It seems fitting that in the wake of the excellent Lord of the Rings films, that we should have a look at just what started director Peter Jackson on the road to being one of the worlds greatest visionaries. Before LOTR's, Jackson's biggest financial hit was the Michael J. Fox horror comedy 'The Frighteners', and his biggest critical success being the haunting 'Heavenly Creatures', starring a then not-so-famous Kate Winslet. But it wasn't an easy ride getting to be the director of the most anticipated trilogy since Star Wars. Jackson started small, very small, and clawed his way up the movie ladder using nothing more than pure determination and a raw talent for film-making. Jackson's first feature was Bad Taste, a low, low-budget horror comedy movie made over two years about aliens killing humans for their fast-food business back in space. No real plot, no real actors, no real crew. Only an insane imagination and devoted friends willing to help out. There's not even much of a script, because what Jackson sets out to do is sicken his audience with some of the most gruesome deaths ever seen and make them laugh until the back of their heads fall off. And he succeeds. Narrative and plot structure are not on the vile menu here. Instead, Bad Taste is a testament to sick jokes, low-budget gore and technical brilliance on a shoestring. Jackson made his own steadicam, crane and other camera rigs to create the impression of a bigger-budgeted movie (he fails to do so, unfortunately) and even undertook the task of making all of his own make-up and prosthetic effects, including mechanised masks and realistic machine guns. This is an even greater achievement when you consider just how much gore there is in the film, but the finale, in which a huge mansion is rocketed into space, defies the rules of its low budget and minimal crew. Even the cast were so minimal that the same aliens can be seen, if you look hard enough, being killed over and over again throughout the film, and Jackson himself takes on two roles; the unstable Derek and a mad alien called Robert. In one scene, Derek and Robert engage in a cliff-top fight with each other, balanced precariously on the edge and with no indication that one is a body double. Jackson's creativity and knowledge of movie trickery is undoubtedly on display here, but the low-rent sickness and bloody gore on display would suggest otherwise. At first it is hard to imagine that Jackson would go on from this to directing one of the best films of all time, but when you look closely, examine just what Jackson could do with no money and no crew, you begin to realise that a true genius was at work here. Bad Taste is a delirious testament to the 'just-get-out-there-and-do-it' school of film-making, as that is literally what Jackson did. Shooting whenever he had the money for film stock and making props and special effects in his parent's garage. Apparently, one of Jackson's greatest problems was keeping his actors consistent in appearance over the two-year period, making sure haircuts remained the same and that one actor had a permanent five-o'clock shadow. Bad Taste is true to the spirit of independent film-making, one man making the film he wants, when he wants and with whom he wants. In fact, it would never and could never have been made under the supervision of a studio, and even if it had the spirit would have been killed off. Bad Taste works for me because I admire the way in which it is made. When I first saw it I was in my teens and I liked it because it was a demented, gruesome, funny film, so maybe the teen crowd is the right one for Jackson's brain-eating, vomit-spewing, chuck-up-a-thon, or maybe it's also for twenty-somethings after a night on the lash. Either way, Bad Taste should be seen as an example that if you want to make a movie and know how - there is usually a way
Comedy / Horror / Sci-Fi
Comedy / Horror / Sci-Fi
The population of a small town disappears and is replaced by aliens that chase human flesh for their intergalactic fast-food chain.
October 12, 2020