How exactly does one rate Menahem Golan’s The Apple (1980)? It defies categorization. It’s certainly not good. But it is mesmerizing in its amazing awfulness. It may, in fact, be the ultimate cinematic two-headed cow—except unlike a two-headed cow, The Apple truly is the strangest sight your eyes have ever beheld. If you took Brian De Palma’s Phantom of the Paradise (1974), Ken Russell’s Lisztomania (1975) and Milos Forman’s Hair (1979) and boiled them down, carefully distilling everything that made them good, then threw that distillation away, you might get something very like The Apple from the dregs. Loads of bad songs, bad dance numbers, bad costumes and bad camp conspire to create something like the Village People on acid.
Believe it or not, the film is Golan’s version of the Book of Revelation. It’s all about the power struggle between Mr. Boogalow (Vladek Sheybal) and Mr. Topps (Joss Ackland), who are really no less than Satan and God. The story appears to be set during the “tribulations” (you’ll be relieved to learn they happened in 1994, so we’re past it) with hapless folk forced to wear Boogalow’s “BIM” mark as the world sinks into glossy depravity. But Boogalow has apparently gone too far in his semi-successful seduction of the world’s blandest couple (Catherine Mary Stewart and George Gilmour, the latter obviously cast for the way he fills out indelicately tight jeans). Among other creative notions, it’s 1960s hippies who will stand up to the Antichrist and Topps (“They call me Mister Topps”) and rapturize the patchouli-annointed faithful. Who knew? The story line doesn’t so much progress as it leaps to a conclusion, but at least it gets there. In a word, “Wow.”