There’s something deeply unsettling about farm animals. We know rightly, clutching the fires of rationality, that huge swarms of these creatures must exist, how else do we find our carnivorous hunger satisfied at the merest request? Yet locked in our urban prison houses, we find the imagination lacking in forming a picture of the flocks and herds supposedly grazing out there. Add to that mental block the insidious characteristics attributed the farmer and his ‘simpler’ way of life, plus the grinding flesh pulp grotesques underscoring the scene, and it’s no mystery why metropolitan condescension might give way to bowel-shuddering terror at the thought of time spent in the company of living slabs of farm animal.
Cinema, never one to shirk the opportunity to revel in nostalgia for a lost past (agrarian or otherwise), has seen occasion to parade such creatures on-screen before now. While the nauseating family dreck of Babe is best forgotten, the same surely cannot be said of Pink Flamingos’ infamous chicken cameo!
Let them come and be counted in the rectangular spotlight of film, help us dear instrument of modernity to dispel from the mind fear of what lies beyond our myopic gaze.
But perhaps truth and reality and projectiles of fact are not priorities, at least where Black Sheep is concerned. I might hope so: the idea that a deranged woollen gargoyle will turn up in my room, bloodthirst on its tongue, doesn’t ease my sleeping troubles.
What relation does Black Sheep create between the humble pastoral mammal and its cruel dominator? Could it be an inverted victim/victimiser relation perchance?
Why, turns out the horror genre does it again, flipping in a dance of poetic justice the dichotomies taken for granted – meat for the man? master/dinner? “Get to fuck,” cries those with vocational qualifications in latex and the crimson fluids. And let’s rejoice, for it leads to wonderful articles of entertainment, a motion movie like the aforementioned, to name one.
Erasing from history that Chris Farley number from a few years back, Black Sheep even dares to leave David Spade on the shelf marked That guy who’s not James Spader. Born in New Zealand and content to let the film title gesture a pithy synopsis, the film has mutant sheep go on the rampage after being contaminated by a toxic goo. The outbreak of rabid mutton occurs while our hero, Henry, is rupturing a fifteen-year countryside abstinence by visiting the farm on which he grew up. Not only is the timing of the dementia epidemic unfortunate, but Henry is also afflicted with a phobia of sheep. Yes, even Lamb Chop gets his heart accelerating.