The world of horror is vast. With so many films across the spectrum of budget, studio involvement, quality, availability, and, above all else, pure scare-the-living-shit-out-of-you-ness, it helps to have trained professionals parse through some of the older and/or lesser-known offerings. That's where Team FANGRRLS comes in with Deep Cuts, our series dedicated to bringing the hidden gems of horror out of the vault and into your nightmares. This week, we're talking about New Zealand horror-comedy Black Sheep.
I'm going to tell you a story. It is one of youthful adventure and unexpected delights. It begins in my senior year of high school in 2006 when I was trying to figure out what to do for my 18th birthday. Being a young woman of simple pleasures, I decided to gather some of my good friends, my sister, and a bunch of junk food to watch a movie. This was a simpler time — a time when Blockbuster Video was a thriving establishment, when you could walk into its brightly lit storefront and stroll along its seemingly endless aisles of titles, looking for just the right one. It was a time of true home video spontaneity, which is how I ended up spending my 18th birthday in my dad's basement with a group of friends watching Black Sheep. No, not the 1996 Chris Farley movie. I'm talking about the 2006 New Zealand horror-comedy about zombie sheep.
Yes, you heard me.
Granted, as with all things, it's not as simple as run of the mill zombie sheep. Oh no. This movie is about family, and about ethical farming, and…bestiality? Yes, there is sheep sex. It makes sense, technically, but mostly it's there for the weirdness and the inherent discomfort it brings to the audience, and for a very specific gag at the end of the movie that I'm pretty sure I can't describe to you satisfactorily and still keep my job. And I like my job. So if my brief description makes you itch, maybe this movie isn't for you. But if you can stand some jokes about sheep sex and a whole lot of viscera, then get ready, cause this movie is a TRIP.
First of all, "zombie sheep movie" is kind of a misnomer. I apologize. You see, a zombie movie makes you think walking undead, sheep-shaped decaying drones just looking to consume flesh. While these sheep definitely eat people — a LOT of people — they're not drones. These are genetically engineered, highly intelligent sheep. Case in point: pretty early on in the film, one of the sheep actually manages to carjack our heroic trio. It steals the car. And then it drives the car over a cliff.
The film follows Henry, a young man who is mortally afraid of sheep. This all stems from a traumatic experience when he was young, living on his family sheep farm when his brother, a giant asshole of a teenager, kills Henry's favorite sheep, skins it, puts on the bloody skin and proceeds to scare the living hell out of the kid. To make matters worse, roughly 10 seconds after this kid has been pee-your-pants terrified by a brother shaped sheep monster, he finds out that his dad has just been killed in a sheep-related accident. All of this bodes well for a young man who, 15 years later, will have to face down 40,000 mutant sheep all intent on killing him and consuming his flesh.
When Henry returns to the farm, he meets up with his old friend Tucker and an animal rights/environmental activist and all-around hippie stereotype named Experience and they discover pretty quickly that there's something terribly wrong with the sheep. How do they know? Well, one tries to kill them. It's a pretty good indicator.
The beauty of Black Sheep is that it knows exactly what kind of movie it is and who its audience is. If, when I said "zombie sheep movie," you were hoping for some specific imagery or moment, trust me, you'll probably get it. Are you wondering what happens when a person is bitten but not killed? Does the zombie sheep virus become just a regular old zombie virus?
OH NO. If you are bitten by a zombie sheep you turn into a giant human-sheep mutant that stands on two legs, somehow has opposable thumbs on cloven hooves, and wears clothing because OF COURSE YOU DO.
This movie is the definition of "well, that escalated quickly."
I could continue to describe the insanity of this film. I could tell you about how Henry and Experience attempt to flee the hordes of killer sheep by escaping through inexplicable tunnels full of offal. I could describe to you the highly confusing relationship Henry's brother has with this human-sheep hybrid thing he's created using his own sperm. I could, but I feel like I would be denying you the joy of experiencing it for yourself unhindered by my continued jokes on the matter.
If you're the type of person who hears "zombie sheep movie" and knows you're on board, you deserve to find out how it ends all on your own. And trust me, it is worth it.