The Incredible Melting Man (1977)

The Incredible Melting Man is a 1977 American science fiction horror film about an astronaut whose body begins to melt after he is exposed to radiation during a space flight to Saturn, driving him to commit murders and consume human flesh to survive.

tumblr_maic0euxZQ1rxkoono1_1280

Financed by former Amicus partner Max J. Rosenberg (Tales from the Crypt), and written and directed by William Sachs, the film stars Alex Rebar (screenwriter of Demented) as Steve West, the protagonist of the title, alongside Burr DeBenning as a scientist trying to help him, and Myron Healey as a United States Air Force general seeking to capture him.

The film – which was initially intended as a parody – includes several homages to science fiction and horror films of the 1950s, especially First Man into Space. Makeup artist Rick Baker provided the memorably gory and gloopy visual effects for the film, assisted by Greg Cannom and Rob Bottin.

incredible melting man

Buy Blu-ray + DVD: Amazon.co.uk

  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of the feature, transferred from original film elements
  • Original Mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Audio Commentary with William Sachs
  • Super 8 digest version of the film
  • Interview with Writer/Director William Sachs and Makeup Effects Artist Rick Baker
  • Interview with Makeup Effects Artist Greg Cannom
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin
  • Collector’s booklet featuring essays on the history of the film by Mike White and a brief history of Super 8 by Douglas Weir

 

Review:

“Magnificent! You’ve never seen anything till you’ve seen the Sun through the rings of Saturn” declares the magnificently wooden Alex Rebar at the opening of The Incredible Melting Man, and similarly, you’ve never seen anything until you sit down to watch this film – though only the most fanatical trash cinema fan might declare it to be “magnificent.” There’s no denying the ridiculous entertainment value of this gloriously dreadful film, however, as it mixes a Fifties B-movie plot with spectacular bad taste to create one of the most ludicrous and – if you are in the right mood – entertaining films of the era.

I first saw The Incredible Melting Man in the early 1980s, when it turned up as support feature to – of all things – Every Which Way But Loose. Of course, an audience looking forward to Clint Eastwood’s good ol’ boy capers with a comedy orangutan were scarcely prepared for a film in which the lead character slowly melts, eats people and gets his arm chopped off and which memorably has a long shot of a severed head floating down a stream, tumbling over a waterfall and bursting open on the rocks below. It caused quite a stir.

tumblr_maic2f54Cs1rxkoono1_1280

How this film managed to pass the BBFC with an ‘AA’ certificate – equivalent to 15 now – in 1978, when gory scenes were still being cut from ‘X’ rated movies, is anyone’s guess. For your teenage editor, the film was everything I’d hoped it would be when seeing trailers on TV and gloopy stills in horror mags.

The story is pretty simple. Steve West (Rebar) is an astronaut who has something bad happen to him on a Saturn mission. Back on Earth (which seems to take no time at all), he awakens in hospital to find himself covered in bandages and strapped to a bed. Naturally unguarded (because why would you keep an astronaut whose condition is a national security top secret in a secure unit), he removes the bandages to reveal a face and hands that are beginning to melt. Naturally, this discovery forces him to chase a fat nurse through the empty hospital and then eat her.

Mission director Ted Nelson (Burr DeBenning) and General Perry (Myron Healey) set out to track Steve down, which mostly involves Nelson wandering through the woods holding a geiger counter. Steve, meanwhile, is on a rampage, ripping apart a fisherman ( cue the aforementioned head scene), frightening children and leaving corpses to be found by a young model and a lecherous photographer (who are here simply to get some bare breasts into the story – given that the breasts belong to cult icon Cheryl Rainbeaux Smith (Parasite; Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural), I doubt anyone is complaining).

tumblr_monwiuObDr1rai9pto2_1280

As Steve decays, he seems to get stronger and more deranged. There’s the suggestion that eating people might slow the melting down, though how the beleaguered astronaut would know that is anyone’s guess. In any case, he seems to spend most of his time lurking around houses to no obvious reason, attacking a young couple (played by film director Jonathan Demme and The Hills Have Eyes star Janus Blythe) before making his way to a power station for a final showdown with Nelson and the trigger happy cops.

The film is one of a handful of late 1970s movies that essentially channel 1950s science fiction (it would make a great double-bill with the equally retro-styled The Giant Spider Invasion), and the story here seems clearly inspired by The First Man into Space and The Quatermass Xperiment, both of which featured astronauts who return to Earth infected with something that slowly causes them to decay, losing their minds and their humanity in the process. It’s a classic science fiction concept, and one that can be given a certain emotional and intellectual clout, but of course here all that is swept aside in favour of gore and mayhem.

