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Sling Blade (1996)

R  |   |  Drama  |  14 March 1997 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 69,162 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?


Fellow independent filmmaker Jim Jarmusch appears as the "Frostee Cream" worker in the beginning. His name tag reads "Deke", the name of the film's Electrical Best Boy. See more »


When Doyle drives to the county line to get more alcohol, they're in a "crew cab dually pickup", yet Doyle, Karl, and Vaughan ride in the front seats, the rest of the crew rides in the bed, and no-one rides in the back seats. See more »


Karl: [Eating potted meat] I reckon it tastes alright.
Frank: You really think it's got peckers in there?
Karl: You know better than that. You ought not say that word.
Frank: It smells funny.
Karl: Yeah, it's pretty loud. Looky there. I believe you right. I believe I see one right in there.
[They laugh]
See more »

Crazy Credits

Dedicated to Jimmy Don Thornton See more »


Spoofed in The Accountant (2001) 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

Billy Bob's Break
3 March 2007 | by (Chicago, Illinois) – See all my reviews

I was watching I love the 90's with my sister last night and the mentioned Sling Blade, I remember trying to watching this when I was younger, but I couldn't get through it. Figuring now that I'm a little older to give it a chance and I'm glad I did, I just watched it last night and I was extremely impressed with the fact that this was Billy Bob's first movie, not only did he act in it, but he also wrote and directed it as well. It was like Forrest Gump meets Silence of the Lambs, it was a movie that kept your nerves up and your curiosity going into what would happen next.

Karl is a slow man who has just been released from the mental institution for killing his mom and her boyfriend when he was a child. When he is released into town, he has no where to stay, but then he meets a young boy who he befriends, the boy has no father and asks his mom if Karl can stay with them, she agrees to it. But their lives are far from perfect, they have an extremely abusive man in their lives, Doyle, who threatens their lives on a daily basis. Karl wants to protect them, but it may lead him back into the life that he was just told he was "well" from.

Sling Blade is a very well acted movie that despite it's length, it keeps you going. The characters are so well thought out, it's hard to choose who was the break out actor of the film. But Billy in his first major role, he was just amazing, he looked so calm and relaxing, but yet you didn't know what he was going to do next. John Ritter was also amazing, his character was so sympathetic and beautiful. I would highly recommend this movie, it's a terrific dark drama that deserves it's praise.


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