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  Apple, The Slave To The Rhythm
Year: 1980
Director: Menahem Golan
Stars: Catherine Mary Stewart, George Gilmour, Alan Love, Grace Kennedy, Vladek Sheybal, Joss Ackland, Ray Shell, Miriam Margolyes, Leslie Meadows, Derek Deadman
Genre: Musical, Trash, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: It is the future and the year is 1994. The Worldvision Song Contest is being held and it looks like the brother and sister act Dandi (Alan Love) and Pandi (Grace Kennedy) will win again with their performance of the latest dance craze, Bim. That is, judging by the heart rate scores that are being recorded in the control room, and the duo's manager, the Machiavellian Mr Boogalow (Vladek Sheybal) is delighted. However the next act up is a Canadian girlfriend and boyfriend, Alphie (George Gilmour) and Bibi (Catherine Mary Stewart), whose folky ballad unexpectedly proves a hit with the audience, forcing Boogalow to play a tape of rabble rousing sound effects to prevent them winning. Nevertheless, the manager is interested in the potential stars, and sets up a meeting...

Watching The Apple, you could almost believe the punk wars never happened, or at least you would if it had been a success. Written by the producer/director Menahem Golan, it is a tacky musical which takes its message of how the music business screws up young talent and imbues it with spiritually inspirational overtones to create one unholy mess. Apparently inspired by The Rocky Horror Picture Show, its tunes and staging bear a resemblance to that cult hit, but without being troubled by its wit or imagination, with a childishly silly storyline and daft character names. The Apple of the title harkens back to the apple that Adam and Eve encountered, but only Bibi takes a bite - Alphie remains pure.

Packed with songs and distinctive choreography courtesy of Nigel Lythgoe, the action frequently grinds to a halt to enable yet another musical number to be crowbarred in. The dancing mostly takes the form of extravagantly punching or pawing the air, or taking long strides in time with the beat, but what it lacks in variety it makes up in sheer volume of performers as every frame is filled with them, all dressed in tinfoil and sequined outfits. We're supposed to accept that Alphie's songs are superior to the manufactured efforts arising from Bim, but if so, does that mean it's taken as read that all the Bim songs are terrible? Yes it does, but unfortunately all Alphie's songs are drippy garbage, making you wish for the glittery garbage of Boogelow's musicians whenever one starts up on the soundtrack.

The meeting between Bibi, Alphie and Boogelow doesn't go too well for Alphie, as he is struck by visions of Hell whenever he reaches over to sign a contract with him. Boogelow is Satan himself, it transpires, but Bibi has no such qualms and writes her name on the dotted line. She ends up a star, singing for Bim, while Alphie remains a struggling singer songwriter unable to pay his rent - it has to be said, although the film professes to show the evils of the music industry, Bibi has a really great time while Alphie patently doesn't, pining for his ex-girlfriend while Dandi gets his hands on her. As all this goes on, Bim grows in strength across the world under Boogelow's influence, with everyone forced to perform dance numbers at a set time, no matter what they are doing, even, as we see, surgeons in the operating room.

With lines like "It's a natural, natural, natural desire, to meet an actual, actual, actual vampire!" the songs (written by Coby Recht, Iris Recht and George S. Clinton) aren't going to win any awards, mostly sounding like relics from the glam rock era. There is a nod to disco when Pandi seduces a drugged Alphie, and the explicitness of what she wants to do with him is surprisingly illustrated in the bawdy lyrics, but he escapes through a crowd of drag queens to wake up in a park the next morning. This is where the quasi-religious element raises its head, as a leader of a commune of hippies (Joss Ackland, looking how Santa Claus would have if he was a character in Godspell) takes him under his wing, and a way of beating the devilish Boogelow is realised. The Apple blares away regardless of its hopelessness, and just about makes it as entertainment for those who like full blown camp, but that's the best you can say about it. After all that, you'd expect a musical climax, wouldn't you?
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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