Bad Taste (1987)

Hands up if you find the following funny and/or entertaining? a) an alien race who have come to Earth to test-market human flesh as a fast food sensation sure to sweep the galaxy. b) a scientist who keeps shoving gloopy bits of brain tissue into the hole in his head and keeping his cranium together with an old belt? c) an undercover man among the aliens who has to drink out of a bowl of green vomit, and finds it to his taste. c) chainsaw dismemberment taken to the ultimate extreme as chainsaw-wielder and instrument pass completely through an alien from head to crotch. If you score four straight 'nos' on the above quiz, you might as well skip Bad Taste, because you also won't be too pleased with the zero-budget technical qualities, indifferent acting, repetitive machine-gun battles, ineffectually looped dialogue and crass verbal humour. However, if you are broad-minded (ie: sick) enough to see the jokes, then this is a hoot. It goes straight to the slimy heart of the comic-horror genre in the way that those self-consciously camp items with the ridiculous titles (Rabid Grannies, Redneck Zombies etc) never do, and manages fully to live up to the promise of its title. Practically home-made by director-writer Peter Jackson, who also appears as the scientist with the chainsaw and the leaky brainpan, this is set in the remote New Zealand town of Kaihoro, where aliens have landed and are preparing to do awful things to the Earth. The government send in a four-man team of action man scientists - all of whom have uncontrollable impulses to use magnums, rocket-launchers, chainsaws, etc. on the zombie-like aliens - to sort the invasion out. A four-year production history shows in the many lines of dialogue that later had to be dubbed over unmoving lips and a script that really could have used a few more jokes and plot twists to go with its uniquely horror-comic sensibility. The special effects, however, are an endearing mix of the excellent and the deliberately dire, with some truly repulsive aliens and splatters of funny gore. You won't easily forget the alien waving around the severed arm holding the sledge-hammer lodged in his head. It's gruesome fun for its incredible slapstick splatter, but it's no Evil Dead exercise in low-budget mastery.
KIM NEWMAN

First Published In: City Limits (issue unknown)


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