Iris Out

Micah Paisner

Every now and then, a horror spoof comes along that gets the formula right. By horror spoof, I do not mean any of the “Scary Movie” films or other parodies written and directed by Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg – if you don’t know who these guys are, then lucky you.
Rather, I am referring to films like the 2004 cult classic “Shaun of the Dead.” In 2006, the surprise film of this genre was “Slither,” James Gunn’s story of worm-like aliens that take over a small town and turn the residents into zombies and other types of monsters.
A lesser known but equally worthwhile film from the following year, “Black Sheep,” directed by Jonathan King, employs a similar plot.
Set in the beautiful country of New Zealand, “Black Sheep” tells the story of a farm and the killer sheep that come to inhabit it. In his quest to cut down on costs, the evil farm owner Angus Oldfield develops a genetically engineered sheep.
In his quest to create this new breed of sheep, Oldfield creates many failed samples, and the plot begins when two environmentalists steal one of these and let the mutated sheep run free to infect Oldfield’s flock.
At this point, the protagonist, Henry Oldfield, Angus’ younger brother arrives on the farm. He is visiting the farm for the first time since his father’s death in an attempt to sell his portion to Angus.
Before he left the farm, Henry developed a phobia of sheep following a cruel trick that Angus played on him out of jealousy. Henry is the perfect protagonist for such a film: he’s attached to the villain, he’s extremely timid and he distrusts sheep even when they are not eating people.
“Black Sheep” has all of the elements of a great horror spoof. Though the film was made with a modest budget, there is plenty of blood for the horror fan. So if you shy away from gruesome deaths, this film may not be for you.
Many people are eaten by the killer sheep throughout the film, and each way seems to be more gruesome than the last. Included are shots of sheep eating off limbs, sheep eating off appendages – go figure – and sheep chewing on people’s faces.
These shots may be gruesome, but because this film is a spoof, they are also quite humorous. One funny shot consists of a man half-heartedly throwing his gnawed-off leg at an oncoming sheep.
As the plot thickens, the people that the sheep eat become hybrid sheep-people. The hilarious part of their transformation is that they grow taller and develop seemingly superhuman – and super-sheep – strength.
This proves to be highly problematic for Henry and his companions Experience and Tucker. On a farm in the middle of nowhere, they find themselves surrounded by killer sheep and sheep-people. I won’t give away the ending, but like the rest of the film, it is both hilarious and ridiculous.
“Black Sheep” is one of the many successful horror spoofs released within the last 10 years. These films are so successful because they’re able to provide the perfect balance of laughs and blood.
The film also proves that a big budget is not necessary for a film’s success. Many modern day horror films have budgets upward of $25 million. While some of the special effects in “Black Sheep” look fake, they are still stylized.
If I still haven’t convinced you to give “Black Sheep” a chance, head over to YouTube and search for a scene in the film titled “Who’s driving?” That should be more than enough to change your mind.