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Can't Sleep, Sheep will Eat Me:
A look at killer Farm Animals.
(Warning! This article is rated UK-15. That means that if you're not old enough for possible offensive stuff or the image of a man's junk being gnawed off, this article isn't for you. It might be for your parents. That's right. Get your Mom or Dad to read this article with you kids: I'm sure it'll be fun for the whole family. Particularly when we get to that whole "wang devouring" bit not to mention the bovine penetration that follows. Seriously though, don't yell at me if you're offended by what you're about to see. I warned you....with a whole paragraph. And hell, this one isn't safe for work. Trust me.)
Ever since... well, ever there have been horror films who's gimmick is "holy crap, it's the monster you never expected". That's not the best way to explain it but unless this is the first article of mine you've read on the site, you know what I'm talking about. Hell, just last week I was talking about a killer pinata. In a similar vein, I bring you three ridiculous films about killer farm animals: Black Sheep (2006), The Godmonster of Indian Flats (1973), and Isolation (2005). The first two are mutant sheep movies and the last one's about a killer calf. So, let's get this over with.
The real meat here is the film Black Sheep. No, I'm not talking about the David Spade/Chris Farley abomination from '96...no, we're here to talk about a movie with taglines such as: "Get ready for the VIOLENCE of the Lambs", "The Sheep on this farm have turned to the baaaaaaaad side", and the eternally brilliant "Get the Flock out of there!" Now, you'd think with taglines such as these, this movie's either a comedy or a B-movie horror that's going to suck on toast. The problem? It's neither. Well, not exactly. Black Sheep is HILARIOUS because of it's inherent joke: Mutant Killer Sheep. Beyond the "killer sheep" joke though, there's not much else in the realm of comedy. Sure a few humor nuggets get thrown in, but don't expect this to be a comedy like Shaun of the Dead. While that movie undermined most of its "scary" moments with humor (very effectively, love that movie) this film embraces the methods of your traditional horror movie, hoping that you'll understand they're trying to be funny because, after all, these are killer mutant sheep. Who would EVER make a serious movie about that, right? My problem? I've seen killer BUNNY movies that were meant to be serious. I've seen killer REFRIGERATOR movies that were meant to be serious. Hell, even Pinata Survival Island wasn't a satire of anything, not counting its title. So while I think it might not be a comedy or at least not good comedy, lets take a moment to talk about why it's not a sucky B-movie, like those killer Bunny/Fridge/Pinata flicks I've already associated it with. The answer's pretty simple: It's too well-made. They successfully made sheep look scary. Well, not so much...but sorta. It's a totally ridiculous premise and the plot's filled with retarded chunks of suck, but on the whole it feels like a mainstream movie that's honestly TRYING to be frightening. Considering how there are currently a dozen copies of it on the shelf of my local rental store, I'm willing to say mainstream might not be a bad label for it. Not that mainstream is bad, just that the quality is high enough for MASS distribution...something a lot of B-movies don't get. So what am I blathering on about? Before we really get into this one you just need to understand it's anyone's guess what the filmmakers ended up creating. The production quality is greater than any "we made this movie to suck" film I've ever seen so I'm hesitant to call it something besides horror, no matter how much the box cover wants to tell me I'm watching a comedy. The only joke in the film is the basic premise...which the director takes VERY seriously from the moment it rears its ugly, woolen head.
By the by, I should point out that this is the kind of film that people get polarized on. You either think it's a giant pile of steaming crap or you think it's the funniest damn thing you've ever seen. That's not too much of an exaggeration. I've gotten a lot of emails about this one, the latest telling me I'm crazy for not seeing this as the funniest comedy of the year. The one before that? Yelling at me for not driving a nail into its coffin as the worst film ever made. I don't agree with either of those people, just man, Black Sheep brings out the extremes in people. Check it out for yourself and find out where you fall. Back on task:
No, those aren't hobbits. The Lord of the Rings series made the New Zealand countryside famous for looking good and Black Sheep is filled with panoramic view reinforcing that little nugget. The spacious countryside also allows the film to avoid the bane of all horror movies: The cellphone. In the middle of "sheep-breeding" country, there aren't any cell towers so of course mobile phones don't work. This seriously lets the movie happen in the first place...as you might have noticed the serious decline of lunatics in Halloween masks stabbing people since everyone started carrying cellphones. The Friday the 13th series wouldn't have survived the 1990's..."Hello Officer, I'm at Camp Crystal Lake and there's a murderer in a hockey mask outside the ...oh wait I've got another call BEEP oH Hey Susan guess what? Yeah he totally killed my camp counselor too! Like, Ohmahgawd that's like a total coinkidink!" (Coinikidink, in case you're curious is clueless for "coincidence" and is pronounced "co-ink-ee-dink") Most slasher films just wouldn't work if there was a 90% chance of the victim being able to call the police at the drop of a hat. Funnily enough I don't own a cellphone. There's an insidious reason for this but that's a topic for another time. Point is that unless you're a freak like me who doesn't believe in cellphones, you really don't have to worry about too many horror movie cliches eating your face off when you step outside.
