Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Godmonster of Indian Flats (Fredric Hobbs, 1973)

Folding my arms in a manner as if to say, entertain me, you insignificant bag of cinematic trash, I sat down in front of Godmonster of Indian Flats with the lowest of expectations. Preparing to laugh at the sheer stupidity that was about to be unfold before my very eyes, I was shocked when the film, written and directed by noted sculptor Fredric Hobbs (Alabama's Ghost), turned out to be an intelligent satire about the ills of an ill-conceived society. Oh, you mean it's one of them monster movies that imply that it's humanity, and not the giant slimy/hairy, or this film's case, flocculent creature, who is to blame for everything that is wrong with the world? I guess. But this film tackles race relations, greed, fascism, tyranny, groupthink, and the burgeoning surveillance state. Wow, that sure is a lot of topics for one film to cover. Whereas most mutant killer sheep movies seem content to point the finger at pollution, this one has many fish to fry. Didn't it annoy you that the mutant sheep plot seemed secondary to the one about the black guy who was trying to buy land in and around Virginia City, Nevada? Are you kidding? That's what made the film so weirdly appealing. You think you're watching yet another mindless movie about an upright mutant sheep with an excessively elongated right leg, but in reality, you're getting a surprisingly thoughtful lesson on how power ultimately corrupts. Did you say, "uptight mutant sheep"? If so, why is the mutant sheep uptight? Was it raised Catholic? Ha, ha, very very funny. You know I said "upright." In order to give the mutant sheep at the centre of this wool hair-raising enterprise a more menacing appearance, the effects wizards in charge of creating the creature have it walk upright; as supposed to walking on all fours. And judging by the genuinely terrified looks on the faces of the kids whose afternoon picnic is interrupted by a giant upright mutant sheep, they made the right decision.

Shooting the picnic scene in the middle of the day was also the right decision. Of course, most directors of these kinds of movies try to avoid filming in daylight, because, you know, the light of day is usually unkind to special effects (every flaw is magnified). However, and I think most sane people will agree, that the sight of a giant upright mutant sheep staggering across a neatly trimmed lawn on a sunny day is way more effective than hiding your creature in the shadows of the dark.

While I like the sound of a giant upright mutant sheep movie with a social conscience, does Godmonster of Indian Flats have anything else to offer? Whatever do you mean? You know, does it have something for us perverts can latch onto? This movie poses deep, philosophical questions and all you can think about is your crotch? You disgust me. Just kidding, your query makes perfect sense. I mean, who wants to watch an overly earnest movie about a giant upright mutant sheep that doesn't feature some shapely distractions for all the sleazoids out there? I know I sure don't.

Does Carolyn Beaupre play Windy? Who? The alluring pickpocket (in the period accurate floozy duds from the late 1870s) who distracts Eddie (Richard Marion) the sheep farmer with her shapely gams long enough to steal his slot machine winnings? The only reason I ask is because I want to make sure I give the right actress credit. It's definitely not Erica Gavin, as she plays the woman we briefly see at a bar in Reno. It might be Evalyn Stanley, but... ahh, stupid credits. Well, whoever she is, she provides the film with its first genuinely sexy moment.

Stealing, like I said, the slot machine winnings Eddie the sheep farmer won in Reno when he wasn't looking, Windy, a Virginia City prostitute who works for Madame Alta (Peggy Browne), stuffs the cash in her cleavage. Noticing that his money is gone, Eddie the sheep farmer puts two and two together, and figures that the leggy enchantress in the reddish lacy hose must have stole his winnings.  Since Eddie is not a local, Sheriff Gordon (Robert Hirschfeld) doesn't believe the fur-vested sheep farmer in the cowboy hat. And neither does Philip Maldove (Steven Kent Browne), the mayor's right hand man, who has his goons rough up Eddie before throwing him out.

Sympathetic to Eddie's plight, the town's resident scientist, Professor Clemens (E. Kerrigan Prescott), drives the mildly beaten Eddie home. Dropping in a heap in one of his sheep pens, Eddie proceeds to have these weird hallucinations involving flying sheep and gold dust.

Curious to see how he's doing, Prof. Clemens and his lovely, and, as we'll soon find out, flaky assistant Mariposa (Karen Ingenthron), pay Eddie a visit the following morning. Finding him underneath a pile of hay, they also discover a half-formed sheep embryo laying next to him. Putting it in his truck, Prof. Clemens, along with Mariposa and Eddie, take the half-formed sheep embryo up to his lab in Indian Flats.

While Prof. Clemens, who thinks this could be a huge scientific breakthrough, starts to grow embryonic sheep in his lab, the mayor of Virginia City, Charles Silverdale (Stuart Lanchaster), is busy refusing the offer given by Mr. Barnstable (Christopher Brooks), the emissary for a rich landowner from New York, to buy up land in the area.

