(director/writer: Menahem Golan; screenwriters: Coby Recht/Iris Recht; cinematographer: David Gurfinkel; editor: Alain Jakubowicz; music: Coby Recht; cast: George Gilmour (Alphie), Catherine Mary Stewart (Bibi), Vladek Sheybal (Mr. Boogalow), Joss Ackland (Hippie Leader/Mr. Topps), Allan Love (Dandi), Grace Kennedy (Pandi), Ray Shell (Shake), Miriam Margolyes (Landlady), Leslie Meadows (Ashley), Derek Deadman (Bulldog), George S. Clinton (Joe Pittman), Francesca Poston (Vampire/Boogalow Receptionist); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Menahem Golan/Yoram Globus; MGM; 1980)
“A rotten disco-musical from the 1980s that somehow has a minor cult following.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A rotten disco-musical from the 1980s that somehow has a minor cult following despite a ridiculous story line, lousy musical numbers and even worse acting. It has become one of those bad underground films that some misguided viewers see as a guilty pleasure. I equate liking this film with a liking of crap. The only thing it left me with was a gagging feeling that I saw something so unpleasantly incoherent that I only continued watching it because I wanted to see if there were any bright spots possible in such a mess. The answer is a resounding No. It’s produced, written and directed by hack exploitation Israeli filmmaker Menahem Golan (“The Delta Force”/”Hit the Dutchman”/ “Diamonds”) who made this awful, over-the-top pic in Berlin and filmed it as a possible follow-up to The Rocky Horror Show (1975) and an attempt to add his two cents worth of opinions on the Book of Genesis. It plays out, of all things, for an Israeli, as a Christian scare film. There’s one scene in hell that is revolting beyond imagination, that has the film’s innocent naked surrogate Adam and Eve characters picked clean by an assortment of vampires, zombies and wolf-snouted slaves.
This one pans out as a uniquely made disco-musical misfire from the 1980s.
It’s set in the future, in 1994. The only reason we know it’s the future is because we are told, otherwise it looks the same as the present. The plot has this creepy looking Mephistophelean agent named Mr. Boogalow (Vladek Sheybal) in control of the international recording industry through his Worldvision, which runs a song contest. The unscrupulous agent attempts to sign the innocent folk song playing squares from Moose Jaw, Canada, the clean-cut Alphie (George Gilmour) and his virginal heroine girlfriend Bibi (Catherine Mary Stewart, vocals dubbed by Mary Hylan), to a contract heavily skewed in his favor after they sing in the contest “Love, the Universal Melody.” The rigged contest has them lose, even though they were actually the people’s choice. The winner is Dandi and Pandi (Alan Love, Grace Kennedy), a disco duo who sing their empty anthem song called BIM. The evil agent, through a marketing ploy, has everyone under his thumb wear a BIM patch, which is used to control them. He secretly is in bed with the world governments to dumb down the public with bad music and control the masses into being docile followers. The next day the agent seduces the innocent couple to sign with him and become instantly famous and rich after he does a makeover of them to make them as soulless as his other clients. Bibi bites at the temptation and signs with the agent-cum-Svengali, and easily becomes seduced by the drug culture scene and free clothes; but the stalworth Alphie resists such temptation and though kept poor and living in a seedy boarding house run by a domineering stereotyped Jewish landlady (Miriam Margolyes), keeps his head straight and eventually fights back after drugged into submission by the agent’s evil sycophants and will ally himself with some hippies. Bibi, missing her straight hetero man, will also somehow make her way to the hippie colony and the good guy hippie leader (Joss Ackland) helps bring the couple back together. It leads to a rousing ending, where they still must deal with a persistent Mr. Boogalow.
The Apple shamelessly tries every dirty trick in the book to come up with a big cult hit, including effeminate villains and a number of revolting campy routines such as an outlandish dirty disco number that has a mandatory exercise program run by futuristic fitness fascists to the mind-control tune of BIM (it has to be seen to be believed how unsavory is the routine). The forgettable songs include “Love, the Universal Melody,” “Made for Me,” “Showbizness,” “Master,” “Where Has Love Gone,” “Cry for Me,” “I Found Me” and “Child of Love.”
REVIEWED ON 6/26/2008 GRADE: C-