Black Sheep (2006) d. King, Jonathan (New Zealand)
As surely as Peter Jackson drew inspiration from childhood idols Willis O’Brien and Ray Harryhausen, writer/director King’s admiration for his fellow Kiwi filmmaker’s early madcap horror/comedies is apparent in nearly every scene. Much like Bad Taste and Braindead (aka Dead-Alive), the characters are drawn large and loud, then inhabited by appealing, offbeat actors.
Nathan Meister plays Henry, a New Zealand sheep baron’s younger offspring waylaid by a chronic fear of the woolly ones due to childhood trauma at the hands of his sadistic, bullying elder brother. Now grown, Angus (Peter Feeney) has moved into genetically engineering his ovine, the fallout of said experiments resulting in the most ill-tempered baa-baa’s ever to graze a hillside.
Of course, the joke of turning the proverbial docile lamb of the field into a homicidal carnivorous beastie is the basis for King’s black comedy, but thanks to Jackson’s Weta Workshop, audiences are also treated to several half man/half sheep monstrosities and a trough-full of off-color intimations that Angus’ contributions to his work may extend beyond just his brainpower.
Directed with verve and performed with shear abandon, this may not be a classic for the ages, but it’s undeniably delightful summery fun.