December 21, 2012

The Incredible Melting Man (1977)

HIS NAME WAS DENNIS, and he was my best friend in 3rd grade.

One Monday morning, Dennis couldn’t wait to tell me about a movie he saw over the weekend: a horror flick called The Incredible Melting Man, about an astronaut named Steve West (Alex Rebar) who comes back from space after flying through the rings of Saturn, causing his body and mind to disintegrate, making him kill.

I had seen ads for The Incredible Melting Man in the paper, and the shot of the man’s decomposing face terrified me. But Dennis proceeded to tell me all the details about the film, from the melting man’s goriest kills to his ooey, gooey demise.

It sounded like the greatest film ever made.

Over the years, I began to hear just how wrong I was. The Incredible Melting Man is panned in virtually every review you read. It even got the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment in 1996. But it still gnawed at me that I hadn’t seen this film for myself. So recently I decided to try and watch it through the eyes of a third grader, and see if it would have been cool to my inner 9-year-old.

Dennis better pray I never see him at a high school reunion.

The Incredible Melting Man is excruciatingly bad. Less than ten minutes in, the cheesiness envelops you, much like the gelatinous goo swallowing up West, our tragic hero turned mindless monster. When he’s not busy ripping people apart, West spends a lot of time wandering across hillsides, sometimes with a beautiful sunset behind him.

The acting in The Incredible Melting Man alternates between wooden and melodramatic. As Dr. Ted Nelson, the man trying to track down West, Burr DeBenning is dreadful. He looks clammy and emaciated, and delivers every line like he was told his dog died just before writer/director William Sachs yelled “Action!”

Sachs’ script doesn’t help matters. Here are a few doozies from the dialogue:

“Steve escaped.”
“He what?”
“Did you get some crackers?”

“You mean he’s radioactive?”
“Just a little bit.”

“Don’t call me baby.”
“Ok, sorry, honey.”

The Incredible Melting Man’s score by Arlon Ober sounds like something from a ‘70s cop drama – right down to the dramatic “DUM-dum-dummm” when something “shocking” happens. The only reason, if any, to sit through the film is to witness the early work of Oscar-winning special effects legend Rick Baker (An American Werewolf in London).

Contrary to what I thought of Dennis’ word-of-mouth review, The Incredible Melting Man is not great. It’s not good. It’s just bad. It’s not even “so bad it’s good.” There are no scares. No suspense. Like the melting man himself, the film aimlessly lumbers from one scene to the next until it mercifully ends.

Is it suitable for your kids?
The Incredible Melting Man is rated R, and for good reason:
Violence/Scariness: A nurse’s mutilated face is shown. The melting man tears off a victim’s head off-screen, then we see it tossed into a river, where it cracks open on a rock like a melon (the victim’s bloody, headless corpse appears in a later shot). The melting man rips apart and dines on an elderly couple. There are several scenes of the melting man, well, melting – all gooey with random body parts falling off. A potential victim chops off the melting man’s arm with a meat cleaver. A sheriff repeatedly shoots the melting man, who shows his appreciation by tossing the sheriff onto high voltage power lines, frying him. A major character is shot in the head. The melting man’s final demise is a gooey, crunchy mess.
Sex/Nudity: A model gets topless at a photo shoot in the woods.
Smoking: Three kids share a cigarette behind a house.

Will your FilmMother want to watch it?
Unless she’s got a soft spot for low-budget horror cheese, highly unlikely. The Incredible Melting Man is a bloody, gooey affair with little redeeming value.

But wait – there’s more!
Act now and get your very own Incredible Melting Mandle, made by Stexe of Futurechimp:

The Incredible Melting Man
* Director: William Sachs
* Screenwriter: William Sachs
* Stars: Alex Rebar, Burr DeBenning, Myron Healey, Michael Alldredge
* MPAA Rating: R

Rent The Incredible Melting Man from Netflix >>


stexe said...

Good review of an unwatchable movie. As I commented already on my own blog, the film is better left to the imagination than actually seen. The concept, the newspaper ad, the TV spot, and descriptions from peers made for something that even a decent movie wouldn't have surpassed.

And thanks for helping to promote the Mandle. Not many buyers yet, but hope springs eternal. I think the last product on store shelves was the costume, in Halloween of '77:

James (SeattleDad) said...

Look him up on Facebook and send him your review. Lol.

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