NOVEMBER 16, 2007
One of the biggest surprise titles on the Chilling Classics set was Peter Jackson’s debut film, Bad Taste. Like Deep Red and Driller Killer, it was a film I had actually heard of before, due to the fact that it wasn’t a public domain curio from the 70s like 90% of the rest of the set. And unlike some of the other “big” titles, it didn’t seem to be an edited version. Obviously I didn’t remember much about the film from the one time I saw it back in high school, or else it wouldn’t be eligible for HMAD, but the gore seems intact and the running time is the same, so it’s kind of puzzling how Mill Creek got it on there.
Anyway, like Evil Dead, the film is a bittersweet reminder of how inventive and borderline insane the director used to be. Considering that the opening weekend of any of the LOTR films outgrossed all of Jackson’s other films combined, I think it’s not entirely ignorant to assume I was one of the few people going to see Fellowship because I was a fan of the director, not the material. While not bad films by any means, I much prefer his older films, where the inventiveness and sheer joy of making films was evident in every frame. Sure, the visuals in LOTR and Kong (a film I barely like at all) are spectacular, but it will always be more impressed with a well done beheading in a film that cost about 10 grand than to see a dinosaur in a film that cost 200 million.
Plus the movie is just funny as hell. The scene where Jackson (playing one of two characters) runs around shooting aliens while making the "Neh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh" sound of the machine gun is just one of many laugh out loud moments. There’s also some brilliant off-kilter dialogue (“We are here to fight any threat to the planet Earth!” “And the moon!”). And of course, the gore itself is played for laughs. Fuck, the movie is just fun. As was Dead Alive, and Meet The Feebles, and even The Frighteners for the most part. Then he got all serious and shit. Now he’s making a movie about a 13 year old who gets raped and killed. Yay?
Like Raimi, it’s great that Jackson has gone from making movies with his friends, for no money, in his backyard, to helming the biggest films of all time, but damn if I don’t wish they would return to their roots every now and then. His Hollywood films might be flawless in their presentation, but technical wizardry doesn’t replace genuine inventiveness.
I should also note that this marks the end of my affair with the Chilling Classics set. You may notice that there are only 45 reviews for the 50 film set, but Medusa, Death Rage, War of the Robots, and The Bloody Brood contain no horror elements whatsoever, and Legend of Big Foot is a documentary. I think it was just about exactly one year ago that I bought this little bundle of joy, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t kind of sad to be ‘retiring’ it. While nothing ever matched the amazingness of Cathy’s Curse or Scream Bloody Murder (two of the earliest selections), I was almost always entertained with the films, if not for the intended reasons, and I can only hope that Horror Classics and Decrepit Crypt sets will live up to Chilling’s legacy.
RIP Chilling Classics: November 2006 – November 2007.
What say you?