Thursday, 10 November 2011

Peter Jackson's BAD TASTE Made Good Taste

Right off the bat, let me say I am a massive Peter Jackson fan. The guy just has a sense of humour that cannot be outdone. He still has plenty of potential for many more career highs (hopefully not all Hobbit-related), but for the moment, I'm going to step back into the past and look at the beginning of his career.

Some people won't believe that Peter 'Lord of the Rings' Jackson is the man responsible for some of the goriest and most stomach-churning films ever produced. Braindead is highly regarded as the bloodiest film ever, and Meet the Feebles makes me cringe in disgust every time I see it. 


But starting his splatter-fests is now cult classic Bad Taste.

Unabashedly low budget, Bad Taste is an off-the-wall story of aliens who kidnap an entire New Zealand town to be used as meat for their intergalactic fast food restaurant chain and the elite squad sent in to combat said aliens. Filmed on weekends over four years with a cast and crew of Jackson, his friends and co-workers (all filling multiple roles), the 16mm short film grew in to a full blown feature, given finishing money by the New Zealand government. Upon completion, the film would be hailed for it's bizarre humour and over the top effects. 

Though the lesser of his three main splatter films, for me at least, Bad Taste is a must see, if not for the fact you can say 'I have seen a fucked up cheap film that both made me sick in my mouth and smile ear to ear...' 
'unfortunately, it was at the same time.'

I don't know why, but no one has the ability to make me squirm like Jackson. Meet the Feebles and its fly is easily the winner in the gross-out stakes, but Bad Taste has plenty of moments that bring it in to a very strong second, including our protagonist Derek having to hold his own brain in after an accident leaves it slipping though his skull, and a particularly queasy gruel eating scene.

In terms of ingenuity, a scene where one character played by Jackson battles another character also played by Jackson wins out hands down. Seriously, sometimes it's not a case of how he does some of these things, but why? Either way, it worked, and the film even resurfaced when the Lord of the Rings came out, with it being promoted in Germany as from the director of LOTR, 13 years earlier (oh you crazy advertising guys)!

The man hasn't aged in 20 years!

Unfortunately, Bad Taste has not found its way to Ireland or the UK in a decent DVD package (top honours going to the region 4 disc with Anchor Bays region 1 tailing it), but fingers crossed that once he returns from Middle Earth, Jackson might do for his early films what he did for The Frighteners (ie. make a comprehensive special edition for nerds like me).

For those in any way intrigued, here is a brilliant behind the scenes look at the making of Bad Taste. Briefly going over the production history, some of Jackson's early 8mm films, a cute interview with his parents, and the ingenious ways the props were done, all I can do after watching this documentary is stand up (not literally. I'm lazy) and applaude you, Jackson! You are a fan who took initiative, and a lot of would-be filmmakers would do better to learn from your can-do attitude. God knows it inspires me!

Yup, that'll do.