Man, I'm rambling tonight. Personally I blame the fact that I procrastinated about right this particular article for well over a month. Enough is enough, time for PLOT.
The moral of Black Sheep is twofold: 1. Don't Genetically Modify Sheep into a race of super mutants. 2. Don't be a stupid hippy. No joke. Stop it. Black Sheep's plot is as follows: In the middle of New Zealand Hobbit/Sheep country, there is a big farm where they are genetically modifying sheep. A couple of stupid hippies break into the farm and steal a canister labeled "Biohazard". What follows is what usually happens in movies when eco-terrorist crystal-readers free animals from testing facilities. You know, mutant chaos....and dead hippies.
What, pray tell, was in that canister hippy Dumb (as opposed to hippy Dee) stole and immediately cracked open during his getaway? Is it a virus that mutates the local flocks? Oh no, that would be too simple. Inside the canister is the world's first...
Killer. Fetal. Sheep.
If you've ever wanted to see an actor scream and flail about while a latex puppet of a fetal lamb gnaws on his face, this is the movie for you.
I don't care if it'll murder me and my whole family, I totally want one as a pet. This cute little guy eventually escapes the now-infected hippy and finds a local flock to infect. Before long the movie finally starts and we get scene after scene of people running from sheep. Really, it's true. Once the cute lil' lamb mutant graces the screen, it's not long before every sheep you see has a face covered in gore looking for its next meal. Which brings up another important point.
This film is actually pretty gory. You haven't lived until you've seen people ripped apart by hordes of woolly creatures (I'm tired already of writing the word "sheep" damn it there it is again). And the violence isn't half bad. We get people clubbing mutants with their own legs and faces being eaten off. It's so charming, I have to share.
If this film was meant to be a comedy, they seriously put too much effort into the gore effects. Please note that the effects are "realistic" (relatively speaking) and not over the top....such as what you see with the blood fountain from Army of Darkness or some Tarantino flicks. We have skinless sheep screaming at our heroes and, well, you get the general idea. It's gore for, well, gore's sake. Not that I'm complaining.
Now understand that mutant man-eating sheep are only half of the equation. Apparently if you get bitten by a sheep you become a were-sheep. No, really. This isn't a comedy, I swear. The sidekick grows hooves and eventually becomes:
Sweet Jesus it's Ernest Borgnine from The Devil's Rain. If you got that reference, I salute you. Besides having to avoid being eaten by sheep, the cast has to worry about being bitten by one and becoming super-mutant sheep themselves. It's kind of a werewolf twist, only kinda funny. Only...it's only funny in a "did I just see him turn into a mansheep?" way because the film takes the threat of becoming a monster sheep very seriously.
It was difficult getting decent screenshots of the ultimate "boss monster" of Black Sheep...apparently the director thought a full view of a Mansheep would undermine the terror it would inspire. Man, I don't even know anymore. Whatever this film wants to be, let's walk through the finale of Black Sheep, because for the love of all that is holy, it's why I wrote this article.
Warning: Parents, tell your kids to stop reading. We're about to talk about the The Phallic, Farting Finale of today's movie. Oh and if your boss is reading over your shoulder, you should probably come back to this review later.
I've skimmed over a few plot details, mostly because they're boring and serve only to take up space in a perfectly good killer sheep movie. The "big corporation that is genetically modifying sheep" mentioned earlier is being run by the sheep-screwing brother of our hero. The sheep-sex is implied, but really hard to miss. Anyway he gets bitten by a sheep and eventually becomes the killer mansheep pictured above. His body gets all chopped up by a plane's propeller and he gets dosed with a magic serum that makes him human again. Staggering to get up, he approaches the flock of sheep, half dead but still deranged (and nude):
"Take me back, sheep! Make me one of you again!"
Evil brother (dying) begs the flock to mutate him again. What's their response?
They eat his weenis. Sweet mother of Christ there's the money shot of why you should watch this movie. :insert shocked emoticon here: I'm going to get in trouble for posting that but lordy, ummmmm...yeah. I can't believe they actually made a latex schlong for a sheep puppet to eat. That's going into a weird fetish land from which there is no returning. (Enjoy that image burned into your brain while you can, I'm sure I'll cave in and censor it eventually. I'm weak like that.) Let's move on because the finale hasn't yet blown my mind to oblivion.
Earlier in the movie they talked about how sheep release a lot of methane. As such...
...it makes total sense that when the hero throws his lighter and a sheep farts...
...the barn, filled with lots of mutant sheep, is blown to smitheens.
