Features and Columns · Movies

Gumption and Gore: How Peter Jackson Made ‘Bad Taste’

“Peter Jackson make another horror film” challenge.
Peter Jackson's Bad Taste
WingNut Films
By  · Published on September 7th, 2020

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video that explores Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste.

Debuts are one of the most wholesome parts of a filmmaker’s career. Even if it means eating butcher scraps out of a severed latex head: there’s something inherently endearing about a first showing.

Wait, gnawing on cranial cheap meats? Must be time to extol the gross-out virtues of Bad Tastethe inaugural film of Lord of the Rings helmer Peter Jackson! Released in 1987, Bad Taste is one of the scrappiest first showings of all time. While Jackson is now wildly known for heading up big-budget franchise films, his origins are bloody humble. Well: bloody and humble. Horror’s low budget charms are a draw for many young filmmakers, but Jackson’s first feature was an out and out splatterfest. A playfully gory conspiracy romp about bumbling government operatives, undercover flesh-eating aliens, and an intergalactic fast-food chain. Yes, it is as goofy — and as goopy — as it sounds.

Unless a filmmaker is very lucky (read: very well-connected), debuts are often energetic testaments to gumption, creativity, and undeterred vision. They’re feature-length proof of what you can accomplish with a just few friends, a camera, and your imagination. Bad Taste is no exception. As the video essay below details, there was no film industry to speak of in New Zealand in the 1980s. It was up to Jackson to make his own way on simple and contagious enthusiasm. The man rigged his own Steadicam for Christchurch’s sake.

The video essay is also a good reminder that, while not all debuts are the most sophisticated, they often contain the primordial threads of a director’s career. In Jackson’s case: a love of monsters, miniatures, camera trickery, and commitment.

Watch “How Peter Jackson Made a Splatter Masterpiece“:

Who made this?

This video essay was put together by the Texas-based Royal Ocean Film Society, which is run by Andrew Saladino. You can browse their back catalog of videos on their Vimeo account here. If Vimeo isn’t your speed, you can give them a follow on YouTube here.

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Based in the Pacific North West, Meg enjoys long scrambles on cliff faces and cozying up with a good piece of 1960s eurotrash. As a senior contributor at FSR, Meg's objective is to spread the good word about the best of sleaze, genre, and practical effects.