Connect with us

Movie Reviews

Bad Taste



Released: June 1989 (UK)

Director: Peter Jackson

Stars: Terry Potter, Pete O’Herne

Certificate: 18

Reviewer: Ryan Gelley

Yes, that Peter Jackson. Before The Lord Of the Rings (and the under-appreciated The Frighteners) he made this horror movie. And it likely comes as no surprise that it is a very good horror movie. What may come as a surprise is that it took him nearly half a decade to film.

In direct opposition to the necessarily regimented production of The Lord Of The Rings films, the scope of which required careful pre-planning, Bad Tasteis a movie that never once had a script. It’s a testament to the strength and resilience of Jackson‘s vision that he never had to write any of this down…he just did it. Granted, this is not a complex story to coordinate. The plot is laid out in the first three minutes (alien invaders possess residents of small town) and is unimportant aside from assuring us that the remaining eighty-eight minutes will be bloody and silly (and not always in that order).

Jackson filmed Bad Taste over the course of four years, during which time he slowly drummed up the cash to finish the film. After seeing a partially completed portion of it, the New Zealand Film Commission ponied up the needed funds, which says a lot for the quality of people working at the Commission.

As small as the budget was, much like Sam Raimi‘s early films, it oozes class and savvy…you know this man understands how to make a movie. It is bold and unapologetically gruesome, yet overtly goofy and lighthearted in a surprisingly inviting way. Bad Taste would be a great film to show a fan of goofball comedy who is not sold on horror (but still has a strong stomach, as there are plenty of brains here).

Jackson‘s knowledge of pop culture history, and genre films specifically, shines through in his sometimes blatant references to Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Star Trek, Tales From The Crypt, and even the British Royal Family.

Bad Taste is littered with numerous scenes of geeky goodness. There is a wealth of fodder here for horror movie (and Doctor Who) fans:

– Jackson‘s alien character (he plays two roles in the film) pukes up about ten gallons of some fucked-up alien pistachio pudding, which he passes around to the other aliens to drink.

– Derek, the other of the two characters that Jackson himself portrays wears a very Tom Baker-esque scarf that did not go unnoticed.

– Derek puts his brain back into his busted cranium, and then dons a hat to keep it from falling back out.

– Whenever there’s blood, it’s never pooling innocently on the ground, but rather spurting, squirting and otherwise gushing towards the actor’s faces. The sound of the gore in this film is amazing. I picture the foley artists sloshing around in a room full of raw meat and jello.

Jackson‘s skill as a filmmaker, even without the big Hollywood dollars he would later have at his disposal, is evident in a scene during which Derek hangs off the edge of a cliff while possessed hammer-wielding aliens try to knock him off. The success of this scene is in large part due to the editing, which aside from the brief visible crew member, is astounding. It’s all about where you cut, and what you cut to. Of course, Derek falls, and explodes in a sploosh of blood upon impact. Glorious stuff.

This movie came out in 1987. Hellraiser, Evil Dead 2…Ah, 1987…one of the last hurrahs for practical effects. I’ll take the jiggly, rubber-suited aliens in this film over the crystaline sheen of James Cameron‘s Abyss creature every time. The Abyss came out in 1989. It is a good film in many respects, but was truly the beginning of the end for models and prosthetics, as they gave way to computer-generated special effects. Jackson, perhaps because he was around before the CG revolution, kept his hand-made aesthetic while making the LOTRtrilogy. He employed a record number of props-makers, set designers, and makeup artists to make sure that unlike his peer Sam Raimi‘s films, they did not become cartoons.

Bad Taste displays Jackson‘s talent for creative problem-solving. He pulls off the seamless forced-perspective Hobbit shots seen in LOTR due in part to the trials he endured while making Bad Taste. He couldn’t just throw up his hands and call in the computer nerds whenever a scene was complicated. Jackson never takes the Michael Bay way out. Bay is a man who, instead of crafting a project with sweat and love, whips out his technologically superior film-balls and slaps us in the face with them, just because he can. But that’s a discussion for another day.

I strongly advise you to check out this gem of 80s splatter, the career genesis of one of today’s greatest film directors.

Just For You