New Zealand-born writer-director Peter Jackson's first movie - which he also starred in, edited, and did make-up for - was a horror film called "Bad Taste" (1988). But unlike other less talented scare-meisters, its mix of blood, innovative use of no-budget effects, and outright comedy meant that it found a theatrical release, a cult following, and marked Jackson (who, ironically, was born on Halloween) out as a talent to watch.
Following "Bad Taste" with the high-concept puppet flick "Meet The Feebles " (1990) and "Braindead" (1993), Jackson's real breakthrough came in the form of "Heavenly Creatures" (1994), a subtle, scary, and beautifully acted movie about two young girls who connive to murder. Also noteworthy for featuring a then unknown Kate Winslet, Jackson (who also wrote the screenplay with frequent collaborator Fran Walsh) infused "Heavenly Creatures" with intensity, the grotesque, and family issues - all of which appear to have become something of a trademark.
But after dabbling with plans to do a new version of "King Kong", Jackson finally convinced film studio New Line to bankroll an epic, live-action, star-filled, three-film rendering of JRR Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings", which he decided to shoot back-to-back for $190 million, in his beloved homeland.
Currently in post-production, fans around the world are hoping that Jackson's mix of passion, childlike enthusiasm, inventiveness, and supreme visual skill will make the trilogy an unforgettable experience. You can decide for yourself when the first, "The Fellowship of the Ring", comes out at Christmas 2001.