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If you're lucky, you might get a chunky bit...
on 21 January 2006
Peter "Lord of the Rings" Jackson's first commercial movie release was made on a minuscule budget and with more than a little help from his friends, not to mention mum and dad. It is undeniably a crudely amateurish zombie-populated gore-fest, in the nascent gross-out style that Jackson would push to its ultimate gory conclusion in his more polished next release - the truly inspired Braindead.
The plot of Bad Taste is recycled from umpteen corny old American B movies from the middle of the last century - aliens have landed in a remote part of the country, with the aim of exploiting humanity for nefarious ends. A small group of humans cotton onto what's happening and set out to save planet Earth.
The standard of acting is hardly Oscar material; the dozen or so actors (no actresses!) are recycled time and time again; the sound and soundtrack are very basic and the special effects are mostly crude and ridiculous. So why does it work and why has Bad Taste acquired such cult status? Quite simply because it is incredibly entertaining! The outrageous visual gags and often inspired one-liners (delivered in deadpan manner more often than not) provide a whole series of laugh-out-loud moments. Some of my favourites being the ongoing effects of Derek's (Jackson) traumatic head injury, the machine-gun firing literally through the body (didn't Jeunet pinch that idea in Alien 4?), the aliens dropping out of the tree in great number following a volley of shots from one of our heroes, Robert's (Jackson again) throat-cutting gag, the serving of the "gruel" (I defy anyone not to feel queasy the first time they see that!) and, of course, the gross-out "born-again" final sequence. Each of the gory set-pieces are strung together by some amusing dialogue and the paying of cheeky homage to everything from The Professionals, Doctor Who and Mad Max to The Waltons (yes, really!).
Not everything works, sure. I felt some of the shoot-out and pursuit sequences were a tad laboured and some of the gags struck me as very laddish in-jokes that only Jackson and his chums would guffaw at (I mean, what gives with the cardboard cut-out Beatles???) but just put it down to inspired lunacy and, rest assured that Jackson's inspired scattergun technique guarantees that the viewer will never have to wait too long for the next belly-laugh to appear.
Bad Taste is not as good as Braindead, but it still provides a lot of entertainment and is bound to appeal to those of you who love tongue-in-cheek horrors in the Evil Dead genre. Perfect leave-your-brain-at-home fare after a few beers with your mates, but I'd skip the "chunky bit" if you're planning to enjoy a meal shortly afterwards!