Before we get to this interview, let me give a little bit of a background to it. Several years ago, I’d say around 2003 or 2004, I received an email regarding something I had mention on my site about Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. I don’t remember the exact details of it, but he said he was a huge fan of that movie, and it was signed Pete O’Herne. Now right away the name sounded a bit familiar but I couldn’t place it. But then I looked at the email address and saw that it was from New Zealand. Then it hit me. Could this be the very same Pete O’Herne that was in Peter Jackson’s crazy debut Bad Taste? After a quick follow up email, I found out it was.
We emailed back and forth quite a bit over the next month or so, and he sent me a ton of pics from the making of Bad Taste, as well as some of the 16mm films that he had made with Jackson. He also put me in touch with Mike Minett and Craig Smith. They all agreed to answer some questions about the making of this cult title. Thanks out to Tom Sueyres and Will Wilson from Video Junkie for some additional questions.
When I had first posted this interview, some over ten years ago, it had all the original photos that Pete had sent me. Some time later, due to a computer crash, I lost them all. Only a couple survived which are posted below.
I would like to thank Mike Minett (Frank), and Craig Smith (Giles), for letting me bother them with all these questions, especially when they are about a movie that was started so long ago. Of course, all of this wouldn’t have been possible if not for the wonderful Pete O’Herne (Barry), for not only providing the photos, but also putting me in touch with the other cast members. I will be forever thankful to him for this. The sad part is that while going through this all again, I found out that Pete O’Herne had passed way back in 2010. I’m shocked to have just found this out now and am saddened to think that he (and the rest of the cast) really never experienced the devoted fan base this film has here in the states. Damn shame.
So in honor of Pete, let’s keep his memory alive with all the hard work that he put in on this movie, as well as sharing all of these wonderful photos with us to share. Let’s get to it.
Kitley’s Krypt: How did you get involved with Bad Taste?
Craig Smith: I was friends with Peter Jackson and Ken Hammon. Pete purchased a second hand 16mm Bolex camera and around late ’82 – early ’83 and a plan was hatched to make a 20 minute short for the Wellington Film Festival. We settled on Roast of the Day as the working title – the project took on a life of its own and eventually became Bad Taste.
Pete O’Herne: Well I grew up with Peter, having known him since I was about 9 years old. It was a laugh going around to his house and seeing him making movies of some kind or working out special effects that the guys that Pete admired as a kid. He was a fan of people like Willis O’Brien and Ray Harryhausen. So I was there all the way through being cast as a villain or one of the undead in various films that Pete would experiment with.
Mike Minett: A lot of the people in Bad Taste all worked at Wellington Newspapers. Pete Jackson, Terry (Ozzy) Potter, and myself worked in the same department as photo lithographers. We had all done our apprenticeships and ended up working together at the Evening Post. We became good buddies and had the same sense of humour. So life at the Post was a lot of fun. Pranks and jokes and all that . . .
Peter was always into movies. Back in those days video machines were new. Not many people had or could afford them. Great big bloody things they were. But Pete had one, maybe even two. So at weekends, we would all go to his place and have “Video Nights”. We saw some great movies.
Anyway, to answer your question, we knew Pete was making some sort of movie. He’d throw ideas at us all the time and man they were weird (to us anyway). So as a bit of time went on, it was normal for us to be more involved. Then Pete said to us “Hey, on Sunday, I’m filming out at Pukerua Bay and I need some help. Can you guys come out there and help out?” So, we started going to wherever he was filming and carried stuff round. He could only film when he had enough money. So one week we’d film. Then he would wait for payday to get the film developed. Then wait for the next payday to film…etc. This is why it took about three years of Sundays to finish.
