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Sonny Boy (Blu-ray Review)

Sonny-BoyA wickedly off-beat tale of family love gone berserk, the provocative cult classic Sonny Boy makes its home entertainment debut on January 26th 2016 from Scream Factory.  Featuring a shattering, unforgettable performance from David Carradine (Kill Bill) and powerful supporting turns from  Paul L. Smith (Midnight Express, Crimewave) and Brad Dourif (Child’s Play, The Exorcist III), Sonny Boy features the unrated cut and comes loaded with bonus features, including a new audio commentary with director Robert Martin Carroll, new audio commentary with writer Graeme Whifler, a digital file of the first draft of the script, and the original theatrical trailer. Fans can pre-order their copies now by visiting ShoutFactory.com.

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Film Dex-1Dex-1Dexter-0Dexter-0Dexter-0

In a remote desert town, a psychopathic petty crook and his transvestite girlfriend kidnap an orphaned infant, cage it like an animal, and train it to steal and kill on their command. Years later, when the half-wild Sonny Boy escapes and embarks on a bloody rampage, the couple’s monstrous attempt at “child development” provokes the local populace into vengeful retaliation. Unlike any film you’ve ever seen, Sonny Boy is an unsettling, wildly bizarre allegory on the devastating effects of child abuse and the violent consequences that follow.

When it comes to this movie, the first thing that gets brought up, pointed out…or the selling point, is David Carradine playing a transvestite.  I’m sure for a long time, this was the silliest damn thing and possibly a comedic point for people to watch.  We’re in a different time now, and the role can be looked up with a different or even the same lens.  Truth be told, the man is quite good in this role.  Its a full commitment, and the guy takes the character on the page with the utmost sincerity.  Its one of the characters you care most about in the movie.  The film is still strange, but how strange is having a transvestite character and a known performer playing the part when its become a more common (And award-given) thing?

What struck me as a bit interesting with Sonny Boy was how crazy this movie must have been back when it was released, but how not so strange it is today.  Oddly, I sort of saw things in Sonny Boy that might end up reflecting to other films later on down the line (Like Jet Li’s Unleashed or even kind of Edward Scissorhands).  Don’t get me wrong, there is still some silly shit here, but it also seems to have inspired some very less silly shit down the line.  Its very much still a midnight movie, but might not be as extreme any more as it once was.  That, or I was in some bizarre mood when watching it.

There are definitely things to behold, things to appreciate, things to surprise and things to giggle at in Sonny Boy.  However, I feel through the passage of times, things shocking then with this movie aren’t so much now.  Its pacing rather drags, but there are performances to help keep it afloat.  David Carradine really goes all in with a role that probably would have been seen as silly or embarrassing at the time, but is actually a very strong “door-opening” choice.  I can see the “Midnight Movie” attraction for this one, but it just slugged around enough to not been completely my cup of tea.

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Video Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dexter-0

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail:  What a beautiful image that Scream Factory has been able to transfer out of what looks to be a dirty, gross, dry picture.  Everything is as sharp as it could get and well detailed.  Its a bold image you wouldn’t have expected.  The print was either in very good shape, or they did a nice restoration job on it.

Depth:  Solid depth work.  Movements are cinematic and people/objects look free in their spaces.  Background images are as clear as focus allows.

Black Levels:  Blacks are deep with no crushing witnessed and minimal details masked. 

Color Reproduction:  This is a very desert and very dirty looking film, and as such, the colors a dingy and grody in appearance.  Of which, this transfer does a great job of still making them pop through and discernible. 

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones look natural and appear consistent throughout, with a minimal flicker her or there.  Details prove best in close ups.

Noise/Artifacts:  Some light grain and minimal dirt/specs.

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Audio Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dexter-_5Dexter-0

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics:  Audio here is solid for what they’re given and the type of film this is.  You can tell Scream Factory has done the best they can with a film that seems of the type that had its reels passed around over and over and over again.  To me all the sound effects and music sounded pretty clear and good.  The dialogue is probably the weak link of the three, but still sounds solid.

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is clear and audible at all times, if not a little dated sounding (More than likely a source thing).

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Extras Dex-1Dex-1Dexter-_5Dexter-0Dexter-0

Sonny Boy comes with the original script for the film, accessed by putting the disc into your computer’s BD-ROM drive.

Audio Commentary

  • With Director Robert Martin Carroll
  • With Writer Graeme Whifler

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:26) 

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Summary Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dexter-0Dexter-0

Sonny Boy is an interesting movie that may have been looked upon as strange and wild at the time, but unwittingly isn’t so much now.  However, it may have opened the door for unusual things that inspired more normal stuff.  Its a midnight movie through and through, still.  This Blu-ray has a delicious video transfer accompanied by some good audio.  Bonus materials only include two commentaries, but they’re both brand new and they’re both from people who brought this to life.  Those who are fans should be pretty happy with what’s been produced here and that the film has made the Blu-ray jump.

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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