Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

With the pacing of a chess match, and the musicality of…a chess match, Sgt. 
Pepper’s 
Lonely Hearts Club Band is a tough slog, even for us, frequent champions of the terrible.

How is it humanly possible to turn great Beatles songs into unlistenable mush? Well, much of the blame lies at the feet of the Bee Gees, which give many of us the heebie- jeebies. Their squeaky voices and generous pompadours are enough to turn stomachs, that’s for sure, but it’s not like there’s not lots of blame to slather around.

They, along with Peter Frampton, are members of a supergroup from which the film’s title is derived. They’re stars of Heartland, USA, a fictional town located in (wait for it) the heartland of the United States. They probably should’ve hailed from Tin Ear, Indiana.

BD Records signs, and then exploits them, but it’s hard to tell who’s exploiting whom. A strong case could be made that when it comes to exploitation, it’s that of the cochlea or auditory nerve.

Filmed mostly around an MGM backlot gazebo that’s probably given a healthy workout during episodes of Gilmore Girls, Sgt. Pepper’s features musical numbers as pedestrian as the town square sidewalks.

Steve Martin mallets his way through Maxwell’s Silver Hammer, Barry Gibb badly warbles A Day in the Life, Billy Preston sashays his way through Get Back…And speaking of getting things back…how ’bout that lengthy run-time?

On the Really Awful Movies Podcast, we have occasionally delved into atrociously bad musicals, discussing films like Xanadu and The Apple. And stinkers though they were,  they were fun and spirited. This one though, yikes. Steer clear.

* (out of 5)

[Tune in to our Really Awful Movies Podcast discussion of Sgt. Peppers!]

 

Scream 4

Sidney Prescott is making a name for herself as the author of a series of books. Her publicist, walking through a lonely parking garage, gets a call. A call from Ghostface. When she asks if she can take a message for her famous client, Scream’s masked assailant warns, “you are the message.”

Is this some too-clever-by-half Scream 4 allusion to Marshall McLuhan (“the medium is the message)? Who needs the author of The Gutenberg Galaxy in an era where “nobody reads anymore,” as one character here puts it.

That may be so, but they sure do talk.

Kevin Williamson, the man responsible for the first two Scream flicks, returns as if he’s paid by the word. Jesus, nobody ever shuts up in this, the fourth and extraordinarily painful installment of the self-referentially-winking series.

Less is more, and this more is considerably less. If an endless word babble reference of every classic horror movie floats your boat, feel free  but it’ll capsize the rest of us.

Scream 4 is an appalling cash-in even by the seemingly bottomless well of horror sequel cash-ins.

But it’s notable for one thing.

Everything is meta. Its meta is meta, there’s even a reference to the act of being “meta” (sadly, no reference to ex-baller/LA Laker, Metta World Peace). Its meta drives an orbitoclast smack into your orbital lobe.

Scream (the original), was undoubtedly solid, sharp as Ghostface was stabby, and playful to boot. Unfortunately, its legacy is tarnished because for a while in the 90s, we suffered many films that tried to encroach on similar comedy-horror territory. So it’s odd that this installment, Scream the 4th, upped the “look at me, I’m so clever” ante, when it was meant to have been a return to form.

Featuring a bunch of ever-telegenic TV cast-offs (people from The OC/90201, etc, etc and even Anthony Anderson, pre-Blackish) the film’s saving grace is the steely determination of Neve Campbell. She’s quite excellent, even if she’s acting in a different movie entirely.

In 2013, Harvey Weinstein, while speaking at the Zurich International Film Fest, expressed interest in making a fifth and final installment of Scream. Luckily for all of us, he’s no longer in the movie biz.

*1/2 (out of 5)

[Listen to our chat about the original Scream on the Really Awful Movies Podcast]