Pete always tried to get people to come along to be extras but most times it was me, Terry Potter, Pete O’Herne, Craig, and Ken. So we would get roped into play different parts. Pete would say “Put this blue shirt on and stand over there. When I go bang fall down dead.” Each of us probably “died” scores of times. Then somewhere along the line, Pete revamped the plot and ended up giving us more of a starring role. Well, we liked that. We hammed it up like blazes, basically just being ourselves and having fun. Pete would tell us what he wanted and we’d do it. We didn’t have a clue what the story was or anything like that. We just did bits and pieces every week. Terry and I competed to have our cars in it. I won (that was my car). Terry had this bloody yellow hot rod that he wanted in the film and I had the Capri. The Capri won. YEAHHHHH!!! So, that’s basically how I got involved.
KK: How long did the film take to make?
Craig Smith: We started pre-production mid ’83 and finished mid ’87.
Pete O’Herne: It took four years to make which was quite funny cause the end of the first days filming, Pete looked at me and said “You’re gonna have to look like that till we finished filming. Which was hilarious, as I didn’t shave, so for four years I could only shave once a week. That was okay though, any excuse not to, I say….heehee!
Mike Minett: Because of the expense and also Pete was paying out of his own pocket, we mainly filmed on the weekends, as that was the only time we could all be together. I think Pete filmed little bits here and there at night during the week at home. Because it took so long, it sort of became routine, so it was never that exciting. It was part of our lives . . . like going to work. We all had wives and girlfriends and kids (except Pete at that time. He was on a mission), so the Sundays we filmed was sort of like a bit of hassle cause we were away from our home life. But we stuck with it and it was good to actually finish the film. Although, now I kinda miss those good old days of madness.
KK: Did you ever think that it would become this big of a cult film?
Craig Smith: I hoped it would find an audience but didn’t anticipate the loyal following it would gain over the years. Whenever I talk to fans the first question is always “when are you guys going to make Bad Taste 2? The film wasn’t a success in the movie theaters but came into its own on video.
Pete O’Herne: Actually I always said to people that it would turn out OK but I never imagined the cult status that it has gained. Maybe I could develop my singing voice and cut an album!
Mike Minett: No, I didn’t. I don’t think anyone did. Having worked on it, and seeing how it was made, it seemed improbable that it would become anywhere near as big a hit as it did. I mean, fake plastic guns, scratches on the film for gunshots, jeeze. For the film to win awards overseas and things like that. Well it’s extraordinary. Good on Pete.
Just before he wrapped the film up and went to the film commission for a grant (loan), he asked all of us to invest whatever we could into the film. We were all reluctant to give him but we did. I only gave him $100 but now 12 years or so later, I have probably received 100 times that in royalties. And Pete’s gone on to become one of the biggest producers in the world. Unbelievable.
KK: What were your other job duties besides actor?
Craig Smith: You name it. I did it – camera operator, sound guy, special effects technician, seagull puppeteer, driver, set builder, the list goes on.
Pete O’Herne: We were all cast, crew and extras, which was cool as we got to shoot film and ourselves.
Mike Minett: As I mentioned before, we started off being gofers and as time passed got more involved. We carried stuff round and up bloody great hills. We helped with effects, mainly gunshot wounds. Pete would have all these plastic tubes hooked up to the wound of the day, and as he filmed, we would push these syringes in all the same time and splosh out would shoot the blood (heaps of blood). That stuff was sticky and sweet. We would be covered in the stuff . . . horrible.
Sometimes I got to hold the camera and actually shoot some footage. I wouldn’t have a clue what bits I shot though. We did rough sound recordings as a guide (all the dialogue was dubbed on later in the studio) and there’s a classic photo of me lying on the roof of the Capri holding a sound mike while Pete filmed through the window. Of course, all of us dressed up in different clothes so we could be shot. There’s one scene inside the house where someone kicks open the door and there’s Terry and I playing patter cake with each other before we get blown away.
Finally, Terry and I were keen guitar players. So we both rapt to contribute a song each to the movie soundtrack. Terry’s band played “Rock Lies” and I wrote and played the title song “Bad Taste”. That was the highlight for both of us. But more on that later.