Soon, after much dilly dallying, the land deal and mutant sheep subplot converge with one another. But not before we have a fake dog funeral, an attempted lynching, a Cognac-infused frame job, a wild west gun fight demonstration, and a pie eating contest. Don't forget the scene where Madame Alta eavesdrops on a private moment between Eddie and Mariposa in the town's cemetery. Okay, I won't. It turns out that Madame Alta is a fortune teller and she uses what she heard at the cemetery to her advantage during her Mariposa fortune telling session.

And judging by the look on Mariposa's face, she was deeply impressed with Madame Alta's clairvoyance. But before you call Mariposa a rube for falling for the oldest fortune teller trick in the book, check out the way she communicates with the giant upright mutant sheep.

When most of us see a giant upright mutant sheep roaming the countryside, our first instinct is to run in the opposite direction. On the other hand, Mariposa isn't most people. That's right, when the giant upright mutant sheep breaks out of the professor's lab, Mariposa runs after it. Wearing a yellow dress, which is apt, since the giant upright mutant sheep owes its existence to yellow phosphorus, Mariposa catches up with the wooly beast and attempts to not only have a conversation with it, she tries to get it to dance with her.

As martial law is declared in Silverdale County, the film's satirical bent becomes more apparent. But don't worry, there's plenty of giant upright mutant sheep action as well. If you were a newly free giant upright mutant sheep, where would you go first? My thoughts exactly. Heading over to a picnic being held by a small group of children, the giant upright mutant sheep crashes it in classic giant upright mutant sheep style. If I had to summarize my thoughts on Godmonster of Indian Flats, I wouldn't, the movie is about a giant upright mutant sheep. But in some ways it's about so much more.


  1. I love this movie.

    It has its woolen and horrifically deformed little heart in the right place. Technically inept, awkward, ugly, and very broken.

    Poor sheepie. Its not his fault he looks like a huge beastie that fell out of the "Too Dark Park" album art.

  2. Ha! I can't believe you've seen this.

    Splattered sheep carcass chic.

  3. First saw clips on the most divine "Reel Wild Cinema", hosted by the GORGEOUS Sandra Bernhardt back in the mid to late '90s. She wore neon PVC mini skirt dresses and leopard print hot pants, lounged around like a surreal minx out of my wildest teenage fever-dream, and introduced clips of stuff like this, "El Santo versus the Vampire Women," "Monster of Camp Sunshine," "The Wild World of LSD," Doris Wishman movies, and so much more. Sent away for a Reel Wild Cinema membership card and video guide. I lamented my membership card with Scotch tape. I think the vhs tapes with this, plus god knows else what, are still in huge boxes in parent's basement.

    Once "Reel Wild Cinema" went off the air, I think only after two seasons, the guys behind it started Something Weird Video. And there you go. So of course "Godmonster of Indian Flats" was something I had to watch.

    Now I only wish my copy wasn't thousands of miles away. Its been forever since I've watched this greasy little stinkburger. And it seriously needs some revisiting.

  4. Mmmm, Sandra Bernhard in leopard print hot pants.

    I miss the days when Sandra would appear on David Letterman.

  5. Those are some fine Sandra photos you've found on tumblr.

  6. More to come.

    Shame on me, it's been way too long since I posted me some Sandra B.

  7. Oh yeah. Probably shouldn't have your super naughty blog open while I'm at the research institute. But I had to share this with you. Maybe you know this already and have already experienced it. Its about the 1990 film version of Sandra Bernhard's one-woman show "Without You I'm Nothing." Straight from the source of all shaky data, Wikipedia: "The film is notorious for a finale in which Bernhard wears nothing but pasties and an extremely skimpy g-string (in an American Flag print,) and proceeds to go-go dance to the song 'Little Red Corvette' by Prince."

    Why did it take me so long to find this out?

  8. Thanks in part to you, I plan on going on a Sandra Bernhard movie binge. Unfortunately, the pickings are pretty slim (lot's of supporting roles, not enough starring ones), but "Without You I'm Nothing" is the ultimate Sandra Bernhard experience, as it's all Sandra, all the time.

  9. I must find that. I don't have time scour Tokyo for a copy. I'm sure there is one here. I found a copy of The Birthday Party's "Sometimes Pleasure Heads Must Burn" live vhs, made in England and in perfect condition (yes I've watched it a lot afterwards, whatever, its fucking amazing) at my favorite record store in Kyoto City ten years ago. So I'm sure its somewhere. But I need this now. I guess that means digital evil.

    Scorsese's "The King of Comedy" is excellent. De Niro is at his best in it and Jerry Lewis gets to be serious for once. And Sandra is bewitchingly bonkers. Plus she gets in her underwear. White satin bra and panties. Only saw the film once in high school but I still remember. There is a whole psycho-sexually complex back-story as to why. But I'll save that for another time.

  10. Oh, you better believe The King of Comedy is near the top of my Sandra B. to watch list.

    "Bewitchingly bonkers." I like that.

    As for Hudson Hawk... ;)