BAD TASTE. Peter Jackson as a vengeful zombie

Amateurism is evident in Bad Taste at every step.

Lukasz Budnik

6 September 2023

And if we were to carefully consider his acting role in the film – not just as a zombie. He also played a member of The Boys, a special government unit for investigating contacts with aliens, which unexpectedly is forced into armed action to defend the entire planet. It must be admitted that Jackson’s acting skills were terrible at that time. Probably they have remained so to this day. Moreover, he never got a chance to prove otherwise. However, over the course of his directorial career, which was not very prolific in terms of films, he became an Oscar winner and one of the most famous creators in the world, permanently inscribed in the history of cinema. Could anyone have expected this after Bad Taste? Absolutely not because it is a peculiar example of independent cinema for exceptional fans of the horror gore genre and a few other types of cinematic expression, each of which was uniquely understood by Jackson.

Peter Jackson is an example of a person who proved that you don’t need formal education to do something well, and not in the sense of street cleaning or handing out flyers, but in being a professional director with knowledge of production, special effects, cinematography, and many other aspects of filmmaking. Jackson only needed determination and a love for working with a camera. He supplemented his knowledge gaps through self-directed education. He funded the production of Bad Taste with his own money earned from working in a photographic laboratory associated with the Wellington newspaper “Evening Post.” He received invaluable help from friends who volunteered their assistance. The completion of the film, however, would not have been possible if Jackson had not been noticed by the New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC). This organization served as a springboard that propelled Bad Taste from an island curiosity straight to Cannes and the world of cinema. This is how Jackson’s star began to rise, although it will probably be hard to believe for some when they see his exploits on set, such as the fight on the cliff. Objectively, it is far from perfect, but it’s worth evaluating the scene from the perspective of the creators’ situation. Could any of us, amateurs, have made something like this? Certainly not. The amateur Jackson and his team already possessed a vast amount of knowledge compared to the average, uneducated film enthusiast.

So, not all amateurs are equal. You can see amateurism in Bad Taste at every turn. The film’s title can also be interpreted as self-irony on the part of the creators because they knew perfectly well that they were not creating a masterpiece in terms of adhering to the rules of the craft. However, Peter Jackson, with his persistently falling brain, delivering a headbutt to a seagull that then lies helplessly flapping its legs while its entrails spill out, or eating the contents of someone’s head with a spoon, are scenes that are memorable and can be considered inventive. They just lack visual quality.

Furthermore, if you haven’t seen the film yet but intend to, pay attention to the conceptually well-designed sequence of Derek’s fight against opponents wielding sledgehammers. Hitting the wire fence with a crowbar to stop it right in front of Derek’s nose was truly inventive. The next blow also looked quite spectacular. The attacker’s sledgehammer struck his colleague’s sledgehammer head, so the victim had double luck.

The plot idea was very simple. Aliens landed in one of the smaller coastal towns. They didn’t have any grand plans to take over Earth – they were solely interested in eating people. They ate some on the spot and intended to export the rest to do business in the galaxy. Real connoisseurs of new flavors, like Wojciech Modest Amaro. However, their plan wasn’t so easy to execute because of The Boys. The bloodthirsty aliens were also not helped by a certain type of music very popular on Earth – heavy metal. It could drive them to a frenzy, not only the aliens but also our domestic fans of disco polo, as well as death metal. There’s also a sheep that became a victim of a missed rocket launcher shot, an alien making a call to its buddies with an old Earth phone, saying it will be home in 20 minutes, a flying house in space, and Peter Jackson killing the chief alien by thrusting a chainsaw into its massive skull, then emerging between its legs. Have I already encouraged you enough to watch this unique production? Fans of Prometheus will surely be surprised by the ending. Did Ridley Scott draw inspiration from Bad Taste?

I am aware that it’s impossible to give Peter Jackson’s full-length debut a rating higher than 3. However, I cannot give it a rating lower than 7. The rating depends on perspective. In a sense, it is also elevated by who Peter Jackson is today. And this is by no means an unobjective approach. We now have the opportunity to observe the work of the director of The Lord of the Rings through the lens of time. Even in his early film career, it was clear that he had great potential. Even if Peter Jackson never makes history in cinema again, what he has done is sufficient for one creator.

Ɓukasz Budnik

Lukasz Budnik

He loves both silent cinema and contemporary blockbusters based on comic books. He looks forward to watching movie with his growing son.

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