KK: Did all the crew double as 3rd class aliens?
Craig Smith: Yep. There’s a scene where we are being pursued by three third class aliens – in fact it’s us in the costumes. We shot our scenes first then put on the alien suits and shot the pursuit – the alien waving the A-47 over his head is me.
Pete O’Herne: Yea we did and that means all of us…lol. Except for that night at the house where Pete got a whole pile of people to do the Vomit scene.
Mike Minett: Hey, what’s with this 3rd Class business? We were all 1st Class all the way, thank you very much. Yeah, I think we all at some stage played other bits. But whoa, do you mean those horrible aliens in the freaky suits? Oh dear I think you do. Noooo, I never had to dress up in that crap. By that stage, we had some other guys there so they were the designated aliens. I forget how many there were, five or six or so. Anyway, it was my job to kill the bastards!
KK: Craig, how long did you have to sit in that barrel of water?
Craig Smith: We shot that over two Sunday afternoons. It was one of the more pleasant set-ups in the movie – we did it in Jackson’s garage. The days were sunny and they kept me topped up with warm water. During the breaks I could snack on the fruit floating in the tub.
KK: What was in that vomit punch?
Pete O’Herne: That was funny. It was a mixture of yogurt, green food coloring, frozen vegetables and muesli.
KK: Was there a script? If so, was it followed pretty closely, or was there
a lot of improving done?
Craig Smith: The film was shot over 4 years and during that time we had 2 marriages, two nervous breakdowns, a divorce, one case of testicular cancer, and one death. All of the main players save Pete O’Herne and Peter Jackson left the project for one reason or another (we all shot death scenes!) then returned. The story had to evolve to take into account what was happening in our lives. There’s hours of footage in the can that never made it into the final film. For example, there was going to be a sequence involving Pete O’Herne and myself being chased by a rabid sheep – we spent hours running around a paddock but the scene was dropped in favor of the exploding sheep gag.
Pete O’Herne: I remember Pete telling me about John Carpenter and whenever he used to do a script and go out and shoot it, what was written was changed on the day and this is what happened with us. Basically because we or Pete would come up with something better.
Mike Minett: You’ve got to be joking, mate. I don’t think there ever was a script as such. Pete might have started out with one, but things changed all the time over such a long period of time. I remember in some interior car scenes we had bits of cardboard stuck all over the place. But mind, you when we had to sync the dialogue up to the movie in the studio we had to say what our lips were saying, so I suppose we followed some sort of direction. Although I think we just made up stuff on the day of filming and worked it out later. The others might remember more or they might have sat around discussing things, but I don’t remember too much of that.
I remember Pete insisting that we do not swear (he was brought up that kind of bloke) and when the movie came out he’s the bloody one that swore. I couldn’t believe it. I always wanted to spice up my language but I didn’t, and here’s Pete…the foul-mouthed sod!
KK: Was the script or story a collaboration?
Craig Smith: To be honest, there really wasn’t a script as such until the very final stages – Pete always claimed that he was carrying it round in his head, but we all had our doubts about that! We all threw ideas into the movie as it progressed.
Pete O’Herne: The script was Peter Jackson’s vehicle for sure, but there was definitely a team effort as well as additional material was also given by Ken Hammon. It all depended on the day. Like we would shoot certain scenes and we would say, “Hey Pete, how about if we did this or that.” And Peter would certainly take the cast’s suggestions. Peter is very easy going to work with. Also there was a dialogue sheet that we used too, which I still have mine!
KK: What was the film’s final budget?
Craig Smith: Hard to say really. Pete would buy film stock as he could afford it. Most of the costumes and effects were homemade. Eventually the New Zealand Film Commission started taking us seriously and ponied up some cash – including NZ$30,000 to complete principal photography.
Pete O’Herne: You know I can’t remember. I think it was a figure of NZ$250,000.-$400,000.
