Thursday, June 30, 2005


'One Thing The Aliens Hadn't Counted On Was Derek, And Dereks Don't Run!': A Film Review Of 'Bad Taste'

Here we are, after the delights of the Dr Feelgood two-day alien season, and what better way to sum up than with a review of a decent gore-fest. The same as always - there's spoilers ahead, if you want to see it, don't look, yada yada yada.

Apparently, for the American front cover, Lord Crumb had to receive an extra finger in order to make a peace sign, the distributors considering an 'I' sign a little ripe for American sensibilities.

Back in the middle eighties, life was a little different for Peter Jackson, the man who became the director of the 'Lord Of The Rings' trilogy. He and his mates worked nine to five jobs in New Zealand. The only thing that set them apart was that, for between three and four years, they would head out to the countryside at weekends to film 'Bad Taste', a true cult classic.

The plot is absurdly simple - Oz, Barry, Frank and Derek (played by Jackson himself) are members of AIDS (Alien Investigation and Defence Service), a government department whose job is to find and capture alien invaders. The film starts with the decision to send 'The Boys' to a small sea-side village in New Zealand, where the inhabitants have mysteriously gone missing. They immediately ascertain that the aliens moving around the village (albeit in human form) are those responsible. Their attempts at recovering an alien alive go sadly, and bloodily, awry, and a full-on battle is on the cards. After half an hour of campy gore-fun, Derek has fallen off a cliff, and the other three have to manage on their own as they discover the source of the problem is a mansion upon a hill. They head on up, and find that human flesh has become the latest taste-sensation throughout the galaxy, sold by 'Crumbs County Delights', managed by the sadistic Lord Crumb. Obviously, only one option is open to 'The Boys' - complete annhiliation.

The film truly is a masterpiece of gore. I would usually say that a horror film that has, at best, one or two genuinely scary moments is a particularly poor horror, but not in this case. Horror is substituted for liberal amounts of fake blood and brain matter. The most wonderful thing is, the gore is seldom less than hilariously applied. From Barry's killing of the first alien, when the whole skull is removed, for the pink matter to slosh around on the beach, all the way through to Derek's 'total body penetration' of Lord Crumb at the finale, the sheer campiness of it all is just too funny for words.

After his fall down the cliff, Derek makes the sad discovery that part of his skull has become partially detached, and his brain is escaping. He spends much of the rest of the film attempting to keep it in, using such devices as the belt.

It has to be said that the obviously improvised script does contain some really funny lines too, meaning that gross-out humour isn't the only fun on offer. At the start, Barry is pondering the aliens next move - 'they could go somewhere bigger. Christchurch. Wellington.' A considerable pause. 'Auckland.' 'Oh, that wouldn't be so bad' replies Derek.

Jackson is clearly well aware of the remoteness of his setting, and the film makes gentle fun of New Zealand. The films first image is of a postcard with the face of Queen Elizabeth on it, and the phone operator speaks in Home Counties english, a delightful satire on remoteness - not only is the village remote, but so is New Zealand, the furthest colonial outpost. A little fun is had too at the prevalence of the sheep to the lives of many in rural New Zealand, with the childish, but oh-so funny destruction of one with a rocket launcher.

While one-liners do exist, and do play well, gross-out is still the most prevalent. Jackson's vivid imagination provides the viewer not only with chainsaw dismemberment, and the sight of Derek firing his machine gun through the body of a dead alien, but also the truly disgusting sight of the aliens consuming fresh vomit, which Frank has to partake in out of politeness during an 'undercover' scene. Genuinely sickly.

Lord Crumb enjoys the obvious gustatory delights of a bowl of fresh alien vomit.

The film has its problems. Jackson makes a Herculean effort to disguise the miniscule budget of the piece, but that frequently fails. The plot is incredibly basic, and the acting is rather obviously unprofessional. All these count against it, as does the fact that the whole film is really a rather adolescent male fantasy, getting to shoot things with no consequences. Indeed, there isn't a single actress in the film. According to the IMDb trivia page for the film, there are ladies credited as having taken some of the '3rd Class Alien' roles, but all of the aliens appear male. There is a rather heavy metal attitude to the film, a connection made all the more apparent by the music Oz chooses to listen to in the car. Indeed, one of the funniest moments throughout the film is the sight of two aliens desperately defending their ears from the onslaught of metal music from the car radio.

Despite its problems, however, I regard 'Bad Taste' as a singular achievement. Considering the budget, the film manages some astonishing feats, from the sophistication of the gore make-up, which puts certain Eurohorror make-up artists with bigger budgets to absolute shame, down to the bizarre finale when the mansion launches into space.

The make-up of the gore is exceptional considering the budget.

All in all, a must-see for B movie fans and splatterfest fans alike. Just remember the sickie bag.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?