For all the shit that gets talked about Cleopatra, Heaven’s Gate, Ishtar, Howard The Duck, Gigli, Waterworld, and John Carter, 1980’s The Apple is one of the lesser-acknowledged costly debacles in cinematic history. Coming from the legendary Golan-Globus production team, The Apple is a sci-fi disco musical/ Biblical allegory set in a future America (1994!) but filmed in Germany.
A couple Israelis take an inexperienced Canadian cast to Germany in order to tell a story about the religious collapse of a futuristic version of America, and the entire thing is set to song? At the apex of the disco era?
No way that could fail, right?
Now that you know what it is, here’s what happened when I watched The Apple at 2am one morning while signed in to Twitter:
Now watching The Apple, because I love weird disasters and torturing myself with movies.
Here’s the trailer to The Apple:
This movie is already hysterical.
Since one of the first sights we witness is that of a battalion of armored policemen synchronized in dance, I have no choice but to follow this movie wherever it leads.
From what I can tell thus far, The Apple is basically a nihilistic, dystopian Running Man/ American Idol fantasia.
The Apple presents us with the Golan-Globus team’s idea of the future, which in 1980 is how they referred to 1994.
Who are Golan-Globus? The production team of Menahem Golan (The Apple‘s writer & director) and Yoram Globus, they also brought us Cobra, Over The Top, the Breakin‘ films, and a whole lot of ninja movies, among others.
And this is their musical.
Here’s the opening scene:
Choose any scene at random, and two things become clear: A) This movie is an absolute disaster, and B) it’s hard to discard the notion that it’s still got more imagination in five frames than most movies do in fifty minutes.
Half an hour into the movie, and they’ve gone to Hell for a musical sequence with animal masks. There are no longer words. There are, however, vampires.
But is there a reggae-aerobics musical number? Yes! There is that also.
The kaleidoscopic musical number “Coming” marks the first time I’ve ever seen a musical number that is explicitly about fucking.
A disco-porno-sci-fi musical featuring clowns, midgets, and Canadians? Yeah. There’s plenty here to chew on comedically.
You might have noticed “Mr. Boogalow.” He’s this movie’s incarnation of the Devil, and he is mentioned by name very many times.
Glad I’m not drinking while watching because if I was, I’d drink every time someone said “Mr. Boogalow”, and if I did that, I’d be dead.
At one point in the story, the young hero seeks refuge in a colony of hippies “from the 1960s.” Hippies from the 1960s still partying in 1994. Do you know what that means? GOLAN-GLOBUS PREDICTED WOODSTOCK ’94!!!
The movie’s heroine is played by Catherine Mary Stewart, who I loved in Night Of The Comet. Me and every other horror nerd in the universe.
Catherine Mary Stewart’s character in The Apple is named Bibi, which is also the name of the robot from Deadly Friend. #Iwatchbadmovies
Catherine Mary Stewart is lovely, but did you know The Apple also gives you a svelte young Miriam Margolyes (The Age Of Innocence, Romeo + Juliet, James & The Giant Peach, Magnolia)?
And as long as we’re looking up pictures of distinguished character actors who appeared in The Apple, let’s all take a moment to enjoy Joss Ackland’s IMDb headshot:
You know Joss Ackland as De Nomolos from Bill & Ted‘s Bogus Journey, or as the villain in Lethal Weapon 2.
True Hollywood Trivia!: When director Richard Donner heard Joss Ackland’s …um… distinctive singing voice in The Apple, he considered adding a musical number to the climax of Lethal Weapon 2. #nottrue
Revision to True Hollywood Trivia!: If there had been a musical number in Lethal Weapon 2, it would have been called “Diplomatic Immunity.” #definitelytrue
Just so you know: Near the end of The Apple, God comes down from the clouds in a space-Bentley and walks all the hippies up to heaven.
I was all doped up with cold medicine when I watched The Apple so it seems fair to consider the possibility that I hallucinated that last part. #butIdidnt
IMDb reports that: “Reportedly, during [the premiere of The Apple], audiences threw their free souvenir soundtracks at the screen, causing extensive damage.” Yet the damage had already been done.
IMDb also reports, “Director Menahem Golan has said that he felt like committing suicide after the picture was booed at the 1980 Montreal Film Festival.”
I know how Golan felt, or at least I have ever since I wrote up the phrase “a svelte young Miriam Margolyes.”
Seriously though, imagine having to watch this movie over and over again in the editing room. The rest of us only have to watch The Apple one or none times. How many times did Menahem Golan have to watch it? And is it any wonder why he turned his attention primarily towards making violent revenge movies afterwards?
If you want to learn more about The Apple, there’s this review of the DVD from Entertainment Weekly (they gave it an A!!!), or better still…
Please check out the epic episode of the great Projection Booth podcast which features interviews from many of the principals, including Catherine Mary Stewart. It gives a thorough picture of the production and the reception of this uniquely bizarre movie, and features more than the usual amount of utterances of the word “Menahem”, which is also great.
And if you’re in need of more from me, follow me on Twitter: @jonnyabomb