Friday, October 7, 2011

The Incredible Melting Man (1977): or, You Reduce Me to a Puddle

October Horror Movie Challenge, Day 6!

Astronaut Steve West (Alex Rebar) and two expendable crew mates are the first men to visit the rings of Saturn. The men are amazed by the sight...and then of course, something goes terribly wrong! (Sunspots, to judge from the stock-footage that is the only offered explanation.) West is the only survivor; somehow the ship's autopilot gets him back to earth (in considerably less than the 3-7 years such a journey would take), and deposits him at a secret hospital overseen by West's friend, Dr. Ted Nelson (an absolutely priceless Burr DeBenning). Less than five minutes after the opening credits West has awakened from his coma to discover he's come back with a disturbing skin condition--his flesh is slowly liquefying, sloughing off his body in long drips like cheese off a deep dish! Mentally broken and craving healthy human flesh to slow his own decomposition, West goes on a murderous rampage, leaving a trail of dismembered and partially nommed bodies in his wake. Can Nelson and secretive military man General Michael Perry (Jonathan Winters lookalike Myron Healey) find West and stop him before he oozes again?

I really didn't expect this one to be as much fun as it was, but I had a blast. The Incredible Melting Man is a throwback to the sci-fi monster flicks of the 50s and 60s (think The Amazing Collosal Man mashed up with The Hideous Sun Demon), only with an extra layer of cheese and a heapin' helping of gore. Special effects master Rick Baker provides the goopiness here, and his design of the Melting Man is pretty much flawless--we get slimy drips, exposed bone, an eye sliding down his face, an ear left on a pine bush, and a final "meltdown" scene that will remind mad movie fans pleasantly of Street Trash. The victims of the melting man are also shown in loving, disgusting detail--in my favorite scene, a fisherman's just-ripped-off head floats in slow-mo down a river, Orpheus-style, before going over a waterfall and bursting like a melon!

The acting is b-movie bad, but entertaining nonetheless. Rebar's "trauma" scene in the rings of Saturn is worth the price of admission alone, but the real prize winner here is accomplished TV actor DeBenning. Channeling Bill Bixby on a bad day, DeBenning delivers every line with supreme frustration and disgust, with an expression like someone constantly smelling another man's fart. (Believe me: no one, but NO ONE stares angrily at a phone receiver like my boy Burr!) Healy is entertaining as the general in charge of the most nonchalant radioactive pathogen-carrier manhunt in history, and character actors Edwin Max and Dorothy Love have a wonderful spot as a comic relief romantic elderly couple. And exploitation fans should look for Cheryl "Rainbeaux" Smith as a photographer's model posing in the Melting Man's domain.--topless, naturally.

Plenty of gore, b-movie pseudo-science, some good-natured if ill-executed acting, and a bit of a shock ending made The Incredible Melting Man a ton of fun. If you like your cheese stringy, drippy, and laid on thick, this is the pie for you. 2.25 thumbs.

Sunscreen, kids. It's important.

1 comment:

The Film Connoisseur said...

This sounds like a fun watch, I'll try and hunt it down! Didnt know Rick Baker did the make up effects.

That pic you posted reminds me a bit of the ending for The Devils Rain, with all the satanists melting under the rain in the end.

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