Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Jackson Three - Bad Taste (1987)

 By Caroline Rennox 

 Starting way back in the 1980’s, long before the Hobbit trilogy had sucked out all of his will to live, Peter Jackson made some of the goriest, most defiantly stupid movies ever to have been committed to film. Movies with an anarchic inventiveness that don’t just want to test the audience’s stomach for gore but to make sure they have a laugh while doing it. A trashy trio that form the gory playground where the director honed his craft.
 Is there one film to rule them all? I set out on a re watch to find out...
Bad Taste (1987)

‘Like a visit from a planet full of Charlie Mansons!’
 Your enjoyment of Bad Taste is dependent entirely on your ability to stomach copious amounts of blood, guts and vomit and your appreciation for absurd slapstick comedy. If you like a bit of a giggle with your gore, you’ll find there’s plenty here for the horror comedy connoisseur.
 Jackson’s first feature film is a low-budget labour of love that was directed, shot, edited and (partially) acted all by the man himself. All props and special effects were created by Jackson, from the fake guns and gore to the grotesque alien invaders, with some of the alien deformity famously coming from the fact that the masks didn’t quite fit in his mum’s oven.
 Filming took place over an incredible four years, shot on the odd weekends when the cast of Jackson and his mates were free.The film was financed entirely by Jackson, until the New Zealand Film Commission, impressed with the existing footage, stumped up the funds to finish the movie.. With the success of the film resting on his shoulders, this is the kind of dedication that you only see from a movie-maker out to prove himself.
 The film’s plot evolved as shooting went on, based on a desire to include all the very best, most gory ideas for set-pieces, but the basic story is pretty simple: alien employees of Crumb’s Crunchy Delights have come to Earth to use humanity as a new source of fast food and it’s up to the four weirdos of the Astro Investigation and Defence Service to stop them.
Dereks don’t run.
 There’s not much depth to the film - you could maybe squint and a see a little bit of satire in just how disposable head honcho Lord Crumb considers humanity and his own literally blue-collared workers to be in the pursuit of profit but you’d be missing the point. The plot only really exists as a frame in which to fit as many ridiculous, disgusting, slapstick gags as are possible into 90 minutes.       
 No head is blown off without buckets of offal flying into the camera, no bullet wound complete without blood squirting directly into someone’s eye and there’s a palpable glee in the escalation of gore and violence right up until team psycho Derek (one of Jackson’s three roles in the movie) uses a chainsaw to carve himself a passage directly through an entire alien body. The sense of escalation threads it way through the film from the stripped down, hand-held openings shots, clambering over set and scenery, to the explosive, special effects extravaganza of the finale.
 Watching the film again several years after I first saw it, much of the fun comes from watching Jackson clearly trying to outdo each scene with the next, not least with his own, unhinged performance as Derek. Bad Taste holds up impressively well for a first movie and is full of enough genuine laughs that it’s still a definite must-watch for any fans of splatter comedy.
 There’s no fat on this one, get some mates round, have a laugh and sink your teeth in.

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Bad Taste (1987) VHS Trailer

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