Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Scream Factory - SONNY BOY & JACK'S BACK on Blu-ray ""

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Scream Factory - SONNY BOY & JACK'S BACK on Blu-ray

SONNY BOY (1989; Robert Martin Carroll)
In this day and age of pre-fabricated "cult" cinema, where we see films declared "instant cult classics" almost before we've even seen them, it's sometimes nice to take a step back and get re-aquatinted with what cult movies used to be. They were (and are) fringe cinema from directors like John Waters, David Lynch (I'm talking ERASERHEAD here), Jodorowsky and others. That's not to exclude other movies that have developed rabid loyal followings, but those movies don't resonate in the same way that the old cult movies did. Something like BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA might be an example. It's an amazing film and a unique genre mashup and I personally love it, but it's different than the often low-budget fringe stuff I'm talking about. The cult movies I'm talking about are the kind of thing they make you say, "Well, you certainly don't see that every day." SONNY BOY is one of those cult movies. It was a VHS tape that I used to see alongside things like PINK FLAMINGOS, LIQUID SKY and THE FORBIDDEN ZONE in the old video store cult sections I used to run across in my home town. Renting one of those movies was a declaration that you wanted to watch something "different" that particular evening. By different, some folks might say "just plain weird" and they might be right, but there was no denying that once you had watched one of those movies, it would probably stick with you.
So what kind of things make up a cult movie like this? Weirdness is certainly something that helps. And I'm not necessarily talks weirdness for the sake of weirdness, but more that kind of unique bizarre feeling that comes from seeing the vision of a filmmaker who is pretty singular. What else makes a cult movie? Actors. Simple enough to say that and all movies need actors, but there are certain actors that can deliver really out there performances and make them feel relatable in some way. SONNY BOY features just such a turn from the late David Carradine. From the first moment you see him, dressed as a woman, you know that the movie you are watching is something special. The rest of the cast makes this movie distinct as well. You have Brad Dourif, who I find to be one of the most fascinating actors of the last forty years and who really came into his own in a different way and became even more iconic in a certain way the 1980s and 90s. I'm thinking of BLUE VELVET and DUNE (with Lynch), SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION, THE EXORCIST III, BODY PARTS and SONNY BOY of course. He's one of those actors that is able to ground his offbeat performances in some kind of reality, some kind of character that he can reach into himself and find and I've always loved that about him. Also included in this oddball ensemble is Sydney Lassick (ALLIGATOR, 1941, SKATETOWN USA,PANDEMONIUM) who starred alongside Dourif in ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST. Lassick has this very interesting cadence in the way he speaks and his look is that of a classic character actor. Lastly, there's the hulking beast that is Paul L. Smith (DUNE, PIECES, POPEYE, RED SONJA), who many will remember as one of the baddies in Sam Raimi's CRIMEWAVE (his face was on the VHS cover). Smith is one of those guys with such a memorable voice and look - he's almost always growling and scowling through and movie he's in. He's also the like a cartoon character, but a very scary and evil one.
The director Robert Martin Carroll said he was going for a Frankenstein story that was somewhere between A CLOCKWORK ORANGE and THE ELEPHANT MAN. That's an interesting take on things and I can kind of see those elements in the film a bit. You can maybe see a little dash of Peckinpah mixed in there too. All of those cult film ingredients in a mixing pot together do end up resulting in another very unique concoction. It is certainly strange and a bit bleak, but needs to be seen if you are a fan of fringe cinema.

Special Features:
On top of including an uncut version of the film in a solid transfer, Scream Factiry has pulled together some nine supplements as well.
-A New audio commentary with director Robert Martin Carroll (& his wife, who was in the film and helped with the script).
-A New audio commentary with the film's screenwriter Graeme Whifler.
-The first draft of the script is also available as a pdf as a BD ROM extra.

JACK'S BACK(1988; Rowdy Herrington)
Having been a big movie fan from a young age I got used to seeing Los Angeles in films without ever knowing the city. After I moved out to the city about 16 years ago, I started to become more familiar with sprawling behemoth that is L.A. As a result, I have become an even bigger fan of movies based in the city. It's fun to watch for street signs and landmarks and my wife and I do it all the time when we watch L.A. movies. JACK'S BACK is based in the Echo Park section of town and though I've never lived there it is quite familiar nonetheless. This kind of thing always seems to engage me in a movie even more. JACK'S BACK is already engaging in that it is a thriller about a Jack The Ripper copycat killer (he strikes on the same days and kills the same kind of victims) celebrating the 100th anniversary of the killings by making the rounds in modern day Los Angeles. It's not your average serial killer thriller though. It's better and unfortunately, I can't go into why without spoiling something kinda neat about the film. My recommendation is to read as little about it as possible before you see it. Don't even look it up on IMDB. If you're a James Spader fan like I am, I'm pretty sure you'll enjoy it. Additional cast members of interest are Cynthia Givv (who I adore), Robert Picardo, and the guy who played Freud in BILL & TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE. Also, it's from the director of ROAD HOUSE (Rowdy Herrington) and it's the movie he made before that masterpiece (& in not being facetious when I say that). All in all, it's a clever and well made thrilled with a great lead performance by Spader. Check it out.

Special Features:
-A New High-Definition Transfer From The Original Negative.
-A New Audio Commentary With Writer/Director Rowdy Herrington.
-The Making Of JACK'S BACK - New Interviews With Writer/Director Rowdy Herrington, Producer Tim Moore, Actress Cynthia Gibb And Director Of Photography Shelly Johnson.

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