BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review

Sonny Boy (1989) - Blu-ray Review

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Sonny Boy 1989 - Blu-ray Review

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4 beersSonny Boy is, thankfully, a relatively unknown movie.  I say thankfully because if more people knew about director Robert Martin Carrol’s screwed up flick, there would be hell to pay when it came to morality codes and such things as good, decent taste.  Few people talk about it and even fewer recommend it.  It’s a flawed film sure but, somewhere in all the insanity, is a film unlike any other because once you see Paul Smith, David Carradine, and Brad Dourif go all psycho, you simply won’t see them any other way ever again.  It is, in fact, a B-movie masterpiece.

When Dourif – who plays a criminal named Weasel – screws up hotwiring a young couple’s car in the desert town of Harmony, he decides killing them would be better for all concerned.  What he doesn’t realize, as he drives off in their car, is that their baby boy – carefully shielded by a blanket – is in the backseat. 

It isn’t until he arrives at the junkyard home of Slue (Smith), a man who has the entire town of Harmony under his thumb, that he realizes the cargo he’s carrying in the backseat.  Slue, if he had his way, would rather just kill the baby and be done with it.  It’s how he handles things.  For example: later in the movie, when Slue doesn’t get his way, he takes a howitzer to an annoying new deputy and litters the ground with shredded body parts.

The problem is that his “girlfriend”, a cross-dressing Carradine, is all about the baby boy and she, without consulting Slue, decides that they will raise the kidnapped and now orphaned child as their own.  Let the child abuse commence!

In a relatively strange and wild montage, the “family” of the now-named Sonny is shown celebrating their “toy” at various stages of his development.  At his sixth birthday party, they put on freakishly awful animal masks and and cut his tongue out, other times they drag him through the desert sand by chaining him to their car and then driving off.  And then there’s the breastfeeding.  As the time passes, Sonny becomes older and more and more like an abused animal.

Is is easy to see why so many people were offended by the movie.  What’s harder to comprehend is why the purveyors of good taste punished Carrol with criticisms and condemnations that resulted in him being immediately canned by his agent.

When we finally settle in on the movie and its plot, Slue is using Sonny Boy  - who can’t talk, can’t really walk, jumps around like a dog, and plays games like one – to murder anyone who opposes him in the town of Harmony.  Even the sheriff is on the side of Slue.  And when Sonny – who is much rumored to exist but rarely seen outside of his “kennel” – is finally out on his own after being used to get some gold by some of Slue’s associates, there will be a day of transformation and of reckoning.  But for whom?

Sonny Boy, when you boil down all the bizarre shit around being raised by such fucktards as he is, is about the good in a person rising to the top again.  It is a film that will offend (and did in its original theatrical run) but its metaphors – captured skillfully by screenwriter Graham Whiffler and director of photography Roberto D'Ettorre Piazzoli – are easily sustained by the gonzo energy soaring through it all.

Sonny Boy is worth the trip.  This is not poetry, mind you, but it is an important slice of cinema that unfairly silenced a director for a long while.  There are some serious flaws running through it, but the confident swagger is so bizarrely brazen that it can’t help but get solid marks from me.  Besides, Carradine as the doting mother – complete with dress, high heels, wig and makeup – is just so goddamn perfect and weird that it deserves to be seen.

Sonny Boy is one of the most epically fucked up motion pictures I have EVER seen.  And. I. Love. Every. Minute. Of. It.  This release - featuring the uncensored UK version – is yet another BIG score for Scream Factory.

Sonny Boy 1989 - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime:
96 mins
Director
: Robert Martin Carroll
Writer:
Graeme Whifler
Cast:
David Carradine, Paul L. Smith, Brad Dourif
Genre
: Drama | Action
Tagline:
Sonny Boy
Memorable Movie Quote: "I got you a Lincoln Continental, you didn't own that."
Distributor:
Triumph Releasing Corporation
Official Site:
Release Date:
october 26, 1990
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
January 26, 2016
Synopsis: A small-town crime boss accepts delivery of a stolen car, only to find there's a baby in the back-seat. He and his transvestite "wife" cut out the boy's tongue and raise him as a mute ...

Sonny Boy 1989 - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - January 26, 2016
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles
: English
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region Encoding: A

Damn the 1990s.  Does any film stock look good in high definition?  The 1080p transfer isn’t horrible, mind you, but it is a bit lacking.  Details are seldom profound due to the limitations in the shoot and the overall darkness the film employs.  Contrast is lacking and colors are warmer than they are accurate.  There are no problems with filtering or sharpening, and the grain structure is intact and natural looking.  A lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix that nicely recreates the film's theatrical Ultra Stereo audio faithfully provides the aural experience.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • There are two commentaries: one from with Director Robert Martin Carrolland the other with Writer Graeme Whifler.  Both are necessary.  Both are strong.

Special Features:

  • Returning to the era of the cd-rom, Shout Factory provides the much demented and much lauded first draft copy of the film and that is all.
  • Script – 1st Draft (Accessible Via BD-ROM)

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