Jarv’s Schlock Vault: Bad Taste

Hehe… my friend, the astro-bastard, time for talkies

Jarv’s Rating: A very well earned 3.5 Changs out of 4. Superb.

 I defy anyone not to love Peter Jackson’s debut feature. It may be a bit gross (the clue’s in the title) and it may be a bit rough around the edges, but it’s hard to think of a more amusing, more lovably ramshackle debut as this one.

I don’t, for the life of me, know how Jackson got this made. It was shot over 4 years by him and his mates, the cast kept changing (Craig Smith dropped out because his new wife wouldn’t allow him to film on a Sunday, but returned after the divorce), they had nothing in the way of cash, and very little to actually work with. That Bad Taste turned out as accomplished as it did says a lot about their dedication, and even more about their willful exuberance under what must have been hugely trying circumstances.

Anyway, in a nutshell, Bad Taste is the story of an alien invasion of a Kiwi town. They aliens turn up, slaughter the townsfolk (they’re samples of meat for the galaxy’s latest taste sensation) and are all set to escape when the New Zealand government calls in the crack commando outfit known as “The Boys” or the Astro Investigation and Defence Service (AIDS hehehehe) to give them their full title. In the meantime, the aliens are proposing a victory feast, the main course of which is a local charity collector who will be the dish of honour. Carnage and shenanigans ensue, before one of the boys, Derek, “goes apeshit” with a chainsaw.

This film is obscenely entertaining. From the opening scene with the minister and his claw hand, the whole  movie is rammed full of comic touches that make me laugh. Some of them are sight gags, such as Derek’s awesomely stupid Beatles car, and others are provided by a script that contains such great lines as “I’m a Derek, and Derek’s don’t run”, but this is a film that manages to be consistently crassly funny.

It is, however, a film that really goes out of its way to live up to its name. There are multiple shots of Derek attempting to put his head back together, a huge level of splatter, an audacious amount of cursing, and most brilliantly, one of the characters has to drink from a bowl full of vomit. After the rest of the Aliens had (brilliantly started by the head alien with, just after swallowing some,  “Aren’t I lucky, I got a chunky bit”). This is an extremely gross film, and as it is deliberate, it’s also downright hilarious.

As already noted, Bad Taste is probably the epitome of the amateur production, and as such it is incredibly rough. The acting in particular is a tad on the ropy side- with multiple parts being played by each cast member, but in this case I think it adds to the film’s rough and ready charm. The only cast member, aside from Jackson himself, to really come through with honours is Doug Wren as Lord Crumb, who sadly died during post production thereby forcing Jackson to dub the alien voices with another cast member.

The special effects, particularly the alien makeup, are surprisingly good. Jackson made the alien masks himself, baking them in his mother’s oven and as  a result necessity became the mother of invention. The masks as originally designed were too big to fit, so Jackson had the genius idea of curving them back. This is a superb look for the Aliens, and one that is surprisingly effective. The gore effects are all equally good (even if a few of them do look suspiciously like meat from a butcher’s shop), with price clearly being a major consideration. I honestly find it hard to criticise the effects in a film with a budget as small as this that has the audacity to put in some large scale explosions, man-in-suit monsters and a flying house. So I’m not going to.


 I’d like to talk about the score, but in all honesty I can’t remember it. Aside from that, though, the other sound work is excellent- there’s a cornucopia of revolting squelching noises, convincing explosions, twangings, motor noises, slapping sounds etc that all lend a madcap comic feel to a superficially extremely nasty film. That it is a comedy rather than a horror is down in large part to the effectiveness of the sound work.

It isn’t perfect, although I did toy with giving it a maximum, as the last act (again) lags a wee bit. The shootout in particular is not that interesting and seems to go on far too long, and in a film as short as this one it does feel a bit like makeweight. However, at the same time it also looks like they were having a riot filming it, and if they got a touch carried away, then it is completely understandable. A minor quibble really in an excellent and hugely enjoyable film.

Overall, would I recommend Bad Taste? Well, without even thinking about it, yes. This is an enjoyably raucous slice of low-brow entertainment and certainly much more enjoyable than anything Jackson made since he discovered the Slim Fast plan. I actually wish he’d go back to his roots, because this, Braindead, Meet The Feebles and The Frighteners are all vastly superior to everything he’s done since Fellowship of the Ring. The man isn’t a serious artist, he’s a schlockmeister that got astronomically lucky and I’d love to see him return to the subject matter he’s best at: quirky, offensive, odd-ball gross out material.

Bad Taste is a superb film, and one that I highly recommend.

Until next time,


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About Jarv

Workshy cynic, given to posting reams of nonsense on the internet and watching films that have inexplicably got a piss poor reputation.

35 responses to “Jarv’s Schlock Vault: Bad Taste”

  1. Droid says :

    Nice one. Great film. And I agree (as we discussed yesterday). PJ needs to go back to making schlock entertainment. He’s a very similar filmmaker to Raimi.

    • Jarv says :

      Tis true, but Raimi went back to PG13 Horror. They need (especially in Jackson’s case) to make proper balls out horror.

      • Droid says :

        Yeah, but at least he went back to schlock. ‘Drag’ was pretty good actually.

      • Droid says :

        The problem is, with the budgets they are used to now, they aren’t going to make big budget R rated schlock. Drag cost $30m and only got to $90m WW. If it was R it wouldn’t make half of that.

