Go Back  DVD Talk Forum > DVD Discussions > HD Talk
Reload this Page >

Peter Jackson working to upgrade Bad Taste, Braindead, Feebles, Heavenly Creatures

HD Talk The place to discuss Blu-ray, 4K and all other forms and formats of HD and HDTV.

Peter Jackson working to upgrade Bad Taste, Braindead, Feebles, Heavenly Creatures

Old 12-10-18, 01:43 PM
  #1  
Moderator
Thread Starter
 
dex14's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 27,799
Peter Jackson working to upgrade Bad Taste, Braindead, Feebles, Heavenly Creatures

Peter Jackson's latest work as a director, the gripping World War I documentary They Shall Not Grow Old, couldn't be further from his filmmaking origins in deliriously graphic horror-comedy. Ironically, though, it's precisely this reverential tribute to the heroes of the Great War that is inadvertently inspiring him to return full circle to the cult splatter flicks of his early years.

They Shall Not Grow Old, which premiered at the London Film Festival in October, wowed critics with its film-restoration wizardry, a new set of digital techniques that were pioneered by Jackson's team to transport forgotten WWI soldiers across a 100-year lacuna of history into the present day in vivid, ravishingly detailed color 3D.

Deploying the full firepower of his Weta Digital VFX studio (which was built to service the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit franchises), Jackson's digital army assembled the documentary from more than 600 hours of archival footage supplied by Britain's Imperial War Museums, tirelessly upgrading and colorizing the scratchy images, while also tweaking frame rates and utilizing CGI modeling techniques to give the scenes a natural sense of presence.

Professional lip readers were then employed to scrutinize the silent footage so that the soldiers in the frame could be given their voices back by professional actors. Thanks to the old-school magic of editing, the footage is then arranged so that the long-dead soldiers tell the story of WWI in their own words, from a first-hand perspective never quite seen before.

THR critic Stephen Dalton said the film "haunting, moving and consistently engaging" suggests "new cinematic methods of rescuing history from history books."

With such powerful tools at his disposal, it's unsurprising that Jackson would start casting around for other opportunities to practice this digital alchemy. As it happens, he's settled on his own cinematic history for revivification next.

"I've decided to go back and do this to my old films the first four I made, which I own but never rereleased," Jackson tells THR. "I've done some tests on Braindead [his third film, from 1992, also known as Dead Alive and now widely regarded as a classic of the zombie genre], where we took the 16mm negative and put it through our World War I restoration pipeline and shit, it looks fantastic!"

Jackson's first four films were all famously made on shoestring budgets, although progressively less so as his stature grew. His sci-fi splatter debut, Bad Taste, which caught buyer attention at the Cannes film market back in 1987, was made for just $25,000 with most of the key cast and crew comprised of Jackson's friends working for free. His hallucinatory follow-up, the pitch-black puppet comedy Meet the Feebles (1989), cost an estimated $750,000 (the limited cash coming from mysterious investors in Japan), while Braindead ran just $3 million and his first Oscar nominee, the psychological drama Heavenly Creatures, came in at $5 million (with a young Kate Winslet in her big screen debut).

Although all of the films are now regarded as cult classics, none has ever been digitally restored and reissued on blue ray or HD streaming and not for lack of trying on the part of international distributors.

Jackson says he routinely has been approached about rereleasing his early works, but he always declined, not wanting to commit unless he could personally supervise the process. He says he's never had the time until now. "I'm pretty keen to actually just get them back out there again," he says. "That's sort of my plan for now: to do a nice little box set the early years! The naughty years!"

In addition to using his new restoration pipeline to upgrade the films into immaculate 4K, Jackson also plans to retool the audio, giving fans the opportunity to savor every fleshy squelch, bone crunch or blood splatter in high definition sound. "The mixes on those films were pretty much all stereo in those days, so we're going to get the old soundtracks out and do a 5.1 mix," he says.

