Saturday, July 7, 2012

Hell is double-faced Black dudes and Peter Frampton-looking motherfuckers prancing about in G-strings

"What's up, baby!" yelled the homie leaning out the passenger side of his best friend's ride, trying to holler at one of the ladies waiting in line outside the Nuart Theatre. After receiving zero response, he reiterated with "I SAID WHAT'S UP BAY-BEEEE!" and then the car was gone to whatever awesome most likely alcohol/rape-based event those motherfuckers were going to. Anyway, I assume he was yelling at one of the women. Maybe he was trying to hit up some cute guy, I don't know.

What I do know is that we were all there for the midnight showing of The Apple, Menahem Golan's far out musical from the far off time of 1980. I'd never seen the film, but I knew of it from its reputation of being a classic in the WTF genre of so-bad-it's-good filmmaking; the dude behind me told his Apple-virgin lady friend that "after seeing this, you're gonna wanna buy the DVD, the VHS, the laserdisc!" Her response to that was "Now I'm afraid." A guy behind me had a paper-bagged can of the Good Stuff, and after popping the top, the people in front of me turned to glance at him like Well I Never and he almost didn't, because the line started being let into the theater, causing him to panic and gulp as much of that stuff as possible before finally placing it down on the sidewalk and declaring to his friend, "Man down!"

Inside, I saw Marc Heuck talking to two patrons, telling them that they had to see the manager about....something. I don't know. I just hear these things in quick bursts as I pass by, plus I'm drunk right now. (I never tried Buchanan's Scotch Whisky before, but now that I have, I can tell you that it does the job.) While looking for a seat, I noticed some confetti on the floor in one section near the back, which either had something to do with the Lukas Haas/Madeline Zima joint that was playing there earlier that evening or some Apple fanatic had decided to spread some Apple cheer in only one small area of the auditorium for some reason. Some of the audience peeps had on small triangular stickers on their faces, and one dude had on a skinny headband. A deep-voiced well-spoken gentlemen in a mustard and black suit walked up the aisle and pointed out some of these people, saying "I see lots of BIM marks!" and that's when I put two and two together and figured that's what the triangles were, BIM marks. As for what the fuck a BIM was, I'd find out soon enough.

One woman asked out loud to her group of buddies taking up an entire row whether The Apple was a good movie or not. "Yes!" said one friend, while another said "It's terrible", but in an agreeable tone, so I guess that tells you everything right there. She then jumped (as did I), after the voice of God yelled out "BEEEEEEE!" only it wasn't the voice of God, it was one of the Nuart dudes on-stage with a microphone. He was a fan, this Nuart man, and he told those who had never seen The Apple that we would pee our brains as a result of the experience. He then told us about the upcoming midnight shows (Battle Royale! Overboard! Weekend at Bernie's!) and that the upcoming screening of Raiders of the Lost Ark is now cancelled for whatever reason (I assume it was George Lucas being George Lucas...again) and instead, the studio was giving them The Lost World: Jurassic Park as a replacement. Because why watch one of Spielberg's best when you can watch one of his worst instead?

So, the movie. The Apple takes place in the futuristic setting of New York 1994, or at least 1994 as envisioned through super-tacky late 70's eyeballs. (At least I think it was supposed to be New York. It could've been Boston, for all I know.) In this world, people are either dressed like extras from Doctor Who circa 1972 or dudes on their way to the set of William Friedkin's Cruising or a combo of both. Here, ballers roll in souped-up motorcycles and stationwagons that look a lot more cumbersome than practical, because practicality left this world long fuckin' ago; we're talking buildings with entrances that consist of signs like "Music Dept" hanging over escalators that lead to upstairs rooms, yet they only go down. Figure that shit out, my man. Me, I'm still trying to deal with people who are down with drinking out of "BIM glasses" that are obviously vases, or that mothers push their babies in strollers that look like they were made by the same folks who built that bubble-topped motorcycle sidecar in Mad Max. I can only hope that the air system in those things work well, otherwise the infant mortality rate in 1994 must be, like, really fuckin' high. In that case, the future ain't that bad.

Now as we all know, 1994 turned out to be one of our great years for Cinema, but in this film 1994 is a time of lame-ass music that is being forced down the public's throat and the grateful public votes on this shitty music and somehow this tells the world that this awful music is the Best Music EVAR, case closed, no arguments. It's a good thing we dodged that bullet in real life and 2012 is a paradise of top notch tunes on the radio and great music videos on MTV, rather than the cesspool of soulless manufactured dreck and reality shows about nothing it could've been.

But there is hope, people, because two fresh-faced innocents from Canada have come down to compete in this worldwide song contest with a love song that eventually wins over the souls of the audience -- until some fey foreigner in charge of Everything orders his way-past-fey Number Two man to throw a wrench into the proceedings by playing some micro-cassette filled with high-pitched squealing that apparently causes the audience to forget the lovely music they were falling for and now they're like Fuck That Noise We're Giving This Shit Two Thumbs Down. By the way -- in addition to colorful bling-bling all over his self (and teeth), the Number Two guy wears a huge star & crescent earring that may or may not be some kind of DUN DUN DUN TERRORIST visual cue telling us that homeboy is not One Of Us or something. I don't know.

