Editor’s Note: These posts originally appeared starting here on the AV Club *stares off wistfully*. They are being reposted for completionist sake as this annual series continued onto the AVCAD and now here. Also, forgive the writing for I was younger and dumber and these were written to appear in comments so don’t include pictures and are far shorter and less thorough than the series is now. They have been preserved as they were.
Month of Horror: World Edition
10/09/2015 – New Zealand: Bad Taste (2006)
Directed by Peter Jackson
New Zealand doesn’t have quite the history of quality horror movies that its neighbor (and yesterday’s representative) Australia, but they have turned out a few well received horror movies recently including Housebound and Black Sheep. More than anything though, New Zealand horror (and film as a whole) is known for being the breeding ground for one of the biggest filmmakers in the world, Peter Jackson. His third film Braindead/Dead Alive is one of the all-time great zombie, horror-comedy, and splatter movies with some of the most memorable horror scenes including an ass kicking priest and the famous and glorious lawnmower scene. The Frightenershad its moments even if the film as a whole never really came together despite a substantially larger budget than his early works.
Bad Taste was his first film and the very low budget certainly shows. The fact that the cast and crew is just Peter Jackson and friends is readily apparent thanks to the terribly amateurish acting, sound design (including obviously dubbed dialogue), and cinematography (even beyond the fact that it was shot on a 25 year old camera). It really is a dumb movie but that is kind of expected going in since the real reason to see this is the comedic use of gore. The film is plenty gory if nowhere near the level of Braindead (though what is), with the film seemingly existing to show off the gore and gross out scenes with the tiniest thread of a plot tying them together. It took going to Wikipedia to have any vague idea of what was going on besides two sets of identical people (one of whom is secretly aliens) gruesomely killing each other. The special effects (by Jackson himself) may not look even remotely realistic, but who cares when you get to watch Peter Jackson eating some kind of white substance with a spoon out of the half missing head of an obviously fake human dummy. The comedy is more hit and miss as the film often seems like it is trying too hard, but the shot of an exploding sheep cracked me the hell up. The music for the film feels completely out of place with music out of an MST-quality fantasy movie from the 80’s randomly broken up by bursts of guitar shredding and other music that seems sourced from the presets of a video editing program or Casio (which it probably was something similar considering the budget). This time in incongruous publically known figures (following up from Witching and Bitching odd bunch) is a bunch of cardboard cutouts of The Beatles circa Sgt. Pepper’s whose presence never seems to be explained.
The film is nowhere near the quality of the other well-known 80’s debut horror film which took years to complete (4 years in this case) by a now popular director, The Evil Dead. Unlike that film, Bad Taste doesn’t necessarily take advantage of it low budget as well and is nowhere near as coherent or good looking. It is entertaining and certainly showed promise, but it is hardly the memorable film that, The Evil Dead or even Jackson’s Braindead was.
Month of Horror: World Edition
Bonus Episode #3 – United States: Rattlers (1976)
Directed by John McCauley
Getting a creature feature to work can be an extremely difficult task even when you are dealing with a naturally dangerous or at least frightening to certain humans, animal. Creating a legitimate threat of an animal which is smaller and/or typically easy to be defeated by a human (especially in the peak period of the 50s-70s without the advantage of especially great special effects) typically requires particularly stupid characters who react to easily escapable scenarios by yelling and doing a lousy job trying to escape. Rattlersis a dime a dozen creature feature with [snake] subbed into the typical mad lib style script
these films seem to be assembled from.
There are plenty of deaths but they almost all follow the same format of footage of snake slithering about intercut with scenes of local theater actors withering about and screaming. The kill range from dull to downright hilarious with the latter best represented by a scene in a tub which even before the snakes arrive, features some of the most laughable movements so that the woman can contort herself without accidentally showing any naughty bits. The investigation scenes make the mistake of following a personality deprived dullard and a woman who is inserted just for one movie-long discussion of women’s lib which frequently involves her arguing with herself and is indescribably ill fitting and tedious to watch without any semblance of depth. These scenes stretch on forever and take away all the fun that is had during the kills. The military subplot is half baked and with it all coming down to SPOILERS a mad colonel yelling about a general being a commie in disguise and defending a mine filled with chemicals for some reason. The plot ends with a small explosion at the mine which apparently solves all the problems to our idiotic leads with a teaser revealing the obvious that apparently one small explosion doesn’t clear out a bunch of chemicals and kill off all the snakes (and not just rattlers) who have been shown all movie to be roaming about away from the mine END OF SPOILERS. There’s some enjoyment to be had at the expense of the movie and as a bad movie fan it is hard for me to dissuade someone from watching any crappy non-Syfy creature feature, but it isn’t an especially good bad film of the genre.
Up Next: Ingmar Bergman’s Hour of the Wolf representing Sweden.