Jackson says Bad Taste, which revolves around aliens invading a fictional New Zealand village to harvest humans for an intergalactic fast food franchise, is the film in most desperate need of restoration, because of the DIY nature in which it was made. Jackson shot the film over a period of four years, working on it only on the weekends, because he still had a day job as a photo engraver at a local New Zealand newspaper at the time.

The film was shot on 16mm, and Jackson stored the negative under his bed during the length production. "I knew it was a precious thing, but I didn't have anywhere to put it, so I shoved it under my bed," he remembers. "Then when I finally got the funding to do the finished Bad Taste film, there was damp mold and mildew all through the bloody neg, and you can sort of see it in some shots."

"So I'm looking forward to tidying that up! he adds. "Even if it's just removing the mold from Bad Taste, that will be a very good thing to do."

Jackson's hardcore splatter fans who arguably rival Lord of the Rings and Hobbit aficionados in zeal, if not quite in number will also be happy to hear that he's planning to beef up his intended box set by finally digging into a trove of behind-the-scenes footage that was collected during the making of his early movies.

"I've always had video diaries being shot," he explains. "So I've got about an hour or two of us shooting Bad Taste, seven or eight hours of us shooting The Feebles, 50 to 60 hours of us filming Braindead, and at least 70 hours of us doing Heavenly Creatures."

"And it's not just people talking to camera," he adds. "It's actually a guy on the set filming us making the film. So there's some pretty interesting stuff there and none of it has ever been out."

Jackson and his team plan to comb through the footage, restore it as necessary and assemble a documentary to go with the box set.

No deal for the reissues has yet been signed, but Jackson insists he isn't too concerned about it. "It'll be online streaming, iTunes and all that sort of stuff, I assume."

Instead, he's just happily forging ahead with the restoration process. "The good thing about owning a facility like [Weta digital] is that I can just restore my old films and I don't have to worry about it," he says. "We'll do a deferred payment to the facility once we get a deal."

Having become one of the most commercially successful filmmakers in the world also entails has, though. And Jackson isn't averse to waxing nostalgic about his splatter film days (Meet the Feebles, for example, was the first film co-written with Fran Walsh, who later became his life partner and a co-writer and producer on all of his subsequent films). "There was a degree of freedom that we used to have in those days that you lose to some degree that sense of naughtiness," he says.

While making Meet the Feebles, Jackson and his crew (most of whom were, again, his friends) followed just one creative guideline: "Our only philosophy was that we were going to be as disgusting as we possibly could," he says. "And we didn't have any studio types on set or reading with us, because there was no script to read, really we were just writing it as we went along."

Could a self-produced, mature-phase Peter Jackson splatter flick someday be in store with all of his Hollywood-enhanced resources brought to bear?

"Oh, I'm very happy to be disgusting again if the right project comes along," he says, gleefully, now moving to his third cup of tea. "It would be interesting to see how disgusting Fran and I could be in our older age compared to our younger years because we've learned a few things since then. We know a little bit more about the world than we did then, so maybe our levels of disgusting could go into whole new places!"
https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/he...-films-1166096
dex14 is offline  
Old 12-10-18, 02:23 PM
  #2  
DVD Talk Legend
 
Josh Z's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Boston
Posts: 11,151
Re: Peter Jackson working to upgrade Bad Taste, Braindead, Feebles, Heavenly Creature

I'm not sure which sounds worse, DNR'ing the hell out of these old movies, or... well... everything to do with Mortal Engines. Both very bad ideas coming from Jackson these days.
Josh Z is offline  
Old 12-10-18, 03:00 PM
  #3  
DVD Talk Ultimate Edition
 
stvn1974's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Oklahoma
Posts: 4,878
Re: Peter Jackson working to upgrade Bad Taste, Braindead, Feebles, Heavenly Creature

I will wait for the box set that includes all of his unreleased films and bonus discs of True Lies and The Abyss. If you buy two copies you get Star Wars Theatrical Cuts free.
stvn1974 is offline  
Old 12-10-18, 04:14 PM
  #4  
DVD Talk Hero
 
Josh-da-man's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: The Bible Belt
Posts: 31,005
Re: Peter Jackson working to upgrade Bad Taste, Braindead, Feebles, Heavenly Creature

Seems like the time do this project would have been ten years ago.

