There are little known movies and then there are lost movies. I consider myself well versed in film but when Shout Factory announced they were releasing a rare movie from 1989 called Sonny Boy, I must admit I had never heard of it. There are lots of low budget movies I have never heard of, but this one starred David Carradine in a rather unique role as well as genre fave Brad Dourif, which made it stranger still. So I embarked into a journey into the unknown and popped the movie into my Blu-ray player not expecting much, after all, there must have been a reason it all but disappeared.
Sonny Boy is the tale of small time criminal Slue (Paul L. Smith) and his bizarre family. He has a lovely transvestite girlfriend named Pearl (David Carradine) and a strange sidekick/son named Weasel (Brad Dourif). In addition to being petty criminals they are also fond of the taste of human flesh. When a stolen car is delivered to Slue they find a baby boy in the back seat and decide to raise him as their own son/accomplice. Slue couldn’t be less interested in ‘Sonny Boy’ but Pearl is immediately taken with him. Through a horrible and abusive upbringing, Sonny Boy becomes a man and decides to try and escape bringing more attention to the twisted family than Slue would like.
Sonny Boy is a very bizarre and deranged tale. I read one review that stated it was like a Texas Chain Saw movie without the teenagers and that really nails it on the head. Slue and his family are weird, violent, abusive and sick but Pearl has a genuine love for Sonny Boy in a quirky way. Everyone is actually really good in Sonny Boy but Carradine really steals the show. For an actor that has always played a tough guy, he really gives the character of Pearl his all selling it with everything he’s got. While the Texas Chain Saw similarities are very obvious, Sonny Boy really focuses on the upside down reality of this family’s lives and the journey of that unfortunate baby in the back seat of a stolen car. For fans of horror and in particular films like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre or The Hills Have Eyes, you really have to check out Sonny Boy. And just to add to the cool factor of such an obscure film, Shout Factory managed to include two brand new commentaries with the director and writer. This is good stuff folks, check it out.