Sunday, March 20, 2016

Devlin's Domain - The Peanut Butter Solution

Well I was totally expecting to drench blood and guts all over the Domain this week, but something happened. I got wind of an obscure film that had a title that peaked my interest due to my love of peanut butter. This may be the only time that you will see a Family/Fantasy film being reviewed here, so I would advise that you keep reading. This is one genre I don't really tap into, so come inside and see what it was that compelled me to give this film some attention.

First of all I'd just like to say that I hate Family movies. I didn't mind them as much as a child, but even then I was annoyed that I had to watch them instead of Friday the 13th. It was tolerable entertainment that kept me occupied back then. So when I heard about this film I had no idea what it was, and I never would've guessed it was a Family Comedy. I almost didn't even bother with it, but I'm glad I did.

Of course the only thing that could make this film enjoyable for me is if it was at least disturbing, horrible, or weird as hell. It just so happened to be all three. I've been thinking about it for days now for some reason. So that means it's left some kind of mark on my mind. It's one of those movies that isn't very good but could manage to get a fan base. Movies like Troll 2 and The Room have managed to pull off this miracle, but I don't hear so much about this one. I couldn't find it on DVD or Bluray and it's not even listed as unavailable on Netflix. The only physical copies are on VHS, so I watched a shit quality VHS version with bad tracking. Remember tracking? Anyways, this is it...

The Peanut Butter Solution

The first thing I noticed when the movie started up was how bad the acting was and how bad the music was. None of the actors/actresses in this film went on to do much of anything. Battlestar Galactica fans may barely recognize Michael Hogan, who played Colonel Saul Tigh on that series. He plays the artsy father of the lead kid in this movie. He looks dramatically different here, with a goofy, receding hair style and unkempt facial hair. As far as the soundtrack goes, Celine Dion recorded her first English language songs for this film. That doesnt mean there's quality here, but I'm not a fan of her anyway. I'm sure she'd like for this to be completely forgotten.

The opening scene introduces us to the main character, eleven-year old Michael. He has breakfast with his sister, Suzie, who has taken over the role of the mother. It's really awkward because she's still a child, but acts like she's an adult. Michael's father, Billy, then comes down to join them and Michael tells him some overdramatic tale of how he gave some homeless guy change. Michael's best friend, Conrad shows up at the house to accompany them to school. This is the main crew the film focuses on.

Michael is in art class at school where we see the eventual antagonist, Signor the art teacher. He's a grouchy old man who ironically discourages creativity and imagination in his art class. He has the class draw pictures of his dog, who he has pose for the class. He tears up Michael's picture because he drew flames in the background that weren't there in real life. Signor tries the same thing with Con's picture but Con tells him off. Things really start getting weird after school lets out.

Michael and Con pass buy a run down building on their way home from school. It conveniently has a ramp up to the window so Michael climbs up to take a look. He looks into the window and there's a flash and he starts to scream and falls back down to the street. Con wheels Michael back home to get his father and sister to help wake him up. The next day Michael wakes up and all of his hair is gone. He's freaking out and ashamed to go outside. His dad doesn't appear to be overly concerned, but takes him to a doctor who says he "suffered a fright". I believe I'd ask for a refund and see a different doctor, but these guys just bought that shit.

In an attempt to keep Michael from sitting around pouting at home, Billy and Suzie hold Michael down to glue a wig on him. He was hesitant at first, but after taking a look at his shitty wig in the mirror he gets a burst of confidence. This is followed by a scene of him being really happy and playing soccer. It doesn't really look like a soccer game though. It looks like a bunch of dumb kids running around chaoticlly while crowd noises are dubbed in. They try to make Michael look heroic before a bully comes and pulls his wig off. Then the whole group of kids chase his bald ass all the way home while somehow chanting insults in unison as if they had rehearsed ahead of time.

While becoming depressed again by his baldness he has a dream that  couple of hobo ghosts give him a recipe for hair growth serum. The key ingredient being peanut butter. It appears Skippy had paid for product placement in this film. Probably not the best move. Michael spreads the peanut butter concoction on his skull and wakes up the next morning with stubble. Over the course of the morning his father and sister witness him grow a full head of hair. Con asks how he made it happen and when Michael told him he insisted on using some himself. Of course Michael tells him he has plenty of hair, to which Con replies, "it's for down there". That's right, a ten-year old Asian boy puts peanut butter on his crotch to grow pubes in a Family film. Plot thickens.

