Director: William Sachs
Writer: William Sachs
Cast: Alex Rebar, Burr DeBenning, Myron Healey, Michael Alldredge, Ann Sweeny, Lislie Wilson, Rainbeaux Smith, Julie Drazen, Stuart Edmond Rogers, Chris Whitney, Edwin Max, Dorothy Love, Janus Blythe, and Jonathan Demme
Composer: Arlon Ober
Release Date: 12/1977
MPAA Rating: R
After viewing the Sun through the rings of Saturn, astronaut Steve West (Alex Rebar) turns into a gelatinous, cannibalistic fiend. Only Doctor Ted Nelson (Burr DeBenning) and General Michael Perry (Myron Healey), two long-time acquaintances of Steve, can prevent the former space traveler from devouring every person he encounters.
A loose remake of The Quatermass Xperiment, The Incredible Melting Man deserves criticism for its meandering plot, inconsistent tone, and overuse of horror clichés. This film does, however, benefit from the acting of Myron Healey, whom B-movie buffs will recognize from The Unearthly and Varan the Unbelievable.
The Incredible Melting Man should be commended for its revolting gore effects, provided by veteran makeup artist Rick Baker. Sickening highlights include popping eyeballs, severed limbs that continue to spasm after amputation, and a disembodied head that explodes upon smashing against the bottom of a waterfall—all of which are executed quite impressively considering the technical, narrative, and budgetary shortcomings of this production.
This film struggles to present a plausible, let alone compelling, origin story for the existence of its featured monster. First Man into Space and The Quatermass Xperiment, in contrast, offer semi-logical explanations for why a normal, healthy astronaut would undergo drastic biological transformations after returning to Earth.
Intended as a parody of the sci-fi/horror genre, The Incredible Melting Man is marred by campy humor. In one scene, for example, an elderly husband and wife meet their demise while stealing lemons in the middle of the night—a ridiculous, drawn-out gag that detracts from the serious nature of Steve’s predicament.
By failing to acquaint the audience with Steve prior to his loss of humanity, The Incredible Melting Man never bothers to evoke sympathy for its title creature—much in contrast to the majority of body horror films, which emphasize tragic elements in conjunction with grotesque imagery (e.g. mutations, disfigurements, or mutilations of the human form).
The Incredible Melting Man is a poorly written and badly paced, albeit effectively disgusting, science fiction horror film. Fans of Z-grade cinema may nevertheless enjoy this offering for its gory makeup effects, humorous dialogue, and solid performances from Healey and DeBenning.
Overall Quality: 3/10
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