In the far-off future of 1994, young Canadian singer-songwriters Alphie (George Gilmour) and Bibi (Catherine Mary Stewart) compete in the Worldvision competition. Although they are the most talented performers (and popular with the audience), Boogalow International Music (BIM) rig the contest to ensure that their own band, featuring glam rockers Pandi (Grace Kennedy) and Dandi (Allan Love), wins instead. In spite of their loss, the wicked Mr. Boogalow (Vladek Sheybal) tries to sign Alphie and Bibi to his label, enticing Bibi into a life of sinful rock and roll that is also slowly corrupting all of humanity. Bibi's popularity allows BIM to eventually take over the world, while Alphie fights to get her away from Boogalow's diabolical control.
One of Cannon Films' earliest English-language efforts, The Apple was intended to capitalize on the success of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Saturday Night Fever and Grease, although its outlandish premise winds up having more in common with Brave New World, Nineteen Eighty-Four, All That Jazz and Xanadu, with a little Godspell thrown in hastily at the last minute. Along with having a complicated and troubled production, the film proved a major financial and critical flop, concurrent with the sharp decline of Disco.
Despite some rather heart-pumping songs and choreography, the prosaic lyrics, trippy aesthetic and off-the-wall script place it squarely in camp territory. However, starting with a 2004 DVD release, the film began to gather a small but dedicated cult following and started appearing on the midnight circuit, especially thanks to the Alamo Drafthouse. A hilarious commentary by RiffTrax was released in 2013.
Soundtrack available here.
Hey, hey, hey, tropes are on the way!:
- 20 Minutes into the Future: Made in 1979-80, set in the future dystopia of 1994. Originally to be set in 1984 for obvious reasons, but Golan decided that such a date wasn't quite far off enough to feel futuristic and pushed it back by ten more years.
- Arc Symbol: Triangles. BIM's symbol is a triangle, and they spam it everywhere. The A in the film's title screen is shaped like a triangle.
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: The fate of the hippies in the end. See The Ending Changes Everything below.
- Badass Boast: The final line, when Boogalow insists that no world can exist without him:Topps: Let's give it a try.
- Big Bad: Mr. Boogalow, the least subtle analog to Satan ever.
- Big Good: Mr. Topps, who reveals himself in the closing moments of the film to be the obvious God counterpart.
- Brother–Sister Incest: It's unknown whether Pandi and Dandi are supposed to be siblings. During the trip to Hell, Pandi refers to Dandi as his sister. Unfortunately, with all the ambiguity of what is and isn't considered real or fantasy, one can only figure so much out.
- Camp: It's hard to classify the film as anything else due to its outrageous fashion, surreal musical numbers and everyone giving the most ridiculously over-the-top performances committed to celluloid.
- Camp Gay: Even in a film that oozes camp, Shake is noticeably campier than everyone else as well as a Depraved Bisexual.
- Canada, Eh?: Alphie and Bibi are said to be from Moosejaw in Canada, which is repeatedly stated to be a backwater in the middle of nowhere.
- Canned Orders over Loudspeaker: The setup for the Dark Reprise of "BIM (BIM's on the Way)".Loudspeaker: It is now one minute to four o'clock. Time to stop ordinary activities and prepare for the National BIM Hour. (...) The National Fitness Program is watching you. Five, four, three, two, BIM.
Bill Corbett: (as Jeff Foxworthy) If you ever notice crews installin' hundreds of loudspeakers to tell you what to do, you might live in a cliched dystopia.
- Corrupt the Cutie: BIM's efforts to control Bibi.
- Depraved Bisexual: Shake and, implicitly, Mr. Boogalow as well.
- Deus ex Machina: A near-literal example with Mr. Topps, who is not only a seemingly all-powerful Messianic Archetype, but is never mentioned until moments before he arrives to rescue the heroes.
- Double Standard Rape: Female on Male: Pandi drugs Alphie's drink in order to have her way with him. Not only is this not treated with the seriousness one would expect if the genders were reversed, but Pandi ends up being the only one of Mr. Boogalow's minions to be accepted by Topps despite her committing an act of sexual violation.
- Driven to Suicide: Alphie almost gives fully into this, according to his landlord after his first attempt to convince Bibi to leave BIM fails. Of course, whether he actually intended to do so or not is, like so many other things in this film, unclear.
- The Dragon: An almost literal example with Shake to Boogalow, who even appears at several points in a flamboyant snake costume to hammer into your head what Biblical allegory he is.
