Dir- William Sachs
Starring- Alex Rebar, Burr DeBenning, Myron Healey, Ann Sweeny
Out now on DVD & Blu-Ray from Arrow Video
Containing a plot involving an astronaut pretty much fading and melting away into nothingness all the while somehow developing super human strength and taking out various people along the way, THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN has B-movie appeal written all over it, but that’s what makes the film a great watch. Especially as much has been said about the superb effects of the film thanks in part to the talents of genius effects wizard Rick Baker, which lend a classy yet gruesome touch to the gradual disintegration of a man who slowly start to turn into a rampaging monster.
After coming back from a failed space mission to Saturn, in which he was the only survivor, Steve West (Alex Rebar) isn’t in any bad shape. When waking up and finding his face disfigured and after killing off a nurse (in one of the films inexplicable chase scenes where said nurse runs through a plate glass door), West goes on the rampage, killing off local fishermen, a horny old couple who indulge in a spot of night time thieving from a lemon farm, and scaring the local children away. Why he goes on this rampage, it’s not really made clear. But we find out that West is becoming stronger (well he manages to tear off the head of a man) even if he resembling something that looks like a disfigured face dripping candle wax constantly. It’s up to one of his old friends, Dr Ted Nelson (Burr DeBenning) to try and track him down, but he is constantly berated by an army general, General Perry (Myron Healey) to keep the fact that he’s chasing a melting man as top secret and classified which puts Nelson in conflict with the local law enforcement.
MELTING MAN is a true B-movie, where the idea sounds ridiculous, but somehow you get taken in by it. Why is West on the rampage, is not really clear. Why has he somehow contacted radiation from his mission and was the only survivor and why is this making him stronger, despite falling apart like he has bad case of leprosy, again is not really clear? There are lapses of logic about but this is partly to focus on the gooey effects and the gore, creating a slight freak show atmosphere throughout the film. Baker’s effects are superb and highlight how this artist went onto become an in demand figure in Hollywood and in other genre cinema. His melting man is a mess, looking horrific and resembling something far from resembling human by the end of the picture.
Admittedly there is some fantastic bad acting (“”You’ve never seen anything till you’ve seen the Sun through the rings of Saturn.”), wooden delivery of lines but we are in B-movie territory here remember? Sachs is more likely interested in showing the deterioration of West, and his turn into a killer on a rampage. You have to give credit for Rebar, who despite one scene is pretty much under makeup and effects for the majority of the film. Also like any good movie monster, and despite his violent rampage, towards the end we end up seeing a slight bit of pity for his plight, and at least West starts to show some form of left over human empathy underneath his horrific visage. Sachs film has always been considered by some to be in the so bad its good camp, yet I feel that this is not entirely justified as overall INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN, is an impressive B-movie, with an entertaining enough story helped in part with some superb special effects, and like any B-movie it has a garish, exploitative quality with a central conceit that allows some yucky special effects to be employed.
Also keep an eye out for an early appearance form SILENCE OF THE LAMBS DIRECTOR Jonathan Demme, who appears briefly. It’s also good to see Arrow giving this a fantastic release as the only other releases of the film have been under the Vipco label, and the less said about that the better. Though they haven’t packed it with lots of features they have at least put their time and effort into bringing a fantastic transfer of the film, and it’s credit again to them for producing a lovingly crafted package and treating this film with respect, showing them to be one of the best labels around. If you like B-movies, and if you like to see a special effects master class then INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN is a must.