We use cookies to help us understand how you use our site, and make your experience better. To find out more read our privacy policy.




Full screen
Video quality

Low 0 MB

High 0 MB


Hero image for Bad Taste

Bad Taste

Film (Trailer) – 1988


A perspective

Bad Taste is Peter Jackson's first completed feature. Essentially splatter-comedy from beginning to end, the story revolves round the catching and dispatching of a band of alien cannibals.

Being a job for real men, the team from AIDS (Alien Detection and Investigation Service), led by the hapless Derek (played by Jackson), do the deeds, with all weapons at their disposal: guns, knives, axes ... anything that'll do the trick.

Very low budget, very bad taste, loved by some, hated by others; it was a breakthrough film in many ways. Jackson delights in exploding sacred cows (or famously, sacred sheep) of decency and genre.

The movie (originally begun as a short) was funded out of his earnings as an apprentice photo-engraver at Wellington newspaper The Evening Post. It was shot primarily on weekends over the course of four years (to fit around mates' soccer matches) at an initial cost of around $25,000.

Peter not only produced and directed, he played two roles, shot most of it (on a 25-year old 16mm camera), built a lot of his own equipment, and devised the special effects. Masks in the film were baked in his mother's oven, and the weapons were made using aluminum tubing. Actors had to shake them to simulate the recoil (a flash and sound effect was added in post-production).

The filmmaking world in New Zealand was unprepared for the renegade and gory nature of the movie, but its essential humour and off-the-wall structure had enough charm to change most doubting thomases into certified fans.

The reassuring Country Calendar-esque bleat of a sheep minding its own business in a paddock a moment before it's blown to smithereens by a rocket is classic Jackson humour (it's a sequence that is now iconic in its own right).

As one of the team involved in it's completion, I can safely report that working on the film was great fun from start to finish. Jim Booth, who was CEO of the NZ Film Commission at the time, was responsible for making it happen, after Peter wrote him a number of witty letters seeking support. Jim eventually left the NZFC to become Peter's producer, and died of cancer in 1994, a tragic loss to his family and friends, and to the industry.

Shooting the rest of the film and the post-production cost more than the first three years of shooting, but these financial constraints were overcome because we were all convinced it was a winner.

Screenings at the Cannes marketplace returned the budget within a week. Horror fans immediately dubbed Jackson ‘The Sultan of Splatter', but there were still detractors in the wings. At the 1989 NZ Film and TV Awards The Navigator cleaned up and Bad Taste got nothing. As Costa Botes (who loses the lower half of his body in the movie) reflected, "The brain eating, green vomit exploding, eyeball popping of Bad Taste just didn't fit the preferred profile for 'New Zealand Cinema'."

Next day on the radio, a TVNZ executive spoke out against the film, and in a TV interview a reporter asked ‘Do we need films like this?' For all of us involved in making Bad Taste the answer was definitely Yes!

The film is now acknowledged as a DIY masterpiece. It went on to launch Peter's career and the genre of ‘splatstick' that he would make his own.

Criticism? The one-fingered salute on the promotional poster says it all.

- Television veteran Tony Hiles was asked to assess footage from Bad Taste before filming was completed. The NZ Film Commission then invited him to assist Peter Jackson in finishing the movie.

If you liked this, you might also like...

Collection image for The Peter Jackson Collection

The Peter Jackson Collection

Led by revealing early 'behind the scenes' docos, this...

Collection image for NZ Comedy is a Bit S**t ...But in a Good Way

NZ Comedy is a Bit S**t ...But in a Good Way

A collection exploring the mindspinning idea that Kiwi...

Thumbnail image for Good Taste Made Bad Taste

Good Taste Made Bad Taste

The making of documentary

Thumbnail image for Meet the Feebles

Meet the Feebles

Another early, edgy Peter Jackson movie

Thumbnail image for Sex, Drugs and Soft Toys - The Making of Meet the Feebles

Sex, Drugs and Soft Toys - The Making of Meet the Feebles

Behind the scenes on Peter Jackson's second feature

Thumbnail image for Death Warmed Up

Death Warmed Up

Another early Kiwi splatter movie

Thumbnail image for Braindead


Peter Jackson's biggest splatter movie

Thumbnail image for Black Sheep

Black Sheep

More bloody rural shenanigans and ill-fated sheep

Thumbnail image for Back of the Y Masterpiece Television

Back of the Y Masterpiece Television

More lo-fi splatter effects and stunts

Thumbnail image for Bogans


Another film featuring bogans and Peter Jackson

Thumbnail image for This Giant Papier Mâché Boulder is Actually Really Heavy

This Giant Papier Mâché Boulder is Actually Really Heavy

More comical special effects on a low budget

Thumbnail image for Offensive Behaviour

Offensive Behaviour

Another low budget film that pushed the boundaries

Thumbnail image for An Awful Silence

An Awful Silence

More aliens invade Wellington

Thumbnail image for Alien Addiction

Alien Addiction

More Kiwi blokes meeting aliens

Thumbnail image for Under the Mountain

Under the Mountain

Another movie featuring aliens in disguise

Thumbnail image for They Sleep Early in Cologne

They Sleep Early in Cologne

Also features a blue Morris Minor

Thumbnail image for Hidden


More ambitious camerawork on a low budget

Thumbnail image for The Dominant Species

The Dominant Species

More Wellington aliens

Thumbnail image for Looking at New Zealand - 'Pūha and Pākehā'

Looking at New Zealand - 'Pūha and Pākehā'

More people-eating comedy

Thumbnail image for King Kong

King Kong

Peter Jackson's remake of an iconic early inspiration

Thumbnail image for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Peter Jackson's first Tolkien movie

Thumbnail image for The Frighteners

The Frighteners

Another Peter Jackson film

Thumbnail image for Dirty Creature

Dirty Creature

Crew member Grant Campbell directed this short

Thumbnail image for Derek


Another tale featuring a Derek

Thumbnail image for Loose Enz - The Good Samaritan

Loose Enz - The Good Samaritan

Features a more domesticated Peter Vere-Jones

Thumbnail image for Kaleidoscope - Architectural Resorts

Kaleidoscope - Architectural Resorts

A very different kind of bad taste

Thumbnail image for Futile Attraction

Futile Attraction

Another low budget feature film