Sunny, yesterday my life was filled with rain
Sunny, you smiled at me & really eased the pain
Oh, the dark days are done
The bright days are here
My sunny one shines so sincere
Sunny one so true
I love you
--Dusty Springfield 1967
Sonny Boy...Holy shit is that Carradine in fucking
drag, seriously...fucking Kung Fu?
--Prof. Tread 2001
Okay, It's 1989, I'm a young filmmaker, I have finally got a
pitch session with you...a big money producer-type who is looking
to turn a buck, be a player, make a mark in the biz. Here's what
I got for you. I got this crime boss, the sleazy kind. He lives
in a mobile home, out in the desert, away from the town. He has
control of the small town sheriff, he has a weaseling right hand
man, a bumbling Barney Fifeish nar-do-well who is scared to death
of him but resents him none the less. The boss is married to a
gal who is somewhat controlling, a great cook and basically keeps
her psycho husband in line. The back story, the weasely crony
knocks off a traveling couple, steals from the hotel room where
they are staying, swipes the car they are driving and unknowingly
ends up with the couple's baby stashed in the back seat when he
delivers the goods to the boss, the boss is none to happy with
the black and white TV stolen from the hotel that he actually
owns and he is definitely not in the fatherly mood, but our strong
female character has been feeling the biological clock ticking...what
will this band of unsavorys do with the child? And so our story
begins, what do you think so far?
Okay, sounds fairly run of the mill? You want a few twists and
turns...okay, how's this. I'm casting Brad Dourif from One Flew
Over The Cuckoos Nest, X-Files, etc. as the weasel, and Weasel
with be his name, how you like that? The big boss well, he's Bluto
from the Popeye movie, big, nasty and effective. The female lead...well,
I'm going unconventional, Shelly Winters, she's too old, Angie
Dickinson, shit she ain't worked in years, listen, how about this...David
Carradine, in drag, the whole film, never breaking character,
and he is going to sing, coo and chomp a big nasty cigar...and
the baby, well they are going to raise him in a silo, cut out
his tongue, only feed him every now and then, his food, live chickens.
While they are at it, they'll train him to be a killer and unleash
him on a crime spree and have him bite, claw and eat his way through
the big boss's enemies, that's right all for "Daddy."
While they are at it, the kid will swipe all the high dollar "art"
from these folks houses. Not to mention the fact that the main
weapon our big boss uses is a fucking howitzer. Now what college
boy, you with me, where's my check? Huh, when do we start. Sounds
like we got us a Block-fuckin'-buster eh?
There you go. That is the setup for Robert Martin Carroll's 1989
epic SONNY BOY. This rarity hit the screens in Times Square and
probably is notably remembered by some for being The Gore Gazette's
1990 FILM OF THE YEAR, as well as receiving Village Voice critic
Dennis Dermody's nomination for BEST FILM OF THE DECADE. It was
never barely on video in the states, there have been Japanese
laser discs, and even Canadian copies baffling foreigners for
years now. When I finally got my mitts on a pristine copy I was
a happy Tread, after viewing I was slightly let down only because
for years I had looked forward to seeing this film and had painted
a fairly bizarre portrait of it that was virtually impossible
to live up to. That is not to say that SONNY BOY is not magnificent
and definitely worth hunting down.
From the opening theme song warbled by David Carradine (which
by the way is better than just about any of that new alt-country
horseshit that passes for original) to the closing freeze frame,
Sonny Boy is nothing if not original. Is it an allegorical statement
about the horrors of child abuse? Is it a slice of Americana that
we wish we didn't have to taste? Is it a Carradine wet dream that
consisted of playing a broad and singing barroom piano showtunes?
Just what the fuck is SONNY BOY? My guess, all of the above and
Not a horror movie but horrific, the scenes of cruelty that Slue,
the leader of this band of assholes, lays down on his "son"
are stomach churning. Not a comedy, but comedic, Carradine's Pearl,
is shot in ultrawide angle, in all her glory being as mothering
and sweet to the newly acquired Sonny Boy as your own Mamaw and
you cannot help but chuckle or downright cackle for that matter.
But it is not played for laughs but more for weirdness. Much of
the tale is told outside of Sonny Boy's head via use of voice
over. Slue, Pearl and Weasel try to make Sonny Boy an animal,
they do but inside his head he is still just a boy. Heavy shit.
Slue played by Paul Smith tries hard to become one of cinema's
truly unlikeable characters, he is effective, rarely on camera
without a "slue," pardon the pun of four letter words...fuck,
shit, sonovabitch roll off his tongue like the sweat does from
his fat ass. In what is without a doubt, a moment of brilliance
by director Carroll, Slue, blows a deputy to shards with a howitzer
from about 10 feet, laughing as he does it. Yes. 'Tis good.
Unfortunately, the pacing of Sonny drags a bit as Sonny starts
to mature into Slue's killing machine, a less than steady diet
of live chickens, makes Sonny Boy game for anything that involves
killing and eating, but we are spared most of the gruesomeness
of Sonny's missions, dammit. We get involved with more of the
human side of Sonny Boy and we get some possible love interest
action, some Crucifix defacing and Crucifix loving, some bad teeth,
some mob mentality shit and a bunch of plot that, to some, may
take away from the killing and cruelty that dominates most of
the first reel. Michael Griffin does his duty as Sonny Boy, who
has the job of making him a sympathetic cuss, and he handles it
with all the dramatic aplomb of a guy who can't talk, who has
never been in a film, and must rely on the fact that the main
reason he is in this film is that he looks great without much
clothing. But it works.
