The first movie of Peter Jackson’s that I watched during this endeavor of mine just happened to have been his first feature film. I have seen almost all of his movies and I used to wonder about how the man who brought Tolkien’s world to life could come up with some of the crazy ideas in his earlier movies. But it occurred to me that to you really had to have a creative imagination to bring as much detail as he did to those movies. And while his earlier movies are definitely bizarre, they do show just how much imagination the man has. So you are all familiar with his more famous works, allow me to introduce you to his first movie, Bad Taste.
The plot: After receiving a phone call for help,Barry, a government agent in the Astro Investigation and Defence Service, goes to the town of Kaihoro, New Zealand to investigate. He finds the town deserted but as he wanders the streets, an ax-wielding man suddenly appears and begins following him. Barry warns the man to stay back but he continues to get closer and Barry’s partner Derek, watching from a hidden vantage point, warns Barry to shoot the guy. Barry continues to warn the man as he leads him towards a nearby beach but when the man lunges at him, Barry is forced to shoot and blows the top of the man’s head off. Barry continues looking around the town, telling Derek to contact the rest of the team and to also keep a look out for a collector, who had left notices on all the doors stating that he would be back that day. Derek warns Barry to be careful in case the man he killed had friends, just as Derek is grabbed by several men. He manages to escape them, but loses his gun and radio in the process and is forced to hide. Derek calls Frank and Ozzy, the other two members of their team, and tells them what is going on. He also tells them that they captured an alien, who is disguised as a human wearing a blue shirt and jeans. Waiting for the others to get there, Derek proceeds to torture the captured alien, causing it to begin screaming out. Hearing the scream, the other aliens stop trying to capture Barry and head off towards Derek’s location. Barry retrieves his radio and warns Derek about the alien’s approach, and Derek stops his torture and grabs a machinegun from his bag. He manages to kill the approaching aliens, but the alien he was torturing had managed to escape and attacks him, sending him falling off a cliff. Barry heads to Derek’s location and is passed by the alien, who leaps over him and continues down the trail Reaching the hill, Barry radios Frank and Ozzy to tell them what happened and says he plans on heading in the direction the alien was heading when they captured him so they should stay put. Meanwhile, the collector, Giles, is wandering the town when he stumbles on the alien eating the brains of the alien that Barry killed. Giles runs to his car, with the alien giving chase but he manages to get away from it. When his car breaks down, Giles heads to a nearby house for help but when the door opens, the person inside proceeds to knock Giles out with a meat tenderizer and drag him inside. Barry witnesses this and tells the others to meet him at the house. Inside, Giles comes to and finds himself inside a tub filled with vegetables and herbs and an alien approaches him and says that they plan on eating him for lunch the next day. Meanwhile, Derek had managed to avoid death by landing in a bird’s nest but the fall had made part of his skull to come loose, causing some of his brains to fall out. Derek scoops up the brain matter and places it back in his head, then stumbling off to his car, where he grabs a hat to use to keep the back of his head in place before passing out. Barry, Frank, and Ozzy sneak into the house to the rescue Giles and discover a room filled with bloody cardboard boxes. After killing an alien that wandered into the room, Frank uses it’s shirt as a disguise and sneaks into the other room, where the leader, Lord Crumb, is talking about how the townspeople have been harvested for fast food. When the Robert, the alien that attacked Derek, vomits a green liquid into a bowl, the other aliens all sample it and Frank is forced to drink it himself. That night, while the aliens are asleep, they manage to sneak down and rescue Giles but when they try to leave, the find the ground patrolled by armed guards. When one of the aliens spots them, they are forced to shoot their way out of the house. Elsewhere, Derek comes too and drives to the other’s location. As Frank, Ozzy, and Barry fight with the aliens, Giles finds himself captured again but Ozzy saves him before he ends up saved by Frank. Derek arrives but his hat ends up shot off, causing him to spasm as the back of his head opens up again. He uses a belt as a headband to fasten his head closed but some of his brains leaked out again. After running over an alien, Derek grabs a chainsaw from the back of his car and heads inside the house. As Frank, Barry, and Ozzy continue killing the aliens, Lord Crumb cries out and reverts to his true form, as do the surviving aliens. The four humans manage to get to Frank’s car but as they are trying to escape, an alien shoots the car, causing it to die. As they get out and start to head off on foot, Ozzy goes back and grabs an RPG out of the car, which he uses to blow up the car when the alien pursuers get inside it. Seeing the explosion, Lord Crumb believes that is the last of the humans but as he goes back inside the house, Ozzy fires the RPG at the house, causing part of teh house to explode. Sending Barry and Giles to call for help, Frank and Ozzy head back inside to capture Lord Crumb, killing some of the alien guards in the process. Meanwhile, Derek enters the house and after killing an alien with the chainsaw, he places part of it’s brain inside the his head. When an alien gets the jump on Frank and Ozzy, it is killed by Derek, who starts to freak out and goes after them. Frank and Ozzy head outside but Lord Crumb shoots Ozzy in the leg. Frank gets the RPG and fires it at Lord Crumb, but he dodges it, as does Derek when he opens the door, and it ends up blowing up a sheep on a nearby hill. Lord Crumb heads towards the attic, which is the control room for the disguised spaceship, and prepares to blast off, unaware that Derek is still inside. As the house/ship blasts into space on it’s way back to its home plant, Derek kills Lord Crumb and then yells into the phone that he is “coming to get you bastards” before laughing maniacally as he dons the skin of Lord Crumb. Back on Earth, Frank and Ozzy use Derek’s car to pick up Barry and Giles before they all drive off.
Bad Taste was met with mixed to favorable reviews from the critics, holding a 68% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus is that “Peter Jackson’s early low-budget shocker boasts a disgusting premise – aliens harvesting humans for fast food – that gives the budding auteur plenty of room for gross-out visuals and absurd cleverness.” When the film was released in Australia, it was already cut but it wound up being banned in Queensland after three weeks, resulting in the dissolution of the Queensland Film Board of Review. The movie was made on a budget of about $30,000 but made $150,000 at the box office.
This was a somewhat gross, but funny movie. The acting was ok but I really thought it was funny that Peter Jackson himself played two characters, Derek and Robert, and that he had to film the different character’s scenes months apart as Robert had a beard and Derek didn’t. The story was decent and the writing definitely had some funny lines too it, but that might not have been intentional. The special effects were definitely used up most of the budget and a lot of it was probably used for the gore. There were several scenes that were pretty gruesome and definitely not intended for younger audiences. If you were to look at this movie, back in 1987, you never would have guessed that the director would become one of the most famous director’s in Hollywood, but we all have to start somewhere.
Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5