- The Ending Changes Everything: In the climax, Mr. Topps - never mentioned until minutes before his arrival - appears in a Rolls Royce and takes all hippies to heaven or a new planet (or both). This means: 1.) Up to this point, you could interpret this film as anti-commerce message when Bibi is corrupted by Boogalow's business but is not necessarily a stand-in for hippy culture. With this ending, it completely takes sides in favor of the hippies and portrays them and their love/peace-cause as unambiguously good. 2.) All of Alphie's visions are to be taken literally (Boogalow is not metaphorically that devil but literally, Bibi does not take the forbidden fruit metaphorically but literally etc.) 3.) Alphie and Bibi are no longer the main characters but the hippies - not introduced until the third act and receiving next to no character development or being spotlighted on their culture - are and get an eschatological meaning. A sequence where Mr. Topps creates the world and Boogalow falls from grace as a prologue was planned, but abandoned due to production troubles (according to The Other Wiki, involving a tiger escaping from the set.)
- Evil Brit: Boogalow's bodyguards/henchmen are thuggish, Cockney-esque types with overbites, right down to being played by British actors.
- Fire and Brimstone Hell: An entire (imagined) musical number takes place there. Compared to the hippie commune of Paradise, it seems quite pleasant.
- God Was My Copilot: Alternate versions have the hippie patriarch transform into Mr. Topps, instead of the grand entrance from the golden flying car. Makes sense, considering that they're played by the same actor.
- High-Heel–Face Turn: Pandi at the end of the film.
- Intercourse with You: Pandi's "Coming" manages to make "Love to Love You Baby" seem subtle, even without the bed-based choreography.Mike Nelson: Ladies and gentlemen, your 1994 synchronized intercourse team!
- Jewish Mother: Alphie's landlady.Kevin Murphy: Motorboat me, bubbala.
- Louis Cypher: Boogalow again as a human(ish) identity of Satan.
- Lyrical Shoehorn: "Meet an actual, actual, actual vampire!"
- Mark of the Beast: The BIM mark, which is a holographic sticker of the company's logo that Boogalow mandates society wear on their person, to the point that violators will be threatened with fines or arrest.
- Meaningful Name:
- Mr. Topps turns out to be God, at the top of it all.
- Alphie is Adam, the first man. In other words, the alpha.
- Bibi is Eve, the second human. The Beta, or B.
- MegaCorp: BIM. Eventually they become so powerful, the government requires everyone to wear their logo (referred to as "the BIM Mark") and stop all activity to listen and dance to their music for an hour each day.
- Mind Screw: The entire film is a bizarre trip where dance numbers and fantasies come out of nowhere and it's very difficult to tell what is or isn't meant to be part of the narrative.
- New-Age Retro Hippie: The only people who try to live free of BIM. Most of them are old enough that they may very well be first wave hippies.
- Non-Specifically Foreign: Boogalow seems to have no specific nationality. He speaks numerous languages fluently, but has a foreign accent when he speaks English. He tends to drop French into his speech, such as "voila!" His actor, Vladek Sheybal, was Polish.
- Omniglot: Boogalow gives interviews in English, German, French and Italian. The actor was actually Polish.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Scottish George Gilmour cannot maintain a Canadian accent as Alphie. This is especially noticeable given that co-star Catherine Mary Stewart is an actual Canadian.
- One-Book Author: This was George Gilmour's (Alphie) only film role.
- Product Placement: A box of Cheerios is visible, as well a factory distributing Coca-Cola.
- Rape Portrayed as Redemption: Bizarrely inverted. In the first party scene, Pandi orders two (presumably drugged) drinks for her and Alphie, but he downs both while she smiles sheepishly. Later, she has sex with him while he's under the influence. The next day, she, the rapist, is the one who is redeemed, and finally decides to help Bibi escape. Thus at the end, Topps allows her to join the hippies in the Rapture.
- Serious Business: The BIM Hour, where everyone, regardless of whatever they're doing, breaks into choreographed dance numbers by force of law. In the middle of a house fire. Even during surgery!
- Sissy Villain: A huge portion of Boogalow's inner circle fits one overblown Camp Gay stereotype or another.
- Slipping a Mickey: Dandi drugs Bibi early on, and later Pandi does the same in order to sleep with Alphie.
- Triumphant Reprise: It's not easy to decipher, but the hippies are singing a choral reprise of "Universal Melody" as they march off into the sky to be raptured.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: After telling Bibi where to find Alphie, the landlady simply disappears, never to be heard from or even know whether she gets raptured.
- Where the Hell Is Springfield?: It's unclear where all the action is supposed to take place. Everyone speaks English, save for a few international reporters, but there are a wide range of accents in the cast, including some that aren't supposed to be there. We know that they're not in Canada because Alphie and Bibi are Moosejaw, and it's not clear whether they're actually in America, because when BIM announces that Bibi will tour America, and she reacts like she's not already in the country. The film was primarily shot in Germany.
- World of Ham: Clearly, subtlety died by 1994.
- Yiddish as a Second Language: Alphie's Jewish landlord calls him meshuggah (crazy).