Black Sheep (2006/1) (2006)
Audio Commentary-Director Jonathan King actor Nathan Meister
|Year Of Production||2006|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Jonathan King|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
This New Zealand made horror comedy is a black sheep in more ways than one. Not only does it feature flocks of murderous mutated bleaters but it also has a folksy, colloquial quality light years away from the current crop of grim horror flicks.
That's not necessarily a bad thing. Cheesy and daggy (my last sheep joke) it may be but there is a lot to like in the gumboot humour of this small budget flick. Of course, New Zealand's most famous export Peter Jackson almost invented the splatter genre with his 80's and 90's flicks Bad Taste and Braindead. Black Sheep proudly follows in this tradition providing some genuine laughs with grossly excessive gore. These sheep don't just kill. They relish every opportunity to chow down on innards and body parts!
Henry (Nathan Meister) is that most forlorn of characters in New Zealand - a man who is afraid of sheep. His fear began as a child when his brother played a gruesome prank on him with Henrys own beloved pet sheep and, at a key moment, he learnt that his father had died in an accident. The only thing that brings the now adult Henry back to the family farm is to collect a cheque from his nasty brother Angus (Peter Feeney) for signing away all his rights to the farm.
Angus is particularly busy when Henry arrives. He is about to host a presentation for potential investors in his bold new plan to produce the next generation of sheep. Instead of careful breeding he has recklessly engaged a scientist with a reputation for low ethical standards (when will they learn!) to produce these super sheep. Meanwhile, two bungling animal activists, Experience (Danielle Mason) and Grant (Oliver Driver), are intent on getting into the laboratory on the farm to steal evidence of this genetic testing. Grant makes off with a jar containing a dead sheep foetus. He is spotted in his act of thievery and drops the jar whilst escaping. Guess what? The foetus is very much alive and it attacks Grant. Looking like an alien chest burster, the mini sheep then attacks another sheep, spreading a nasty infection which causes thousands of sheep to become murderous and very hungry.
Meanwhile Henry has got the cheque and is about to take off forever when he runs into an old friend and farm worker Tucker (Tammy Davis) and mother figure Mrs. Mac (Glenis Levestam). Tucker takes Henry for a look at the farm where they meet the distraught Experience and a few really nasty sheep. As the three try to get back to the farm to warn everyone of the murderous rampage about to come they find that Tucker, and any other humans who have been bitten by the sheep, is starting to undergo some .... changes.
All this makes for an orgy of flying wool and severed limbs as the sheep go on the offensive and this little corner of humanity is forced to fight for its very survival.
Black Sheep manages to gross out and offend at just about every turn. Weta Digital applied their considerable talents to making the creature effects believable yet over-the-top and the entrail work is something to be gagged at. The spirit of the film is unashamedly B movie and the performances are hammy and in good spirit. And, yes, they even make that joke about men and sheep! Black Sheep is no great movie but it is a great movie to watch with friends on a Friday night.
Black Sheep was shot on 35mm film and presented cinematically at a 2.35:1 aspect ratio.
For reasons that are not entirely clear Icon have presented the DVD version of the film at a 1.85:1 ratio. Not having seen the film cinematically I am not certain of how the film has been affected overall by the cropping.
As it stands the transfer is pretty good but reflective of the low budget origins of the film. The print is clear and free of defects. Colours don't really stand out but are fairly accurate. Grain is ever present but fairly low. Compression is no great issue given the short runtime of the film but the blacks aren't particularly deep. Flesh tones are ok.
All in all a decent transfer, albeit cropped, that suits the film.
There are no subtitles and, without wanting to start a cross-Tasman war, I found the Kiwi accents quite difficult to follow at times .
Whilst the visuals are open to criticism the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is quite exceptional. Running at 448 Kb/s it is not only quite well separated (accents aside) but it has been mixed with the target audience well in mind. The surrounds are constantly used for ambient sound and effects. Rarely is there a spooky scene without some locational action.
The subwoofer hasn't been ignored either as there are some mighty thumps throughout the film. In fact the opening scare came through so loud it shut my receiver down! The creature noises are well handled and really add to the ambience of the film.
Although actor Nathan Meister talks in the commentary track about the amount of ADR work that went on in the film it doesn't show and audio sync seems fine.
|Surround Channel Use|
These blokes had a ball making the film and it shows in this fun, breezy commentary. Both have a really active sense of humour and the commentary is well worth a listen. They obviously work well together. We are given an insight into the highs and lows of making the film particularly working with sheep after sheep. King even managed to get a cameo in the film as a sheep victim. A pair of nice guys.
There are 5 deleted scenes available with an optional commentary from the director and lead actor. In fact none of the scenes are all that long and none are indispensable.
The trailer is great working in a mock serious manner as if to suggest that the film was about an horrific monster of the scale of Godzilla.
A collection of tongue slips bloopers. There is one beauty, however, where the clapper board holder drops the board on the head of the elderly actress playing Mrs Mac. Ouch!
This goes above and beyond the usual making of featurette. It is quite long and deals with all the production aspects of the film. Special emphasis, not surprisingly, is given to the work of Weta Digital in creating all the animatronics (only one scene is CGI). Other than that it is blood, blood and guts as we see the very practical way in which such a gory film is produced. I couldn't help but laugh when the young lead actress with dead seriousness says that the use of actual offal in a key scene helped her as an actress not to have to imagine the smell of the meat!
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Black Sheep is available in Region 1 in an identical edition to the Region 4 except that it has the film at the correct aspect ratio. That probably earns it the nod. The local release does have a better looking cover though.
Black Sheep is a genre piece that delivers exactly what it promises - a lot of fun, scares and blood'n'guts.
A star is automatically deducted for the incorrect aspect ratio but otherwise sound and vision are fine.
The extras are interesting and a lot of fun, particularly the commentary track.
|DVD||Pioneer BDP-LX70A Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output|
|Display||Pioneer PDP-5000EX. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Speakers||JBL 5.1 Surround and Subwoofer|