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The Apple
(1980)
 

Director: Menahem Golan             
Cast:
Catherine Mary Stewart, Allan Love, George Gilmour


I consider producer/director Menahem Golan to be a cinematic genius, a true visionary, the king of cool. In fact, I am proud to have in my possession his autographed picture:

Yes, this is a GENUINE autographed picture of Menahem Golan. Cool, huh?

I know some of you by now will have started to panic from reading those above words, so let me assure you I was kidding. (Except for the autographed picture - it's the real thing.) Menahem Golan, along with his cousin Yoram Globus, have been inflicting incredibly awful movies on the world for the past few decades. In the beginning of their producing career, they were only content in inflicting suffering on their fellow Israelites. Then in the late '70s, they struck America, buying Cannon Films, formerly a distributor and maker of soft-core films. For the next decade or so, before they went bankrupt (and Golan and Globus having a falling out *), they were responsible for some of the schlockiest schlock to come out of Hollywood in this period.

One of their first big releases was the rock/disco musical The Apple, and it's amazing that Cannon got past this inauspicious beginning. The Apple isn't just a failure, it's a failure in all its departments. It's even more than just a failure; it isn't just merely inept in everything it tries to do, it seemingly screws up everything in the worst possible way. It assaults your senses so severely, you're left numb. Without even trying to think about it, visions keep crossing my mind. Visions of thousands of rhinestones glittering. Glass drums and keyboards. Tin foil walls. Walls covered with giant black and white photographs. Painted teeth. Shiny jackets with Joan Crawford shoulders. Fog. Silver rayon jumpsuits with holes that show the wearers' hairy armpits. And glitter. Oh, the glitter. Glitter stuck to clothing, furniture, beards, everywhere and on everyone. This movie is just plain ugly to look at.

Somewhere in this mess, there is a story. As the front of the box states, it's about the power of rock...in 1994! At the Worldvision Song Festival that year, the favorite to win is a flashy singing duo sponsored by the multi-national B.I.M. - Boogalow International Music, headed by a mysterious guy named, well, "Mr. Boogalow" (Vladek Sheybal). Boogalow thinks he has the contest in his pocket when his duo repeatedly sings, "Hey hey hey / B.I.M.'s on the way" to the point of nausea, but then something comes across that makes us actually vomit. That's comes from the introduction of the next contestants, Bibi (Stewart) and Alphie (Gilmour), a sweet singing couple that would have put the Carpenters in sugar shock. They are from Moose Jaw, and the movie loves to keep making jokes about the city's name - I'm Canadian, and believe me, it's long stopped being something funny. Curiously, Alphie has a European accent while Bibi sounds more North American, though I'm sure Golan was just making reference to Canada being a multi-cultural society.

When their unbelievably awful and sappy song, "Love, The Universal Melody" ("You're....the light within my darkness / You're....the shelter from the storm....") actually starts pleasing the crowd, the evil Boogalow sabotages their act, and they lose the contest. Still, Boogalow shows an interest in this couple from Moose Jaw (haw haw!), and he offers them a contract. Then...well, there is more plot for the next few more minutes, but I don't think it's really necessary to go on. That's because after those few minutes, the movie simply runs out of plot, and the story comes to a dead halt. Well, in the last few minutes of the movie, things do start up again. However, it's not worth it to get through that huge chunk completely dead of story, because the ending is one of the most stupid and unbelievable endings anywhere and anytime. All I will say about it is that (among other things), a Rolls-Royce comes down from the heavens.

Instead of any story, that 70 or so minute chunk is filled with the most awful material possibly ever assembled. Starting with the songs. Incidentally, George S. Clinton co-wrote the lyrics to the songs, and I hope someday he gets what he deserves. Each song brings the story to a dead halt, giving us either no entertainment or character/situation insight. When Mr. Boogalow sings "Master", we already know what kind of guy he is. All the song shows us is that not only should white guys not rap, they should not try singing Reggae. That's not the only style of song to be found here. As stated before, there's rock and white-bread sappiness, but there's also disco and other musical styles. There are even a few instances where the style changes within the song itself. It's a mess, with nothing solid in the center connecting everything together.

There's also no sense in the production design. The movie was obviously done on an economic budget, and things are worse than they ordinarily would be. One of the "futuristic" vehicles is obviously a redressed station wagon, and it's reused throughout the movie to represent several different vehicles. Motorbikes and other things are given a glitzy redressing that don't make them look slick, but embarrassing. The design is not just ugly, it's random. People run around wearing completely different costumes in the same scenes, costumes that were never in style and never could be. Were garbage bags ever in vogue?

The one who should shoulder the most blame for this fiasco is Golan himself; he not only directed the movie, but wrote the screenplay as well. Though taking place in the United States, the movie was actually filmed in Germany, and the movie never shakes feeling of being out of place and alien. Golan shows no idea on how a musical should be filmed; his standard technique is to keep the camera still as if the action was happening on a stage and the camera an audience member not being able to move, whether it be a musical sequence or not. He lights every scene so that only dark and murky colors appear, or else baths the shot in incredibly harsh red or green lighting that make it hard to see what is happening. There's occasionally a set piece that suggests Golan was trying to make a Rocky Horror type of musical, though this sporadic tone shows that if this was intentional, it was half-hearted at best. Whatever musical/dance number plays, viewers will only feel sympathy for the poor actors stumbling around stiffly while wearing plastic hyped-up and energized expressions on their faces. The only energy generated during the musical numbers is in the opening sequence, though that's mostly due to frenzied editing, and the occasional cuts to the crowd watching the performers deflate a lot of the energy built. And though it wasn't Golan's fault, I feel I should point out that due to the video print having no pan-and-scan, frequently one or two actors who are speaking onscreen are cut off at the sides, leading to a few times where we hear people talking but don't actually see them.

The Apple has no core, no heart to it. It is completely mechanical and emotionless (check the reunion scene near the end.) Some might say it knows the words but not the music, but it isn't even sure what the words are. It's an instantly obsolete movie, dead long after its time. Though there was probably never a time for The Apple anyway. It's a "What were they thinking?", followed by, "What am I watching?" and "Why am I watching?" kind of movie. The only answer to the "why?" is that there haven't been any car accidents in your neighborhood lately.

Also reviewed at: Cold Fusion Video


* The two cousins eventually made up. Last year at the Cannes film festival, they were seen handing out photocopied flyers advertising new films from their new film company, Magic Entertainment (which had been originally called Miracle Films.) These upcoming films include Delta Force 5: The Lost Patrol, Speedway Junkie, Strike On Osris, and Escape From Grizzly Mountain. The Golan/Globus spirit lives on!

Check for availability on Amazon (DVD)

See also: America 3000, Crack House, The Fifth Monkey

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