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Synapse Films #1: Animalada


A Heaven of Horror

Sergio Bizzio’s Animalada (2001)

What is the greatest love story ever told? Is it the one where dad delivered a pizza to the girl next door only to then realize he had been living next door to the love of his life without even knowing it? Or, maybe it’s the story Aunt Jane tells about her Mexican lover, who treated her like a princess for three months, writing a page about his love for her in a diary that he’d later give to her on the day they were married. Or maybe it’s not as peachy clean as that, as mom and dad, as Jane and Mexico, as picture perfect so to speak. Maybe it’s a much more obscure tale of love, filled with the cottony softness of a Snuggles commercial packing the hard hitting bluntness of the raping of a brick.

Argentinean Writer/Director Sergio Bizzio’s Animalada (2001) is a bizarre tale of taboo love between a married man and his new favourite squeeze, a sheep appropriately named “Fanny.” Feeling unsatisfied with his near perfect life, Alberto (Carlo Roffe) finds a new love when a stray sheep from his heard ends up at the front door of his ranch. It was love at first site and Alberto would stop at nothing until he had her. Without the restraining back and forth of a real person to person relationship, Alberto was swiftly able to move in for the kill and sally forth on Fanny’s throw cushion. Now I know what you’re saying because I’ve intercepted your emails to PETA, sheep rape is wrong. 1 in 4, I know, I know, but what are you supposed to do when the love of your life can’t tell you what it wants but by the sword of Zeus you know exactly what it wants?! Shit, it’s your soul mate and if you didn’t do what you knew was right, then you wouldn’t ever know what your love could’ve been. It’s better to have loved and lost then to never have loved at all, right? Someone’s got to make the first move and it sure as hell ain’t gonna be “Lamb Chop.”

Of course with true love comes the jealously of others. The desire to pluck the sweat peach from your neighbour’s back yard. The yum-yum gimme-some. Alberto must face this fact, as his yearning for Fanny causes others to desire her too and when someone decides to take her for himself Alberto must fight for his love (“Didn’t you hear her desperate cries? You Pig! Animal!) This leads up to one of my favourite scenes in the film, in which Alberto takes Fanny on a lovely sunny picnic but instead of breads, fruits and cheeses as munchies, the corpse of the man who violated Fanny is on the menu. After digesting his bloody remains, Fanny poops him out, Alberto then spoons dirt over her aromatic nuggets and places a little wooden handmade cross, burying both the man’s remains and Fanny’s faux-pas (I hear it’s rude to poop on a first date.)

Filled with the sexual innuendos of a Dirk Bogarde poem to Nicholas Ray, and plenty of odd often gross imagery (think a sexually satisfied sheep sleeping on a bear skin rug) Bizzio’s Animalada is a truly tantalizing love tale. Resting on the brim of complete insanity, this black comedy opens the floodgate for discourse on taboo love, perversions and inter-specie relationship most evidently in a scene where Alberto confines in his new love Fanny, “I was thinking Fanny. Am I turning into a pervert? Because, actually, I wouldn’t like that”. There is an ethical acceptance as well as repulsion surrounding Alberto’s perversions, he’s acts out of love, and love can sometimes make you behave “baa-aaadly.”

There’s nothing sheepish about this film which at times has the obscure dark zaniness of Michael Soavi’s Cemetery Man (Dellamorte Dellamorte) while maintaining the romantic idealism of its barnyard neighbour, Babe. During one of the Fanny romping climaxes (and baby this film is just one climax after another) Alberto, repeats to himself that it’s “a heaven of horror,” a perfectly fitting line for the pleasurable disgust one feels while watching Animalada.

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– Detroit Burns