While the actual violence levels in the film are not that high, the graphic nature of the film is pretty remarkable. It’s not just the continually melting Rebar that will test the stamina of more sensitive viewers, though the shots of him dripping away, an eyeball falling out and eventually melting down completely will be enough to put many people off their dinners; it’s also the burst open head (filmed in loving slow motion!), the half-eaten nurse, the severed limbs and the general gore quota that still manages to be shocking. These scenes are also the best thing about the movie. Created by Rick Baker, the melting man and the gore are of a quality that the rest of the movie doesn’t even come close to. Baker’s work is the real star here (certainly more so than Rebar, who only gets the one scene without the make-up and delivers his single line of dialogue terribly).

Watching it again now, I can appreciate other things in the movie. It is, of course, terrible by any conventional standards. But then, how can we actually judge a film that calls itself The Incredible Melting Man? This is the sort of film that is almost critic proof, because it is inherently, shamelessly trashy. The only thing that really matters is this – does it entertain? And I’d say that the answer is a definite ‘yes’. It’s a film that delivers everything you want from this sort of thing – a steady supply of gore, gratuitous nudity, ripe dialogue and as few pauses for characterisation as it can get away with.

The rest of the film is pure 1950s though, and it’s easy to see that director William Sachs probably was trying to shoot a comic book style pastiche – according to him, the producers didn’t want a comedy horror and made him shoot more ‘straight’ horror scenes. The film is actually still pretty funny if you are familiar with Fifties science fiction, though how much of the comedy is deliberate is hard to tell. DeBenning is stiff as a board playing the stereotypical scientist, and most of the supporting characters are pretty one-dimensional and, yes, cartoon like. This would usually be a bad thing in a movie, but here, it’s rather appropriate. Good performances of well rounded characters spouting non-risible dialogue would probably be the death of this movie.

In the end, The Incredible Melting Man is exactly what you expect it to be. If you pick up a film with this title wanting something other than what you get, then more fool you, frankly. But if you are a lover of no-nonsense drive in madness or simply want a party movie with tits and gore and no complex plot to get caught up in, then this is for you. And Arrow’s Blu-ray ensures you can enjoy Rick Baker’s effects to their fullest!

David Flint, Horrorpedia

Reprobate-logo

Other reviews:

The Incredible Melting Man is an endearingly awful creature feature, without much horror or science fiction, although it can boast of gloriously gloopy special effects and make-up by Rick Baker.” Twitchfilm

“I actually found it pretty fun; once you get past the silly concept, it’s a pretty traditional “unwitting victim on a rampage” movie, with a major downer ending that adds a touch of Romero-esque cynicism to the proceedings.” Horror Movie a Day

“But most of those murders are a hoot and a holler (my favorite: the artfully composed shot of Steve’s shadow tossing the fisherman’s head, which then sails into the frame, lands in the water, and floats downstream until it goes splat at the bottom of a waterfall), and a monster as nauseating as Steve is a pretty compelling sight, even when moseying is all it’s up to. Besides, do you really watch a movie called The Incredible Melting Man for its story?” 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting

tumblr_mom3ocPgPn1rwnox0o1_400

Buy Blu-ray from Amazon.com

” … a silly popcorn treat that well deserves its reputation as a cult classic thanks to its riotous dialogue and comedic performances (especially Myron Healey as the General). But the real hero here is make up legend Rick Baker whose blood, pus and mucous dripping effects are simply amazing (they look even better on Blu-ray). The film also served as a launch pad for emerging SFX talents like Greg Cannom and Rob Bottin.” Peter Fuller, Kultguy’s Keep

incredible melting man thai posterincredible melting man orion VHS

incredible-melting-man-8mm-castle-films

tumblr_monwiuObDr1rai9pto1_1280

incredible melting man RCA Columbia UK VHS sleeve

DER-PLANET-SATURN-LASST-SCHON-GRUSSEN

tumblr_m5ufh4TFBW1qeyw16o1_1280

tumblr_mbf3liEVMm1rr9bzgo1_1280

Buy novelisation: Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com

 

Wikipedia | IMDb
melting man eye popping

Advertisements


Categories: 1970s, body horror, Horrorpedia review, monster movie, worst films ever made

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 replies

  1. Jesus the Christ! I watched this last night after the missus hit the sack and it was totally ridiculous in the most fantastical way possible! It felt like a 70s episode of the Hulk with added gunge and absolutely terrific dialogue. The bit with the head and the waterfall was proper visual poetry! The effects are slippery and gross with melted off ears hanging in fur trees and bone poking through gooey flesh. All in all it has cult classic branded into it’s malformed butt and I for one loved it more than crackers!

  2. Just picked up the Arrow Video release of this, can’t wait to get a minute to watch it. Really dig the new art Arrow is pimping out these releases with and the extras are plentiful. The killer Clowns and Society releases being particular highlights thus far.

  3. It will look so good next to Slime City!

Trackbacks

  1. Elvira’s Movie Macabre « HORRORPEDIA

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: