(Peter Jackson, New Zealand, 1988) 87 minutes


Director: Peter Jackson
Producer: Peter Jackson
Screenplay: Peter Jackson
Photography: Peter Jackson
Editor: Peter Jackson, Jamie Selkirk
Music: Michelle Scullion
Mike Minett (Frank)
Terry Potter (Ozzie)
Pete O'Herne (Berry)
Peter Jackson (Derek)
Craig Smith (Giles)
Doug Wren (Crumb)

Reviews and notes

Boy's Own Fodder Horror comes closest to describing BAD TASTE, an outstandingly awful, at times awfully brilliant, first feature from Peter Jackson. Its faults are many, from badly setup opening and some inept playing through to over-extended scenes that shriek for the scissors. Yet, at fade out, a bravura registers, causing a smile not a smirk, that announces the arrival of a new and considerable talent to the small band in the Kiwi film industry.

Made on the proverbial shoestring over 4 1/2 years by dedicated writer-direclor-producer (Jackson also plays a lead role and takes credit for cinematography, special effects and makeup), BAD TASTE generally belies its lengthy, haphazard birth.

Derek (Jackson) and his gang of not-so-merry men from the Alien Investigation and Defense Service are on a search and destroy mission. A small town has been depopulated by aliens planning to promote homo sapiens as low-calorie delicacies on their intergalactic fastfood chain.

Derek is a casualty (almost) in the early stages of the bloody, entrails-ripping battle, while an unwitting, charity collector Giles (Craig Smith) penetrates alien headquarters only to be clobbered and marinated for the invaders' victory feast.

All is not lost. In a big show-down, a stunning array of weapons decimates the aliens with Derek finally wreaking terrible personal vengeance - in space - upon the sinister Lord Crumb (Doug Wren).

While the gristle and gore are enough to turn the strongest stomach, there are moments that twist the grotesque to sudden delight. Such occurs when the head of an alien, like a football, is neatly booted out a window, to the line: "The old magic's still there!"

With so much blood spilled, spurted and occasionally slurped, it would seem in keeping with the ironic, anarchic energy of the film that Derek's boys should be employees of an organization, the initials of which spell out AIDS.

Jackson, Smith and Wren (marvelously voiced-over as Lord Crumb by Peter Vere-Jones) are the best thesps on view. BAD TASTE's unevenness and tendency towards jokiness of particular Kiwi taste and sound may make it difficult to market theatrically overseas. What the film certainly does, however, is serve notice that Jackson's next picture will be one to look out for.
-Nic, Variety, 1 June 1988.

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