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Interview with Peter O'Herne
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INTERVIEW WITH PETER O'HERNE
Image Peter O'Herne was a member of the group that made Bad Taste a reality. You will easily recognize him as Barry, but the native of New Zealand also played a number of aliens and was part of the film crew. He took time out to answer some questions about what is probably the most amazing independent film ever made.

Interview Date: 2 December 2000

Andrew: The common information available is that "Bad Taste" took around four years to make and was shot whenever the group had time to do so. It was also primarily funded by Peter Jackson. Four years! Remembering what you had filmed the previous month must have been a nightmare, let alone getting people together to shoot a scene.
Peter O'Herne: Yea Mate, you are right about it taking 4 years to film. We were pretty loyal to Pete and would turn up, although we did have girlfriends or wives so the juggling act was quite tense at times. Plus partying too was a hassle. Pete funded most of the movie by himself from his job, doing a lot of FX on a shoestring and it looked brilliant. The Film Commission came in later to assist with finance under the guidance of Jim Booth and Tony Hiles. We had a few reservations about the Film Commission, but they were a big help and Tony was good to work with.

Continuity was a problem all the time, but more so with the weather. It was beautiful one weekend and crap the next, a lot of the time we would wait for the weather to break to continue filming. The four years it took to film "Bad Taste" I couldn't shave for a week and got accustomed to looking rough, a habit still hard to break.

Image "We were pretty loyal to Pete and would turn up, although we did have girlfriends or wives so the juggling act was quite tense at times."

Andrew: I'm guessing that everyone was friends before starting the movie. When did you meet and how?
Peter O'Herne: Pete and I have been friends since I was about 9 years old. Ken met up with us during college. Craig Smith came into the scene as he worked with Ken and he was primed for the part of Giles. Craig had done some acting before so that was a bonus. Mike and Terry worked with Pete at the Evening Post (a newspaper), they were keen to help and with the film we became great mates. Still are to this day.

Image "Craig Smith came into the scene as he worked with Ken and he was primed for the part of Giles."

Andrew: Craig was the only one with any experience in film, including any formal education at a college or university? With the exception of Booth and Hiles, of course.
Peter O'Herne: Hmm... ...I am not sure if Craig had any film experience, but he did have stage experience. Pete Jackson was pretty bright as he breezed through college and passed all his exams.

Image Poor Giles, slowly marinating in that barrel of what was probably very cold water.

"This one speaks for itself."
- Peter O'Herne

Andrew: Over such a long period there must have been disagreements, related to the movie or not. Was there ever a point that one threatened to ruin a great deal, or even all of the work done?
Peter O'Herne: Yea there were problems as there always are, but we all shared the same sense of humor so we got on really well. The problems were more outside life interfering with the film - which 4 years of anyone's life can stretch the limits of those around the performers. Craig went through a marriage break up and Terry went to Australia, all because their wives, girlfriends, or family didn't think the boys were achieving much or chasing rainbows. I guess they were proved wrong! Heehee!

Image Here they are working on one of the explosions, they are testing different combinations to see what looks good.

"Yay!"
- Peter O'Herne

Andrew: Where were you working during all this?
Peter O'Herne: I was working in a dead end job with the government (Ministry of Transport). I would talk to people in this job about "Bad Taste" and they thought we were mad. I was totally into what Pete was doing so I didn't care about taking time off to pursue my dream of working in movies. Pete and I go way back, we have been doing this for years (even before "Bad Taste"), so I was used to it. Our jobs were there to pay the bills.

Image A trio of images with Peter O'Herne (Barry) and Terry Potter (Ozzy) in their assault gear. Do you think that these two liked the paramilitary look?

Andrew: In addition to playing Barry you did double duty as an alien, could you point out any scenes with yourself hidden by latex? Editing didn't force you to shoot yourself at any point I hope.
Peter O'Herne: Wow, that's an interesting question and I am quite sure that happened; we all doubled as aliens all the time. If I remember correctly, I was one of the aliens that was chasing Craig and the boys when they got away. One of the aliens flips the bird at the heroes, I was one of those aliens. When Gear Homestead gets blown up I was one of the aliens that runs down the stairs with his hands over his ears from the blast. There was also the scene where a 3rd class alien gets his stomach sliced open on the balcony by the chef, that was me too. Funnily enough, one person who knew it was me was my nephew A.J. who watched the film and he burst into tears shouting, "UNCLE PETE HAS BEEN KILLED!" I had to talk to him on the phone to allay his fears.

