Oh my God, what a bizarre movie!
The whole thing takes place in Nevada, mostly Virginia City with a brief jaunt up to Reno. The plot, as such, largely seems to consist of “Nickolas Ashford” (not his real name, obviously, he just looked a lot like Valerie Simpson’s husband/writing partner) as a representative of some big corporation trying to buy out the town’s currently closed silver mine and winds up butting heads with the corrupt mayor and sheriff. But there’s a ton of other plot threads and character vignettes thrown out there that you just know will never be resolved in the end (a young couple looking for places to make love, a phony psychic woman, a town prostitute who likes to pickpocket her johns, etc.). It feels like an attempt at a semi-serious latter-day western with ridiculously overwritten dialogue and tons of pretentiousness (seriously, one character, who kind of looks like the homely love-child of Jessica Harper and Julie Harris, is named Mariposa!).
I get the feeling that the filmmaker (more on whom anon) didn’t know how to finish the story, so he dropped some acid and came up with a cockamamie monster subplot at the last second. An orphaned young sheep farmer (of Basque descent) returns home after being ripped off by the townsfolk, snuggles with his sheep all night, has some bizarre hallucination about floating bones and blinking lights and in the morning, one of his sheep gives birth to a creature that looks like a pile of rotten meat in a tattered Snuffleupagus costume with a skull at one end. A scientist and his assistant (the aforementioned Mariposa, who seems to be Sheep-Boy’s girlfriend) take the beast back to their lab to study it, only for it to break out and go on a rampage at the end.
Naturally, the two subplots barely interact for the bulk of the film, only really coming together for the nonsensical, acid-burnout ending. The acting is OK for the most part, community-theater level and it seems like everyone’s really trying. The filmmaking, on the other hand, is beyond inept, with looped repeating sound effects (I guess they were using radio carts), unconvincing blue-filtered day-for-night shots and some of the lamest monster effects of any film ever. But the bizarreness and crazy dialogue keep it compelling to the end, even if it makes no sense (and it doesn’t). I later found out that this was made by Fredric Hobbs, who is also responsible for the (supposedly) even stranger Alabama’s Ghost, which is mega-rare and has been on my want-list forever.