Resting behind the shadows of the two other disco-musical misfires of 1980 (Can’t Stop the Music and Xanadu) is The Apple, a lovably incoherent vision from writer-director Menahem Golan, which has amassed a minor cult following because, best I can tell, it cribs from every other synthetic guilty pleasure of the entire decade that preceded it, and can’t be bothered to actually make sense of it all. (That would spoil the “fun,” I guess.) A confused blend of Phantom of the Paradise‘s Faust riff, Orwellian distopia, and hotel-room Gideon’s Bible references, the film takes place in a 1994 where BIM Productions and its gaunt Svengali Mr. Boogalow (who looks like a terminal disease) are in cahoots with the government to control the world with the tranquilizing, numbing residue of vapid, insincere disco-rock music. (Oh, is that supposed to explain why every song in the goddamned movie sucks?) Enter Alphie and Bibi (you can just call them Adam and Eve, as a fantasy sequence more or less makes clear), the only two musicians left in the world not wearing tin-foil and leather thongs, who nearly cut through the façade of sugar-rush pop with their schmaltzy country-folk love ballad. Sensing danger, Boogalow quickly signs Bibi and transforms her into a glam queen, while the “genuine talent” of Alphie is soon forgotten (the “talent” in question probably being his noxious smugness, since it can’t possibly be his music). God and Goethe collide without much real attention to narrative sense, but Golan’s greater concern seems to be how much gaud he can pack into each frame. Camp appreciation is always in the details, and The Apple doesn’t exactly skimp. There are the doltish lyrics (“It’s a natural, natural, natural desire/Meet an actual, actual, actual vampire”) and the unpleasant irony of mounting an opportunistic disco musical whose moral might as well be “folk is the music of Heaven and disco equals death.” The simpering sissy and drag queeny stereotypes callously used by Golan as window dressing even as he cribs from Bob Fosse’s ambisexual “Take Off With Us” number from All That Jazz and eliminates the fucking bisexual core! The Apple is an Old Testament movie in more ways than one, and its relentless bad taste is sure to appeal to the same audience that won’t even realize they’re being slapped in the face.
- 86 min
- Menahem Golan
- Menahem Golan
- Catherine Mary Stewart, Allan Love, Grace Kennedy, George Gilmour, Joss Acklund, Vladek Sheybal, Ray Shell
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