Peter Jackson reflects on his early films. From ''Heavenly Creatures'' to ''Meet the Feebles,'' horror was the lord of the director's ring
Peter Jackson
Credit: Peter Jackson: Pierre Vinet

Sure, Peter Jackson directed ”The Fellowship of the Ring” and has a shot at three Oscars this year — for directing, producing, and adapting the first part of J.R.R. Tolkien’s ”The Lord of the Rings.” You could say the guy’s arrived. But you probably couldn’t say much about the rest of his oeuvre, as the 40-year-old Kiwi’s previous work wasn’t exactly mainstream. Here, Jackson on his early gorefests and his first foray into Hollywood.

MEET THE FEEBLES (1989) This Muppets-mocking musical stars porn-addled puppets struggling with substance abuse, infidelity, and Nam flashbacks. ”That’s when I first met [longtime F/X collaborator and current three-time nominee] Richard Taylor; he built some puppets for us. I remember going into this basement full of toxic fumes and glues, where he made models and slept in the same room. Which is probably not advisable. But he was brilliant.”

BRAINDEAD (a.k.a. DEAD ALIVE) (1993) Zombies take over a town in an ultragruesome black comedy. ”[Screenwriter] Stephen Sinclair had devised the original story, with the thought of doing a stage play. After the movie, the play did get done: The front three rows of the audience were supplied with raincoats because the blood was flying around so much. Fran [Walsh, Jackson’s wife and screenwriting partner] wrote the songs — it was a musical. But the film was Stephen’s idea, then he and Fran and myself wrote the script — and I directed actors for the first time. So it was like a real movie.”

Heavenly Creatures
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