Bad Taste (1987)

Director Peter Jackson
Writers Peter Jackson, Ken Hammon, Tony Hiles
Starring Terry Potter, Pete O'Herne, Craig Smith, Mike Minett, Peter Jackson, Doug Wren
Genre Alien
Tagline One thing the aliens hadn't counted on was Derek, and Dereks don't run!

Bad Taste is one of those low budget horror movies that have obtained cult status far beyond anything the larger movies can hope to get. Go to any horror convention and odds are someone will bring the movie up at some stage. Especially since kiwi bad boy Peter Jackson has gone onto larger things with Hobbits, and the giant ape. So l guess the question anyone reading this is asking himself or herself is whether or not I ran the flag up the pole and saluted. That's a big hell yeah brother, this movie is a train ride to the amusement park, and deserves every ounce of critical approval showered upon it.

Talk us through it

In a small coastal kiwi town there's no chicks but plenty of badass Aliens, see the movie to get the pun. Anyways the Boys from a rather strangely named government agency are sent in to discover why all the local citizens have disappear, and to save the human race from alien incursion as it happens. If you are starting to think Men In Black then you have the wrong movie.

What starts as a sort of reconnaissance mission ends up in all out warfare between the Boys and the Aliens, with more blood and gore going down than you can poke a stick at. Not a lot plot wise, but you don't slap on an early Jackson effort for intricate story lines.

Ready for a day at the seaside?


"There's no glowing fingers on these bastards, we've got a bunch of Extra-Terrestrial psychopaths on our hands, like a visit from a planet full of Charlie Mansons." - Derek

The movie took four years to make, due to Jackson self funding, and only being able to shot during weekends and holidays. Film New Zealand did finance towards the end of the project, and must have wondered exactly what they had signed onboard for. One of the immediately noticeable details of Bad Taste is Director Jackson's eye for detail. Considering the time the movie took to wrap that's some continuity the big fella has happening. Haircuts remain the same, did they job lot the costumes, and one dude even sports a five o'clock shadow through out.

As a Director Jackson was hemmed in with the movie. He didn't have the budget for a large film crew; hence the single camera angles, but managed to construct enough equipment in his parents back shed to overcome the limitations. There are overhead shots, track cam, and hand held shots peppering the movie and showing that even though this was his first feature Peter Jackson put his heart and soul into it. Must say I was impressed with the technical side of a movie that cost about 400k NZD to make, but looks like it had a $5 million budget. That's an achievement in anyone's book of sorrows, given some large Hollywood movies have budgets in excess of $20 million and manage to look like they cost a buck fifty.

As stated in the plot synopsis there's really not a lot to write about in the story or even plot direction. Jackson and cohorts went minimalist on this side of things as they had other, darker, motives in the movie. Bad Taste is all about throwing the gore around ala Sam Raimi, and Jackson surely does give us ample in that department. We get limbs flying all over the shop, blood spurting in all directions, and enough gore to keep the gore hounds baying at the moon into next week.

When Derek goes Texas Chainsaw Massacre on us you will find it hard to keep a smile off your face. The gore is good fun, and isn't meant to be taken seriously.
In fact the whole movie isn't meant to be taken seriously, and that my friends is what I love and admire about it.

This is film making as it's meant to be. Jackson is making a movie he wants to make, isn't constrained by Studio group studies, and simply screams out let the gore flow, and let's have a good time. There's a sort of boundless energy running through the movie that you will dial into while watching. Where else but in a New Zealand flick are you going to have a sheep taken out by an anti tank missile?

Letting down the movie somewhat is it's all male cast, which besides Doug Wren (Crumb), look to be a few mates Jackson rounded up to put into his film. Guess these dudes weren't scoring brownies with the ladies hence the dude nature of things. They certainly add some feeling to their roles, and in particular I was actually all over the psycho one who wanted to go on a rampage at the drop of a hat.

Music wise you can feel lucky you didn't go out and buy the soundtrack. A keyboard-based score with some dodgy garage rock injected in places. Not a strength, but then it doesn't really overpower the visuals, dug the Beatles van, so is therefore adequate without adding anything dimensional to what we are seeing.

The movie works for aussies, and l certainly didn't feel out of place watching it. Since l know a large number of kiwis the accent was not off putting to me, though some foreign viewers up north may on occasion find it difficult to work out what the actors are saying. And yes kiwis really do sound like that, eh bro. The tome and texture of the movie is pure New Zealand, and I hate to admit it, but our cousins across the Tasman do make fine movies, as well as wine if anyone from the New Zealand tourist Bureau is reading. Hint; send me a couple of boxes of Cloudy Bay, thanks in advance.

Summary Execution

Bad Taste is a low budget horror/Sci-Fi flick from the land of the long white cloud, and serves up an adequate meal to the casual viewer. I actually watched it a couple of times in a row, which is something I do very rarely, so that should say something about the quality on display. A fun movie that doesn't take itself seriously and which should hold a proud place on Peter Jackson's resume.

The movie started life as a ten-minute short called "Roast of the Day", which featured the aid worker Giles running afoul of a family of cannibals. Hence some nods in the direction of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Jackson later added in the Boys coming to Giles rescue but had intended them to be cannibals as well in a freak plot twist. When filming was completed Jackson found he had over fifty minutes of useable reel, so decided to return to shooting in order to make a standard length motion picture.

Go and get this movie today, you will not be disappointed. Peter Jackson lays on a hayride to hell, and is having a lot of fun on the trip. I was so impressed with this, Jackson's first movie, that l have ordered his second movie Brain Dead. I might even have to change my name to Derek, pass the chainsaw Bro!

ScaryMinds Rates this movie as ...

  I would hit this one on half price Tuesday at my local cinema. Not strong enough for a full ticket price but does the job if simply after something off the planet that entertains.