Reviewed by Mike Ferraro
The slogan for The Incredible Melting Man calls for the audience to “come prepared,” but upon viewing this all but forgotten science fiction/horror schlock, it’s hard to imagine making anything of the sort. Director William Sachs (Galaxina) set out to make his ultimate tribute to genre comics of the 1950s. Did he succeed?
That depends on your definition of success.
Colonel Steve West seems to be on a routine space mission somewhere within reach of Saturn when something goes tragically wrong. West tells his colleagues, “You’ve never seen anything, til you’ve seen the Sun through the rings of Saturn.” This certainly rings true when the group finally sees what West describes and something goes terribly/hilariously awry. This planetary combination causes a flash that kills everyone but West, who is left then to survive with a strange melting flesh disease.
Back on Earth, West returns a changed man. He wakes up in a hospital completely disfigured. He awakens in an angry rage, rips off the bandages covering his face, and then escapes the hospital. From that point on, every person he encounters is now a source of food, for only the consumption of human flesh can keep his melting quandary at bay.
Describing how the plot unfolds is definitely up for interpretation. At times, it’s a confusing mess that not even the occasional dialogue description can save. The description on the back of the disc at least provides a blue print for you to follow along with as you watch but doesn’t do a complete job. Just what actually happens to the members of the space crew is hard to analyze. Why does seeing the Sun through the rings of Saturn even cause a person to start melting and provide a hunger for human flesh? We can’t ever be sure.
Though Sachs seems to be in complete denial of the quality of film he ended up creating, this is definitely one of the more choice pieces of cornball filmmaking. Comparing the stilted dialogue to the horrendous performances is only going to create a seemingly even list of uncountable negatives without any adjectives on the positive side.
That isn’t to say this film is unwatchable. Actually, it’s far from. Fans of terribleness (like Troll 2 or Hobgoblins) should have no problem enjoying the more charming qualities of The Incredible Melting Man. Unlike those two films however, this one actually has some pretty decent effects. Makeup master Rick Baker (The Thing, An American Werewolf in London) provides some pretty grotesque artistry for the titular hero, which, at times, is worth the price of admission alone.
Commentary – Director William Sachs gives a solo performance here, talking mostly about his influences, casting choices, and special effects.
Interviews – There are a few interview spots on this disc, mostly focusing on writer/director Sachs and makeup effect artists Rick Baker and Greg Cannom. The interesting thing here is the differences in opinion over the overall quality of the picture. Baker tells a good story about how he wasn’t much a fan of the script, so he sent a rather outrageous estimate, to which the production team agreed with anyway. Sachs seems to be a bit in denial over the quality of the film, claiming he only set out to make a popcorn movie, not anything else.
Maybe he did succeed. This is the kind of movie you should watch with popcorn, and a good side of beer, armed with friends and conversation. That would definitely save it.