The Incredible Melting Man
Blu-ray | Amazon Instant Prime Video
Director: William Sachs
Screenwriter: William Sachs
Cast: Alex Rebar, Burr DeBenning, Myron Healey, Rainbeaux Smith, Ann Sweeny
Rated R | 84 Minutes
Release Date: July 30, 2013
Written and directed by William Sachs (Galaxina), 1977’s The Incredible Melting Man stars Alex Rebar as astronaut Steve West, sole survivor of a fateful expedition to Saturn.
After he is exposed to an intense blast of radiation in space, West is shown unconscious in a hospital back on Earth, with bandages covering his face. His physician, Dr. Loring (Lisle Wilson), cannot explain what is happening to West or how he survived.
After the doctor leaves, West awakens and is horrified to find the flesh on his face and hands melting away. Hysterical, he attacks a corpulent nurse (Bonnie Inch) – one of the film’s more hilarious, unbelievable sequences in which the overweight nurse runs screaming (in slow motion) straight through a plate glass door. After killing the nurse, the crazed West escapes the hospital in typical “Monster on the Loose!” fashion.
Loring and Dr. Theodore “Ted” Nelson (Burr DeBenning), discover that the nurse’s corpse is emitting radiation, and discern that West’s body has become radioactive. They hypothesize that West has gone insane (he has), and concludes he must consume human flesh in order to slow the melting (because sure, that makes sense).
The Incredible Melting Man was originally intended as a parody of ’50s horror films. The film’s producers decided during shooting that a straight horror film would be more financially successful, so comedic scenes were excised during production and new, more “horrific” scenes were added. The result is a film that retains some silliness and absurdity, but the comedic intentions are lost when framed as a serious, “straight horror” flick.
Produced by American International Pictures, The Incredible Melting Man still includes several homages to science fiction and horror films like 1955’s The Quatermass Xperiment, a British horror film about an astronaut who mutates into an alien organism after a doomed spaceflight. Of course the title to Sachs’s film is a reference to the Jack Arnold’s 1957 film, The Incredible Shrinking Man.
With makeup effects by Rick Baker, The Incredible Melting Man inspired countless effects-heavy films like 1987’s low-budget Street Trash and Rick Bottin’s work on Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop. While William Sachs’ cheesy monster movie is remembered by movie buffs for Baker’s impressive effects, The Incredible Melting Man is really nothing more than cannon fodder for the gang at Mystery Science Theater 3000, whose riffing of the crazed, gooey astronaut adventure is one of the show’s more memorable episodes.
From Shout! Factory’s Scream Factory, the 1.85:1 anamorphic Blu-ray transfer of The Incredible Melting Man offers some nice saturated colors and fine details on Baker’s makeup and effects work. The film makes use of stock footage, which has a high level of grain and appears softer than the rest of the film’s high-resolution presentation – but otherwise this is another solid addition to Scream Factory’s already impressive catalog of B-movies.
As for the special features, the Blu-ray includes interviews with make-up effects artist Greg Cannom, writer/director William Sachs, and make-up effects artist Rick Baker. There’s also a pretty humorous theatrical trailer that uses Rick Baker’s work on Star Wars as a selling point for the film.
Aside from a radio spot and photo gallery, the disc’s only other notable special feature is palpably bitter audio commentary with William Sachs, who spends most of the time distancing himself from the final film. It’s worth a listen just for Sachs’ absolutely absurd explanation of the film’s ending – the “moral of the story” – apparently this film has a deeper meaning beyond crazy astronauts eating human flesh!
Overall, The Incredible Melting Man is the kind of ’70s B-movie cheese perfect for riff-tastic late night movie marathons. If you’re a fan of nurses running through plate glass windows and psychotic space men whose biological makeup has the consistency of a microwaved Milky Way candy bar then this one’s for you.
Follow Me on Twitter!