Mike Minett: I’m not sure about that. For years Pete paid out of his own pocket, buying film, getting it developed. We all chipped in as much as we could before he went to the film commission and got a grant from them. I don’t know for how much though.
KK: What was the most complicated effect to make?
Craig Smith: That would have to be the exploding car sequence – we got a derelict Toyota Corolla from a wreckers, painted it to look like Mike’s Ford Capri, filled it with two garbage sacks full of petrol, two sticks of gelignite, got six cameras turning over (because we could only afford to do it once) and kaboom! It wasn’t completely successful though because the car was supposed to fly into the air.
Pete O’Herne: I think one of them had to be doing the gear homestead as it was a protected historical house. So Pete had to set and make scale models one the size of a small house and then smaller until he had one the size of a record turntable which is how Pete got it to spin in space.
Mike Minett: Even though I helped with a lot of effects, it was Pete who ran the whole show. I mean I don’t want to talk as though it were my ideas and that…very modest is I. Also, lots of very good scenes were shot away from our prying eyes. Pete didn’t want to show us the whole shebang. He wanted to surprise us when we saw the entire movie for the first time. And boy did he surprise us…Wheeeeeeee.
But hey, from the start to the end, that movie was full of great effects, wasn’t it? You could write a book about them all. There have been better films made before and better made after, but Bad Taste certainly opened a few eyes.
Only Jackson would know the complications involved, as he would have experimented with thing and probably lay awake at night working out what the hell to do. Something that looked simple was Frank and Ozzy being blasted by the house taking off. It looked like we were hanging onto a tree branch with out feet flying out behind us, remember that?. Well that was bull…it was just the way we were lying on the tree. But we did have a huge fan blowing at us to give the wind effect. With clever camera angles (Pete), it looked like we were being blown away.
KK: What was the most deceiving effect?
Craig Smith: Robert didn’t really pull the rear fender off my car. I was moving into a house a few days before we were going to film those scenes. The trailer I was towing was too heavy and caused the tow bar (with fender attached) to tear off the back of the car. The car wasn’t worth fixing so we worked the fender gag into the plot. Strictly speaking not really an effects shot – but a good story.
Pete O’Herne: I get a lot of people asking about the sheep-exploding scene. And really it was a small table that Pete and I set up one day on the way home from location. The table consisted of explosives and sheepskin. Pete and me went across the road to set the camera up and we blew it up…the rest is tight editing.
Mike Minett: The gunshots were strange. While filming, we just pointed these plastic guns at whatever and sort of shook them as in recoil. Later, Pete (at work) used exposed film and simply put scratches on them in certain places. Later on he somehow married them up to the shooting scenes, thus, along with sound effects, looked like…BLAM BLAM BLAM in the movie. It looked great.
Like a lot of old movies, bullets hitting the ground or a wall or something, are done with squibs. Or that’s what we did anyway. Mind you a lot of movies probably used real guns or something, I’m not clued up about this sort of stuff. Pete would make these squib things up and we’d place them in the ground or whatever. These were attached by wires to a board with nails stuck through it and I think a battery. By touching these nails in order, the squibs would explode in sequence and look like bullets straffing the ground. Very effective.
Blowing up my car seemed to fool a lot of people. Over the years, a lot of people say “Oh, did Pete pay you for the car”, and I’m like WHAT!?! They didn’t know that we put a fake in its place and blew that up. HAHAHAHA!
All the house scenes fooled a few. There were about four different houses, all different sizes. From a little model the size of a TV, one a bit bigger, then one about a quarter size (which the rocket blew up), then the real house. Pete’s probably still got the smallest one somewhere.
KK: What was your best memory of making the movie? Any other fond memories?
Craig Smith: The best thing about making the movie was the relationship that developed between the boys. We had some great times together.