      • koutchboom says :

        I don’t know I think if had it been R it would’ve made more.

        This whole myth about R rated movies making no money is starting to dissapear. In fact last year sometime the top four movies were all rated R. (H2/Final Destination/D9/Inglorious Bastards).

      • Jarv says :

        I know I’m being a dick about it and should give it a shot, but knowing it’s PG13 and Spidey 3 are still just putting me off too much.

      • Droid says :

        Just give it a go. I was dubious when I started it, but I quite quickly found myself laughing. I think you’d like it.

        At the very least, you won’t hate it.

      • Jarv says :

        But where’s the next generation? Evil Dead was early 80’s, this was 83-87, and there are many other examples out there during this time. Who’s the modern equivalent? Eli “bag of cocks” Roth?

        Marshall is blatantly trying to be Carpenter (not a bad thing) so that’s out, but where’s the witty, low rent schlock coming from?

      • Jarv says :

        I’m not going to waste bandwidth on it, but it is on the Lovefilm list and if it turns up then I’ll watch it.

        I suspect I probably will like it, but I’m right off Raimi.

      • koutchboom says :

        Yeah Drag Me to Heck is worth the ole looky loo. Nothing amazing but fun.

      • Droid says :

        The bloke who made Bitch Slap should try his hand at schlocky horror.

      • Jarv says :

        That is a fucking TOP suggestion.

        If we can’t get Renny, he’s got to be a candidate for Astrodykes v Werewolves on the Moon.

  2. DocPazuzu says :

    I know what you mean, Jarv. Raimi’s guilty of numerous crimes, the least of which not being the heinous Spidey and producing that loathsome Conan TV show in the 90s. I was ready to hate DMTH (“Spook-a-blast”? FUCK OFF!) but ended up really, really enjoying it.

    • Jarv says :

      It seems to have pretty unanimous support, so I will probably see it.

      I’ve just gone right off him. I now think he’s a bit of a cunt.

  3. DocPazuzu says :

    That should be “Spidey 3”, of course…

    • Jarv says :

      It’s funny, what ever happened to the man that willingly played bit parts in things like innocent blood?

      He seems to have vanished up his own ass.

      • DocPazuzu says :

        His brother Ted is still a reliable schlock-peddler.

      • Jarv says :

        Yup, last seen in Supernatural last year and the underrated Midnight Meat Train.

        Good man.

      • Droid says :

        In one of my fav SN’s.

        Giant Suicidal Teddy Bear FTW!!!

        Poor Teddy.

      • DocPazuzu says :

        You need to see “Skinner”. Ted plays a psycho serial killer who skins his victims and then wears the skins (inna Buffalo Bill stylee). The DVD version has cut out the scene where he chases a guy while wearing the skin of a black guy and trying to act “urban”. Un-fucking-believable and hilariously disturbing. There are plenty of VHS rips to find online so there’s no reason to miss out on that scene. Oh, and Traci Lords is in it, too. Classy lady.

      • Jarv says :

        Woah, that sounds mint.

        I’ll put that on my list behind the one billed as “Critter from the Shitter”.

        I can’t remember what that one’s called though- Rat boy or something.

      • Jarv says :

        Bipolar, porn and booze addled teddybear is superb TV:

        I think this is the right one.

  4. Jarv says :

    Did you see that fat cunt Murphy’s tantrum last week, Doc?


  5. Continentalop says :

    Re: Skinner above. The guy who made Skinner, Ivan Nagy, was involved in the entire Heidi Fleiss thing. He is actually a very sleazy and crooked guy with honest-to-god OC ties. Watch “Heidi Fleiss, Hollywood Madame” to get a closer look at him, or listen to Roger Ebert describe him from that movie:

    Oh, the face of evil can be charming. Remember Hannibal Lecter. Or consider, in the real world, the case of Ivan Nagy. He is a sometime Hollywood movie director who was also–if you can believe his detractors–a pimp, a drugdealer, and a police informer who betrayed his lover while still sleeping withher. He has an impish little smile that he allows to play around his face, andit implicates you in his sleaze. Come on, the smile suggests, who are we kidding? We’re all men of the world here; we know this stuff goes on. Ivan Nagy was a key player in the life of Heidi Fleiss, the “HollywoodMadam,” who was sentenced to three years for procuring prostitutes for anA-list of top Hollywood players and free-spending Arabs.

  6. ThereWolf says :

    It’s a weird one for me, Bad Taste. I first saw it around about 1988 and loved it, never forgot it. Then a couple of years ago I got the R4 DVD – I think I was on a Jackson kick or something and Bad Taste popped back onto my radar.

    Watched it and for some reason, it didn’t click. I was actually shocked at how rough around the edges the movie is, hadn’t recalled that aspect at all.

    I know it’s good, for all the reasons stated above. That second viewing just hit me wrong. So, I’ll have to take Bad Taste for another spin soon.

    • koutchboom says :

      Probably because as a kid you didn’t realize/notice that it took 3 years to make.

      • ThereWolf says :

        Sadly, I wasn’t a kid in 1988 – I was a fully grown adult! But, no, I didn’t know until Jarv’s review it took 4 years to film.

        I must’ve been in a bad mood or something on that second viewing.

      • Jarv says :


        Add some beer.

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