Directed By: Peter Jackson
Starring: Terry Potter, Pete O'Herne, Craig Smith
Tag line: "Human meat for intergalactic hamburgers"
Trivia: There was never a script for the movie; each scene was filmed from ideas Peter Jackson had come up with during off-time
It took four years for Peter Jackson to finish Bad Taste, a sci-fi / horror / comedy that also marked his directorial debut. With no script and very little money to speak of, Jackson cast his friends (as well as himself) in most of the key roles, and in the process turned out an imaginative, often funny film stocked to its breaking point with blood and guts.
Barry (Pete O’Herne), Frank (Mike Minett), Ozzy (Terry Potter), and Derek (played by Jackson himself), all working for the Government’s Astro Investigation and Defense Services (or AIDS for short), head to the small New Zealand village of Kaihoro to follow up on rumors that creatures from outer space have landed. To their dismay, they find the reports are 100% accurate, and that the aliens, under the leadership of Lord Crumb (Doug Wren), are using the town’s population as an alternate food source!
Tracking the aliens to a house situated on top of a hill, Barry and the others make plans for an all-out attack designed to finish off the invaders and, if possible, rescue a charity collector named Giles (Craig Smith), who, in less than 24 hours, is to serve as the main ingredient in a special alien stew.
Though he eventually secured a grant from the New Zealand Film Commission, Jackson made the majority of Bad Taste with hardly any funds at his disposal. As a result, the entire movie was shot with a 16mm camera that was well over 20 years old, and most members of the cast had to take on multiple roles (in one particularly insane scene, Derek, played by director Jackson, tortures an alien, also portrayed by Jackson, in the hopes of obtaining information).
Yet, even with such a low budget, Jackson managed to create some awesome gore effects. In one of the film’s earliest scenes, Barry is being chased by an ax-wielding alien who, despite a number of warnings, refuses to drop his weapon. Left with no alternative, Barry shoots the creature several times, though it doesn’t stop coming until the top half of its head has been completely obliterated. This is the first of many scenes to feature spewing brain matter, but the movie’s single most disgusting sequence happens a bit later, when an alien (Jackson again) vomits up a gallon or so of green gunk (as bad as this is, it’s what he and his cohorts do with it that will truly turn your stomach). Jackson would put his penchant for the grotesque to good use a few years later in his zombie classic Dead Alive, and it was fun watching him hone these skills throughout this movie.
In addition to the gore, Bad Taste features some exciting chase sequences, a shootout or two (including a very funny scene with a rocket launcher), and an alien transformation (Jackson reportedly cooked the creature’s masks in his mother’s oven). Put it all together, and you have one of the craziest, messiest, and most entertaining alien invasion movies you’re likely to ever see.