in Shocktober

Bad Taste (1987)

Bad Taste is like something a 12 year-old would come up with while playing in his backyard. Everything about it just screams prepubescent gore-hound. The simplistic storytelling, the nonstop violence, and the cast clearly made up of the director’s friends. Did I mention the director of this film was Peter Jackson? Known today as the Oscar winning director of such blockbusters as Lord of the Rings and King Kong. It’s astounding this film came from the same man. Then again, I suppose everyone has to start somewhere.

Bad Taste is as mind numbingly simple as it gets. Aliens come to New Zealand (out of all places) to capture humans for an intergalactic fast food chain. Sounds clever enough, but this is never thoroughly explored. The aliens don’t even reveal their true identities until the last 15 minutes or so. The rest of the time they masquerade as humans running around with various weapons. Humans that I can only assume were locals from Jackson’s hometown or even relatives. Jackson himself has a handful of scenes as a zombie-like henchman that meets a gory demise. Basically everyone in this film suffers a gory demise. That’s because the violence is only thing that moves the plot forward.

The gore effects are admirable for amateur filmmakers. It’s always interesting to see what alternatives amateurs will turn to without a budget. That aside there’s little to offer in Bad Taste. I never had a good grasp of who the characters were or what they stood for aside from basic survival. The film has some minor technical problems as well. Almost all of the dialogue was recorded in post and they clearly didn’t have the best gear, but hey… It’s New Zealand. I’m surprised anyone over there was even capable of making a film.

Bad Taste has that youthful ambition that makes a first film feel exciting. Is it underdeveloped? Yes. Does it drag? Sure, but it has passion. Peter Jackson wanted to express his love for horror movies and filmmaking and he did it. I don’t know how but he made it happen. Not only that but it gave him the boost to go forward and to keep making films. Jackson would return to horror several times again after Bad Taste. Most notably he directed the 1992 cult classic Braindead. A film overflowing with creativity and possibly the most disgusting gore sequences I’ve ever seen. So for that I tip my bow to you Mr. Jackson and my axe.

I can smell the Oscars already.