The fey foreigner is named Mr. Boogalow (which no one can agree on how to pronounce -- some go with "Loo" for the last syllable, while others stick with "Low") and he's kinda like the taller, leaner, Semitic answer to Swan from Phantom of the Paradise crossed with all the corporations that control everything in this country/world/universe. He runs Boogalow International Music, a music company that somehow manages to have its fingers in everything -- media, food, even a government-mandated daily BIM workout hour where every citizen must stop what he or she is doing (including surgeons and firemen) and rock out.

So big is BIM, that people are even declaring their allegiance by placing triangular stickers (BIM marks) on their faces, and those who refuse to wear the mark of the BIM get ticketed for it by The Man. But at least The Man's cool enough to let you wear it anywhere on your body and not just your face, which left me thinking that if I was living in that world and wanted to be rebellious, I'd just stick a couple BIMs on my fat hairy asscheeks, then that way whenever some blocky-costumed police officer ordered me to show him my BIM mark, I can just moon that fuckin' pig while displaying good citizenship. But with my luck, he'd probably call in for backup and here comes Henry Silva and his Disinfestation Annihilation Squad and all of a sudden I'm getting the barbecue treatment for my smart-assery. That's what I get for not leaving the Bronx.

Anyway, Boogalow knows what's up; when you're a Bad Motherfucker who's Running Shit, and you have any kind of force (however small it may be) that threatens the tranquility of the Good Thing you got going on, you don't destroy it -- you buy it out. That's what he does to a journalist who gets a little too journalistic about BIM's endeavors, and that's what he plans to do with our Canadian Innocents. He offers each of them recording contracts that promise fame, fortune, and the whole nine -- but of course they only have 20 minutes to sign the line which is dotted, so it's not like they have time to read the fuckin' thing, let alone bring a lawyer into the proceedings.

It turns out that there's a whole Adam & Eve thing going on with our Canadian Innocents, and Mr. Boogelow is the snake in this garden of Eden that is the German locations being passed off as New York Of The Future. In case you don't get it, Golan then gives us a musical sequence where the Male Canadian Innocent envisions Mr. Boogalow as the Devil (albeit a glittery, fey, Dracula-looking Devil with one horn) and his entire crew and stable of music-making bitches are making like Deney Terrio in a fiery netherworld. He tries to convince his fellow Canadian Innocent not to sign with BIM, but c'mon, this is Catherine Mary Stewart we're talking about and Catherine Mary Stewart will do whatever Catherine Mary Stewart wants to do and you can't tell her otherwise, especially if you're some vaguely Ralph Garman-looking motherfucker who sounds kinda like Paul Koslo.

The actors are all game for these proceedings (did not expect to see Miriam Margoyles and Diplomatic Immunity! from Lethal Weapon 2 but here they are), and the choreography during the musical sequences is top notch (even if what they're actually doing is pretty fuckin' goofy in context), but it's all in the service of a ridiculous ninety-minutes of WTF-ery. You have these (mostly) catchy songs with fucked-up lyrics (there's one song called "Coming" that might as well be called "Put Your Penis In My Vagina And Ejaculate Inside"), you have the hilarious costumes and production design (too many male g-strings for my taste, and that Hell set is straight out of a sitcom), and it's all coming from Menahem Golan's goofy-as-fuck mise-en-scene that stems from the deepest grounds of sincerity (of which only Great Success or Massive Fail can grow -- guess which one grows out of this film).

I mean, I could be wrong, but I think Golan was really coming from a I Want To Move The Audience state-of-mind with the ending -- which of course makes the ending the most hilariously wrong part of the entire picture. This is also one of those movies that sucks the viewer into an interdimensional portal between Meant To Be Funny and Not Meant To Be Funny and then leaves you stranded without a fuckin' map or compass or whatever the fuck you'd need to figure out which way is North. As a result, I laughed quite a bit at this flick, but I kinda felt for it, if that makes sense. Best example would be a scene where our main characters are separated by distance and situation, yet manage to sing longingly towards each other during a rainstorm -- dramatically I didn't really see anything wrong with the idea of that scene, but the execution (not to mention the tools provided for the job) falls on the wrong side of the Good/Bad spectrum.

OK, I feel like passing out, and besides, this is one of those joints you want to go into fresh and just let happen to your unsuspecting ass, so I'm gonna wrap this up by saying that if you like not-quite-Disco music, fey Devils, old hippies, surprise vampires, Yiddish-speaking landladies who cure life's ills with chicken soup, and turning to your friend while watching a movie and giving him-or-her the WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING look, then you'll definitely want to take a bite out of this Apple!

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to ask someone to beat the shit out of me for that "take a bite out of this Apple" part, I mean even Gene Shalit would've been like "Bitch, are you for real?" after reading that shit. I mean, really! I'll just redo the ending: If you want to see a really goofy cult musical, look for The Apple on Netflix Instant or rent it from a cool video store and may God have mercy on your soul or something like that, I don't know, drinking scotch on an empty stomach wasn't the best plan, I gotta go.