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  Godmonster of Indian Flats It's Sheep We're Up Against
Year: 1973
Director: Fredric Hobbs
Stars: Christopher Brooks, Stuart Lancaster, E. Kerrigan Prescott, Peggy Browne, Richard Marion, Karen Ingenthron, Robert Hirschfeld, Steven Kent Browne, Erica Gavin, Terry Wills, Evalyn Stanley
Genre: Horror, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Eddie (Richard Marion) is a sheep farmer who travels to Reno for a spot of gambling, and wins big on the slot machines. Pocketing his winnings, he happens to stumble across a crowd who are only too happy for him to buy them drinks, but when one of the girls at the bar steals his wad of cash, he understandably objects. This leads him to get beaten up, and with a warning from the authorities and no chance of getting his cash returned, he retreats back to his sheep with his tail between his legs. Still drunk, he goes to sleep off his stupor in the pen, but then has a curious vision...

When the New Zealand horror movie Black Sheep was released, its monsters were viewed by many to be unique in the annals of chiller history, but there were those who would have pointed out that such an animal was included as the monster before. That was in this deeply obscure shocker from highly idiosyncratic director Fredric Hobbs, with one of two movies he shot in 1973 that effectively ended his career behind the camera; he went on to become better known as a sculptor. Whether any of his artworks were quite as wacky as the costume for the creature in this is a moot point, but once seen, never forgotten.

At first we don't know why one of Eddie's herd has given birth to a half-formed foetus, and it's more important that local scientist Dr Clements (E. Kerrigan Prescott) adopts it and takes it back to his lab for further tests, keeping the misbegotten thing alive - and growing. So far, so traditional mad science movie, but Hobbs had other issues on his mind as he wanted to satirise politics as well, not the easiest fit into this type of setting, but good on him for giving it a go anyway. The main character is really Barnstable (Christopher Brooks, also star of Hobbs' Alabama's Ghost, his other '73 flick), and he means to make money out of the nearby smalltown.

That town makes its money through Wild West shows now that the mine has closed down, but as we discover, it's the mine that should be concerning them because that's where the poison gas emanates from that created the monster sheep. Until the last half hour, that menace remains resolutely lab-bound, so we follow Barnstable instead and the resistance to his attempts to buy up the place for real estate deals, something the Mayor (Stuart Lancaster, a Russ Meyer veteran) is dead set against. So much so that his racist streak convinces everyone else to conspire against the black real estate man, and events escalate towards a lynching when they pretend that he has shot a beloved pet dog.

He didn't, the pooch had merely been instructed to play dead, but Barnstable is blamed and few are any the wiser. These parts of the story come across like a modern day (for the seventies) Western, except they still have that weirdness about them that has informed the horror aspects. In truth, although Hobbs was clearly making the film he wished to with no compromises, you do feel that it all probably made the most sense to its director, as even by the end you can tell there was some kind of message about small town corruption and whatnot, but it is somewhat lost in the shuffle of mayhem and dubious thrills. Getting back to the abomination, it is released by the lynch mob accidentally, and we finally get a good look at it with its one arm significantly longer than the other and its massive arse, not, it's safe to say, the most elegant of creations. But it is memorable, whether dancing with the lab assistant (trying to calm its fury) or emitting more poison gas when cornered. All this and Vixen! star Erica Gavin too - just try and spot her. Music by André Brummer.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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