Pete O’Herne: I think my best memories of the movie, to be honest was the humor on the set. It was a laugh as we were all fans of Monty Python so the joking around was quite zany. I have to say that none of us have changed in that outlook. I remember Pete having that Brown Bess Musket and he was firing it and Mike was late, so Pete said to us “Hey guys! I’m gonna play a joke on Mike when he turns up.” So Mike came around the corner and Pete had it loaded with blanks. Pete shouted at Mike, ”Hey I told you not to be late”, and he fired the gun. Mike was shocked and clutched his chest and we burst out laughing.
Mike Minett: Hmmm, this is a hard one. It was so many years ago. There are so many thoughts flashing through my head, it’s hard to pin them down. The main one would be the way the five or six of us regulars would meet up on Sundays and just fool about and laugh and giggle about stupid things. Like I said, we all had a wacky sense of humor and only we could find the things we found funny (a bit like the Beatles I suppose). We formed a small band of…ummm nuts.
When Pete shot the “spewing” scene, I had to blow cigarette smoke into the bowl to make it look like it was steaming. That cracked me up when I saw it in the movie. It looked so real, it made me laugh.
Blowing the car up was a great day. We spent most of the day setting that scene up. There were lots of people there and as we were about to go, everyone got behind whatever they could find. Remember, we only had one take. Here we are, all hiding when Pete yells “ACTION” . . . . KAAABOOOMMMM!!!!! This huge fireball erupted. Man it was a big KAAABOOOMMM!!!!! Nearly singed me goddamned eyebrows off. But it looked great in the film, didn’t it?
When Ozzy (Terry) fired the rocket at the house, that was fun. I think we had this like sky rocket hooked onto a wire and I think two cameras. One behind Ozzy and one side on. This rocket goes fizzling along the wire and when it hits the house, someone set off the explosives (I don’t know what they were) and BLAM! The corner of the house blew out. Very satisfactory.
Doing the “chuck drinking” scene was good fun. That was one time when we did have a few extra people there so I could really ham it up for them all. Like most scenes, we never really knew what we were going to do until we did it. We’d been working all day and that scene was shot late at night (I think) so when it came for me to actually drink the stuff, I was so hungry that it actually tasted ok. Hence the look of “yum” on my face. That was ad-libbed, but it got a laugh. I still don’t know what that stuff was . . .
KK: What was your worst memory of making the movie?
Craig Smith: That would probably have to be scene where I’m lying on the ground between Mike and Terry as they’re firing their handguns at the approaching alien horde – it was a wet cold day (sub zero temperatures) and all I had on was my costume. I got a mild case of hypothermia. And there was the time when a squib almost took out my balls… We weren’t big on taking safety precautions.
Pete O’Herne: I would say my worst memory was the weather. Man it would get bloody cold out there. Also we had to take some of the equipment to location which meant we had to trek thru native bush with these very cumbersome tracks that were homemade by Pete, and they were made out of wooden 2×4’s. They were heavy.
Mike Minett: This one is easy. There’s a scene where Derek (Pete Jackson) gets chased on the hilltop by two aliens. These guys have got a sledgehammer each and they take a few swings at Pete. This hilltop had a huge drop down to the beach about a mile below. Anyway, these two guys were practicing their swings with these sledgehammers, right? One was a real one, while the other was a fake one. Pete’s setting up the camera angle and I’m standing on the edge of this huge drop admiring the scenery. I turn round and face this one guy with the real sledgehammer and he’s going berserk, swinging it round, really going to town. Suddenly he lets this thing go. It’s a beautiful day, still and sunny, and all I see (in slow motion) is this hammer, head first, coming straight at me. I’m paralyzed. Everything froze except this hammer coming towards me. It went whooshing past me, missing my head by (I am not kidding) two inches. I was in shock. I sat down on the ground and shook for a while. Then looked down the hill. The sledgehammer was three quarters of the way down the hill . . .miles down. If that thing had hit me it would have caved my head in and also thrown me over the hill onto the beach below. If that had happened, all Pete would have said was “Shit. I wish I’d got that on film.”
