Movie Review: The Apple (1980)

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Seen: On my tv, streamed from netflix instant.

This was recommended to me a month or so ago by my friend Ben, who could tell it would be 100% My Thing. Set in a dystopian version of 1994, The Apple offers a twisted take on the Adam and Eve tale set to a host of dazzling disco dance sequences. In a world controlled by music producer Mr Boogalow (Vladek Sheybal) and his glammed-up music group BIM, folk singers Bibi (Catherine Mary Stewart) and Alphie (George Gilmour) dream of sharing their nostalgic love songs with the world. Instead, Bibi falls under Mr Boogalow’s spell (against Alphie’s better judgment), and in a haze of iridescent outfits and drugs she rises to stardom while he sinks into poverty. After a few musical montages they realize they still love each other and Bibi attempts to break away from the totalitarian music industrial complex with the help of some magical hippies.

Throwing oodles of shiny spandex and glitter at its audience at every turn, The Apple is a weird blend of biblical references, biting satire, and enthusiastic musical numbers. It’s delightfully bizarre, and wonderfully self-aware, making for an ultimately funny experience. I loved the combination of over-the-top glitzy visuals and decidedly low-budget grit, kind of perfect for this futuristic world dominated by a music industry that brainwashes the working class. Honestly, this world seemed kind of awesome to me, I mean the main laws Mr Boogalow enforced involved requisite sequin accessories and mandatory daily dance breaks. What a fun future! Plus BIM’s music is really catchy!

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I know this is probably the kind of movie people watch just to make fun of, but I’m pretty sure it’s not “so bad it’s good”, I think it’s just… good. Like this movie isn’t accidentally funny or anything, it’s intentionally weird and ridiculous, and I loved that about it. The cast is pretty great, singing their hearts out and shaking their best body parts, with Allan Love and Grace Kennedy standing out as the lead singers of BIM, sporting all the best sparkly revealing fashions. The adorable Catherine Mary Stewart, whom I’ve crushed on since Night of the Comet, makes her film debut as Bibi, and perfectly captures that “corrupted ingĂ©nue” thing while making crimped hair look good. George Gilmour is probably the weak link, just because he’s so boring. I think I liked Vladek Sheybal best as the devilish Mr Boogalow, he’s all dapper and ambiguously “foreign” as he spouts out manipulative bullshit in multiple languages.

I guess this is just yet another example of me legitimately enjoying a movie that most people watch just to make fun of. WHATEVER. The Apple is seriously great, a fun and odd blend of musical, comedic, biblical, and sci-fi elements. I loved the music and visual style, and the self-aware script. I was most impressed with how prescient it felt, like I could name at least five sci-fi movies that seemed to steal from this. Or at least borrow. Thank goodness The Apple exists, it apparently paved the way for everything that came after it.

4.5/5

Pair This Movie With: I imagine there’s some crossover between fans of this film and fans of Phantom of the Paradise, and that would be an awesome combination. I also think it’d be great to pair with Shock Treatment, since a lot of the same themes are explored but through television as opposed to music.

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