All in all, Black Sheep isn't a terrible movie. Hold on a second. Of course it's a terrible movie but at least it's never boring. It takes itself seriously enough that you don't know whether the film is lame or hilarious, a fine line I enjoyed meandering between while watching. Oh and any film that ends with genital eating gets a gold star in my book. Even if it is a lame sheep movie.
This was, of course, not the first mutant sheep movie. Let's go back to the early 1970's and see a film with a similar moral, called:
There's not much to this film. We have evil land owners and weird scientists and one freaking huge mutant sheep. Not to mention one of the worst costumes I've ever seen in a horror movie. There's only one mutant sheep in this movie but, surprisingly enough, it looks almost related to the Black Sheep version. Let's check it out:
Yes, they have a mutant Mansheep rodeo.
Monsters with paper-mache faces bring me way too much joy.
The only scene worth watching in this positively boring film is the moment the Godmonster (not a bad name, really) crashes a little kid's birthday party. The camera starts rolling and you sit there, wondering why the hell you're watching this. Then, waaaaaaaaay in the background you see the godmonster mansheep waddling up. He's still a long ways away and it take him forever to get to the kids. I don't know if it's meant to increase the suspense but it does give me a good idea what to do next time I'm at the park and have that mutant cow costume with me.
I haven't talked about enough filth in this article, so lets bring up another killer farm animal flick. And Godmonster was so boring it makes me yawn just to write about it.
Isolation came out a couple of years ago and, well, it's not a bad for a crappy low-budget straight-to-dvd science fiction movie. Unlike Black Sheep, where we're not 100% sure the movie is meant to be taken seriously, there's very little doubt that you're supposed to be seriously scared while watching Isolation. And, in some regards, it accomplishes this goal. The film is slow with tons and tons of mood moments building tension one after the other. So, yes it's atmospheric and yes, it's a bit boring. If it helps, you might want to know that this film's done well at a number of film festivals. According to real critics (who have the same degree qualifying them as "real" as I do), this is a great, award-winning movie. I can see where they're coming from, film theory-wise. But to the common man who likes the horror genre? Oh my. The plot revolves around a genetic scientist working on breeding super-cows who inadvertently breeds killer fetal calves. The monster gets loose and starts spreading a weird virus amongst the survivors that'll make their kids mutants so the scientist ends up trying to kill them so his mistake doesn't affect the world's population. It's a drama horror...about a mutant baby cow. Let's cover two highlights:
The film almost literally begins with a woman elbow-deep inside a pregnant cow. She's apparently checking out the baby calf but...wow. Even creepier, during the interview on the DVD we hear the director got the actress to PRACTICE this scene on several real cows before shooting. I can't even make jokes about that. Method acting is one thing. But this? This is something else.
Dear Lord, at what point did the award-winning director think a close-up of the cow-penetrating fist was necessary? Again, we're going into a weird fetish land where escape is impossible. Don't forget that this movie is proud of its cow-fisting. Scroll back up and look at that poster. If you don't want to draw attention to the woman who sticks here arm inside a cow, don't put it on your poster.
The other thing of note is the monster. While you'd think a killer fetal calf would be hilarious to look at...I can't honestly tell you what the monster looks like, even after watching the movie. Here's one of the shots of it:
If you can make sense of that, you're definitely doing better than I am. The monster is apparently a mutant mass of muscle and bone that ends up being sort of worm-shaped in the end. At no point do you really get to see the monster but I can tell you it really doesn't look like a baby cow at all. Which is kind of scary but....I don't know. If you look at the DVD extras, you actually get the only clear shot of the beast:
That's the design model of the monster...which is either extremely well-designed or extremely poorly designed. It's one of those but you'd have to talk to the director to find out which he was going for. I've heard people say that it reminds them of Alien; in the original movie you hardly got to see the monster at all. But here...even when you do sort of see the monster, you can't make sense of the goofy pile of gore you're looking at. The monster for Alien was a unique design that we wanted to figure out. This? This is a puzzle that half the pieces have been eaten by someone's 3-year-old daughter. Whatever you're looking at is anyone's guess.
Maybe I've just missed it, but there really aren't enough killer farm animal movies out there. From what I've seen, Black Sheep is the best of them as long as you don't take it too seriously. You wouldn't think I'd need to say that, but the folks that watched this one with me didn't laugh at all...they were legitimately sucked into a horror movie about killer mutant man-eating sheep.
Which is pretty scary, now that I think about.
Edit: By the way, isn't this image so much more obscene with the censor blurb on it?
To quote my editor: "If the head is already in the sheep's mouth, then it doesn't look enough like a penis to get you in trouble."
When she finds out I quoted her, I'm a dead man.
Copyright 2007 Jared von Hindman or maybe just Jared Hindman. It depends. Any images used that are not Jared's are used via Fair Use review purposes and belong to their respective owners....who are nice people that don't want to sue me. Oh and kudos to Ross for pointing out the extremes of Black Sheep. I totally need more people arguing with me when the grey areas come up.
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