James Ihaka

James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Sour taste for Jackson's first cast

Craig Smith in a scene from the Peter Jackson film Bad Taste. Photo / Supplied
Craig Smith in a scene from the Peter Jackson film Bad Taste. Photo / Supplied

A star of the classic cult film Bad Taste says award-winning director Peter Jackson dumped him and his mates after they spent years helping him to make his breakthrough hit.

The Herald contacted several of the cast and crew from Bad Taste - including Craig Smith, Ken Hammon and Mike Minett - 25 years after filming wrapped up on a film that cost less than $300,000 to make.

Smith, who played "Giles", was one of a group of friends who shot the film around Wellington between 1983 and 1987.

He was disappointed a Bad Taste sequel Jackson had long talked about never came off and that more recognition had not come their way.

Smith felt Jackson had ditched him and his mates not long after the project was finished.

"It wasn't like an employer-employee relationship, he was our friend and he just dumped us.

"Set aside fame, fortune, any of that stuff, he just dumped us and I don't think any of us have ever really got over that."

Smith - who now works in the health industry in Qatar - said another of the cast, Peter O'Herne, who played "Barry", held on to the belief that Bad Taste would help him financially.

He spent most of the last years of his life as a sickness beneficiary and died in 2010 at 49 soon after contracting a virus.

Jackson told mourners at his funeral that he had given up on the idea of filming a series of sequels to Bad Taste.

Smith said O'Herne "was the author of his own misfortune" and lost his home in a mortgagee sale before moving into a Paekakariki motorcamp, but Jackson could have helped his childhood friend.

"When he died he was still very much 'Bad Taste still has to do something for me'."

Hammon said it was disappointing when Jackson moved on in the early 1990s, but he bore no ill-will towards him and there was no feud - his old friend was just consumed by his work.

He said Jackson remained loyal to O'Herne and gave him a part in his film Braindead.

"Pete [O'Herne] had this part but phoned the night before shooting was meant to start to say that he couldn't make it - it wasn't very professional."

Hammon stayed in touch and was an extra in a couple of Jackson's films but has not spoken to him since 2000.

"For me it has been more of a general disappointment," he said.

"Pete does have this kind of nice guy image and it is not entirely earned. He is a ruthless businessman. Nobody ever talks about it, but it's just a world of a film director.

"As far as I know, you can't be a film director without being hated by at least someone."

Mike Minett, who played "Frank" in the film, said by email that he had not heard from Jackson in years.

Wingnut Films spokesman Matt Dravitski said a remastered version of Bad Taste which "looks and sounds better than ever" was in progress but a release date had not been set.

Bad Taste was made on a budget of just under $300,000 but made several times that.

Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy earned more than $3 billion worldwide.

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- NZ Herald

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