The bottom seems to have really fallen out the “cult cinema” thing.
Josh-da-man is offline  
Old 12-10-18, 04:16 PM
  #5  
DVD Talk Legend
 
Norm de Plume's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Toronto
Posts: 15,287
Re: Peter Jackson working to upgrade Bad Taste, Braindead, Feebles, Heavenly Creature

I was wondering why the hell I couldn't find Braindead on BD.
Norm de Plume is offline  
Old 12-12-18, 08:29 AM
  #6  
DVD Talk Legend
 
dsa_shea's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma
Posts: 19,673
Re: Peter Jackson working to upgrade Bad Taste, Braindead, Feebles, Heavenly Creature

I'll buy them. My daughter and I were just talking about Feebles, and we watched Bad Taste on dvd just a few months ago.
dsa_shea is offline  
Old 12-12-18, 12:34 PM
  #7  
DVD Talk Ultimate Edition
 
Pizza's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 4,126
Re: Peter Jackson working to upgrade Bad Taste, Braindead, Feebles, Heavenly Creature

I didn't enjoy his early films despite a love for B movies. When I first read he was doing Lord of the Rings I thought that was bad investment by a film studio. Absolutely amazed at his jump in skill at filmmaking. He's really found his zone. If I was him, I'd bury these films.
Pizza is offline  
Old 12-13-18, 06:19 AM
  #8  
kd5
DVD Talk Hall of Fame
 
kd5's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Ohio, USA
Posts: 9,394
Re: Peter Jackson working to upgrade Bad Taste, Braindead, Feebles, Heavenly Creature

I have Dead Alive, like it alot, it's a bizarre movie! Caught a short from Bad Taste on Youtube, it looks pretty bad (no pun intended). Glad I saw that, I was curious, now I know not to bother. I haven't seen Meet the Feebles or Heavenly Creatures so I can't comment on them. Hey, if PJ wants to redress his older movies, I say have at it! Can't do any worse than George did...
kd5 is offline  
Old 12-13-18, 10:13 AM
  #9  
DVD Talk Platinum Edition
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Posts: 3,226
Re: Peter Jackson working to upgrade Bad Taste, Braindead, Feebles, Heavenly Creature

While I agree this set is long overdue, and should've been out years ago, I think companies like Vinegar Syndrome, Shout, Arrow, Flicker Alley, Severin, Code Red and probably others would disagree that the market for "cult films" has bottomed out. Severin and VS, in particular, release films that are precisely along the same lines as Jackson's early shows, and they increasingly sell out their limited-edition early runs now that the niche is so clearly defined. In the case of Jackson's films, I'd imagine a limited-run set (maybe followed by singles) would probably sell reasonably well.

Having only seen the first three pictures (and loving them!) on video tapes back when they were first making the rounds -- the first two via grungy boots from Toronto's hipster video stores, the third via a screening cassette -- I'd love to see them cleaned up, presented in their proper aspect ratios and loaded with supplements that place them in context with developments in horror filmmaking at that time, a period where there was a lot of derivative crap being foisted on the market. Frankly all three pushed the envelope in ways that few filmmakers were doing in the U.S.

Heavenly Creatures was really Jackson's breakout film (odd that people sometimes solely credit The Frighteners for that when it barely registered in its release) and proved he could draw compelling performances from actors amid fanciful and tastefully-handled special effects sequences; take those out and it would still be powerful storytelling. It wasn't some huge blockbuster, but it did get international distribution (no doubt based in part on the cult audience that had formed around his earlier films on home video) and it garnered solid reviews. It was certainly a key work in Kate Winslet's career. She'd done a bit of TV before that, and then only features for years afterward. To be honest, though, it was an even stronger showcase for Melanie Lynskey but her career didn't seem to take until she became prolific on television.

