The delicacy of the day is you.
I'm guessing that Peter Jackson is going to become one of the most well known directors after the release of the upcoming Lord Of The Rings trilogy. Back in 1996 Jackson directed the Michael J. Fox horror/comedy The Frighteners, his first real "big-budget" Hollywood film (though it was filmed on location in Jackson's home continent of New Zealand). However, before all that came to pass Jackson produced and directed his first film, the 1987 gross-out flick Bad Taste. Starring a bunch of Jackson's buddies and a lot of rubber prosthetics, Bad Taste goes "splat" on DVD courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment.
Facts of the Case
Humankind is in BIG trouble when an alien race lands on earth to collect people as intergalactic fast food! In New Zealand, a group of malevolent aliens have killed and packed up bodies from a nearby town to take back to their home planet. Only an elite group of government assassins (which includes Jackson himself) can stop this menacing extra terrestrial race! Soon guts will fly, heads will bleed, and vomit will churn as an all out war ensues between man and alien in a showdown to the gruesome finish!
Out of general curiosity, I looked around the Internet to see what other people thought of Bad Taste. To my surprise, I found a lot of people who really enjoyed this movie. I realize that I may be the party pooper in the crowd by saying this, but I really didn't think very highly of this movie. Maybe the production values were too cheap, or maybe the acting was too amateurish. Whatever the reason, I just couldn't get into Bad Taste.
However, this isn't to say that Bad Taste doesn't have some good things going for it. Produced on a budget of around $400,000, Peter Jackson made sure to spread that money around so that the effects looked better than average (for a student film, which is what this really is). Sure, you can see the seams in the rubber suits, but that's to be expected on a film like this. What impressed me was the way Jackson made the effects look grander than they really are. There was carnage galore in this movie, and some of the props looked pretty darn good (once again, for a student film). Jackson also has a visual style that's not unlike Sam Raimi, who directed the equally quirky and disgusting Evil Dead series. Jackson's cameras zip around like crazy, usually in some interesting and innovate ways. This style would stay with Jackson through all his films, including the goofily gory Dead Alive and the underappreciated The Frighteners.
Unfortunately, the film tends to lag in spots, no surprise seeing as the script is very weak. This film was apparently shot over the span of four years, so I guess they needed a story they could just sort of improvise off of. The actors in the film play almost everything for laughs (especially Jackson as a lad trying too keep his brains in his head after a near-fatal accident), and the effects are sometimes too nauseating, even for me (and that's saying a lot). At one point an alien up-chucks into a large bowl which was then passed around for everyone to sip out of. I think that ranks about an eleven on my "barf-o-meter." If you are a squeamish viewer, you'll want to stay as far away from this movie as possible. Heads get chain-sawed off, limbs go flying, eyes pop out of sockets…nothing is spared in this treat for the whole (Manson) family. Certainly some of the effects are played for laughs, much like Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn, but taken as a whole, the special effects tend to sicken rather than entertain.
When I first received this movie, I was really hoping I'd like it. I know there are legions of fans out there who think this is Jackson's best effort. I can't say that it's a terrible film because it's really not—it's just a mediocre one. While watching Bad Taste I could see those flashes of creativity that would soon find their way into Jackson's future movies. For that reason, Bad Taste is well worth the time to see. Otherwise it's just a bombardment of the sense that grows tiresome all too quickly.
Bad Taste is presented in 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen. This transfer is somewhat of a mixed bag—Anchor Bay has done the best job they could on the print, but there are still many imperfections that mar the print. Due to the low budget nature of the film there is some grain, dirt and scratches along the way. However, these can be overlooked and just seen as part of the cheesy draw for this film. Given their source materials, this is a nice job by Anchor Bay.
Audio is presented in Dolby Surround 2.0 mix, Dolby Digital 5.1 EX mix, and a DTS-ES 6.1. Why this small little movie needed such complex sound mixes is beyond me. Aside of making sure that the dialogue is clear, this is one of those films that works just fine with a regular Dolby 2.0 Surround mix. The new DTS-ES 6.1 mix and the 5.1 EX mixes are fine with some new directional sounds utilized during scenes of gunfire and explosions. Because of the cheap nature of this film, the soundtracks don't have the depth or fidelity of other Hollywood movies. While it's nice to have these new soundtracks (all the dialogue, effects, and music are very clear), the bottom line is that they just weren't needed. No subtitles are included on this disc.
There are two editions of Bad Taste available from Anchor Bay: a single disc and a two-disc limited edition that includes a 25-minute documentary on the making of the film. The single disc edition (which is what I received for review) includes an anamorphic theatrical trailer for Bad Taste and a rather extensive biography on director Peter Jackson.
Who knows…maybe my timing was off while watching Bad Taste. Many folks really like this movie, but for some odd reason I just couldn't get into it. The film does include some creative ideas (a fight sequence on a cliff is very impressive). Bad Taste shows that Peter Jackson is a talented guy, and I'm looking forward to seeing his new Lord Of The Rings trilogy. Anchor Bay has done a very good job with this disc, though the supplemental features are really lacking. In their defense, I've read that Jackson was interested in recording a commentary track for the film but couldn't find the time while working on his new movies. C'est la vie.
Bad Taste is free to go due to its cult classic status, but buyer beware: this is one gross movie.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
• Theatrical Trailer
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