42nd Street Cinema

The Incredible Melting Man (1977)

"The First New Horror Creature" - I've always been slightly perplexed by that tag-line, whether it's down to me perceiving it as an example of poor english, or it's actually part of the film's illy constructed horror-parody aspect, I'm still not sure. In any event, I recently re-watched William Sachs' bewildering Sci-Fi Horror-cum-Spoof Comedy, The Incredible Melting Man and wanted to share my thoughts.

Starring: Alex Rebar, Burr DeBenning, Myron Healey, Michael Alldredge and Ann Sweeny.

I can just about remember watching this film for the first time when I was much younger and very new to horror films and after viewing it, I wasn't 100% sure what to make of it, I was left feeling baffled.

I watched it purely because it was on the Vipco label. For those of you that aren't in the know, Vipco was a UK video label founded by Mike Lee in the late 70s and I suppose it became notable partly for being one of the main video labels caught up in the whole 1980s 'Video Nasty' furore in Great Britain.



Though I must admit, I'm no authority on any of this, given that I was still in the stages of pre-life at the time. To cut a long story short, if you're growing-up in England and become interested in horror movies, chances are you will encounter the Vipco label at some point or another and it's because of that association that I ended up first learning about and watching The Incredible Melting Man.

Apart from my initial confusion there wasn't much else I could recall about the movie for many years afterwards and that's mainly what put me off re-watching it...until now, and the fact that Arrow Video/Films came along and released a new beefed up, widescreen transfer had nothing to do with it. I'm kidding, it actually had a lot to do with it, if you've ever watched a Vipco release then you'll know firsthand how poor the quality is. You'll also know the same 4 trailers included on every disc off by heart, haha.
I believe my confusion was born out of not really knowing what the film was all about. In my juvenile mindset I must have expected a gory, gross-out B-movie and while the film offers slimy melt scenes, it's actually not much of a bonafide 'gore-fest'.



Before watching this a second time I did a little bit of poking around on the internet and I read that during it's inception The Incredible Melting Man was initially penned as a parody of horror films. This kind of explains the befuddling tagline, which has always struck a nerve with me, and it also explains some of the seemingly out-of-place oddball humour present within the film. According to what I read, a lot of the comedic scenes were edited out during production, in favour for shooting the picture as a straight horror film.

The plot is simple; a team of astronauts go up into space and are hit by excessive blasts of radiation, it's actually made unclear whether this is because the astronauts pass through the Rings of Saturn or simply because they look at the Sun through them. Needless to say most of the team die leaving only Steve West (Rebar) alive although seriously injured, and by seriously injured, I mean he's beginning to melt... Upon waking in a hospital and discovering his partially gelatinous state, Steve embarks on a murderous rampage throughout the countryside. Feasting upon human flesh in an attempt to restore his rapidly decaying cells.



The Incredible Melting Man is one of those rare and genuine cases of 'so bad it's good' cinema. It's a schlocky ride from start to finish; with a wafer thin plot and dubious performances from the cast. Yet with all this working against it, it still manages to keep you engaged and entertained.
"It's secret", you ask?
Well...I believe you can safely pin the 'success' of this movie on Rick Baker's special effects. They're nothing short of brilliant and I kinda of like to think of this film as a showreel for Baker's talents. Each and every time the narrative switches back to the Melting Man you're just waiting to catch a glimpse to see what stage of decomposition he's reached.

In short, "...come prepared!" don't expect too much, in fact don't expect anything... not a barrel of laughs or a radioactive bloodbath. Just take it for what it is, a cheap, cheesy B-movie with a titular melting antagonist.


2 Stars

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2 comments:

Unknown said...

Fuck you!!! Get the fuck out of here with this bullshit! Die troll!!!

Unknown said...

That means you Kristen Page!!!!

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