Release Year: 1977
As has been mentioned before, this site is going to cover any type of movie that can grab a horror fans interest. Whether it be a contemporary slashed movie, or a Universal Monster classic, nothing is off limits. That brings us to todays featured film.
The Incredible Melting Man is something of a cult classic. It certainly has been well known amongst horror fans for many years, particularly the rabid gorehound fan base. It is almost shameful for me to admit the viewing I am partaking in for this review is the first time I have ever seen it, despite knowing about it for many years.
Back in 1977 when the film was initially released, it must be understood that the horror genre was in a bit of a state of metamorphosis. We were still a year out from the real beginning of the slasher subgenre with the release of Halloween but a few years past some of the 70s more harrowing titles such as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Black Christmas and The Exorcist. While not nearly as well known as those classics, it is interesting to watch The Incredible Melting Man thinking of the era it was released in.
The plot of the film is pure B-movie bliss. A space shuttle voyage to Saturn goes awry when the ship and its three passengers are hit with a blast of radiation. It kills two of the astronauts and badly injures the third, Steve West (Alex Rebar). Upon waking back on Earth in a hospital bed, West discovers that his flesh is in a constant state of melting, and goes berserk. On his way out of the hospital he kills a nurse and discovers that murdering people seems to delay his dissolving. Meanwhile, Dr. Ted Nelson (Burr DeBenning), a scientist and friend of West’s is working with General Perry (Myron Healey) to try and capture West while also attempting to contain the story of what is happening to him. And that is really all there is to the plot as West kills different people trying to halt his own demise.
The real star of the film is the makeup effects done by a young Rick Baker, four years before his groundbreaking and Oscar winning makeup for An American Werewolf In London. The makeup of the titular melting man is phenomenal especially when you factor in the obviously low budget and the year in which the film was made. It should also be noted that at certain points in the film I could not see the Melting Man without noticing the incredible resemblance of Dr. Freudstein that would come a few years later in Lucio Fulci‘s House By The Cemetery.
As for the other aspects of the film, it is quite clearly a B-Movie. The acting is all sub par, and the direction is mediocre at best. While there are a few scenes in which a decent level of suspense is built by director Sachs, it unfortunately doesn’t come together quite as well as it should. Part of this reason may be due to the fact that the film was originally intended as more of a parody of horror and 50s sci-fi films, before the producers decided to rework it into more of a straight horror film. What we are left with is quite a few scenes where the comedy starts to show through, with absolutely no followup. This leaves us with a wildly uneven picture.
Is The Incredible Melting Man worth your time? It really depends on your love of the genre. While most hardened horror fans will find something to enjoy, more casual fans of the genre probably would not want to waste their time. But it is still one that is beloved by a rabid part of the fan base, and while flawed, it is certainly not without its merits.
Final Thoughts: While certainly a picture that at times can’t decide if it wants to be a parody, a straight horror film or the ever elusive, and almost never done right, horror-comedy, The Incredible Melting Man has fantastic makeup from a young Rick Baker that makes it worth viewing for any self-respecting hardcore horror fan.