This is one of a handful of highlight sequences from Heavenly Creatures which call back to Jackson's earlier effects films. The bulk of the film, though, was clearly a calling card to Hollywood in that it focuses largely on performance and tension, so . . . spoilered for those who'd prefer to see it in context some day:

Spoiler:

Last edited by Brian T; 12-13-18 at 10:23 AM.
Brian T is offline  
Old 12-14-18, 11:08 AM
  #10  
DVD Talk Ultimate Edition
 
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 4,688
Re: Peter Jackson working to upgrade Bad Taste, Braindead, Feebles, Heavenly Creature

Originally Posted by Pizza View Post
I didn't enjoy his early films despite a love for B movies. When I first read he was doing Lord of the Rings I thought that was bad investment by a film studio. Absolutely amazed at his jump in skill at filmmaking. He's really found his zone. If I was him, I'd bury these films.





Dead Alive is a great comic book horror movie and wildly entertaining and hilarious.

Heavenly Creatures is a great surreal haunting drama and packs a punch.

I'll give you his first two films Bad Taste and Feebles while not great, do show promise for an aspiring filmmaker who is inventive despite no budget. But Dead Alive is where he first truly came into his own as a filmmaker in my opinion and is it actually well made and entertaining unlike the two prior films which had their moments, but plenty of rough spots.


The Lord of The Rings trilogy is Jackson's downfall as a filmmaker in my opinion. The movies were bloated and dull as hell, and he's lost all sense of pacing since then, with King Kong and The Hobbit trilogy(which shouldn't be a trilogy) that are way too long for what they offer. Technically they are well made in terms of production value, but they lack in everything else by being too bloated and empty.

He was better being indulgent while keeping films under two hours. But since the Rings films, he's jumped overboard and doesn't know when to say "Cut!" and keep things at a reasonable pace.
Julie Walker is offline  
Old 12-14-18, 04:56 PM
  #11  
DVD Talk Legend
 
Norm de Plume's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Toronto
Posts: 15,287
Re: Peter Jackson working to upgrade Bad Taste, Braindead, Feebles, Heavenly Creature

Bad Taste is ultra-low-budget, but tons of fun and a good film. Braindead is his magnum opus.
Norm de Plume is offline  
Old 12-14-18, 06:41 PM
  #12  
DVD Talk Hero
 
Josh-da-man's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: The Bible Belt
Posts: 31,005
Re: Peter Jackson working to upgrade Bad Taste, Braindead, Feebles, Heavenly Creature

Heavenly Creatures doesn’t really fit in with the rest of Jackson’s early oeuvre. It’s more of an arthouse drama, whereas Bad Taste, Feebles, and Brain Dead are low budget schlock.

Braindead is, basically, a manic horror gore comedy in the vein of Evil Dead/Evil Dead 2 but without a charismatic lead like Bruce Campbell.

Bad Taste and Meet the Feebles would be wholly forgettable if not associated with Jackson.

Last edited by Josh-da-man; 12-15-18 at 07:51 PM.
Josh-da-man is offline  
Old 12-15-18, 06:09 PM
  #13  
DVD Talk Legend
 
asianxcore's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Bay Area, California
Posts: 16,200
Re: Peter Jackson working to upgrade Bad Taste, Braindead, Feebles, Heavenly Creature

It makes sense why none of these films have shown up as releases from any of the popular Cult Film Distributors, as Jackson wanted to oversee the Restoration Process.

It sounds a bit silly but at this point, I'm perfectly fine with the current BDs & DVDs I have of those films.
asianxcore is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Archive Advertising Cookie Policy Privacy Statement Terms of Service

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.