WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT?
Written, produced, and directed by Peter Jackson (the man behind such classics as Dead Alive, The Frighteners, and, oh yeah, Lord of the Rings), Bad Taste is an absolutely hilarious sci-fi comedy that's likely one of the grossest movies you'll ever see. Dubbed by Jackson as a "splatoon," this eye-opener features various disembowelments, dismemberments, and decapitations—in fact, it doesn't just feature them, it wallows in them. And you'll laugh with glee at every single one.
A small band of alien hunters representing the Astro Investigation and Defense Service—Ozzy (Terry Potter), Barry (Pete O'Herne), Frank (Mike Minett), and Derek (Peter Jackson)—descend on the seemingly deserted New Zealand town of Kaihoro to investigate rumors of extraterrestrial activity. In short order, they discover some rather vicious though bumbling blue-shirted zombies that are after the gang's flesh. It seems that humans are quite the interstellar delicacy, and these alien baddies are on a dastardly mission to collect as many humans as possible for the otherworldly Crumb's Crunchy Delights corporation. This story is just a hokily convenient backdrop for buckets and buckets of guts, gray matter, and other assorted goo. Bullets puncture flesh, machetes hack off limbs, eyeballs spit out of sockets, cars slice bodies in two, brains seep out of head wounds, blood spurts just about everywhere imaginable. And yet Jackson's goofily on-the-move camera and slapstick direction will make you howl with laughter.
Jackson and his friends filmed Bad Taste (the director's first feature film) on weekends over the course of four years. Jackson used an amateur 16mm camera, a self-styled steadicam rig, and fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants gore effects to create this surprisingly entertaining and effective little sci-fi/horror/comedy flick. If you've seen the down-n-dirty Dead Alive, you'll immediately recognize Jackson's style. I wouldn't call Bad Taste as successful as Dead Alive, but they've clearly sprung from the same beautifully twisted mind.
HOW'S IT LOOK?
Anchor Bay presents Bad Taste in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.66:1. The 16mm image definitely shows its flaws. The film is quite grainy, and backgrounds tend toward the soft side. However, that's the only bad news, and obviously the film's origins are no fault of Anchor Bay, which has done its very best to produce a fantastic image with what it had. The presentation is surprisingly fine and filmlike: Colors are generally flawless—especially the all-important blood red—but I noticed a few washed-out scenes. Overall, I was impressed with the quality of this transfer.
HOW'S IT SOUND?
You get a few audio options on Bad Taste. Not content with just the original Dolby 2.0 mix, Anchor Bay has created new Dolby Digital 5.1 EX and DTS 6.1 ES tracks. Although they're not extremely dynamic, the surround tracks offer a nice enveloping feel, particularly with environment noises such as rustling leaves and whizzing bullets. Also, music is placed nicely in the center of the room. Otherwise, I noticed only subtle differences between all three tracks. When all is said and done, though, you'll be left scratching your head, wondering why Anchor Bay went to the extra effort.
You'll notice that all the sound, including the dialog, appears to be dubbed. It was. All of the film's sound was recorded in post-production, apparently because the original sound reels were lost. As a result—and, again, because of the movie's minuscule budget—the sound presentation is weak. A tinniness pervades the proceedings, and don't expect your subwoofer to get anything close to a workout.
WHAT ELSE IS THERE?
Two editions of Bad Taste are available: a single-disc regular edition and a two-disc limited edition that includes a 25-minute documentary about the making of the film. The single-disc edition (reviewed here) includes an anamorphic theatrical trailer for Bad Taste and a nicely substantial Peter Jackson text biography.
WHAT'S LEFT TO SAY?
Anchor Bay has done an impressive job with Bad Taste, particularly with an image that was obviously difficult to work with. You might want to avoid eating during or preceding a viewing of this hilarious little vomit bag of a film.