August 24th, 2009

SONNY BOY (1990) ***

There were a lot of low budget independently produced would-be cult items populating video store shelves in the late 80’s and early 90’s.  Some of them were downright painful to sit through.  Every now and then you’d get a random slice of WTF that had a certain charm to it.  That’s an adequate enough description of Sonny Boy.


A white trash crime lord named Slue (Paul L. Smith from Pieces) finds a baby in the backseat of a stolen car and is about two seconds away from selling him when his wife Pearl (David Carradine in drag) forces him to keep the kid.  Slue names the kid Sonny Boy and raises him like an animal and keeps him locked up in the back of his ice cream truck.  He also cuts out Sonny Boy’s tongue and teaches him to kill his enemies.  When Sonny Boy kills one of the townsfolk, the community rallies together and tries to lynch him.  Finally, Slue finds his paternal instincts and protects his son against the rioting villagers by blowing up a lot of people with his antique cannon.


Sonny Boy is more or less just a bunch of weirdness for weirdness sake but that didn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it.  The cast was excellent and Carradine was particularly amazing.  He really commits 100% to the role and never makes his character jokey or campy.  Whether he was supposed to be playing a tranny or a real woman is left unanswered.  That’s part of what made the whole thing work though.


Although I liked the quirky tone of the movie, some things were just too goofy for words.  Take for instance Sonny Boy’s eloquent inner monologues.  How in the world could he possibly speak so expressively when he’s been locked up in an ice cream truck all his life?  Then there was the dim bulb bubbleheaded blonde who tries to pick up Sonny Boy and start a romance with him.  What could you possibly see in a guy who’s missing a tongue and lives in the back of an ice cream truck?


The film probably runs about 20 minutes too long which prevents it from achieving its maximum entertainment potential.  Having said that, the ending where Smith and Carradine (in drag) get into a slow motion shootout with a bunch of unruly Molotov cocktail chucking bikers is some of the nuttiest cinematic shenanigans I’ve seen in a long time.  Carradine also sings the theme song, “Maybe It Ain’t”.

CUBE (1998) **

A group of strangers wake up in a maze-like cube and have to work together to figure a way out.  While some rooms are safe, others feature insane booby traps that slice and dice the unfortunate bastard who enters into about four dozen pieces.  Luckily, one of the prisoners in the cube happens to be a brilliant mathematician and calculates a formula to find the door that can lead them to the outside world.  That is, if they don’t wind up killing each other first.


Cube is basically a sci-fi version of a Saw movie (particularly Part 2) minus all the heavy handed preaching.  The film features two outstanding gore set-pieces that are almost worth the price of admission.  The ridiculously awesome opening scene where a guy gets diced up into a bunch of bloody, meaty pieces got things started off on the right foot and the acid eating away at the face scene was spectacular too.


The stuff involving the characters bickering with each other and/or performing long-winded math equations is a Hell of a lot less interesting than the scenes where they get grated like cheese.  Most of the performers gave me a splitting headache but David (Pin:  A Plastic Nightmare) Hewlett did a solid job as the snarky architect who helped build the cube.  It’s the irritating cop who gets the best line of the movie when he tells Hewlett:  “Show us you have some backbone and jump in the sushi machine!”