Dear Interpals: this X-Mess, I am re-gifting to you something that was recently gifted upon me. Don't worry--it's still got plenty of life in it, and I've freshened up the wrapping just for you.
Pal of the Tenebrous Empire Kevin Maher pitched a fascinating movie to me a few weeks back. He told me about this dystopian science fiction flick produced by schlockmeistros Menahem Golan (who also directed) and Yoram Globus* that's a Biblical allegory as well as a disco musical. This movie is called "The Apple," and it more than delivers on its promise of vintage weirdness.
*Remember the sweet, sweet Cannon Group logo and its promise of tacky magnificence? I do--ever so fondly.
Set in a deceptively glittery 1994, "The Apple" tells the tale of Alphie and Bibi, a pair of saccharine songwriters who achieve overnight fame following their appearance on the World Vision Song Festival**. The sinister Mister Boogalow (played by Vladek Sheybal, whose oily Eurotrash panache charmed me from his first heavily-accented lines--this character should be in EVERY MOVIE), head of Boogalow's International Music (BIM) drives a wedge between these sickly-sweet naifs when Bibi (driven, no doubt, by typical womanly greed and hysteria--WIMMIN, AMIRITE?) signs Boogalow's dubious contract even though Alphie (what with his steadfast French-Canuckian wiles and morals) refuses. In case one didn't get hip to the Satanerrific temptation subtext here, this movie generously shifts into some Satanerrific temptation TEXT with a song-and-dance number set in Hell. It's right around this moment; in which Alphie and Bibi appear dressed as (be-thonged) Adam and Eve, Boogalow appears as the devil, and his right-hand man appears as a serpent offering Bibi-Eve a GIANT PLASTIC APPLE; that I realized I was watching something really, really special.
**It's exactly like Eurovision Song Contest, only I assume performances by Lordi and DJ Bobo wound up on the cutting room floor.
I didn't realize that things would get so overwhelmingly odd that I'd have to take a break an hour in, but trust me, THINGS GOT THAT WEIRD. Car-crashing Genesis into Revelations using the force of shiny, shiny late-70s dance music, the story includes cave-dwelling hippies, drag queens, remorseful sluts, beard glitter***, and at least one prosthetic nose. This movie's firm belief is that nothing should be spoken that cannot be sung, repetitively and at length, with backup dancers in homoerotic outfits. You'd think a sex scene could be conducted simply between the two parties in question, but you'd be wrong--in the world of "The Apple," that sex scene should have at least FOUR couples, three of whom are dancing, and all of whom are filmed through a Just Jaeckin Vasoline Lens.
***Was beard glitter ever in style? Movies filmed in 1978 lead me to believe it was.
The message of "The Apple" is, on its surface, very heteronormative. Leave your awesome, perverse nightclub lifestyle behind, live in a cave with hippies and make some babies, and a magical sky daddy will whisk you away somewhere that suave, evil Devilman won't be able to touch you****. I have a hard time buying this message as being anything APPROACHING sincere, because the majority of the movie is spent showing drug-fueled, lame-clad masses of dancers grooving it up while under the protection of Mr. Boogalow*****, and getting to spend eternity in this state of disco bliss. Frankly put: I'm not seeing a down side to this. In fact, it seems to me that the movie is subversively PRO-DEBAUCHERY. By making Boogalow and the rest of the BIM crew seem so very posh and fabulous (in spite of the whole "oppressing the populace by forcing them to buy BIM products and listen exclusively to BIM-produced music"), it's like "The Apple" is forcing my hand and telling me to help bring about the Rapture so I can get rid of all the party poopers who AREN'T interested in stuff like "fun" and "fashion" and "hott gay sex."
****This is not a spoiler if you are familiar with the Bible, and since the Bible came out more than ten years ago (the scientifically-appointed time of expiration on spoiler-alerted discussions), I am not obligated to give you a spoiler alert.
*****It's a good thing I'm not having kids, because the temptation to name one of them Waldemar Daninsky Boogalow would be more than I could resist.
Admittedly, I'm no authority on weird musicals, but it shocked me that I'd never heard of this film. I assumed it was one of those poignantly lost-to-time movies that I'd have to track down through gray-market sources. But no--it's totally available on Netflix RIGHT NOW and it just finished a run on digital cable On Demand. I recommend avoiding your respective families, acquiring a supply of your mind-altering substance of choice, and sitting down to enjoy "The Apple" this holiday weekend. It's relevant cos it's Biblical.
And for those demanding instant gratification, here's the trailer for "The Apple:"