Doug and the Slugs and Me

A filmmaker uncovers the story of her best friend’s dad, the former lead singer of Doug and the Slugs.
Available on CBC Gem

Doug and the Slugs and Me

documentary Channel

In her new doc, filmmaker Teresa Alfeld uncovers the story of Doug Bennett, leader of the legendary 1980s Canadian party band Doug and the Slugs — and the dad of her childhood best friend.

In the 1990s, Alfeld practically grew up at the lively East Vancouver house of Shea Bennett, who lived next door. She knew Shea’s father, Doug, was in a band, but to Alfeld, he was just a goofy dad. When the girls’ friendship abruptly ended in high school, Alfeld lost touch with the Bennett family. She was shocked to learn of Doug Bennett’s death in 2004 at age 52, attributed to a lengthy, unnamed illness.

Now a documentary filmmaker, Alfeld has interviewed Bennett’s former bandmates, family and friends, and followed Doug and the Slugs’ trajectory from Vancouver cult sensation to national fame in the early ‘80s (they were called the next big thing), with multiple top ten singles and gold records. She returns to Bennett’s catalogue of songs and finds it’s more complex than the cheesy and fun hits that made Doug and the Slugs famous.

The documentary features a who’s who of international and Canadian musicians and industry insiders — including Bob Geldof, Bif Naked, Steven Page, Ron Sexsmith, Michael Williams, Denise Donlon and Terry David Mulligan — who provide insight into what made the Slugs’ music, videos and stage shows so special and why the cards were ultimately stacked against them.

Former bandmates John Burton, Simon Kendall, Richard Baker, Steve Bosley and Wally Watson tell the story of how the Slugs came close to an international breakthrough, though things fell apart. But it’s when Alfeld comes across Bennett’s personal diaries that she finally understands what went so right, and ultimately so wrong, for her old neighbour.

As Alfeld learns more about the band’s roller-coaster path, she also revisits her own memories of Bennett and his family, including Shea. Alfeld interviews Bennett’s widow Nancy, and her own mom Phyllis, for a fuller picture. In time, Alfeld realizes there was more going on next door than she could understand as a child. And by making the film, she finds the closure she never knew she needed.

Teresa Alfeld with the Bennett sisters as they pour over Doug journels.

A nostalgia-packed ride down the backroads of Canadian rock history, Doug and the Slugs and Me features music videos, rare performance footage, photos and home movies, which shed light on one of the country’s most misunderstood bands. It’s a bittersweet, emotional and entertaining film about the pivotal friendships that shape us, break us and ultimately help us grow.