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Black Sheep(2006)

Black Sheep Director: Jonathan King
Starring: Nathan Meister, Danielle Mason, Peter Feeney, Tammy Davism, Glenis Levestam, Tandi Wright, Oliver Driver

Tagline: When sheep go baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad!

A childhood incident has left Henry (Nathan Meister) terrified of sheep and he is returning to the family farm one last time to sell off his share of it to his brother Angus (Peter Feeney).

Unknown to Henry, there are strange things going on at the farm and two animal liberationists Grant (Oliver Driver) and Experience (Danielle Mason) sneak onto the property to try and gather evidence and things go wrong.

At the same time Henry has a reunion with Mrs. Mac (Glenis Levestam) via a shotgun to the back of the neck and she cajoles him into taking a trip through the property one last time with farm manager and childhood friend Tucker (Tammy Davism).

Henry and Tucker have a great time catching up, but Tucker is frustrated by Henry's phobia as it makes it hard to do even a simple thing like move a sheep out the way of the Landover. It is here they meet Experience who holds a gun on them and forces them to search for Grant. In one of my favourite scenes Tucker tells Experience that the safety is off and takes the gun off her to put it on.

Things get serious when they see smoke coming from the house of a farm worker and discover his dead body inside. An attack by a sheep turns things serious and they realise they have to get back to the homestead and raise the alarm. There is a slight problem with this and they have to make their way through 40,000 sheep with no idea which ones are bad.

I had been warned not to go see this movie, but I was always going to and it was great to see it with a big crowd and everyone seemed to get most of the jokes. I am sure it will be a popular midnight movie in the future as it is very cult oriented.

Nathan Meister as Henry was great and reminded me of Derek from Bad Taste. His transformation from coward to hero was great to watch and he didn't ham it up which also helped his performance.

Peter Feeney as Angus reminded me of Bruce Campbell for some reason. He wasn't really evil, just a misguided businessman and he also had some of the funniest scenes in the movie and will have to endure people baaing at him for years to come - as much as the bloke who played the priest in Braindead would hear "I kick arse for the lord!" shouted at him I reckon.

Danielle Mason as Experience was funny as she started out as a hippy and turned into a farm girl by the end. I liked the scenes where she started spouting hippy jargon and then looked surprised when Henry started doing the same to her when they were in trouble.

Tammy Davism as Tucker has a very relaxed screen presence and it was a shame that he spent most of the movie passed out on a slab. You could imagine him leaning over the fence to check on the mob and I hope he stars in more movies soon.

Even though it was only a small role, Glenis Levestam as Mrs Mac had some scene stealing turns as the reliable old housekeeper. Mrs Mac a rock in the movie and can even face down horrible beasties without losing her composure and can help in any plan without a second thought.

As expected the special effects are great with Weta Workshop and the crew pulling off some great work. Some of the scenes look like the sheep are just eating grass with the gore placed next to them, but that makes it funnier as it suits the way the movie works.

The pacing of the story is great and everything happens pretty much as you would expect with a few surprises along the way. The mass attack scene is a highlight and it would have been a disappointment if they didn't have one in the movie after all the build up.

Every sheep and Kiwi joke known to man gets a run, but as the director explained it wouldn't work if there also wasn't a story to go along with it. There wasn't much baaing during the screening, but people were laughing too much to remember to do it. I expect in general release and at late night screenings people will do it constantly or to relieve the tension in scenes.

I would recommend going to see this movie with a group of friends and drinking a lot first so you can get more enjoyment out of it. Sneaking around behind the seats wearing a sheepskin car seat cover would also be good for a laugh during the screening, have fun with it!

Rating: 8/10

Q&A with the director of Black Sheep Jonathan King

Questions were taken from the audience after the screening.

Did you make the actors eat raw meat?
No, used lots of rubber, maple syrup and KY Jelly

Are you a vegetarian?
No. No animals were harmed during the making of the film but a few were eaten for lunch.

Are you a fan of the Australian movie "The Howling"?
Yes, but the movie was more based on An American Werewolf in London.

Tell us about the special effects.
A mixture of high tech and simple effects from Weta Workshop.
5 people to operate the giant Were-sheep.

How long did the movie take to produce?
Three years from start to finish.
7 week shoot.
9 months post-production.

Over $1million and less than $10million

How did you pitch the idea?
Waited until he had a complete script before showing it to anyone. Even the producer was given a complete script to read and not told about it. It was important to get the characters and story developed first.

Any plans for a sequel or going on to other species?
The director said all his other projects would have to not get up and this movie be really popular for him to make a sequel. He will leave it to other people to do cross-species films.

What was the inspiration for this movie?
Dawn of the Dead, Evil Dead 1&2 and a bit of Braindead.

Were you ever menaced by the sheep during the filming?
No, but he did want to kill them as it took so long for them to do anything.

What are your future projects?
Currently working on a kids horror film.

Was the character of Experience based on a real person?
Yes, partly. Also the director had a friend with the same name he wanted to use in the movie.

Will there be a director's cut of the film?
This is the final version and he is happy with it. There will be lots of extras and deleted scenes on the DVD though.

Was that the same farmhouse as was used in Bad Taste?
No, he wanted a traditional farming homestead. One of the locations suggested for filming was actually the same house be he decided against using it.

What film has been the biggest buzz getting up, Black Sheep or the Tattooist?
Black Sheep was his own project so it was more exciting.

Will this movie be on limited or general release?
Wide release from August, tell your friends.

How have overseas audiences reacted to the movie?
Very well it turns out, although there are jokes only Aussies and Kiwis get.

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IMDB entry

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