hippie new civilization. But all I have to say is, “Good luck with that smell, God!”

The movie ends and shows this as the very first credit:

That’s probably a huge relief to the Rechts who thought everything Golan brought to the table was corny bullshit.

Holy cow… This movie is something else. It’s bad, yes. It’s over the top, yes. It’s mind-bending, oh my yes. However, I don’t exactly fault anyone in this movie. Of course Catherine Mary Stewart would not fade away with this. She has the right amount of talent and good looks to have scored some good roles in the 80s like Nighthawks, The Last Starfighter, Night of the Comet, and Weekend at Bernie’s. Everybody makes a bad movie at some point in their careers. It just so happened that she made a bad one at the start of her career. Either way, not a single person in this movie is giving anything less than 100%. People are going all in on this bonkers concept. For that, I do commend them.

But goddammit this movie. To this very moment, I am completely torn between the bizarre appreciation for the strangeness of this movie and the utter righteous indignation for the strange bizarreness of this movie. I feel like this movie has the power to split me in two like that one episode of Star Trek where there was a good Captain Kirk and a bad Captain Kirk. I feel that right now. There is one version of me full of every bad instinct I can possible have while another is filled with all the goodness I could possible project.

And yet, as Mr. Topps walks off screen and the title comes careening at us one more time, all I can think is…

Alright… Tomorrow night, I have a new episode of B-Movie Enema: The Series and it’s a good one. I’m going to be watching and talking about Messiah of Evil. That’s yet another of the very early articles on this site that I’m happy to revisit. Be sure to subscribe to the B-Movie Enema YouTube Channel to not miss out on episodes, or hit the follow option on this site to be notified when new posts occur.

Next week, I’m getting a palette cleanser in the form of a bitchin’ blaxploitation classic – Sheba, Baby! So be sure to be back here in seven days to check that out!

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