Peter Jackson. I’m sorry. Academy Award-winning director, Peter Jackson is probably best known for his work on The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and the (oh, brother) Hobbit trilogy. In fact, a lot of people probably only know him as the LOTR guy. That said, what if I were to tell you that he wasn’t always some prestigious director who now makes Beatles’ documentaries like Get Back, but instead, used to be a total horror hound? What if, in fact, I were to tell you that the man once held the Guinness Book of World Records title for using the most fake blood ever in his (in)famous film, Braindead (often known stateside as Dead Alive)? Did you know that?
Well, while I love The Lord of the Rings, and pretty much all of Peter Jackson’s movies, I’m proud to admit that my absolute favorite of his movies is his debut picture, Bad Taste. This movie is, well, it’s something else. Shot on a shoestring budget in New Zealand, it might not be as popular as Dead Alive, or as commercially viable as something like The Frighteners, but dammit, it’s my all-time favorite movie of his, and I have five reasons why.
It's Deliciously Gory
I already mentioned that Dead Alive once used the most fake blood ever in a film, and it’s definitely bloodier than Bad Taste, but, while both movies are considered horror comedies of sorts, I find this movie's gore much funnier, and even more outrageous. And, this is despite Dead Alive having a scene involving a lawnmower and gallons of blood.
For those who don’t know, the film is about aliens who have come down to Earth with the ultimate intention of having us “for lunch.” Our only hope is the efforts of four men known simply as “The Boys” who are going to save the Earth from the devious (and hungry) aliens. Now, that’s all fine and dandy, and when looking at the pantheon of the best sci-fi movies of all time, Bad Taste doesn’t even come close, even with the tried and true formula of aliens coming to Earth.
But, where it makes for an underwhelming sci-fi film, it definitely stands head and shoulders above as a horror comedy, as we have a character falling off a cliff, only to survive with his brains leaking out of his skull (Which he holds in place with his belt!), a sheep exploding…FOR NO REASON!, and a chainsaw through the head fatality that leads to one of the best one-liners ever. I’ll tell you, I’ve seen a lot of the best horror movies, and very few of them are even remotely as memorable as Bad Taste.
Peter Jackson Actually Stars In The Film. In Two Roles!
The director is known for making cameos in The Lord of the Rings, and they were definitely fun to point out, but for reasons I don’t know – perhaps it was because he had so little manpower and money – he’s actually a central character in Bad Taste, as well as an alien. Not only that, but in a feat of talent, he plays himself fighting himself, all on a very steep looking cliff.
He's also the Minister, but let’s get back to that leading role, since it’s probably the best character in the entire film. Jackson portrays Derek, one of “The Boys” who’s going to send these “bahstahds” back to outer space. He’s unhinged at the beginning of the film, but totally out of his mind (literally) after he falls off a cliff and has his brains splatter all over some rocks, only to survive and punch a fake looking bird. Honestly, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is a magnificent movie, but Bad Taste is his masterpiece (or rather, his splatterpiece). You think I’m joking!
It's His Funniest Work To Date
I would say that a great majority of Peter Jackson’s films have at least a little bit of humor in them. The Frighteners is meant to be a comedy, and it definitely has its moments. And who can forget “I kick ass for the Lord!” in Dead Alive? Plus, as needlessly serious as The Hobbit movies were, the filmmaker was still able to slip in at least some whimsy in what probably should have been a full-out comedy to begin with.
But, Bad Taste is hilarious all the way through. From the very first scene when we hear the aliens attacking somebody, and a voice saying, “Though they may be a bit showy, I think this is a job for REAL MEN,” while pressing a button that reads “The Boys” which is right beneath another button that reads, “The Queen” (as if the queen and The Boys are on equal footing when it comes to speed dialing for help), the whole film is a laugh riot throughout.
Seriously, if you’re any real friend of mine, then you’ve seen Bad Taste because I made you watch it with me. It’s honestly the kind of film that needs to be seen to be believed, and if we’re friends, I’ve made you watch it. And if you were lucky, only once!
It's A Horror Movie Set Mostly In The Day Time
I once wrote an article pitting Hereditary against Midsommar to see which was the better Ari Aster film, and even though Hereditary won, I have to give major kudos to Midsommar for being a horror movie set almost entirely in the daytime. That’s not easy! And, even though Bad Taste isn’t really a horror movie, per se, as it isn’t scary in the slightest, most of it takes place in the sunny countryside of New Zealand, so all the gore and blood is even more vibrant since there is so much sunlight.
I can’t stress how much I love this, though, since it’s a film that is full of color. This adds to the overall personality of the movie, which seems to be missing a bit in Peter Jackson's movies as of late. Yes, his imagination is always on full display whenever he directs an actual movie, but I think that by setting Bad Taste almost entirely in the daylight, it adds even more flair and character to this horror movie than if it had mostly taken place in the dark. I love it!
It's A Great Indication Of The Brilliant Director He Would Later Become
Lastly, I always love watching a director’s entire filmography. I ranked Paul Thomas Anderson’s movies, as well as Rob Zombie’s movies. And, one thing I always love to see from a director is the trajectory from the very first movie to the most recent one. Sometimes, prominent directors make a great movie on their first try, and Peter Jackson is no exception.
Except, Jackson is an interesting case study. Whereas a lot of directors usually hew closely to the style that they started with, he's made massive leaps and bounds throughout his career, going from the cheaply made (but immensely entertaining) all the way to some of the biggest movies of all time.
And yet, you can see his charm, charisma, and sense of humor from the very first film. Sure, he would have to calm down with all the blood and gore to become the mainstream director he is today, but like Guillermo del Toro, you can tell deep down that even though he's now an Academy Award winning director, deep down, he’s still the young lad who chainsawed an alien from head to genitals, and then slid out, covered in gore, only to proclaim, “I’m born again!” That same Peter Jackson is still with us today, and we couldn’t be any more blessed to have him.
Have you ever seen Peter Jackson’s original splatterpiece, Bad Taste? For more news on this director and many others, make sure to swing by here often!
Rich is a Jersey boy, through and through. He graduated from Rutgers University (Go, R.U.!), and thinks the Garden State is the best state in the country. That said, he’ll take Chicago Deep Dish pizza over a New York slice any day of the week. Don’t hate. When he’s not watching his two kids, he’s usually working on a novel, watching vintage movies, or reading some obscure book.
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