The Lord of The Rings Connection
Peter Jackson wasn't always doing blockbuster movies like Lord of the Rings you know. No. He comes from humble beginnings running around the hills of the Wellington coastline in New Zealand.
He made movies with titles like 'Bad Taste', 'Brain Dead', and 'Meet The Feebles'.
'Bad Taste' was an extremely low budget, alien-splatter-horror movie that Peter and his friends began filming in 1983. It was filmed with a 16mm Bolex film camera that Peter had bought with his wages from working at The Evening Post, the local newspaper. Four years later the movie was released to the public at the Cannes Film Festival, won a bunch of admiriers and later even some awards, and made a 'name' for Peter Jackson in the movie business.
This was followed in 1989 by 'Meet The Feebles', a kind of 'Muppets on drugs' movie, where 'Kermit' is a walrus and 'Miss Piggy' is a hippo. Complete with sex, drugs, revenge and a gore-fest ending, it's a behind the scenes look at a Muppet-like stage show only something has gone seriously wrong somewhere, and for once it wasn't Gonzo's fault ...
Next came Peter Jackson's last gore-fest, splatter, comic-horror movie
So, what's the point of all this? All of the movies featured Morris Minors.
Click here to see a clip of the Morris Minor in 'Bad Taste'.
There was just the one Minor in 'Bad Taste' belonging to the ex-wife of co-star Craig Smith. In one scene an alien pulls the bumper off as our heroes escape. Apparently this wasn't actually in the script. Craig was moving house a week before that day's shooting and whilst they were towing a humungous trailer, with all their worldly possessions on it, the tow bar and bumper gave up the fight and ripped off as they were driving along. Never ones to miss an opportunity, they put it into the movie (it saved having to fix it for the sake of continuity) - in certain scenes you can see the rear bumper is held on by rope.
Tim Balme drove a Minor van on his delivery duties in 'Brain Dead'. The movie is set in the fifties so it's certainly appropriate as Minors were used for commercial duties well into the 80's in NZ. It's only a bit part for the Minor so don't expect to see it very often.
But the best PJ movie Minor-wise has to be 'Meet The Feebles'. It featured not only whole streets of Minors but the lead bad guy, Bletch, drove a black stretch limo Minor! The limo carried the number plate "BLETCH1" and rumour has it that the car still exists in a lockup somewhere in Wellington, NZ. A member of the Wellington Morris Minor Club told me once that it is a pig to drive, is not road legal and is virtually impossible to turn corners in. If it has seen the light of day since 1990 then no-one told me!
So, does Gandalf really drive a hot-pink '63 convertible when not casting spells and riding horses in Lord of the Rings? Probably not. But knowing Peter Jackson's obvious soft-spot for the old Moggie (rumour has it that he had a pair of cats called Morris and Minor) I wouldn't be surprised if he slipped one into the background somewhere. Keep your eyes peeled!
Thanks to The Bastards Have Landed for info and the behind-the-scenes pics of Bad Taste.