Low budget horror movies with lots of cheese make up one of my favorite genres. It usually shows young filmmakers with their friends shooting a gory horror film that packs gross out cheap effects, laugh out loud moments, and cheap scares. Most of these films are still making money around the world today at midnight screenings and genre festivals. However, some of these films were stolen from the director by the studio execs and producers to make a broader film to appeal to more audiences. This still happens today, and was the case back in 1977 with William Sachs's 'The Incredible Melting Man'.
In this particular film, Sachs wanted to lead the audience on a mysterious journey until the very end where all would be revealed with certain plot points and characters. However, the studio execs and producers felt the opposite and laid every little detail out in the beginning so the audience would never have to think for themselves. Again, this still happens today. And Sachs is still sore about it and dislikes the fact that his name is on the final version of the film. However, Oscar winner Rick Baker, who is known for his make-up effects and special effects was a part of this film and made the melting man you see on screen. With the producers and execs taking more control of a creative process than they should have, we basically get a very cheesy monster movie with no real rhyme or reason as to why this supposed "monster" is out killing people from time to time.
The version we see now shows an astronaut named Steve West (Alex Rebar) who is subjected to a big solar flare and starts melting, hence the title. Now back on Earth at the hospital, we see that he has survived. He is covered in bandages, but is no longer interested in science, learning, or flying in space. He would now rather kill people, as his nurse realizes very early on. Then enters a scientist named Dr. Ted Nelson (Burr DeBenning) who must find out the hows and whys of Steve's new attitude. Plus, there's the fact that Steve is now missing and on a killing rampage. From here, the melting man kills several people in laughable ways as the good Dr. Nelson is trying to get West back to the hospital for a cure.
And that's the story folks. No more. No less. The acting is full of ham, and the script could have been so much better, but it was brought down by the solemn dialogue and the lack of any real entertainment. Sachs wanted to add his brand of humor to the film, which could've made this flick a great horror comedy, but instead we have a dull and boring film with great make up effects that will gross out even big horror movie fans.
This is a film that could have been so much more. As Sachs created the film Galaxina, he could have had another perverse masterpiece with 'The Incredible Melting Man', but uncreative people stopped him from making that happen. Yes, this movie should be seen by fans of the horror genre and fans of Rick Baker, but don't expect this to be at the top of your movie list.
'The Incredible Melting Man' comes with an impressive 1080p HD transfer presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Shout! Factory did a great job with the cleanup of this release, given the source material and the low budget. The detail is often well defined, with great closeups of the actors faces and costumes. Almost to a flaw, the pictures looks so good that you can tell easily where the make up effects begin and end on the "monster".
The colors are well-saturated here as well, especially during the lighter scenes. In the darker-lit scenes is where a few small problems creep up, such as some shadow crushing and motion blur. And there is a hint of some dirt here and there, but for the most part, the picture is polished clean. Throughout the film, there is some footage that seemed to be put in "after the fact", and those scenes are noticeably different, as they are heavy with grain and not as crisp.
This release comes with a run-of-the-mill lossless DTS-HD 2.0 audio mix. The dialogue is clear and always easy to understand, even if it comes across as soft at times.
The sound effects come through nicely, but never seem to pack that big of a punch. The bass never rattles as it should in a horror film and there isn't much directionality to it either. That being said, the fidelity is good overall. I wish this soundtrack kicked into high gear at some point, but it never does, leaving this a sub-par audio presentation.
'The Incredible Melting Man' could have been a much better film than it was. Sachs should have had his way with things and the execs and producers should have kept out of the creative side of things. As it is, the dialogue is laughable and the acting is nothing to write home about, but the make-up and special effects by legendary artist Rick Baker are phenomenal. The audio is less than stellar and the video presentation is above average for this type of release. You also get some entertaining extras. For fans of the horror genre and Rick Baker, this is a must have. For others it's a rental.