Thursday, November 6, 2008

Bad Taste (1987)

...aka: Roast of the Dead

Directed by:
Peter Jackson

The do-it-all-yourself 16mm sci-fi/horror cult hit that put Peter Jackson on the map is basically a super-low-budget outing designed to showcase some incredibly disgusting special effects (we see brains oozing out of a blown-apart head during the opening sequence). There's definitely some ingenuity at work here and it's an imaginative, spirited first feature for Jackson, warts and all. Filmed on weekends over a four-year period of time and personally financed by Jackson himself, BAD TASTE started life as a 10-minute short called ROAST OF THE DEAD, which was later expanded into a feature with some help from the New Zealand Film Commission. Dimwitted members of The Astro Investigation Defense Service are busy at work counteracting an extraterrestrial takeover in a small coastal New Zealand town, laying waste to dozens of human-looking cannibalistic space invaders in just about every gruesome way imaginable. The aliens themselves, who pass around a bowl of vomit to feast on during a meeting, are on Earth solely to stock up on human flesh for the intergalactic fast food franchise "Crumb's Country Delights," run by master alien Lord Crumb (Doug Wren).

Even though the highly irritating "characters" detract somewhat from the overall effect and the dialogue scenes (which supposedly had to be recorded a second time when the original sound tapes disappeared) can be somewhat grueling at times, they're basically around to link up one gory set piece to another. And gore this movie delivers on in a big way. Moving along at a fairly brisk pace, Jackson serves up about a thousand individual bullet hits, slashed throats, impalements, chainsaw-chewings, brain-matter, intestines, decapitations, severed limbs, bodies ripped into two, blood-squirting heads and much more. The special effects are pretty great, and right when the overkill starts to become extremely monotonous, the film redeems itself yet again when the aliens lose their human disguises, the defense squad get their hands on a rocket launcher and a chainsaw and the house the alien's have been hiding out in turns out to be giant spaceship. Jackson himself has a dual role; as squad member Derek, who stumbles around the majority of the movie with his brains plopping out of the back of his head, and as Robert, an alien butcher.

The Anchor Bay DVD is a huge step in ensuring the cult following of the film makes it through several more generations of horror fans. They've made 16mm look and sound about as good as it conceivably can. Released in two version; the first has a trailer and a Jackson bio and a Special Edition version contains a second disc with a 25 minute documentary on the production.


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