Image "If I remember correctly, I was one of the aliens that was chasing Craig and the boys when they got away. One of the aliens flips the bird at the heroes, I was one of those aliens."

Andrew: On top of all that you are listed as part of the film crew. Was that mainly camera work or something else?
Peter O'Herne: Oh yeah, we did everything, because we couldn't afford the proper equipment. Pete made these tracks out of 4X2 and we had to lug them up to the cliff tops for the sledgehammer fight scenes. Man were they heavy. *LOL* Plus we would shoot a lot of the scenes that Pete couldn't do himself like the famous Derek vs. Robert scene. So I was filming with the Bolex a lot of the time and if I couldn't then Ken Hammon did as well under Pete's direction. Pete built a homemade crane too, so we all chipped as crane operator. Anything that we were required to do we did and it was hilarious! Just sitting here answering the questions brings back great memories.

Image Everyone decorating the inside of the house at Gear Homestead.

Andrew: Peter Jackson, Ken Hammon, and Tony Hiles are listed as the writers, but it makes sense that a lot of stuff would be improvised on the spot. Is there anything you remember like that, especially something personal?
Peter O'Herne: The film was primarily Pete's baby, but I think a lot of stuff that was planned by Pete was changed as he would say, "Hey this would look better if we did it that way?" and it worked, so there was a lot of dialogue that was improvised stuff. We just kept coming up with better and better material as we rolled along. I still have a dialogue script which was used for the filming, because the film was shot on the Bolex (which was a silent camera) and we had to record the dialogue down and voiceover in the studio. Some of the scenes where Pete and I had to go into the sound booth together for the interplay on the movie were really funny, we just couldn't stop laughing. I am sure the sound techs were frustrated working with a bunch of toons like us.

Image Peter O'Herne checking out something on the ground, maybe part of Derek's brain?

"Not sure what I was looking at here."
- Peter O'Herne

Andrew: Is there any scene or dialog within the movie that you are personally fond of?
Peter O'Herne: Well, I liked a lot of the dialog, but my favorite was the scene where Derek and I were swapping talk over the walkie talkies.

DEREK: "There's no glowing fingers on these bastards. We've got a bunch of extra-terrestrial psychopaths on our hands. Like a visit from a planet full of Charlie Mansons. They've wiped out a small town for starters, it's my guess they'll go on to something bigger next time. Uh, Christchurch... ...Wellington..."
BARRY (oov): "Auckland???"
DEREK: "Yeah, well that wouldn't be so bad."

That piece of dialog cracks me up as we are always having a friendly rivalry with Auckland City.

Image "I liked a lot of the dialog, but my favorite was the scene where Derek and I were swapping talk over the walkie talkies."

Listen to this as a wav file, 246k in size.

Andrew: There were a number of firearms throughout the movie (which everyone looked comfortable using), some may have been props, but most appeared to be real. Were they owned by members of the group?
Peter O'Herne: A lot of the firearms were fake and made really well by Pete. All of the machine guns were fake of course, but there were a few pistols that were real and they were owned by a Wellington gun club. The guy who played the chef in "Bad Taste" was a member of the club and we got to use them home on the range. Although, Pete did own one or two guns himself, including a Brown Bess musket that was used in a few scenes. I don't think they made it to the film.

Image Work being done on the scale model of Gear Homestead that was built.

Andrew: Granted that for the most part you stayed away from dangerous stunts, but there were some sections with explosions or people dancing around (seemingly at least) on the edge of a cliff. With no experts available, did any of the stunts or effects worry you?
Peter O'Herne: Yes they did, we were not stunt men but with our film we sorta just mucked it in. The dancing around on the edge of a cliff was exactly that and that cliff was damn steep, it was way up high too. I remember Pete when he played Robert, he was actually hanging over the edge upside down, which was really scary. I am sure that if anybody walked past way down there on the beach and saw that they must have thought it was some sort of sacrificial rite taking place. Hahaha! I remember having to scale down beside him and film some of the scenes too, that was a hoot.

