Sometimes a TV commercial for a horror movie can scare a kid more than the actual film. Such was the case of The Incredible Melting Man when the ads ran on TV back in 1977. The act of your flesh dripping off your bones is a rather horrific concept. It’s worse than any monster lurking in the closet or blood sucking vampire in the sky. It’s your own body melting away and there’s nothing you can do. The fear builds since there’s no way parents are going to take you to see an R-rated horror film to calm your fears. This was the age before home video so when you missed the movie in the theater, the fear could only grow. The Incredible Melting Man grew to legendary status within those fearful children that were denied seeing what happened to astronaut Steve West. Now all the details of his unique condition can be observed with the Blu-ray release.
Astronaut Steve West (Alex Rebar) is the only “survivor” of the three astronauts that were sent in orbit around Saturn. When he awakens at a nearly abandoned hospital, West unwraps the bandages around his head only to discover part of his face is also coming off. His hands are also extra oozy. It’s not a good sight for the man who just saw the rings of Saturn. There doesn’t seem to be much that medical science can do for him according to Dr. Loring (Sisters‘ Lisle Wilson). Treating him becomes secondary when West escapes the medical facility. He chases a nurse through a glass door. His messed up state turns him into a cannibal killer as if fresh flesh can make him quit dripping. He kills and rips body parts off people for no rational reason except he’s a messed up Melting Man. The military assigns Dr. Ted Nelson (The Amazing Captain Nemo‘s Burr DeBenning) to track the target down before this ugly NASA moment gets into the press. People are skeptical already about space exploration. How can NASA get funding if it’s creating a race of melting homicidal maniacs? His potential victims include two Caged Heat connections. Rainbeaux Smith is a model who shows a bit of her unmelting flesh during a photo shoot. Director Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs) gets attacked by the Melting Man. Is there any hope for the Melting Man? Can he overcome his illness before he drips away?
The big star of the movie is special effects wizard Rick Baker. The future Oscar winner was just finished with the King Kong remake when he took the gig. He’s the reason why The Incredible Melting Man hasn’t dissolved into obscurity. His goo mixture for melting flesh does not lose its gross out factor with the 1080p resolution upgrade. The dripping face of West is still disturbing. The film is incredibly low budget that they couldn’t afford background extras in scenes. It’s a shock when an actor stands in the background and doesn’t speak or get attacked by the Melting Man. There’s no giant crowd fleeing down the street to escape the Melting Man. This is a minimal cast production on par with My Dinner with Andre. The producers did the wisest thing in spending the most money on Baker’s talents since the gross out factor means success for a horror film. His skills were appreciated by the producers. The Incredible Melting Man put Baker in that rare company of “Below the Line” filmmaking stars such as Ray Harryhausen. An early trailer was all about Baker’s work on this new kind of monster. This promotional push made him an effects artist who got casual moviegoers excited about their upcoming project and not merely credit geeks. Did anyone buy a ticket to relish the thespian skills of Alex Rebar? They all wanted to see how Baker made Alex melt over the course of 84 minutes. Even after 36 years, the movie’s effects live up to the fear instilled on a youngster’s mind that could only witness the TV commercials.
The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The 1080p transfer really brings out the squirm value in Rick Baker’s melting effects. It also exposes the cheapness of the production. The audio is DTS-HD Master Audio Mono that’s a low budget mix. You do get to hear a bit of his body drip off. The movie is subtitled.
Audio Commentary with William Sachs gets into the goo that made the movie happen. Sach would go on to make two major films at Crown International: Galaxina and Van Nuys Blvd.
Interview with William Sachs and Rick Baker (19:37) lets the two of them talk about the film. Rick recounts how he quoted the producers an outrageous price for his services since he didn’t want to say, “No.” Instead of backing off, they accepted. He used barrels of dripping ooze to make the Melting Man look good on camera. Sachs discusses how he wanted it a bit more comical. The film was a hit for American International Pictures.
Interview with Greg Cannom (2:56) is a short chat about the make up man getting to work with Rick Baker. He had to handle the reshoots.
Theatrical Trailers includes one that really pushes Rick Baker as the reason to buy a ticket.
Radio Spot (0:31) will scare you on the drive home.
Photo Gallery (4:22) is a montage of production related pictures and advertisements.
The Incredible Melting Man is a movie that’s earned its cult status based on Rick Baker’s dripping effects. The film was released a few years back as a Manufacture on Demand title which was nice at the time. The bonus features and the clarity in Baker’s effects make it a necessary upgrade for fans.
Scream Factory presents The Incredible Melting Man. Directed by William Sachs. Screenplay by: William Sachs. Starring: Alex Rebar, Burr DeBenning, Jonathan Demme and Myron Healey. Running Time: 84 minutes. Rated: R. Released: July 30, 2013. Available at Amazon.com.
Tags: Jonathan Demme, Scream Factory