Friday, April 09, 2010

Turn Me On, Dead Man

Being off work, I've taken the chance to catch up with a few DVDs. Amongst the various French crime movies I've watched, I also found time to check out this forgotten gem from 1987, which I picked up from the bargain bin at my local Poundland:

A film for conspiracy theorists everywhere, Turn Me On, Dead Man delves into the strange rumours of the death of Paul McCartney. The title of the movie is apparently what you will hear if you were to play the White Album backwards. Allegedly based on real events, the movie employs a fictitious lead character - Jack Molloy - investigating the supposed discovery of the McCartney conspiracy by DJ Russ Gibb, in the wake of John Lennon’s murder in 1980.

Pursuing claims that it was actually a symbolic spiritual death and rebirth, or even a hoax for publicity purposes, our intrepid investigator finds himself plunged into a world of weird tales and threats by shadowy people. Molloy encounters the predictable list of crazed theories including that McCartney was taken out by fundamentalist Christians from the USA, assassinated by Elvis Presley and the CIA, or even murdered by an enraged Lennon. This is all total lunacy, but nevertheless makes for entertaining viewing, despite the low production standards, (and it has to be said that it is a lot better than Down On Us, a Hendrix/Joplin/Morrison conspiracy thriller so bad that Leonard Maltin called it "utter shite"). Indeed, if you are unfamiliar with the world of the ‘Paul is Dead’ conspiracies, then you might find it quite amusing. A personal favourite in the mix is the idea that many rock stars did deals with the devil and that Paul was sacrificed in return for the Beatles’ phenomenal success, much as it was claimed that Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones had been.

The scenes exploring of this particular theory have truly electric atmosphere, as the viewer is taken into the side alleys of life, where normal members of society suddenly turn out to be Satanists and occultists. The sense of unease is remarkably well handled. However, the problem with all of these theories is that they are reliant upon the viewer believing that McCartney could have been successfully replaced by William Campbell - a winner of a Paul McCartney lookalike contest - without his fans, family, the press or the general public ever noticing!

This is a curious film which has long been kept out of the public domain by legal complications. However, it is now yours to own and I recommend the DVD format, as it contains the documentary Paul Was The Walrus, which charts the history of this obsession. Nevertheless, it is, perhaps, worth remembering that on John Lennon's Glass Onion he sings "The Walrus Was Paul", and ‘walrus’ apparently means corpse in Greek, implying that Lennon had some involvement in the "death". Did he? Watch the film and find out!



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