Exploitation Retrospect | The Journal of Junk Culture and Fringe Media
Paul McCartney Really is Dead (1988)
Highway 61 Entertainment | Buy at Amazon | Review by Matthew Saliba

Ah, to be a conspiracy theorist. What a life that must be. To live in a world where 9/11 was a deliberate and malicious act perpetrated by the same U.S. Government who botched the wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq but somehow pulled a "Hail Mary" and made the Twin Tower demolition look like a terrorist attack. To live in a world where Elvis, Tupac and Michael Jackson are alive and well and hibernating deep within the confines of Hollow Earth planning the unveiling of the New World Order with our reptilian shapeshifting overlords. To live in a world where in November of 1966, Paul McCartney was killed in a car crash and replaced with a double at the request of British intelligence, MI5 as a preventive measure against an epidemic of mass suicides on the part of McCartney's female fanbase should they ever discover the fate of their beloved Beatle.

What, wait?

In case you're in the dark on the whole "Paul is Dead" hoax, then you're in luck as the good folks over at Highway 61 Entertainment have released a very entertaining "documentary" by Joel Gilbert that manages to cross THE DAVINCI CODE with the Beatles entitled PAUL McCARTNEY REALLY IS DEAD: THE LAST TESTAMENT OF GEORGE HARRISON. The subtitle refers to the concept by which the piece is based upon.

According to director Gilbert, Highway 61 Entertainment received a package in the summer of 2005 from London, England. The package had no return address. Inside were a couple of mini-cassette tapes dated December 30th, 1999 and labeled, "The Last Testament of George Harrison." After being attacked in his home, Harrison began to fear for his life and decided now was as good a time as any to finally get a major load off his chest and reveal to the world the truth about Paul McCartney. Hence the tapes. Harrison regales us with the "shocking" story about McCartney's death and the massive coverup that ensued to ensure the longevity of the Beatles' success.

As previously mentioned, McCartney was killed in a car crash in November of 1966. The remaining Beatles were approached by a man known only as "Maxwell" from British intelligence, MI5 who forced the Beatles to cover up McCartney's death as a preventive measure against the mass suicides of female Beatles fans. So a Paul McCartney lookalike contest was held and won by William Campbell from Ontario. He was shipped off to London where after a series of plastic surgeries and vocal training sessions, emerged as Paul McCartney II, or as his Beatles brethren referred to him as, Faul. The emergence of Faul is used to explain why the Beatles stopped touring around the release of their 1965 album RUBBER SOUL. They didn't want to risk the possible realization on the part of fans with a keen eye that Faul was indeed a false Beatle. That said, the overwhelming guilt of this deliberate lie led the Beatles to signal their fans with clues on album covers (the infamous SGT. PEPPER'S LONELY HEART CLUB BAND cover, the fact that the "real Beatles" are always looking in one direction and Faul is looking in the other, etc.) and in song lyrics ("the Walrus was Paul" referring to the fact that when McCarney's mangled body was discovered at the car crash, a police officer remarked how McCarney looked like a walrus, "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" referring to the violent threats made against their well-being by MI5 should they ever reveal to the public that McCartney had bit the dust, etc.). The Beatles eventually break up but the story doesn't end there. John Lennon becomes increasingly reckless with the secret to the point where in 1980 he is assassinated by a hired gunmen for MI5 sending a loud and clear message to the others that if they follow in his footsteps, they'll face a similar fate.

Now, your enjoyment of a film like this will entirely depend on your tolerance for conspiracy theories. I personally find them fascinating though ultimately based on heresy with a logic fueled by convenience. If you're determined to find something, your mind automatically filters anything else out in its effort to discover the truth that you're searching for, regardless of its validity. In other words, if you want to believe that Paul McCartney really died and that the Beatles signaled their fans to this fact through subliminal messages in their albums, you're more than likely to discover what you're looking for. However, when you take reality into consideration, the cold hard facts plainly dictate that this is a certifiable hoax and one done in poor taste, if I might add.

First and foremost, a lot of the "facts" presented in this piece just don't add up. For example, they mention how the only people present at McCartney's funeral were the remaining Beatles and McCartney's parents. However, his mother died long before this allegedly took place. They also mention how the album cover of RUBBER SOUL was designed to create the impression that the Beatles were looking down into a grave. McCartney's grave. However, the album was released in 1965, one year before the fatal accident. And for all the talk about how the Beatles were the only ones in on this, where was George Martin all the time? He was their manager. Surely he would know that "Faul" was an impostor. There's no mention made of him at all in this piece. And last and surely not least, there's the matter of "George Harrison" himself. For someone who's unburdening himself of a deep, dark, terrible secret, he sure sounds very calm and articulate. He never once stumbles or stutters; almost as if he's reading from a script.

Then there's the issue of sound quality. Now granted, I suppose there could've been some clean-up done to the audio, but if he was recording his voice onto a mini-cassette tape recorder, then surely the sound quality would be mediocre at best. I've done so many times myself and one of the reasons why I stopped was because of the poor sound quality.

At the end of the day, this is a despicable piece of work meant to play on the wishful thinking of conspiracy theorists who want to believe that the world is more complicated than it really is. I also find it to be very disrespectful to the memory of George Harrison himself as this was clearly made to cash in on the anniversary of his death. Quite frankly, I'm surprised this even got released at all. I'd be very curious to see how long it takes before the estate of George Harrison sends the offices of Highway 61 Entertainment a package of their own, only with a pair of lawsuits instead of tapes.

 


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