Thursday, July 28, 2016

Directorial Debut: Peter Jackson's BAD TASTE

Welcome to a new installment of DIRECTORIAL DEBUTS, where we look at some of the best, most interesting, and iconic directors and the films that started their careers. This week we take a look at Peter Jackson's strange horror/comedy...BAD TASTE.

You may know him best from his incredible work on the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the more recent The Hobbit trilogy, but Peter Jackson's start did not including elves, dwarves, or magic at all; instead he took a stab at a classic genre, alien invasion, with his very bloody, splatter horror/comedy, Bad Taste.

Most people would never guess that the man responsible for the greatest set of fantasy films ever made started off doing splatter comedies, also known as "splatstick".  Bad Taste may have been his first, but Braindead (released as Dead Alive in North America) became more famous, gaining a much stronger cult following around the world.  But don't mistake that for meaning Bad Taste isn't worth a watch...because it absolutely is.

Filled with ridiculous amounts of blood and guts, Bad Taste takes the "alien invasion" genre and turns it on its head, pitting a motley, four-man paramilitary group against a bunch of aliens who disguise themselves as humans in blue shirts.  

They are sent to investigate the disappearance of everyone in a small town in New Zealand, but arrive to find the town has been overrun by aliens.  They discover that the aliens plan to harvest the human race for their intergalactic fast food franchise.  And these four men are the only ones that can stop them.

With an extremely small budget of $26,000, Jackson and his friends portrayed the majority of the cast, going as far as playing multiple characters each (the most notable being Jackson himself as both Robert the alien and Derek the somewhat crazy human), something indie filmmaker Kevin Smith would go on to do 6 years later in the same fashion with Clerks.  Jackson even did all the SFX makeup for this film.

At first, I didn't really know what was going on, and thought the film was just kind of strange.  But as I watched on, I began to enjoy it more and more.  And upon a second viewing, grew to love this ridiculous movie for what it is.  It's one of those "so bad, it's good" kind of films, like the old Godzilla movies.  And seeing something like this from the director of one of my favorite film franchises of all time (Lord of the Rings) was an added bonus.

If you haven't seen this film, check it out.  It's definitely no Return of the King, but is worth a watch for true horror fans, especially those fans of splatter horror.  So hop on YouTube (the full movie is up there), check your local video store, or head on over to, but whatever you do, make sure to watch this film.

The Merc's Score: 7/10

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