A look at the legendary 1973 killer sheep cult movie
It’s not easy reviewing a film as singularly fucking insane as Fredric C. Hobbs’ jaw-dropping 1973 freak-out GODMONSTER OF INDIAN FLATS. So much has been written and spoken about the picture, mostly by people saddling it with the dreaded “so bad it’s good” handle and certainly, it would be easy to dismiss this Something Weird Video favorite as a slab of inept trash made by desert-touched madmen who lapped up too much LSD in the late ’60s. But GODMONSTER is anything but a bad film (more like a baaaaaaad film). Rather it’s an almost experimental, totally unpredictable and fever-pitched horror-western that seems beamed-in from another dimension and it simply refuses to behave by any conventional film structure standards. It leaks a kind of authentic, hard-wired weirdness that so many other phony baloney “cult” filmmakers have forever tried hard to capture, but that’s impossible to fabricate. And while it often feels like a forgotten Alejandro Jodorowsky movie, I’d much rather watch GODMONSTER than THE HOLY MOUNTAIN any day of the week.
The manic plot of GODMONSTER involves a wool-vested cowpoke shepherd who goes to Reno, wins big and is ripped off by a saloon full of cackling goons and snickering whores. He then passes out in the sheep stable, sees a blurry mass of sheep psychedelia and wakes up to find one of the beasts has become a mutant. Soon the local anthropology professor takes both the hungover rube and his freaky sheep to some sort of lab to study the beast, who quickly grows into a wild, shambling mass of a monster that is actually a sculpture created by Hobbs. See, Hobbs’ fimmaking career was more of a sideline to his multi-media art experiments and his writing. He was an abstract multi-hyphenate and a true eccentric who made sure his wild-eyed ideas and weird world-view was blasted on as many platforms as he could muster. That one of said outlets was this incredible picture is certainly one of the greatest things that ever happened to the America counterculture in the 1970s. And no, we’re not joking.
Anyway, while the “Godmonster” is baaa-ing away behind bars, the corrupt Mayor of the dusty, time-warp caught town and his braying, surveillance-equipment fetishist sheriff hatch a plan to toy with and hang a black prospector representing a corporation looking to develop on their land. First they fake a dog’s death, then beat him up, then frame him for a shooting before stringing the poor bastard up. It’s hard to describe this mania but as mental-case as it reads, it actually kind of makes sense in the context of the film. Soon the “Godmonster” escapes – as does the prospector – and the town is running for its life from the poor, shaggy and misunderstood sheep creature. By the time the movie reaches its howling climax, wherein literally everything flies off a cliff in an a fiery mess while the Mayor gets locked into a kind of rapture and more mutant sheep are born, you’ll be picking yourself up off the filthy floor, wondering what the hell you just watched.
GODMONSTER OF INDIAN FLATS is AWESOME. Like, seriously. No irony here. It’s awesome and Hobbs knows exactly what he’s doing, with his rapid-fire, spastic pacing and quick edits and over-the-top characters and impossible scenarios and buried social commentary. It’s the ultimate!
SWV and AGFA team up for this fun-packed Blu-ray release, giving us a 4K scan of one of the only surviving prints of the film. It still looks pretty battered but it’s as good as it gets and plus, how clean do we REALLY want GODMONSTER to be, anyway? In classic SWV release fashion, the disc is larded up with oddball extras, like a turgid UFO sightings “documentary” and a funny-as-fuck school bus safety film plus an entire, barely watchable second feature film, THE LEGEND OF BIGFOOT.
GODMONSTER OF INDIAN FLATS is a work of art made up from gobs of trash and filthy refuse, like a Kuchar brothers film made for the atomic monster set. I’m so sorry I’m just discovering its glories now because, had I seen it earlier, during my formative years, my life might have taken a very different course. But it’s not too late for YOU, reader! Find it! Find it NOW!