A member of Prof. Tread's all-time favorite actors list has a
role as one of Slue's henchmen, Sydney Lassick. Syd prances around
and dreams of Slue's gang making it big in the "art world"
all the time lusting secretly for a slice of the Sonny Boy, I
believe. Sydney was another Cuckoo in Cuckoo's Nest, who you might
remember as the guy who just wanted his fucking cigarettes, as
per usual, Sydney out acts the whole fucking lot of these hacks,
but what is a bespeckled, chubby, balding, old queen to do, a
leading man he ain't!
The strangest aspect of SONNY BOY is that it looks like a movie,
I mean a real movie, it has an original soundtrack, it is very
ably directed by Carroll, and I must mention here, if you have
read that Carroll might be some sort of pseudonym for Italian
slut Rugerro Deodato or some other meatball forget it, Carroll
resides in Los Angeles by way of NYC baby, and is still up to
filmmaking. His last feature BABY LUV can currently be seen in
its entirety by clicking
here. Unlike say Blood
Freak or some other way-out notion for a motion picture, SONNY
BOY has all the trappings of a real movie. But the subject matter
begs the viewer to sit through some rather harrowing scenes to
get to the point. Many obviously didn't or still haven't.
David Carradine's Pearl is the strangest thing in a remarkably
strange film. Is Slue a QUAR? Is Carradine a homosexual drag queen
or is he actually supposed to be playing a female character. All
the men mention how beautiful he/she is. Pearl is seen aging as
Sonny Boy grows up, and truly is the only sympathetic, if that
is possible, member of Slue's associates. What is Pearl, better
yet, WHY is Pearl? If I ever get a chance to talk with David Carradine,
fuck talking about Kung Fu, or his family, or Tai Chi, I want
to know about this goddamned role, period. What the fuck were
you thinking, David Carradine? What was the motivation? He gets
star billing in the credits, his tunes are featured throughout
the film. Was Sonny Boy, Carradine's Citizen Kane? Did he throw
money at this project or did Carroll have Carradine in mind from
the get go? All unanswered questions. Damn, gutsy move for sure.
A great mix of gutter violence, trash talk, brilliant character
actors and high fucking art, SONNY BOY gets the Prof. Tread high,
hard one. For all the fans of shitty movies, that look like shit,
sound like shit and are written with a turd on piece of Angel
Soft, fuck off, get a little culture...SONNY BOY.
Oh, did I forget to mention that at the end, the doctor (played
by Mindy's dad the music shop dork in Mork & Mindy) grafts
a monkey tongue into Sonny Boy's mouth? Well, he does...what the
fuck else can you goddamned people want?
Discuss this baby.
Black Gestapo Black
Girl From Tobacco Row
Rape Squad Join
The Meateater Do
Dixie Dynamite POW!
Run Stranger Run
Horror House On Hwy 5
Behind Locked Doors It's
Nailgun Massacre Some
Bat Pussy It had to
Thunder Alley It is
Blood Freak A Classic
The Geek Bigfoot Porn
High School Ghosthustlers
Frankenstein Island You
SuperCock Not that kinda
The Alienator Feeling
Angel Midnight Fantasy
Vanity and the Beast
Tim Ritter's $0 budget wonder
Nightmare Prof. Tread
still can't sleep.
Shanty Tramp She is sumpin'
If Footmen Tire You...?
Viva' Knievel Evel of
The Killing Of A Chinese
Bookie! Smart Guy.
The Pink Angels Gayness,
The Burning The 80's,
ahhh the 80's.
Q - The Winged Serpant! Larry
Fight For Your Life!
WARNING Racist content
Walking Tall Buford Pusser
in the Hizouse!
Sleepaway Camp Internet
Born Losers Ya Loser!
Shriek of the Mutilated
Bro. George gets busy.
Bury Me An Angel
Gal Biker and more.
The Grim Reaper Reap
Abby One of William Girdler's
Deadbeat At Dawn A
Sonny Boy Carradine,
Great Hollywood Rape-Slaughter
Savage Weekend. Take
Dead and Buried. A Should-be
Hot Summer In Barefoot
Night Train To Terror
I Drink Your Blood Glug,
Vixen Russ Meyer and breasts!
Truck Stop Women Honnnk
Daddy's Deadly Darling!
Flesh Feast Maggots!
Soapy the Germ Fighter!
Why Doesn't Cathy Eat Breakfast?
Moonshine County Express!
The Night God Screamed!
White Dog Racists Pets!
Hunter's Blood City
Slickers get offed!
Devil Times Five Sean
Terror at the Red Wolf Inn
Headless Eyes See It
World's Greatest Sinner
One of the best!
The Baby! Goo Goo!
Summer Camp Nightmare Viva
Attack of the Beast Creatures
Let's Play Dead Incest
Island of Death Vacation
Evil Come, Evil Go! Bye,
Darktown Strutters Get
Poor Pretty Eddie Deep
Miami Golem Jewish Folklore
Tenement NYC Apartment
To Kill A Clown Alan Alda Vietnam Vet!
The Spook Who Sat Next To
The Door Booya!
I Woke Up Early The Day I
Died Mr. Ed Wood.
The Mutilation Man Andy
Copp goes arty on us!
The People Across The Lake
The Woman Hunt Load Up
The Devil At You Heels
These Are The Damned
Crowhaven Farm TV movie
|Thank gawd we are
spared the gruesome lactating scene.
|Mindy's Dad is a
monkey doctor or something.
|I am a sucker for
automobile fight scenes.
|Sonny Boy's mobile
|Sonny gets a look
at himself after eating a bite or two of the Mayor.
|This rotten toothed
bitch gets a mob after Sonny Boy's family!