Bizarro Masterpiece Theatre: The Apple

The Apple: One of the strangest films, ever.

Movie: The Apple (1980)

Directed By: Menahem Golan

Starring: Catherine Mary Stewart, Allan Love, Joss Ackland

Written By: Menahem Golan

Sweet tapdancing Christ. My fellow B-movie cohorts, Mr. Heinrich Maneuver and Miss Luna, dropped a fucking bomb on me this week. When you’re offered a biblical disco musical about a Village People-fueled dystopia, you run with it. While this movie is firmly lodged in the Rocky Horror tradition, The Apple is a more kinetic, possibly creepier, certainly more bedazzled upgrade.

This is a tale of two Canadian kids who come to the big city in order to ply their pansy ass Carpenters act against the tide of Nero-sized disco. The evil BIM corporation, ruled by the sassy yet diabolical Mr. Boogalow, (yeah, I know,) is not amused. Flanked by his cadre of black drag queens and fluffy-haired Roger Daltrey impersonators, Boogalow puts on his best Klaus Nomi tuxedo and sets to work absorbing the heroic Alphie and Bibi into his infernal system. Following a hellish ripoff of “The Time Warp,” Bibi succumbs to the BIM allure. Alphie, however, runs away like a little girl, and spends a good 15 minutes mooning around in a nice Jewish woman’s New York tenement (and serenading her, and groping her sweet rack). Nobody in the biz wants to listen to his wussy tunes, and the law is cracking down on him for not wearing his BIM mark of the beast. What’s a sad panda to do, but storm back into BIM Central, sleep with one of the disco ladies, and then bust through a pane of glass, lit up in green lights and looking like a crybaby Incredible Hulk? Magnificent!

The best parts of this movie are the BIM anthem in the beginning, and the ending. And though the opening song is one big bowl of tossed ass-kick salad, the conclusion to this masterpiece may have the posterity of being one of the worst (and most glorious) endings of all time. In literature and theater, the term deus ex machina (“God from the machine”) refers to a sudden ending that defies the logic of the rest of the story. South Park’s Crab People would be an example. In this movie, deus ex machina can be taken literally, down to the flying car. What happens is one of the most baffling finishes to a film that I have ever seen, made only slightly tolerable by the most evil dude from Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey playing God.

Wow. This film is friggin’ amazing.

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HorrorHound Weekend 2010: Catherine Mary Stewart

Catherine Mary Stewart

Catherine Mary Stewart, Actress

Y Spy: Who are you and why are you here?

Catherine Mary Stewart: I am Catherine Mary Stewart, and I was kidnapped, bound, and dragged here against my will.

Y Spy: I know you from “The Apple.” What was it like starring in the greatest disco musical ever, and participating in one of the most wonderfully strange film endings of all time?

Stewart: It was weird! That was my very first film ever, so I really had no clue what I was getting myself into as an actress. I just went along with it, thinking that it was kind of strange. When I saw it completed, I thought that my instincts were correct.

It opened in 1981 in the World Film Festival in Montreal, to a mixed review, I’m sure. But the guy who ran the festival said: “This is the greatest movie, especially if you’re stoned!” I can totally see that! For me, it was my intro to the whole business, so I have to say that it was the greatest thing ever.

Y Spy: What have been your favorite roles since?

Stewart: It’s such a hard question. Every movie that I’ve done has been so wonderful in a different way. I guess there are some that are more awful than others, and I have worked with some people who I didn’t necessarily like or get along with. Some of the most gratifying are some of the movies I’m representing here: “The Last Starfighter,” “Night of the Comet.”

When you’re shooting a movie, you have no idea what to expect. You do your work as best you can, and then it’s completely out of your hands. I’ve done a lot of movies where the end result is completely different from the script’s intention. Afterwards you put that part of your life on the shelf and move on. So when you get the response that you get at conventions like this, you never know what to expect.

There’s a whole generation of men and women that tell me how influential these movies are to them. You’re one of the odd ones out about “The Apple!” That was not a widely seen movie! It always takes me off guard. As an actor it’s so cool having a positive effect on people that they still treasure in their 20s and 30s. You don’t expect it at all, so you don’t take it for granted.

Y Spy: Do the unexpected reactions from fans come because you have such a diverse body of work?

Stewart: That’s something that I’m really thankful for, because as an actor you want to do as many different things as you possibly can. I live vicariously through the characters; I get to be a Mac-10 wielding teenage, or I get to be a sweet innocent girl, or I get to go into outer space, or I get to be a cowgirl. I’m thrilled to be able to do the different types of things I do, and I hope I’m not pigeonholed. And that attracts such a diverse audience.

Y Spy: What have you been doing recently?

Stewart: Recently I seem to be playing a lot of alcoholics! I’ve done two films recently, one for Lifetime and one for Hallmark, where I’m a middle-aged woman who drinks too much, which is actually a gas. I have so much fun playing that character. The Hallmark movie was called “The Class.” I play the wife of Eric Roberts – the unhappy wife of Eric Roberts, which drives me to drink. In every scene there’s a glass of wine in my hand. But of course I redeem myself in the end, because it is Hallmark, after all. I also just finished a movie called “A Christmas Snow,” which is a family Christmas movie, really a nice movie. I’m the lead in it, which is sort of unusual because I’m not the young little ingénue that I was. I play a character that hates Christmas, whose father left when she was young, which she’s never gotten over. Through the film you learn lessons of forgiveness and redemption, and in the end it’s a really lovely story. Not really a HorrorHound movie!

Y Spy: Is there a big difference between making TV movies and feature films?

Stewart: I have found over the years that it is less and less different. Movies can be made so quickly and for very little money, which is kind of great. A TV movie has always had shorter schedules. Feature films have always taken longer. But the great thing about digital these days is that they don’t have to worry about takes anymore. As an actor, there’s a lot less pressure. Making a TV movie still doesn’t feel as grand as a feature, but they’re becoming similar.

Y Spy: So what’s your take on the entirety of your career?

Stewart: I’m really thankful for it. I was so busy and had the greatest time in the 80’s and early 90’s. When I got married and started having babies, I kept working, but not as much. My priorities changed. My kids are now 13 and 16, and I’m really trying to get back into it again. It’s kind of a struggle to get back into it. Everyone thought I had just left the business, so you’ve got to work it to make the connections again. But I’ve had some success, and work begets work, so I’ve been doing okay. I’m so much luckier than so many actors.

Y Spy: What scares you?

Stewart: You know what scares me? Tom Noonan scares the crap out of me! In “Manhunter,” that guy creeped me out so much. When I knew that I was gonna be [at a table] next to him, I was a little scared. But he’s a pussycat!

If I’m gonna watch a horror movie, it has to be at home with the lights on, with my husband, because I get scared easily.

Bizarro Gold!

Catherine Mary Stewart can be found at www.catherinemarystewart.net.