The hair growth gets out of control and Michael starts to look like Cousin It. Con helps him out by cutting his hair during  class, but for some reason cuts at the tips instead of closer to the head. The film is full of nonsense errors like these. One of the teachers finds the cutting disruptive demands they stop immediately. This prompts Michael to go on a passionate monologue about what happened to him that's causing the insanely rapid hair growth. The class gives him an ovation, but the teacher states that what he said was rubbish and that hair only grows half an inch per day and no more. This is an absurd statement to make considering Michael's hair grew at least three feet overnight. Everyone just seems oblivious to it except Michael and Con.

The two boys are sent to the principal's office where we see Con's straight, black pubic hair is starting to grow out from the bottom of his pant legs. Both boys are told that the hair cutting is disruptive and they aren't allowed to come back to school.  There's no meeting with the parents or concern over their well-being. They just get kicked out of school for growing hair. As they walk home Signor the art teacher watches from behind a bush. He has some sick obsession with Michael's hair and proceeds to kidnap him. Michael's father pretends to care while demolishing one of his paintings out of frustration. There's a short montage of reports on other children going missing as well.

Since neither Billy or the police are doing anything to find Michael and the other kids, Suzie and Con take it upon themselves to investigate. Con's pubic hair has stopped growing without mention by now. Suzie tells Con to hide in the back of Signor's truck with a funnel and a bag of sugar to make a trail back to wherever his hideout is. Suzie follows the trail on her back and is met with cheers from homeless bystanders who are around every corner. There's no reason at all for them to be cheering for her, because they have no idea what she is doing. And why are there so many homeless people her? Regardless, she gets enthusiastic from the support and smiles and peddles faster until the trail ends.  She loses track of the sugar trail because a street cleaner washed it away. This leaves Con to be captured by Signor.

So it seems Signor is keeping Michael unconscious in a bathtub by feeding him doped up yogurt. Michael's hair grows out onto a conveyor belt where a crew of child slaves cut it and turn the hair into paint brushes. This is Signor's master plan, to sell paint brushes made from free endless hair. Genius. Signor demonstrates what he can do with these paintbrushes by doing a happy dance while slapping the brush on a canvas. Each time he taps it part of an image appears. It ends up being the image of the run down building Michael had visited earlier in the film. Signor leaps into the painting and climbs to the window only to suffer the same "fright" and loses his hair. Somehow this stops Micahel's hair growth.

The kids make an escape attempt, but Signor recovers and starts to chase them down and cage them back up. Apparently one old man can take on 40 kids with minimal effort. While this is going on Suzie has found the sugar trail again and lead the cops to the Signor's warehouse. Signor goes to jail and the kids go back home. Michael conveniently gets home at the same time his mother is returning home from Australia and is seemingly oblivious to the fact that he'd been missing for weeks. Father of the year award goes to Billy. So preoccupied with his crappy bird paintings to care about his children.

This movie is just so weird. My brief synopsis doesn't really do it justice. It just has to be seen to understand. It's as if it was written by a 4th grader and nobody bothered to do any edits. I can see how kids may enjoy it, because it captures some of that wild, illogical imagination that children tend to have. It's a story that doesn't give explanations for anything which seems to make it even creepier. Hopefully this Canadian film will eventually make it's way to Bluray or DVD, but in the meantime you'll have to find other means to watch it.

Somehow this film managed to get a 6.4 rating on IMDB. Of course most of the reviews on there are going by childhood memories. I'm sure their scores would be much lower upon a recent viewing. Even though I did enjoy the experience of watching this film, if only for its weirdness, I'm gonna have to give it a 4 out 10. That's probably being nice too, cause this movie is just plain bad. But it's so bad it's good. Funny how things work out like that.

Come back to see what other strange things end up in Devlin's Domain. It seems nothing is off the table. See you next time.

About Me: I have a couple of different aliases, but for this column I will use my middle name. I am Devlin and I currently reside in Atlanta, GA. 32 years of age and still feeling immortal. Former Rockstar, current Pro Wrestler and hell, I'm still a Rockstar at heart. I got my first taste of obscure cinema when I was about 8 years old. My Dad would take us to the video store every weekend to stock up on classic horror films to watch on his projector. They were mostly harmless, PG-rated horror films like the great Universal monster movies. Then one night he rented a movie for himself to watch after we had gone to bed. I was so intrigued by this film that I wasn't allowed to see. I begged and begged and he eventually caved. That night I was exposed to a film unlike anything I had seen before. Ever since that night I wanted to find more films that gave me that same sensation. I wanted to feel shock and disgust. I found my place in the Horror aisle. The film I watched was Faces of Death. Thanks Dad.

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