The Incredible Melting Man (1977)

This is a really enjoyable little sc-fi/horror gem from the late seventies. It has all the elements that make horror schlock fun to watch - you've got a flash of nudity from cult starlet Rainbeaux Smith, fine makeup effects from maestro Rick Baker, and a simple but effective plot of a mutant, melting monster on the loose eating all and sundry. In the right mood, you'll have a rollicking little old time.

On a three-man space probe to Saturn, Leader Steve West (Alex Rebar) is the only survivor after radiation from the sun infiltrates the cabin. The other two are killed, but because he was stronger, West survived. Waking in hospital, West rips the bandages off his face to reveal the melting mess beneath. His mind destroyed, he attacks and partially eats a nurse. Dr. Ted Nelson, his friend and physician, tries to track him down before he kills again. West's condition is a bizarre one - he needs the cells of humans to replenish his own disintegrating flesh. The next time we see him, he is unrecognizable - a skull-like dripping creature. The next person he attacks, a fisherman, is decapitated, the head thrown into a stream, to fall down a waterfall and split gorily open on the rocks below. A classic scene I tells ya!

Nelson attempts to track West down with a geiger counter, but more people are killed, including his wife's parents. Finally, cornering the creature at a power station, his own life at stake, Nelson appeals to the dim remnants of the monster's human memory. More death will ensue, and more melting. All I can say is, somebody ends up in a trashcan!

There's not much in the way of thoughtful, stylish film-making here. Camerawork, music and acting is very by the numbers, except for the occasional histrionics from Nelson (Burr DeBenning). The focus here is gore, ravaged bodies and slime-dripping makeup. On that level, the movie works. Just don't start the film hoping to shed a tear in sympathy, cause it ain't going to happen, Joe/Josephine! This is just sheer popcorn fun for those with a taste for mild splatter. I like the science fiction element thrown in, and there are nods to Frankenstein here and there - like when the monster scares a little girl, who screamingly tells her mother there's a "Frankenstein" out there, or when Nelson tries to reason with West - but we're not talking Karloff here. The incredible melting man really is just a monster-on-the-loose story.

Still, it's a Rick Baker monster on the loose. You'll do a lot worse than this one. Happy melting.

© Boris Lugosi 2002.


Review written: 01/20/2003 19:40:55