Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Incredible Melting Man - Scream Factory Blu-ray Review

The Incredible Melting Man

Director: William Sachs
Writer: William Sachs
Stars: Alex Rebar, Burr DeBenning, Myron Healey, Michael Allredge, Ann Sweeny
Year: 1977
Running Time: 84 Minutes
Studio: Scream Factory 
Region: A
Buy it on: Amazon

The film starts off with a trio of astronauts on a space expedition that isn't really explained, but that enables them to "see the sun through the rings of Saturn". An accident (which also isn't really explained) kills two astronauts on board, but a third astronaut named Steve West is lucky enough to survive the crash. Unfortunately for him, he's been exposed to a large amount of radiation, which causes his body to begin to slowly melt, leaving him to wander around the rest of the film with a thick coat of sappy goop covering his body while the occasional ear or eyeball peels off of him. Upon waking up and discovering that he's even uglier than he was before the accident he flips his shit, kills a husky nurse, and heads out to the woods where he kills and eats anyone who crosses his path. Attempting to track the gelatinous monstrosity known as Steve is a highly skilled team of monster hunters headed by Dr. Ted Nelson (Burr DeBenning), and consisting of himself and General Michael Perry (Myron Healey). Okay, so they're not "monster hunters" at all, that just sounded cooler than "a doctor and a general". Together they must stop Steve's rampage before he devours the entire town. Ickiness ensues on the way to a tense and gruesome finale.

The Incredible Melting Man was William Sachs' attempt at making a kind of EC Comics style darkly comedic horror film. In the interview elsewhere on the disc Sachs (who is credited as "Sacks") laments the fact that due to some studio interference he wasn't able to incorporate more humor into the film, but I think this actually benefits the film. Most of the humor in the first half is painfully dorky - bringing to mind the equally dumb comedic hijinks of something like the Egg Cream scene in Jeff Lieberman's Squirm. Once they lighten up the comedy a bit the final third is actually fairly grim and intense with a few rather shocking deaths - one of which, I hate to admit, actually caused me to yell out "Oh, shit!", which is an embarrassing thing to yell out while watching a schlockfest like The Incredible Melting Man by yourself. While grim, there is still a bit of humor to be found, both intentional and unintentional. The intentional humor towards the end of the film is considerably darker than the humor in the first half, and I think the scene with the mastication of the elderly couple or the final scene in the movie really nail the EC tone Sachs was shooting for much more than the corny comedy found earlier in the film.

Rainbeaux Smith (aka the hot girl in a bunch of Cheerleader movies, or the hot girl from Laserblast) goes topless for about 8 seconds after a skeevy photographer forcibly removes her tube top.

A nurse has half of her face eaten off after spilling blood on her shoes. A fisherman in a Coors hat has his head removed from his neck which is then sent sailing over a waterfall, the landing sends the brain splashing out of the top of the skull (having a papier-mache cranium is not recommended). An elderly couple pays dearly for attempted lemon theft. The punishment? Cannibalization.

The stuff listed above sounds pretty sick, but it's actually not as gruesome as it sounds, a lot of this stuff happens off-screen. It might not be super gory in the murder department, but the actual melting man is another story. He's a real piece of work by Rick Baker and a couple of up and coming proteges by the names of Greg Cannom and Rob Bottin (he's actually not credited but according to Rick Rob did the very realistic hollowed out nurse head effect briefly glimpsed during an autopsy scene). He's a truly disgusting and hideous creation, slimy and gooey, with occasional body parts just sliding off of him. The eyepop scene is glorious.

Things to Watch For:
How not to deliver the line "You've never seen anything, til you've seen the Sun through the rings of Saturn!"
How not to open a door
Head Nurse

Sustained Release Melting Man
Jonathan Demme Alert!
Powerline Zipline

Scream's Blu-ray sports a very impressive transfer plus some pretty great features including a commentary from William Sachs and informative interviews with Sachs and Rick Baker. Ignore the current 3.4 IMDB rating, The Incredible Melting Man may be cheap junk with bad writing and worse acting, but it's also a great deal of slimy, gory fun. I say check it out. You can pick it up directly from Scream Factory.

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