HMM Day 24 – Bad Taste

The small seaside town of Kaihoro, New Zealand has mysteriously disappeared. As a team of investigators research the towns unusual vanishing, they soon discover a terrible and and deadly secret. Aliens have landed and are using humans as the prime ingredient for their galactive fast food chain menu! It’s up to our team of G-men to stop them at all costs!

Bad Taste is a 1988 splatter horror film directed and co-starred by Peter Jackson. Starring Terry Potter, Pete O’Herne, Mike Minett and Craig Smith. All of which were friends and fellow classmates of Jackson’s. The film was shot primarily north of Wellington, New Zealand with a 16mm camera. The effects were also done by Jackson and many of his props were created from his parents home. The film was Jackson’s first film and is now a cult film.

Way before he was making one of the biggest blockbuster trilogies known as The Lord of The Rings, Peter Jackson was known for creating rather awesome low-budget horror films. All true fans of horror are familiar with 1992’s Brain Dead (aka Dead Alive). But Jackson’s first movie was Bad Taste. This movie is exactly what the title implies, a ‘bad taste’ exploitation film.

The Story

The concept is pretty basic. A small town Kaihoro (literally translates to “fast food”) has been overrun with aliens. The Astro Investigation and Defence Service… wait a minute… there is a government agency called Astro Investigation and Defence Service? A… I… D… S? So this group of guys that are the AIDS agents are sent to investigate the chaos taking place in this town. The abbreviation has to be done on purpose. I know today we kind of joke about AIDS. From South Park to typical office banter, it’s become this ok thing to joke about. But this was 1988! AIDS was huge back then and to make a joke about it was a real big deal. I mean, Freddie Mercury was just diagnosed with the disease a year before and I’m pretty sure that Libarace guy died of AIDS. It was the scariest disease. I remember being in school during this time and having to watch those films about AIDS. Ryan White was a popular kid in every health class. Damn, Peter Jackson had balls! So, the these G-men go to this town to investigate and find out that the town has been taken over by these weird gummy looking aliens that want to use humans as a food product for their galactic fast food chain.

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At first the aliens appear as humans but later transform into these weird gum like creatures with big heads and jowls that would make a fat white banker proud. For some reason Jackson made their butts all bulgy and ripping out of the bank of the pants. The masks were created with basic prosthetic that Jackson would bake in his mothers oven.

Possible Meaning

There might not be a great deal of “meaning” behind the film. Since it is a typical splatter film, it doesn’t necessarily impose some huge social commentary. However, the aliens work for a fast food conglomerate and do resemble that stereotype of the “white fat business man.” So it does invoke the ideas of big business coming in to a town and overtaking the populace. Kind of like a small town getting a McDonalds or something. They may not eat the towns people but they sure are a big part of the over weight issues. I think us Americans can see this and understand the underlining message. Although I don’t think it’s a message that Jackson really cared about pushing. The movie is simply a good time with excessive gore.

BadTasteB.jpgWhat we get in this movie isn’t really scary or terrifying. In fact the movie is laugh-out-loud stupid. But it is an enjoyable film with over the top situations that make it a great splatter horror film. For instance, one of the characters named Derek cracks his skull open and has to push his brains back in. He ties his belt around his head in order the flap of broken skull stay intact. At certain points in the film Derek gets hurt and has to readjust his brain matter. It’s so gross but extremely memorable and completely unrealistic. Which is why the movie is so awesome. Jackson was only twenty five when making this movie. It was run on a budget of twenty five thousand dollars and Jackson was both director and producer. So anything he wanted to do he did. He was able to make a film and think with a wild imagination. Leaking brains, extended scenes of puking green slime, exploding sheep! It’s as if every wild thought Jackson had as a kid was put on screen and it was great that know one was there to tell him not to do it.

Bad Taste may not be the most well crafted film. This is not a film for narrow minded jackasses that demand extreme scares, amazing CGI and deep meaning. It’s obviously cheap as hell and often has these long gun fights, but like The Deadly Spawn or Basket Case we find it entertaining in it’s exaggerated violence, dialogue and gore. It represents a time when movie making was less about the dollar and more about risk and exploring craft. If anything a non-horror fan can appreciate about the genre, it’s history of letting very creative people like a young Peter Jackson to unload his wild potential and make a film. Bad Taste is a perfect example of that potential. I think we can watch a movie like Bad Taste and enjoy it for it’s hilarity and gross factor. It is a testament to that “can do” attitude many young film makers possess and unfortunately many lose later in life. A fan of the craft should watch the making of the film and see how fun and invested Jackson and his group of friends seem to be having. They weren’t trying to make a ton of money, they were set on creating a film people would be grossed out for. It’s a worthy goal and one that outweighs the goal of making money. I applaud this film and applaud what Peter Jackson did. Without it,  we probably wouldn’t have gotten his future films like 1993’s Dead Alive, 1996’s The Frighteners, or even the amazing Lord of The Rings trilogy! Watch Bad Taste, enjoy the stomach churning awesomeness! It’s for that reason that Bad Taste is chosen for day twenty four of Horror Movie Marathon!

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