KK: Have you had any memorable/odd encounters with fans of the film?
Craig Smith: Just recently I’ve been corresponding with a heavy metal band in France who’ve called themselves Bad Taste in honour of the movie and are keen on being involved in the production of Bad Taste 2…..
Pete O’Herne: Not really. People are pretty friendly and I haven’t changed my appearance. So I am quite recognizable. Some people have come up to me and asked how’s my music going, so I’m not sure who they think I am. Ha ha…Gotta cut that record.
Mike Minett: No, not really. Every so often someone will come up to me in a pub or something and talk about the movie. But I think in New Zealand, no one really cares if you’re famous unless you’re an All Black (NZ Rugby team). Although when people do recognize me, I get a nice buzz and have a laugh with them.
KK: Were you involved with Jackson’s earlier project Curse of the Grave Walkers?
Craig Smith: No, I came on the scene just as that project was grinding to a halt.
Pete O’Herne: Pete was very much into Hammer Horror films as we all were. I remember we used to see all of them at the time and they are still great today. So Pete ordered a cinescope lens from England and we would go out any chance we got to shoot this. I was the bad guy in it playing a vampire and as it was only a few of us, I got to play the undead too. It was halfway thru this film that Pete came up with the idea for a group of SAS soldiers who raid a house. This film was only going to be about 10 minutes long but became Bad Taste.
Mike Minett: I know absolutely nothing about this. When we used to go round to Pete’s for those ‘video’ nights, we watched films and stuff that Pete, Pete O’Herne and Ken had made as kids. I thought they were pretty amateur and didn’t give them much thought. But now I realize they were part of the dream and love of movie making that Pete had inside him. This may sound corny, but you could say that Pete was driven from a very early age to become what he is today.
KK: Did you stay in the film business?
Craig Smith: No. I had a major motorcycle accident in early ’88 that had me laid up for 4 months. After I got back on my feet I decided to do a bit of traveling. Went to England for a working holiday and stayed seven years. While I was in Europe I did some guest spots at splatter film fests, and had some involvement with a couple of projects that unfortunately didn’t get off the drawing board. I’m always open to offers of course!
Pete O’Herne: In 1989, I injured myself from a car accident, which left me incapable of working at my regular job. So I basically have been on a type of injury related income. But I go to the gym and I do weightlifting and such to keep fit. There are other things I am working on right now, such as a script called Colors of the Damned for a comic. And I have written a script called Study Time for a comic called Zomibe Holocaust. I can’t say anything else at this stage as it is still new, but I still have lots of ideas to put down. There are other plans happening too, but it is all in negotiation.
Mike Minett: No. None of us apart from Jackson and Ken (to a certain extent) stayed in the film business. To this day, I don’t know what happened. The film came out to good reviews. The whole film world loves it but we all just carried on with our lives. I think we all got a bit big headed and expected to be whisked off to Hollywood or something, but that never happened. Like I said, we all had wives and kids back then and full time jobs, so that took up a lot of our time. Terry and I had our bands to keep us busy, although they never really went anywhere…more like a hobby. Jackson never kept in touch with us, cause he was busy making films.
These days, I still work at the WGTN Newspapers and am still very keen on music. I just finished recording for this band (three tracks on bass). Ray Battersby is the singer/songwriter, and has been around for a while. He has made quite a few albums, and even a documentary on the Beatles. Ray even had a small part in Bad Taste, which is where we met. This year, Ray had finished three quarters of his new album with his band. Then the drummer and bass player got fed up or something and left. So because Ray knew that I dabbled on bass, he asked me if I’d carry on and finish the album with them. I was a bit hesitant, because Ray is a bit of a pro…I was just a nutty rock and roller. He’s a musician and a good one. Well, I took up the challenge and spent about two months learning there songs that they’d recorded and once I’d got them down (hard work, mate) we started rehearsing together and actually collaborated on three new songs, which were very good. So we went into a studio and recorded them and stuck them on the album. They fit in with the songs already recorded. Mission accomplished. Album finished.
