Bad Taste (1987)
By: Craig Villinger on November 8, 2004  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Region 4, PAL. 1.77:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1, English DD 2.0. Universal (Australia). 91 minutes
The Movie
Director: Peter Jackson
Starring: Terry Potter, Pete O'Herne, Craig Smith, Mike Minett, Peter Jackson, Doug Wren
Screenplay: Peter Jackson, Ken Hammon, Tony Hiles
Country: New Zealand
The bastards have landed! Peter Jackson's superlative splatter comedy finally emerges unscathed in Australia after previously suffering over a minute of cuts thanks to those humourless chaps from the Office of Film and Literature Classification, and with a wealth of extra features to boot!

Members of the Astro Investigation and Defence Service are sent to the small Kiwi town of Kaihoro to investigate reports of extra terrestrial activity. They discover that the town is completely deserted, and it is not long before the shocking truth is revealed - New Zealand has been invaded by evil aliens intent on turning human beings into an intergalactic fast food feast, and the only thing standing in their way are the boys from A.I.D.S.

Shot on weekends over a period of four years with a script that made itself up as it went along and the directors co-workers and school friends in the starring roles, Academy Award winner Peter Jackson's debut feature is one of the great triumphs of "do it yourself" filmmaking. Financing originally came out of Jackson's own pocket, and it was not until the latter stages of the production that he received some additional funding from the New Zealand film commission, and the end result looks far more professional than one would expect from such a low budget exercise.

If you are looking for top-notch acting performances, an intricately detailed storyline and an overall sense of higher enlightenment, then you might want to stay away from this one. If however you are looking for ninety minutes of entertainment with no strings attached, this may very well be the film for you. Jackson may not have had much cash to work with but he makes up for it with a wealth of imagination and talent, combining gross-out gore, over-the-top action sequences, inventive camera trickery, slapstick humour, and surprisingly competent visual effects to create one of the most interesting horror comedies you are likely to see. Vomit drinking, exploding sheep, hideous displays of alien arse-cheek – this film certainly lives up to its title, and Jackson is thankfully not afraid to take a few chances in the comedy department to keep us entertained.

Mainstream film fans will ultimately remember Peter Jackson for his big budget Hollywood efforts like The Lord of the Rings, but you can store those films towards the back of your shelf for all I care because this small-scale flick will always hold a special place in my splatter loving heart. No doubt inspired by the success of his Hobbit-ridden trilogy Jackson's debut feature has finally received a respectable release in Australia, so with a bit of luck it will only be only a matter of time before his other pre-Hollywood jaunts such as Braindead receive the deluxe digital treatment as well. I wait patiently…
Considering the bargain basement camera equipment used for the production Bad Taste scrubs up quite well on DVD. Minor print damage and traces of film grain are noticeable from time to time, but the image is surprisingly sharp and colours are perfectly acceptable.
Bad Taste comes with a remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack as well as the original 2.0 mono track, however the 5.1 channel remix is the clear winner. The rear channels come in to play quite regularly, particularly during the films numerous action sequences, and dialogue is crisp and clear at all times.
Extra Features
Kicking off this "Collectors Edition" release is an audio commentary track from actors Craig Smith, Mike Minett, Pete O'Herne, and Terry Potter. The discussion is generally quite animated with many amusing anecdotes and much praise for the noticeably absent PJ, as well as the occasional piss-take. You won't learn too much about the technical side of the production but the constant laughter and tomfoolery from "The Boys" makes this an interesting talk-through from start to finish. This is followed by Good Taste Made Bad Taste - a fascinating twenty three minute documentary featuring a young (and slim) Jackson showing us some of the props and production equipment used during filming, as well as interviews with his parents (whose oven was used to bake most of the films latex masks) along with cast and crew members, and several clips from some of PJ's earlier short films. Next up is a twenty eight minute slide show of behind-the-scenes stills with narration from Jackson originally recorded in 1990; a Kiwi news clip from 2002 featuring cast members heaping more praise on Jackson, a photo gallery containing on set stills and poster/promo artwork, and last but not least the original Bad Taste trailer.
The Verdict
Compared with the Anchor Bay USA release we gain an audio commentary, slide show, interviews, TV news clip, and photo gallery but miss out on an outdated Peter Jackson text biography and DTS sound. We aren't missing much however as the difference between the DTS and our own 5.1 track is negligible. Unless someone manages to round up Jackson himself for a commentary this Region 4 release from Universal should be the definitive version of Bad Taste on DVD, and gets my highest possible recommendation.
Movie Score
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