The 1980 Golan-Globus musical The Apple has a well-deserved reputation as a masterwork of kitsch. It's simultaneously one of the most expensive-looking films in history, yet one of the cheapest-looking. It features some of the worst-written songs in musical cinema, yet some of the catchiest. It endeavours to be a rich satire of the music industry, yet is thick as pigshit.
One of the film's greatest achievements (and it has some great ones) is packing some incredibly racy material into its PG rating, largely via song lyrics and abstraction. There’s a lot to unpack: the title song is a big ol’ metaphor for the loss of innocence (and, thus, virginity); the track “Speed” is pretty much an outright ode to pill-popping culture; the general excess of the film is spread on so thickly that regardless of the final message of the movie (something about hippies and God), you come away wanting to indulge your every basest whim.
But the crown jewel of The Apple’s pornographic chasteness is undoubtedly “Coming,” a musical number sung by Grace Kennedy’s Pandi to George GIlmour’s Alphie as some sort of seduction song. Alphie, seeking to release his beloved Bibi from her possibly Satanic record contract, finds himself in a kind of nightclub run by the agents of the evil Mr. Boogalow (the great Vladek Sheybal). It’s dimly lit, all in red, populated by self-conscious freak types in leather-daddy costumes and feather boas, fawning over each other in little sex alcoves. Alphie makes the fatal mistake of taking a drink offered to him. Cue disco beats and a bizarre kaleidoscopic drug freakout sequence and one of the strangest sex scenes set to film.
We can start with the lyrics, because they’re the most obvious part of this bizarre sequence. The double entendres are so surface-level, so blatant, that they rise above the level of subtext into just plain text:
Let me taint you, and tease you, and hold you, and squeeze you
And feel every inch of your love
Let me show you things you dreamed of
Now I’m coming; coming for you
Feel me coming; coming for you
Make it harder and harder and faster and faster
And when you think you can’t keep it up
I’ll take you deeper and deeper and tighter and tighter
And drain every drop of your love
The lyrics give way at this point to sexual moaning, heavy breathing and escalating screaming, as the dancing takes over. And what dancing! From a choreography point of view, it’s actually pretty clever. Like the rest of the film’s dance numbers, it’s a far more elaborate series of tableaus than necessary. It features a dozen pairs of dancers, each on their own fuck-bed, doing this performative, abstractified sex dance, writhing and thrashing with increasing intensity as the now-nude Pandi and Alphie get closer to actually coming (for you). The dancing would be no more sexual than your average ‘80s aerobics video, were it not for everything surrounding it. But it’s rendered a self-conscious act of not-fucking, thanks to the production design, music and context.
Oh yeah. There’s also the fact that this whole thing is more or less a date-rape sequence. Alphie is obviously drugged from the start, making the whole number possibly a construct of his mind to lessen the impact of being forcibly made to have sex with a crazed, villainous record label employee. The whole sequence takes on an even skeevier undertone with that knowledge.
And this is all within a PG rating.
If you didn’t know how sex worked when you saw The Apple, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was some kind of Jazzercise routine to be performed on roofies. If you did know, you’d be forgiven for thinking the makers of The Apple were fucking insane. Either response is a completely valid one. I highly advise everyone to seek out the film, as it represents ninety minutes of the most concentrated disco kitsch you will ever experience. In the meantime, enjoy the clip of the scene above, and good luck getting that damned earworm out.