Sonny Boy is not a “feel-good” movie. I’ll just go ahead and get that out of the way right now. It’s actually kind of a drag. That’s not to say that it isn’t a well-made and effective movie, because it is, but man, was that movie hard to watch. In the interest of full-disclosure, this was my first time viewing this horribly mean, morally reprehensible little movie, featuring David Carradine in drag. I spoke with Jimmy Terror prior to watching, and he had basically the same issue as I did. It’s a good-ass movie, but it makes you feel like shit. Similar in that regard to movies like Last House on the Left, or Last House on Dead End Street, there is obviously talent behind, and in front of the camera, with a unique, albeit gut-wrenching screenplay, and excellent performances from most involved.
So what is it that makes Sonny Boy such a bummer? Well, the movie opens with the senseless murder of a young couple, and apparent new-parents. Why in the hell they left their newborn baby in the car while they went inside and stretched out in their hotel room is a mystery to me, but, at the hands of the always-awesome Brad Dourif, the movie opens with a bummer. When Dourif’s character, Weasel, returns with his victim’s stolen car and property to town badass Slue, played by Paul L. Smith, and his wife/life partner Pearl, played by David Carradine. Pearl is almost instantly in-love, and wants to keep the newly-discovered newborn baby as her own, but Slue, even though his initial reaction is to want to kill the baby, decides to do the same, only in a much more sinister way. What follows is a really long sequence of child abuse, as the child is kept in a a cage, mercilessly tortured, raised to be feral, fed live animals, and eventually people so he can be used as a sort of “weapon” to take Slue’s enemies out. It’s all very emotionally draining, and there is absolutely zero fun to be had with this movie.
I can’t stress this enough. If you have a weak stomach, or if you are made to feel physically ill by the brutal mistreatment of others, and especially children, this movie is going to fuck you up. But if you can get past that, and manage to sit through Sonny Boy, this is an overall excellent film. Yes, there are things here and there that you could nitpick, and make claims of cheesiness, the same can be said of Last House on the Left. But that feeling you’re left with, both while watching, and for hours after it has ended, will make you forget any cheesy characters or line deliveries. David Carradine and Brad Dourif in particular turn in excellent, often times hilarious, and equally heartbreaking performances from within Slue’s macabre inner-circle. This may sound crazy, because they couldn’t be more different than one another, but I honestly feel like Turbo Kid was, at the very least, partially-inspired by Sonny Boy. I won’t get into specifics, but I think if you have seen Turbo Kid, you’ll pick up on it as well.
Scream Factory’s Blu-ray release of Sonny Boy features a mostly-awesome, full HD 1080p transfer. At several points all throughout the film, some sort of print damage can be seen, scrolling vertically on the left side of the screen. It’s noticeable, but not distracting. Otherwise, Sonny Boy looks and sounds great, also boasting a 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track. There are some pieces of bonus content that are featured on the disc. There isn’t a lot, but there are two new audio commentaries, one with the director, and one with the writer. Other than that, the original theatrical trailer is included. As I said, not a lot, but it’s definitely something to have a release with two all new commentaries for a movie like this. I can’t recommend Sonny Boy to every Scream Factory fan, because some of you are going to be unable to sit through this grueling, nightmarish oddity. But if you think you have the stomach for it, then I would highly recommend giving it a try. You may purchase your copy here.