When a space exploration mission goes awry, the lone surviving astronaut finds himself quarantined due to some strange alien affliction in which his body starts to slowly melt away. Requiring human cells to live, he escapes and goes on a gooey rampage of death, killing and partially devouring anyone unlucky enough to cross paths with him.
The abundance of negative press this film gets just goes to show that the majority of people either have no taste or need to seriously lighten the fuck up. William Sachs’ The Incredible Melting Man
may not be the most well-rounded of films, but come on we’re talking about a dude that came from space and MELTS. What the fuck else do you want? More splatter than sci-fi, more horror than gimmick, this is one hell of a good time.
There isn’t a huge elaborate storyline here; dude comes back from a space flight and due to being exposed by sun spots filtered through the rings of Saturn (sure, whatever you say…) he inexplicably begins to slowly melt away into a pile of goop. He escapes the hospital (obviously confused/traumatized but relieved he still has the sweet ‘stache) and goes on a killing spree. Well, what would you do? Of course his doctor friend out of concern (and because it means his ass) needs to stop him from causing more sloppy bloodshed before word gets out that he’s escaped, etc. You get the picture.
What really makes this film great though is the bizarre premise and of course the absolutely brilliant FX work courtesy of Rick Baker (An American Werewolf in London, Videodrome), who made the monster in the film absolutely ghastly (and incidentally inspired that melting scene in Robocop). This poor sod shambles about, leaving puddles of bloody goop everywhere he goes, gradually melting further and further as the film progresses (wait till you see him actually melt completely; I’ve never seen anything like it). The monster makeup aside, the gore in this film is also outstanding and I daresay even shocking at times.
Originally intended as a parody on the horror genre, the comedic elements were scrapped (thank the devil – who needs more of that shit?) for a more straightforward horror approach that many seem to blame for its poor reception at the box office. This film has been unfairly ridiculed for no logical reason, although no one would dare dispute Baker’s brilliant visual contributions. Yes, it has a few campy moments and some of the dialogue is downright embarrassing. There’s a scene with this old couple driving along the highway at night that was clearly part of that aforementioned comedic mindset; it seems oddly out of place with the rest of the film, I can only imagine how terrible this would have truly been had they continued with that approach. You can nickel and dime this one to death if you want, but all it really wants to be is a fun monster movie with plenty of gratuitous gore, some decent nudity (via a creepy scene involving a sleazy photographer and a manhandled tube top) and a liberal dash of violence.
Admittedly I did find the score to be a bit grating at times, it’s your typical mid-70s way-too-loud synth music that I personally find to be quite overwhelming and it tends to ruin the mood of the film at certain points. Also the décor in 1977 was absolutely heinous. Be prepared for a brown and orange assault on your retinas when they show the inside of the doctor’s house; it’s one of the more disturbing elements of the film, actually.
If you can just sit back and enjoy it for what it is The Incredible Melting Man
will delight fans of horror, monster movies, and even the less fastidious of sci-fi enthusiasts. It’s exceedingly entertaining and has certainly stood the test of time, they just don’t make ‘em like this anymore. Highly recommended.
Official COSDS Nunspank Rating:
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Duane co-founded The Church of Splatter-Day Saints in 2005. When not immersed in film he's enjoying good whiskey, smoking meat in the backyard or thinking about sluts. He makes a damn fine habanero fire sauce.