New Zealand movie director, producer and writer Sir Peter Jackson received international recognition for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. While these movies built on his earlier film successes and drew attention to New Zealand’s spectacular scenery and abundance of filming locations – his true personality bursts from the early movies he wrote and filmed in New Zealand in his 20’s and 30’s.
In his twenties with just a tiny budget, Jackson enlisted his friends to help him produce Bad Taste, a movie that spans many genres, including horror, comedy and sci-fi. Everybody got stuck in as actors or helping out on set, with Jackson working as a jack of all trades, directing, acting, using home-made special effects and doing the make-up himself. It took four years to finish the film, and the result is a wacky, sinister and way over the top blood fest. Made in fun, Jackson was soon convinced to enter it into film festivals, no doubt a little surprised when it won an audience award at the 1989 Fantafestival. Bad Taste went on to become the first of Jackson’s quirky cult classics.
In 1989 Jackson released the crazy black-comedy puppet musical (!) Meet the Feebles, which sees some pretty corrupt puppets/characters, in a stage troupe that feels a bit like “meet the evil Muppets”. This bizarre film was a failure commercially but found itself a cult following over time.
In 1992 Jackson wrote and directed what might be considered the third in a trilogy of “out there” movies, called Braindead (it is called Dead Alive in North America for some reason). A hilarious zombie splatter bomb, Braindead was actually praised by critics, and though it “failed” financially when it came out, it became a cult movie too.
When The Lord of the Rings trilogy garnered amazing success (plus the added Peter Jackson charm of a cult following), it caused a revival of interest in Bad Taste, Meet the Feebles and Braindead ironically bringing these films commercial success after all.
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