In the last month, I’ve had emails at work and have quickly built up a list of people to chat to. Very interesting. Suddenly I’m back in touch with Pete O’herne and Craig Smith after a long period of silence. We still crack each other up.
KK: What is your own personal favorite moment in the film?
Craig Smith: The scene where Derek takes a nose-dive into Lord Crumb – how do you top that?
Pete O’Herne: My favorite moment in the film is the clifftop scenes. They were pretty scary at the time. But looking back, I think it was hilarious to film those shots. I think pretty much the whole thing was a great experience.
Mike Minett: This would have to be doing the song for the soundtrack. Pete originally wanted to use Beatle music but couldn’t get permission (I don’t know who he asked, probably that Ono witch). So I said to him, “If I can write a good song, would you use it?” So Pete said okay. So I went home and the song just wrote itself really. It came together so easily. I made a quick recording using a four track drum machine, my mate on guitar, me on bass and sang a rough vocal. Rushed off down to play it to Pete and Tony Hiles and they liked it. I was rap. Later we went into the studio and recorded it properly though the bass was done in one take. I should have done it better but time was money. I can’t really sing that well (a bit like Dylan on a bad day) so that was a problem. “Get a fucking singer!” was one comment that kept coming through the studio glass. But with a bit of echo and some studio effects, I did enough to get by. Some dude in Germany made a double record of the whole film soundtrack and my song was on it twice. I’ve got a copy of it somewhere.
Going to the premier at the theater was pretty exciting. It was packed and it was the first time I’d seen the entire film. Man it was good. Everyone screamed and ooo’d and arrred. Made me feel like a star. But after that…fuck all…
KK: One of my favorite parts / lines in the movie, is in the beginning where you pull the gun out to shoot the alien. After you pull the gun out and start to aim, you hear Derek say “I thought you were left-handed?” Then you switch hands. Was that bit of dialog added in later as an after thought, or was that joke there from the beginning?
Pete O’Herne: Actually the joke was there from the beginning and it was a gag that works really well because the scene was Barry under pressure, trying to kill the alien (played Ken Hammon) and he literally forgets how to shoot. The gag was more on how Derek was a stickler for correctness in a Governmental clerical way.
KK: How did Jackson originally pitch the movie to you to get your enthusiasm up and running?
Craig Smith: We were a bunch of friends going out to have some laughs and make a short film. We thought we’d knock it off in six months and move on to something bigger and better – little did we suspect how the thing would come to dominate our lives for so long!
Pete O’Herne: Well, he sort of just came up with the idea for a short film while doing Curse of the Grave Walkers, and he put it to me and we were keen as we just enjoyed what we were doing. And it kept us off the streets too…Heehee!!
Mike Minett: Pete (Jackson) and I worked together and most of the talk was about films and stuff. Video recorders had more or less just come out and he would talk non stop about this film and that film and also about movies he had made or was making. Real oogy stuff like vampires and spooks. All new to me, as I was more into music and bands and guitars. Things went on from there. In the end, I ended up going out to wherever he was filming and helping out until finally he included “The Boys” into the script. The rest is history.
KK: What was the original plan for the 10-minute film that turned into Bad Taste? How did it become a full-length film?
Craig Smith: Basically it was going to be the charity collector walking into town, being captured, and cooked by the aliens – hence the working title Roast of the Day. The further we got into shooting the more ideas started being incorporated, and the film became more complex.
Pete O’Herne: Actually the original plan for BAD TASTE was a raid on an old homestead by a group of elite soldiers, as we were fans of TV shows from England like The Professionals. The reason it became a full length feature was because we kept coming up with more material as we went along.
