Dir: Peter Jackson, 1987
Australian cinema is bad ass! It does not get the recognition it deserves. It can easily match anything that Hollywood has to offer. It might not have the money but it certainly has the skills and talent.
Peter Jackson’s debut feature is a superb mix of comedy, horror, sci fi, action and anything else you can think of.
Set in the fictional town of Kaihoro ( a Maori word) aliens have landed and are harvesting the towns inhabitants for fast food, to be called “Crumb’s Country Delights”.
The aliens disguise themselves as human beings, all wearing jeans and blue shirts and incapable of talking English.
The Astro Investigation and Defence Service (AIDS) are posted to the town to investigate.
Let’s be clear, there is nothing subtle about this film. It’s an out and out gore fest. If you’re after a heavy, deep movie then walk move on because you’re not going to find it here.
Jackson makes no bones about what he’s intending to do. The sole purpose is to entertain and let his imagination go wild.
In a way it’s kind of a masterpiece to see what can be done with such a very little budget, determination, thought and passion.
Filmed on weekends over a period of four years Jackson recruited his workmates at the newspaper where he worked to play the roles of the AIDS. Filming took so long that cast member Craig Smith was married and divorced.
Being made on the cheap the main cast had to double up to play the aliens as well as be a crew member. Clearly, multi tasking was a compulsory requirement.
The director made the alien heads using his mum’s cooker. The machine guns were nothing but aluminium piping which the actors had to shake to replicate the motion of being fired. But it works. It really, really works.
Jackson is a master of editing. He plays two parts, the role of nerdy, but steely determined Derek and that of retarded alien, Robert. A scene where Robert his hanging off a cliff and tortured by Derek was filmed weeks, or even months, apart but the way the footage is manipulated makes it seem like there is two actors and filmed at the same time. Astounding.
The gore is over the top and stomach churning. Brains are splattered, eaten and generally thrown about without a care in the world. Vomit is spewed and drunk (yes, you read that right!) and sheep are blown up and it’s hilarious. To be laughing so uproariously and being revulsed at the same time is one of awkward confusion. Nausea and hilarity make strange bedfellows.
The director has carte blanche with the odious effects and I, for one, am pleased. He could have gone even further and I would be cheering hm along.
The soundtrack is scarce and understated but it does have a fantastic theme tune courtesy of The Remnants led by Mike Minett who played Frank.
I can’t gush about this film enough. Yes, it’s famous. Yes, it’s got cult status but the film still deserves more attention and more recognition.
Watch it! Watch it! Watch it! Forget your Peter Weir films or your John Hillcoat’s this is where Aussie cinema excels. The antipodeans know comedy. And they know it well.
Long live Ozploitation!