Often looked down upon, low budget cinema is usually mocked for its lack of visual flair, especially when the filmmakers want to create something on the grand scale of epicness. But most budding young talents in the film industry have to start somewhere, especially if they don’t want to be bussing tables or starring in porn the rest of their lives. Enter Peter Jackson, a man whose name is synonymous with the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, but whose earliest efforts are usually overlooked.
I’ll be honest – I didn’t even know he directed three more movies before he did The Frighteners until 2012!
But when I finally did see them, I was hooked! For fans of Peter Jackson’s films that have not seen this golden trio, I will give this one warning – they are not for the faint of heart! The gore level alone rivals any giallo film along with an accompanied sense of humor that could easily be found in any coming of age story or within any unit in the military during a deployment.
Now let’s talk about the film that actually got Peter Jackson noticed. Some would say that the name is appropriate given its nature. Others would say it’s a great stepping stone in creativity. I will say what I always say when it comes to a great, low budget affair… I am always impressed with what people are capable of doing with ten bucks and a dump truck of determination. So if you’re still wondering what movie I am rambling on about, I will apologize as it was in Bad Taste not to mention earlier… sorry, I had to!
For all intents and purposes, Bad Taste is an alien invasion/abduction film. It opens with a recording of a distressed man placing a call to emergency services requesting help and a shadowy individual with the oddest prosthetic hand calmly lighting a cigarette in the shadows. He listens intently before dispatching a four man black ops team whose speed dial simply identifies them as “The Boys.”
From there, we enter the town of Kaihoro, a small, fake New Zealand town (aliens don’t have to just invade America, you know). We’re introduced to Barry,
one of the members of AIDS (Astro Investigation and Defense Service), as he’s walking through the town in communications via radio with an as of yet unseen individual while being followed by a sinister, blue shirted simpleton with an axe. Then we meet Giles,
and that’s when the shit really begins to hit the fan.
This movie was initially supposed to be a short film, shot on weekends over the course of 4 years with a planned budget of between $25,000 and $30,000. The New Zealand Film Commission eventually stepped in with a hefty donation to ensure Bad Taste’s completion after viewing what had already been accomplished. Jackson himself played two different roles in the film: Derek,
the neurotic turned deranged fourth member of AIDS, and Robert,
The only alien named on screen who just happens to have some of the funniest scenes in the whole movie. There’s a scene between both Robert and Derek where they fight on a cliff, utilizing trick editing which is a pretty decent spectacle for a low budget affair.
For most of the blood and gore effects in Bad Taste, Jackson was said to have gone to multiple butcher shops during filming and asked for any of the junk meat that they couldn’t sell.
Jackson made all of the alien heads himself in his mom’s oven, as well as a cast of his own head for a vomit scene involving Robert. I will also add that all of the guns in the movie are fakes, made using wood, pipes, and tin foil which is a marvel in of itself since they actually look the part.
There’s so much information for this movie that a person could actually write a book about it. The ingenuity and determination alone could place Bad Taste as a passion project. Upon first watching the movie, one might think that it wouldn’t hold up very well after repeated watchings and simply be labeled a guilty pleasure. However, the film holds an impressive 68% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes as well as 6/10 rating on IMDb. Again, this movie is not for the squeamish, but if you have a dark sense of humor and are looking for something different, you don’t have to look far as Bad Taste could easily fulfill your needs!