The James Clayton Column: Beatlemania is back

James intends to save the world from the proposed Yellow Submarine remake...

Following the fresh re-release of their back catalogue and the arrival of their Rock Band game, The Beatles once again find themselves as grand overlords of pop culture and ruling the world once more. With the masses simulating life in the Fab Four to a remastered soundtrack of the old albums, we have entered what scientists may identify as Beatlemania Mk. II.

Brainwashed into Beatles frenzy by The Beatles: Rock Band marathons and too many repeat listens of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, everyone seems to be talking about the ‘60s icons. However, amidst all the documentaries and column inches devoted to detailing how the Fab Four inspired everything from the invention of apple pie and the music industry’s discovery of facial hair to the Moon landing and the end of the Cold War, there’s something that’s not being talked about. I don’t see much about the films that the band made in their heyday.

They may have ultimately redefined the rock ‘n’ roll movie, but you’d be hard pressed to say that flicks like A Hard Day’s Night and Help! rank as high-quality cinematic output. There’s a fun charm in those films and no doubt at the height of Beat-Hysteria they were really hip. The sad truth, though, is that they are pretty poor movies with pathetic acting (Ringo excepted) and nonsensical plots.

If you really want to see a great movie about The Beatles, watch spoof mockumentary The Rutles. For the genuine Fab Four, taking a trip on Yellow Submarine probably ranks as the most appealing and creatively outstanding of the Liverpudlian group’s official cinematic excursions. It’s a shame, therefore, that out of all the band’s bad movies, Disney has chosen to remake the psychedelic under-the-sea adventure. The end result will most likely be an offensive child-friendly CGI splurge that expunges all the acid-fuelled imagination of the original.

Ad – content continues below

Why would they want to remake Yellow Submarine? When there are mania-afflicted consumers out there desperate for more Fab Four nostalgia bits, why not? Following in the footsteps of the Beatles-inspired musical Across The Universe that was released a few years back, come Christmas we’ll also be seeing the dramatisation of the band’s pre-fame origins story in Nowhere Boy.

Once again, are these really the Beatle blockbusters we want to see? If we’re going to flog the Fab Four to the death before the remaining two members snuff it (though, on the strength of John Lennon’s performance in Help! cardboard cut-outs could be more than adequate stand-ins) could we have at least have a touch of ingenuity? The Beatles were always looking to push boundaries and with either computerised avatars or some talented, versatile actors standing in for the deceased Lennon and Harrison – say, Johnny Depp, Robert Downey, Jr., Morgan Freeman – a new Fab Four feature is feasible.

In order to save the world from a ropey Yellow Submarine do-over, take Beatlemania to unexplored territory and stop stagnation setting in, here are some pitches for new Beatle-centric motion pictures for the movie industry’s consideration…

Maxwell’s Silver Hammer

Offbeat splatter western that sees The Beatles stranded in the arse-end of nowhere when their Magical Mystery Campervan breaks down during the Pan-American Comeback Tour. To add to their bad luck the band find themselves plagued by the sociopathic hillbilly of the title who uses his blood-stained tool to terrorise wayward drifters in the Grand Canyon. It’s thus up to the Fab Four to tame the mass-murdering hick through Native American spirit rituals and campfire sing-alongs of All You Need Is Love.

She Came In Through The Bathroom Window

Ad – content continues below

Gritty psychological thriller in which poor Ringo finds himself threatened and fighting in a battle of wits against a wild stalker who won’t stop sending him fan mail. In the shocking climactic twist it emerges that the haunting menace is actually three different people: his bandmates. From the very beginning they were simply trying to spook him out of the group in order to get a better drummer but, alas, the revelations come too late. After a battle royale with kitchen knives, no Beatle is left standing and Yoko Ono claims all the royalties. This is, of course, the second twist and the post-credits sequence reveals that Yoko had planned it all along.

Happiness Is A Warm Gun

The Fab Four’s ultra violent men-on-a-mission movie finds them on covert ops in the jungles of South East Asia. Their target is band guru Maharishi Mahesh who’s been taken captive by communist guerrillas and it’s up to The Beatles to brutally terminate all the terrorists with extreme prejudice. The sequel, Back In The USSR, sees the band tracking their way through Outer Siberia and torturing every ex-KGB renegade in their way until the secret plans for the Yellow Submarine are recovered. A Beatle’s work is never done…

Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?

Rom-com themed around the embarrassing troubles and trials faced by over-the-hill pop stars as they play the modern dating game and attempt to return to the carefree halcyon hippy days of free love and free drugs. The far-fetched plot finds that The Beatles are not only unloved but bankrupt and so they decide to stage a mass love-in on a motorway in order to raise funds, reputations and rusty body parts whilst also reigniting that flame of youth.

I Am The Walrus

Ad – content continues below

Schlocky creature feature that sees the Fab Four freak out and turn into Were-Walruses after experimenting their buddy Dr. Robert’s dodgiest substances. Thought that The Frog Song was the worst thing to come out of Paul McCartney? Think again as drug horror makes The Beatles mutate into giant beasts in the goriest transformation sequences this side of The Thing and The Fly. They’ve got tusks, flippers and an arsenal of catchy tunes: be afraid, be very afraid…

When I’m Sixty-Four

Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr wake up in a future space age to discover that they’re now grumpy old men in this sci-fi fantasy that blends Howl’s Moving Castle and Blade Runner. Struggling to cope with this unusual new era, Paul dyes his hair purple and the pair use the advanced technology at their disposal to resuscitate their two dead bandmates and bring back Beatlemania to fix the hole in the utopian society that’s forgotten them. Actually, this one could be done as a documentary…

James’ previous column can be found here.