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Sling Blade (1996)

R  |   |  Drama  |  14 March 1997 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 69,235 users   Metascore: 84/100
Reviews: 308 user | 103 critic | 26 from Metacritic.com

Karl Childers, a simple man hospitalized since his childhood murder of his mother and her lover, is released to start a new life in a small town.



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Won 1 Oscar. Another 13 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Natalie Canerday ...
Karl's Father
Melinda (as Christy Ward)
Sarah Boss ...
Kathy Sue Brown ...
Wendell Rafferty ...
Morris (as Col. Bruce Hampton Ret.)


A partially handicapped man named Karl is released from a mental hospital, about 20 years after murdering his mother and another person. Karl is often questioned if he will ever kill again, and he shrugs in response saying there is no reason to. Now out of the mental institution, Karl settles in his old, small hometown, occupying himself by fixing motors. After meeting a young boy named Frank, who befriends him, Karl is invited to stay at Frank's house with his mother Linda, who views Karl as a strange but kind and generous man. However, Linda's abusive boyfriend, Doyle, sees things differently in the way rules ought to be run- normally insulting Linda's homosexual friend Vaughan as well as Karl's disabilities, and having wild parties with his friends. As Karl's relationship with Frank grows, he is watchful of Doyle's cruel actions. Written by commanderblue

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Sometimes a hero comes from the most unlikely place. See more »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong language, including descriptions of violent and sexual behavior | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

14 March 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Resplandor en la noche  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$890,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$36,644 (USA) (29 November 1996)


$24,475,416 (USA) (25 July 1997)

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


When the film was in pre-production, Billy Bob Thornton envisioned John Ritter's character as having dyed blonde hair, thinking that Vaughan was a man who was transferred out of St. Louis for his job in where the film is set, and based his hairstyle on what he saw men sporting in GQ magazine. Thornton, Ritter and the film's hairstylist began experimenting with hairstyles on Ritter at the hotel where the cast and crew stayed. According to Thornton, Ritter was insistent that the hairstyle wasn't too drastic as he had to go back to Los Angeles to shoot a public service announcement. But when the hairstylist came up with, and applied the hairstyle that Ritter's Vaughan character would sport in the film, Thornton immediately approved. However when Ritter finally got a look at his hair in the hotel room's bathroom mirror, he was infuriated at Thornton. Thornton said that when Ritter went back home to shoot the PSA, he was wearing a baseball cap. See more »


When Jerry and Karl walk up to Bill Cox's repair shop for the first time, the Steadicam operator's reflection can easily be seen in the right front hubcap of Jerry's car. He is visible during the entire shot, which lasts about 10 seconds. See more »


Karl: I don't think anything bad ought to happen to children. I think the bad stuff should be saved up for the people whose grown up. That's the way I see it.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Dedicated to Jimmy Don Thornton See more »


Referenced in I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell (2009) See more »


Lonely One
Written and Performed by Tim Gibbons
Courtesy of Tim Gibbons and Bent Knees/Socan
See more »

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User Reviews

Amazing and Mesmerizing
17 April 2003 | by (Manchester,England) – See all my reviews

This film is a perfect example of how a film should be made. It has everything, good cast, good script, good performances everything is perfect. This has to be one of my all time favourite films and Billy Bob Thornton is a good a writer and director as he is an actor. The Oscar for best adapted screenplay was well deserved and it shocks me that Billy Bob didn't win the oscar for best actor. I bought this film on DVD and it is a shame you do not get any features but I hope they will release a special edition with contribution from the writer, actor and director himself. I urge everyone to watch this film because it is funny, emotional, enjoyable and just plain brilliant. 10/10

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The acting?? shahatboy
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