Ti West has made a name for himself in the 21st Century contemporary horror movement, having directed The Roost (2005), The House of the Devil (2009), The Innkeepers (2011) and The Sacrament (2013).
West’s films have varying angles on the genre, often drawing inspiration from the many different sub-genres in horror. For example, The Roost is something of a super-natural gorefest, while The Sacrament is a ‘found-footage’ film in the vein of The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity. Meanwhile, both The House of the Devil and The Innkeepers toy with the well-trodden path of the ‘haunted house’.
Like any artist, West draws inspiration from what has gone before him, as shown in the fact that his films are something of a pastiche of the many facets of horror. In an interview with Rotten Tomatoes, West once revealed his five favourite films, including one, in particular, that was a great inspiration to him as a young filmmaker – and is also the “grossest” film he has ever seen.
“I can say that, in thinking about it, I was thinking five movies that seemed to be relatively inspiring to me as a filmmaker,” West said. “One is a movie called Bad Taste by Peter Jackson. The reason that movie is one of my favourite films is [that] I saw it when I was very young because it had a very sort of provocative box cover of an alien giving you the middle finger in the video store; that was very charming to me. It seemed like something that needed to be rented for a sleepover. It’s one of the grossest movies ever, so it was always the benchmark of, like, ‘Is there a more disgusting movie than this?’ And also, not a lot of people had seen it, so it was like a badge of honour.”
Bad Taste is Peter Jackson’s first feature-length film, a sci-fi comedy horror hybrid released in 1987. It was produced independently, on a low budget, with many of Jackson’s friends taking on roles in the film’s performance and production sides. The film tells the story of aliens invading a fictional village in New Zealand who capture humans and harvest them for their off-planet fast food franchise.
Rather than merely being the grossest film West has ever seen, Bad Taste was also a great inspiration to the director when he started out. He said: “More importantly, when I decided that maybe movies was something I wanted to do, that movie was actually the first movie that I think made me think I could maybe do this. Because it was the first time I’d ever seen a movie where I realized how the movie was made. “
West added: “I realised, ‘He’s just putting a camera on the back of the car’; ‘Oh, that’s just him with his friend doing this’; and, ‘I can see how he built that effect’ or, ‘I can see how he used ketchup for blood’ or whatever. It was so rough around the edges, yet still compelling and well-made that it kind of gave me this sort of inspiration and confidence to be like, ‘All I have to do is go do it, like this guy just went and did it.’ So that movie is, like, the number one movie that made me think, ‘Maybe I can try this.'”