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The Movie Hole

Movie Recommendation of the Week - "Bad Taste"

JJ Mortimer

"Bad Taste" is an extremely low-budget film I stress any budding film maker to watch, strictly on the basis of your love for making personal independent films for fun and for seeing how even the smallest of efforts can lead to the biggest of futures.

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In the fall of 2000, I learned about two important things in my life:  "The Lord of the Rings" and "Bad Taste."  At the time I knew nothing of the "Lord of the Rings" saga other than the fact that I had vaguely remembered who Bilbo Baggins was when I was in elementary school.  Then, word got out in late 1999/early 2000 that production was underway on film versions of the trilogy with director Peter Jackson at the helm.  I was a bit confused and upset at New Line Cinema's choice of director because, at the time, I confused then no-name Peter Jackson with directors Mick Garris (the perennial film maker of many of Stephen King's novels) and Mick Jackson.  I was a film freak even back in those days, so I still have no fucking clue why I would get that shit mixed up.

"Why did they hire a made-for-TV material director to helm a $300 million dollar project?  Why couldn't they get Spielberg?"

I was an idiot, and was just coming into my own with a lot of the independent films that started the careers of many directors.  I was also becoming a huge fan of the horror film genre, and that was when a friend of mine (who was working with me at a video store at the time) asked me if I had seen "Bad Taste".  Clearly I had not, because I thought he was asking me a literal question and I then commented on the shitty color of his car's interior.  After figuring out it was actually a movie, and essentially the first film that laid the ground work as to why New Line chose Jackson, I HAD to give it a look.

"Bad Taste" is Peter Jackson's first film, and it shows.  He began shooting it as a short film in the early 80s with 16mm film, fronting the budget with his own money.  As he began editing it together, he realized he had nearly a feature length movie.  Having hired his friends as cast members, they took it upon themselves to shoot additional footage when they were all available and not working.  Without a script and throughout a four-year period shooting only on weekends, Jackson and his buddies went out to make one of the grossest independent films I have ever seen.

And holy shit was it a surprise.  The film was a surprise for two reasons:  One, that it entertained me as much as it did while looking as cheaply as it did; and two, that so much could be done with a small group of people collaborating and creating something they truly enjoyed making.

This film and Sam Raimi's "The Evil Dead" were a couple of the few reasons why I was inspired to go to film school.

The film's premise is pretty simple.  Aliens have landed on earth and taken over a small town.  A bunch of people go missing, and a small group of friends go to check it out.  They find that many of the missing people have been replaced by these fat-headed creatures who have turned the missing people into the special ingredients in their intergalactic fast-food.  There's violence galore as some of the villagers are found, some even with their brains being eaten out of their skull with spoons.

Peter Jackson playing an alien with a specific appetite.

Peter Jackson playing an alien with a specific appetite.

Many of the gags have to be seen and not spoiled in description.  All I will say is there is drinking of green alien vomit, and a man who will go to any length to keep his mind about him, both resulting in some truly hilarious (and disgusting) consequences.

Despite the fact that the film is as low-budget as low budget films can get (Jackson created nearly all the props, gags, creature molds, and weapons himself in the kitchen of his home), I recommend this film highly because it's a moment in history - a moment where we see a future legend in film making, displaying the first example of his love for making fun motion pictures.  He would go on to direct other low budget schlocky gore-fests, leaving in our minds to question what producers at New Line Cinema truly saw in choosing him to creatively put to use $300 million dollars of their money to make one of the most ambitious motion picture events ever attempted.

Watching "Bad Taste", I can actually see that spark of imagination that would inspire such a future decision from the executives.  Peter Jackson was a creative man who didn't shoot movies as a job; he shot them because he loved to make them.  That's exactly the kind of person you want making a leap into bigger-budget motion pictures.  That's the kind of man who has fun making movies, a fun that transcends into the minds of the audience viewing them. 

I'm talking movies like "Bad Taste".  Just don't watch it while eating.