This bizarre Canadian children's film is undermined at every turn by amateurish acting, awkward storytelling and flat, ugly, overlit cinematography. Yet by virtue of its sheer, overwhelming weirdness, the film exerts a formidable hold over the imaginations of many adults who saw it as youngsters. Michael Baskin (Matthew Mackay) and his slightly older sister, Suzie (Alison Darcy), are left largely to their own devices when their mother takes an extended trip to Australia to deal with her late father's estate — their father (Michael Hogan, who bears a striking resemblance to Bruce Dern), a painter, is absorbed in his work. Michael and his best friend, Conrad (Siluk Saysanasy) — Connie to his friends and schoolmates — sneak off to the neighborhood spooky house after a fire supposedly kills several winos who were sleeping there, and Michael sees something that gives him such a fright he faints. The next day his hair has fallen out, which leaves him vulnerable to the cruel taunts of other children. Mr. Baskin takes him to see the peculiar Dr. Epstein (Harry Hill), who can do nothing, and buys him a hairpiece that only occasions further humiliation. Then Michael gets a visit from the ghosts of two dead winos (Griffith Brewer, Mary Hughes), who give him a recipe for a baldness cure. Michael whips up a poultice of dead flies, cat litter, rotten eggs and peanut butter, applies it to his scalp and soon has a new problem: His hair won't stop growing. Michael's extravagant locks create still more trouble with his peers, and there's worse to come: He's kidnapped by his profoundly peculiar art teacher, The Signor (Michele Maillot), who uses Michael's hair to make paint brushes capable of producing extraordinary paintings so real you can literally walk into them. And there are further marvels to come, strung between more dreadful dialogue and clunky exposition. Directed and co-written by Michael Rubbo, the film's overall tone is strangely sour for a children's fantasy. In particular, all the adults — from brusque Mr. Baskin to officious schoolmarm Miss Prume (Pat Thompson), the crazy Signor and even the clerk at the art-supplies store where Suzie and Connie realize the mysterious paint brushes are made from Michael's hair — are remarkably nasty for a story whose primary focus isn't dysfunctional relationships between grown-ups and children. But there's something undeniably compelling about the story's odd conceits, and fans of Celine Dion (then still ia teenager) can hear her warble several oddly out-of-place soundtrack songs.
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- Released: 1985
- Review: This bizarre Canadian children's film is undermined at every turn by amateurish acting, awkward storytelling and flat, ugly, overlit cinematography. Yet by virtue of its sheer, overwhelming weirdness, the film exerts a formidable hold over the imaginations… (more)