The scariest scene was with Mike Minett who was up on the edge of the cliff doing one of the scenes with the sledgehammer fight. Someone swung a sledgehammer too hard, the thing left the guy's hand and it went flying past Mike's head by an inch. The hammer was traveling with such a force that it flew out over the cliff to the rocks halfway below. I am not sure if the sledgehammer is still there to this day, 'cos I am sure no one was willing to go down and get it. Scary stuff.

Image "The dancing around on the edge of a cliff was exactly that and that cliff was damn steep, it was way up high too."

Andrew: How are you keeping busy these days?
Peter O'Herne: Well, the girl I used to work with and who watched us doing the film, I got married to her. In 1989 I threw my back out and have had trouble with it ever since, but I decided to get back into training so I am weight lifting right now. Plus, I have a lot of ideas for movies and have been writing for years, I have written a script recently for a comic called "Zombie Holocaust." There are other projects I have going too, but cannot say anything at the moment as they are confidential. I still keep in touch with everybody from the film and we still all have that Monty Python type humor so whenever we talk it's to have a laugh. Even if I speak with Pete it is always about, "Have you seen this movie or that movie?" We are still fans at heart really...

Image "This one is our road signs that Pete made for the film. One said "KAIHORO," which in Native Moari means to eat hungrily. Castlerock is, of course, Pete's tribute to Stephen King, who we are fans of. The story behind that day was that we put the signs up for the shots. After the day's filming we took them down and left the area. About five minutes down the road we were pulled over by the police, someone had seen a group of guys vandalizing road signs. Hahahahaha! We explained to the police and everything was fine." - Peter O'Herne

Andrew: How long ago did you marry the young lady and are there any little ones filling the home?
Peter O'Herne: I married my wife Richelle back in 1988, a few months after we finished filming "Bad Taste." We had the wedding at the place where we did the filming of the alien spaceship. Gear Homestead is a historical homestead and funnily enough Pete video'd my wedding too, which was cool. Kind of what you could call Pete's second feature, which to me was quite a tense thriller when ya think about it. Heehee! We don't have kids at the moment, but when the time is right we shall look at starting a family.

Image Gear Homestead model, pre-boom.

Matt: What have you been doing after "Bad Taste?" IMDB.com doesn't list any other credits to your name.
Peter O'Herne: To be honest, my injury has held me back from working in other projects with Pete and the thing is: he has asked me to be involved with just about all of them. Growing up with Pete was no mistake and I have the same thoughts and dreams as Pete too. That is why it was a blast hangin' with him. The situation hasn't changed either as I have a lot of ideas to get made, but sometimes wonder if I may have to look overseas to pitch them. When we started out with "Bad Taste" there was a bit of elitism in the industry, that kind of made it difficult for us to be taken seriously and with Pete breaking through with his movies I am definitely encouraged to do the same. There are a lot of great filmmakers out there that can do it if they don't give up.

Image Setting up for one of the takes at Gear Homestead, probably during the extended gunfight portion.

David: What did the vomit consist of?
Peter O'Herne: That is a cool question. HAHAHAHA! Thanks for asking that one David. :)

It was a mixture of yogurt, Muesli, and frozen vegetables. It didn't taste too bad actually, but that scene had everyone reaching for the airline bags. The scene where we shot the fake Robert head spewing it into the bowl was great as we were having a good laugh about it. If you guys haven't seen the documentary yet, we had the head with like a muppet mouth and a funnel in the back to pour the chuck into. The other thing about Mike drinking the vomit, he had quite a few takes as Pete likes to do a few scenes then choose the best one, which is standard. So it was a hoot to see Mike do that over and over!

Image "It was a mixture of yogurt, Muesli, and frozen vegetables. It didn't taste too bad actually, but that scene had everyone reaching for the airline bags."


Peter, many thanks for taking the time to have this interview on the website. I would like to remind everyone that the documentary "Good Taste Made Bad Taste" is included on the special edition DVD, if you can find it. The documentary contains lots of behind the scenes information. In addition to all this Peter was kind enough to send me a group of photographs taken while they were filming, which you see sprinkled throughout the interview.



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