Mike Minett: All I can remember about this is that Pete had shot a lot of boring film of Craig driving around in that little car of his. We had seen the footage at his place with no sound and man it was pretty unexciting. Ha! I’m not sure exactly what happened, but after Terry and I came onto the scene Pete somehow decided to spice up the film. So he kept what he had shot already but added a new story line and included us more and more. Lucky us. I remember Craig went away for a while, so we got more and more parts. We loved it. Talk about ham it up.
KK: While you made the film did your other friends and relatives think you guys were wasting your time and/or just plain nuts?
Craig Smith: ABSOLUTELY! There was a lot of smirking going on behind our backs.
Pete O’Herne: Most definitely. All my friends or relatives thought we were barking mad and on cloud nine. At times it just adds to the determination. Also when we did the film, you kind of got the attitude that you were in a different world…and we were shooting everything in sight. HAHAHAHAHA!!!
Mike Minett: That’s a funny question, but a good one. I’ll tell you something, half the time we thought we were crazy and wasting our time, let alone other people. Once we got involved, it went on and on and on…and we couldn’t back out. There were long periods of standing around doing nothing. It got a bit much at times, cause I had a wife and kid at home…blah, blah, blah. But looking back I’m glad I stuck with it. As for being nuts, we were lucky that we all had crazy funny bones. We kept each other amused. Right now, I e-mail Craig and O’Herne most days and our humor is still blue. Our weekend newspapers were full of Peter Jackson, as he’s just finished filming Lord of the Rings. He had a big party but we weren’t invited. He’s forgotten about ‘The Boys’. The bastard.
KK: What was the reaction from locals after the film was shown there?
Craig Smith: It’s well regarded within its fan base but has never had a high profile in NZ. At the time it was released the New Zealand Film Commission didn’t quite know what to make of it – art films are more it’s stock in trade. Consequently, It was badly marketed and had a very limited run in the movie houses. I think if more of the mainstream audience had been exposed to it, it would have generated a lot more controversy.
Pete O’Herne: It was greeting with standing ovations everywhere and there was a lot of news coverage in local papers too.
Mike Minett: I don’t really know. Like I told you, in New Zealand, people don’t really get into hero worship. If you fuck up, people will knock you. But if you’re a winner they don’t really care. Strange really. I did expect more or a reaction from everyone but…hardly nothing. It seems to me that people over seas have gone more ballistic about Bad Taste than people in NZ. I think New Zealanders are pretty level headed and umm…boring. Like you can spot someone like Neil Finn (Split Enz) in a shopping mall and you just go “G’day mate”. It’s not a big deal really. I wish I was really well know and rich and famous, but I’m not. I’ve got bills to pay and a full time job. I just try and enjoy myself and have a good time. My girlfriend hates it…but like I say to her “Fuck it…You only live once. Party, party, party.” I’m a party animal. I’ll get up at 7 o’clock in the morning, crack a bottle of wine, have a joint, wind up the guitar…I wish I could meet Keith Richards.
KK: Any news of Bad Taste 2?
Craig Smith: I think Pete still likes the idea of a BT 2 but its been years since I last spoke to him about it and it’ll probably be even longer before he’s got some spare time. If we ever did get round to making it, it would probably be made in the same way as the original. But we are all getting older and less energetic.
Pete O’Herne: This is one of my most asked questions and Pete gets asked that a lot too. I know that Pete has said that we can’t rule it out as he has indicated that he would love to take a year off and get back to grass roots and shoot a sequel in much same way the first one was shot. Although there would be bigger guns…heehee!!! It may happen, just a question of good timing.
Mike Minett: Pete always said there would be a part 2, but he got sidetracked with Meet the Feebles and it never came about. I think Braindead satisfied his fantasy of making a good zombie movie so he just went on from there. I do not think it would be necessary for a Bad Taste 2. It’s a pity but that’s the way the blood flow…hehehe.