Wednesday, 6 June 2012

The Apple (1980)

What in God’s name is this?
      Rock musicals are notoriously difficult to pull off successfully, and movie history is littered with the odd (sometimes very odd) success, such as Richard O’Brien and Jim Sharman’s THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (1975) and lots and lots of failures - CAN’T STOP THE MUSIC (1979), XANADU (1980) ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS (1985) and others I could mention but I have a feeling I might lose the will to live before getting to the end of this if I do. It does, however, take a very special talent indeed to make a film so gob-smackingly, unbelievably, ludicrously awful as THE APPLE. With the imminent release of the Tom Cruise-starrer ROCK OF AGES, what more paltry and tenuous excuse could there be for revisiting this glitzy, glossy load of way, way over the top camp nonsense from 1980?  A kind of demented cross between Paul Verhoeven’s SHOWGIRLS and the Eurovision Song Contest (most people have probably already stopped reading at this point and well done you if you have) THE APPLE takes place in the ‘future’ of 1994 where the world is ruled by music and music is ruled by ‘BIM’ - the Boogalow International Music company that dictates fashion, politics and the very law itself. Alphie (George Gilmour - no, me neither) and Bibi (Catherine Mary Stewart before her perm and starring role in NIGHT OF THE COMET) enter the Worldvision Song Contest with their sweet entry about love. Evil Mr Boogalow (Vladek Sheybal - always watchable, even in this demented rubbish where apparently he's actually Satan) seduces Bibi over to the dark side of the music industry with promises of stardom while Alphie is left to rot in his filthy tenement building filled with guitars and Miriam Margolyes. Will they get back together? Will true love triumph? Will anyone ever be able to explain how a team of creative people got through this whole endeavour without a single one of them screaming ‘Stop! This film is TERRIBLE!!’
      Why is it terrible?
      I would say see it for yourselves but I am doing my best to perform a public service here. Firstly the songs are awful, so awful in fact that at the film’s Hollywood premier I understand that free soundtrack LPs were given out, all of which had been hurled at the screen by the movie’s end. When a film opens with a big production number where the lyrics either don’t rhyme or you can think of better rhymes yourself you know a film is in trouble. The huge dance numbers are choreographed by Nigel Lythgoe, who cut his teeth (and dancing shoes) on Saturday night British television. Consequently every time a mass of people start clicking their fingers and tapping their toes you suddenly feel you’re back watching some awful cheap variety show hosted by Cilla Black or Bruce Forsyth (transatlantic readers are better off not asking). The plot is awful - naive, simplistic and virtually non-existent, and just when you think it can’t get any more childish it suddenly switches gears with a horrible simulated sex number that the little Paul Verhoeven must have seen and been influenced by when he was creating his own magnum horrendous. Towards the end Joss Ackland turns up as the leader of a group of hippies, then at the climax he floats down in a car from space and turns out to be God. Or something. And he leads everyone to heaven, which means they die. I think. Or rather I don’t, because any attempt at rational thought had been abandoned at this point. 
      Even writing about this again has made me wonder what the hell was going on, both onstage and off. Directed by Menaham Golan, the man who killed Norman Wisdom’s burgeoning career in family films by filming him with a naked Sally Geeson in WHAT’S GOOD FOR THE GOOSE, and produced by the Cannon group (Golan and his friend Yoram Globus, about whose infamous Hollywood career a book could - and has - been written), THE APPLE was shot in a disused shopping centre in Berlin with some glitter dusted over the cracks. All the costumes appear to have come out of Christmas crackers and the makeup is of the primary school pantomime variety. Most of the actors were never seen again and probably became part of the witness protection programme.
      THE APPLE really is an unbelievable film, and it should only be watched by the kind of person who leaves their house every day covered in lipgloss and glitter, has their own copies of BREAKDANCE II: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO which they watch regularly and with a passion, and thinks that hair is not something to be combed but to be covered in fluorescent chalk dust, drenched in lacquer and teased into something that will scare children. Truly awful, truly a contender for the worst film of all time, and truly an unforgettable experience. You have been warned - I now leave the ticking timebomb that is your own curiosity in your hands. Choose wisely.


  1. As they say, you (and Kate) watch them so we don't have to...

  2. Hey! Don't be hating on Xanadu!

  3. Thanks Mark!

    And Jesse - all I'm saying is that it's not quite a classic ;->

  4. I remember watching this in betamax format back in 1982 and yes it is a horrible movie having watched it back to back with Xanadu(also a waste of time).

    I just realized that the devil was played by Vladek Sheybal, I just watched him in the Supernatural(1977 BBC) a few weeks ago in the Frankenstein episode(also starring the great Gordon Jackson). Yeah the guy is seriously creepy.