OR: WHATEVER HAPPENED TO CULT HORROR DIRECTOR PETER JACKSON?
Peter Jackson (right) was one of the most promising young Horror film directors of the late 80's and early 90's. His films Meet The Feebles (1989) and Braindead (1992, known as Dead Alive stateside) were visionary classics of the genre, but unfortunately his career faded into relative obscurity in recent years (rumor had it he was working on some sort of Lord of the Rings adaptation in the early 2000's, but that whole project fell off my radar).
But we're here today to talk about his screen debut, a low-budget sci-fi horror alien zombie comedy masterpiece released in 1987 called Bad Taste.
Here's a trailer for the uninitiated:
Due to budget constraints, Jackson and his bros handled almost every aspect of production, from filming and editing to acting (Jackson is shown at left, portraying increasingly brain-damaged protagonist Derek). In fact, Mr. Jackson played at least three roles in the film, and through clever editing even has a fight scene with himself. This is also probably a good time to point out that there are no female characters anywhere in this film. AT ALL.
The film's plot is fairly run-of-the-mill. Aliens have invaded a small town in New Zealand, zombifying its residents and harvesting their meat for an intergalactic fast-food chain. A four-man paramilitary force known as AIDS (Astro Investigation and Defense Service) descends on the scene, and quickly find themselves in a gruesome battle which involves lots of exploding heads, vomit-eating, leaky brains, flying houses, chainsaw murder, and at least one combusting sheep. Pretty standard.
Below: Magnum Entertainment included these promotional Bad Taste Barf Bags with the VHS release to boost sales.
A quick clip from Bad Taste, this one containing the film's best line: "Head shot's the only true stopper!"
The aspect of the film that stands out the most, though, is Jackson's rapid-fire directing and editing style. This could have been just another low-budget splatter flick (production cost was about $25,000 and took four years), but Jackson's sense of comedic timing and unconventional techniques really put this one in a class by itself. Jackson was New Zealand's answer to Sam Raimi (speaking of which, whatever happened to that guy?!), which makes his disappearance from the Horror genre all the more perplexing. He had so much going for him. What happened!?
One last clip from the film, probably the best scene altogether (don't watch this if you haven't seen it yet - MAJOR SPOILER):
Get your own copy of this excellent piece of cinematic genius here.