Movie Review: Bad Taste (1987)

Directed by Peter Jackson
Starring Pete O’Herne, Terry Potter, Mike Minett, Craig Smith, Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson is very well known amongst all movie fans, either through his version of King Kong (2005) or especially The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. But most horror fans know Jackson from decades before, when he had made some over-the-top gory pictures that were just insane. Either with aliens invading a small town in New Zealand, a twisted version of what the Muppets could have been like had they actually been real, or one of the bloodiest and goriest zombie movies ever committed to film. Not to diminish any of those other titles, but THAT is why horror fans know Mr. Jackson.

Bad Taste was Jackson’s first feature film, one that started out as a 20-minute short that, after four years of shooting on weekends with his dedicated friends, turned into full length feature film with this strange tale of an alien invasion and the special military team sent out to stop it. It’s outrageous, cheeky, gore-galore here, and just so much fun. Watching it is like a master craft class in low budget filmmaking. I mean, Jackson not only plays two different characters in the film, but they actually have a fight together on a very steep hill! The fact that the shooting took over four years, and he was still able to combine it all together, have the story still work and make sense, is just astonishing.

The film starts off with two members of A.I.D.S. (that’s the Astro Investigation and Defense Service) are checking out the small but seemingly deserted town of Kaihoro. Turns out that aliens have invaded the city, slaughter the population to turn them into tasty treats for their home planet. The rest of the A.I.D.S. team is called in to confront the invaders. While this is all going on, a collector for a charitable organization is at the town to pick up any donations. Next then he knows, he’s tied up and sitting in a barrel being marinated!

Before too long “the boys” (our heroes) are battling the aliens with machine guns, matchets, and rocket launchers. This is after they tried to infiltrate the aliens at their home base, where one of the boys has to drink some “chuck” aka vomit that came from one of the aliens.

While I’d be hard press to clarify this as a ‘horror’ movie, it has plenty of over-the-top gore that would get its foot in the door. Plus, if you’re a fan of British or Monty Python style of humor, then this is definitely up your alley. It’s hard to believe that this was filmed over that long of time, with story changes happening, characters looking a little different between scenes, but it still works. That really shows the genius of Peter Jackson, even back then and is a prime example to anybody that has that dream of making a movie. If you have the imagination and dedication, not to mention being pretty damn crafty, and have ample friends who are willing to follow you on your quest, then you just might have a chance. Jackson made the guns used in the film from scratch. He used his mom’s oven to bake the latex masks, had a miniature of a famous house made so he could blow a hole in it, before having it blast off into space, while twirling around on a record turntable. That is a man following his dream.

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