The Film: Black Sheep (2007)
The Principals: Jonathan King (director), Nathan Meister, Danielle Mason, Peter Feeney, Glenis Levestam, Tandi Wright
The Premise: Henry’s returning to his family farm in the rolling New Zealand hills despite crippling panic attacks he’s suffered since the death of his father. He’s selling his stake in the farm to his brother Angus, who has big plans in the form of genetic experiments that transform harmless sheep into blood-thirsty carnivores. It’s not long before the killer sheep overtake the farm and threaten the safety of all in vicinity. That, and Angus is fucking his sheep.
Is It Good? A horror offering from New Zealand, Black Sheep‘s status as a B Movie is well-earned. The tongue-in-cheek nature is very much in the spirit of fellow-kiwi Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive and Bad Taste. It reaches for the levels of classic schlock like Attack of the Killer Tomatoes – but never fully arrives. Director King makes the most of a shoestring budget as it appears they were able to afford spirit gum, food for the sheep and little else. At around an hour and twenty minutes the experience is brief enough to never lose your attention.
The creature effects involve actual sheep, sheep puppetry and even some solid Man-in-Sheep-Suit action. There are some pretty fanciful kills and you will indeed see a man’s junk bitten off by a rabid sheep, so there’s that.
Is It Worth a Look? Oh yeah. It’s a riot if you’re in the market for B-level horror. It’s a little too winking at times and Nathan Meister’s performance is all over the map, but that’s the trade-off in a movie where sheep eat people that then turn into sheep people. I lost it every time the camera cuts to a menacing sheep (read, regular sheep).
It’s a weird gripe, but I think the sheep would have benefited from some sort of social hierarchy ala Aliens. There are a couple big bads but, aside from being a little bitey, the sheep are relatively unmotivated in the pantheon of horror menaces. Some sort of queen sheep or overall goal would have helped move things along. As is, it’s fun but forgettable.
Random Anecdotes: In a village in Turkey, two years ago, a sheep gave birth to a dead lamb with a human face. The lamb had to be removed via cesarean as the mother was unable to pass the gestating abnormality naturally. A similar event occurred in Zimbabwe a year earlier; only this time the lamb survived the initial birthing. Unfortunately some uber-freaked villagers slaughtered the lamb shortly thereafter. The bodies of both creatures were burnt and scientists have been without the opportunity to investigate similar occurrences since the 2010 incident.
Cinematic Soulmates: Bad Taste, Dead Alive, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, Night of the Lepus