Peter Jackson’s premiere film was this rude,
crude and hilariously gross no-budget splatfest. It’s puerile,
exploitive, stupid as shit, and (in my eyes at least) irresistible.
BAD TASTE was the New Zealand based Peter Jackson’s
first feature film, made following several hundred shorts for a reported
$11,000. It was shot on weekends with Jackson’s friends and family as
cast and crewmembers, and went on to become a cult hit worldwide.
Jackson followed this triumph with the similarly-themed
Muppet freak-out MEET THE FEEBLES and the “gore-omedy” BRAINDEAD/DEAD-ALIVE.
Since then, as I’m sure you’re aware, he’s gone on to become one of the
world’s top filmmakers with the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, the
mega-budgeted KING KONG remake, and the Steven Spielberg produced LOVELY
BONES. Obviously Peter Jackson has come a long way from his humble
beginnings as a cash-strapped gorehound, but I still feel his most
memorable work was accomplished back then.
The population of an entire New Zealand community has
disappeared, apparently at the hands of invading space aliens in human
form. A quartet of intrepid assassins is dispatched by the government to
hunt down and exterminate the aliens. Among the assassins is the
supremely dorky Derek, who captures an alien on a Cliff overlooking the
town but gets a little overzealous in eliciting a confession…and ends up
with his head smashed on the rocks below!
His colleagues’ luck isn’t much better. One of them is
knocked out by an alien chef and put in a large pot with an apple stuck
in his mouth. Apparently he and his friends are to be the main course in
an interstellar fast food joint, as human flesh is the new taste craze
sweeping the universe.
Derek, for his part, isn’t dead. He’s alive and
kicking, even though his brains keep falling out of his head. He
soldiers on, however--being a complete moron, Derek’s lack of brain
matter is but a minor concern.
In his absence the other assassins storm the alien stronghold, a gaudy
mansion wherein the aliens belch and drink puke. A large-scale
splatter-thon ensues, with plenty of shooting, slicing and miscellaneous
bloodletting--until the aliens finally decide to blast off into space,
and Derek turns up with a chainsaw…
In many ways the youthful Peter Jackson of this film
isn’t that far removed from the Hollywood veteran who directed THE
LOVELY BONES. What both films have in their favor is an overwhelming
sense of exuberance and invention. BAD TASTE, however, contains
qualities the latter (and allegedly “better”) film doesn’t: it’s
unpretentious and fun. Yes, it could certainly have done with a bit more
in the way of a coherent narrative, but the film still manages to hold
one’s interest to the end, and elicit plenty of yucks in the process.
From the ever-roving handheld camerawork to the noisy
squishing sound made whenever someone bleeds, BAD TASTE is quite
endearing in its comedic vileness. The gore effects aren’t even bad,
considering they were accomplished with the most primitive means
imaginable. Nor are the performances unmemorable, despite being
delivered by Jackson’s pals rather than real actors (usually a strict
non-no). Jackson also cast himself in the role of the Derek the Dweeb,
and it must be said that he’s one of the film’s more memorable elements;
as a performer Jackson is genuinely goofy and uninhibited, garnering
plenty of laughs from his facial expressions alone.
THE LORD OF THE RINGS, KING KONG and THE LOVELY BONES
may be the most imposing films of Jackson’s career, but for those
desiring a taste of the early, unfettered Peter Jackson, BAD TASTE is
definitely the film to see.
Director/Producer/Cinematographer: Peter Jackson
Screenplay: Peter Jackson, Ken Hammon, Tony Hiles
Editing: Peter Jackson, Jamie Selkirk
Cast: Peter Jackson, Peter O’Herne, Mike Minett, Terry Potter, Craig
Smith, Doug Wren