It's hard to believe this is the same guy who gave us the worldwide cultural phenomenon that was The Lord of the Rings series. Peter Jackson started his prestigious Hollywood career with low-grade horror movies he made with his friends in New Zealand. He started with Bad Taste, a film that cost about twenty-five grand to make, and it shows. While I appreciate the work that went into it, and how it would contribute to Jackson's career as a whole, it's a terrible movie. Confusing, plotless, and just plain odd.
A small New Zealand coastal town's entire population has vanished, replaced by vicious aliens who seek to harvest their meat for an intergalactic chain of fast-food restaurants. The only thing standing in their way is a quartet of government agents who take it to these aliens in a big way. They wreck these aliens with guns, knives, chainsaws, and anything else they can find. One character, Derek (Jackson), gets his head split open and somehow keeps fighting, even as bits of his brain drip out. There's another scene where one of the agents is forced to drink from a big bowl of alien vomit. I'd say this is one that separates the men from the boys.
Bad Taste is, well, an acquired taste. If you're a fan of Peter Jackson and you want to see where he came from, you should triple feature this film, Meet the Feebles, and Dead Alive. But casual movie fans should give this a miss. It's hard to get into, and I often found myself nodding off. But there's a subtle hint of potential genius, one that would certainly pay off later.
What do you get when you a group of friends take a 25-year-old 16mm Bolex camera and write a story about an intergalactic fast-food company looking for the next tasty item for their menu and settle on a small New Zealand village? You get Peter Jackson's debut feature film, BAD TASTE! This film has earned its status as a cult-classic and is a stellar example of just how far ambition, vision, and enthusiasm can get you when it comes to making a film with your friends.
Ozzy (Potter), Barry (O'Herne), Giles (Smith), and Derek (Jackson) are members of New Zealand's elite Astro-Investigation and Defense Service (AIDS) team who are called in to deal with the small problem of an entire village disappearing. What they find out is much more disturbing as it's revealed that an alien race, that also happen to be interstellar restauranteurs, has invaded the village and is planning on harvesting the local human population for their latest fast-food sensation: human flesh! These men are the only ones standing in the way of total annihilation and aren't we glad they brought a rocket launcher?
Does this film look like it was put together by a bunch of friends over a couple months using whatever locations they could get for cheap and/or free? Yes. Is it cheesy as all hell with dialogue and acting? You betcha! Does it show a lot of ambition and heart when you see that the time and effort went into crafting the best practical effects they could afford? Abso-fucking-lutely! This movie is fun from start to finish and I dare you to come away from this not thinking it's damn impressive that Peter Jackson managed to get his name out there with this fantastic sci-fi/action/horror romp.
He uses every filmmaking technique to make this story come together in terms of music, visual/practical effects, puppetry, and sound design; it's all here. Say what you want about low-budget movies and how they lack the 'polish' of a movie with 10 times the budget, they will often lack heart and ambition which this movie has in abundance. It's fun and never takes itself seriously and should be watched by anybody thinking about making movies or writing screenplays because it's a great crash course in movie making 101. Plus, where else are you going to see a movie where a sheep (which I'm sure is a sacred animal in New Zealand or something) gets blown to bits by a rocket launcher? Go ahead and look, I'll wait. Simply put, this is the kind of movie that would get someone to make their own movie because it's so inspiring. If these guys could do it, why can't I? The way that filmmaking has become democratized in recent years, you could make this kind of flick and make it look like it cost a million bucks. You just have to have the heart and enthusiasm to have some fun with friends and make a damn movie.