Butcher Block is a weekly series celebrating horror’s most extreme films and the minds behind them. Dedicated to graphic gore and splatter, each week will explore the dark, the disturbed, and the depraved in horror, and the blood and guts involved. For the films that use special effects of gore as an art form, and the fans that revel in the carnage, this series is for you.
Somewhere at the crossroads of splatter and body horror exists what can only be referred to as “melt horror.” Horror where the victims ooze and dissolve, literally melting, from the inside out. Movies like The Incredible Melting Man, Street Trash, and Body Melt. Body Melt is an Australian horror comedy that lampoons the period’s health craze in gruesome and over the top ways.
But be sure to go in with an empty stomach.
Writer/director/composer Philip Brophy, a musician and composer, wastes no time introducing the viewer to the baddies behind the health company experimenting with a new diet drug. They’re well aware that it has horrible side effects, but they decide to use the suburban residents of Pebbles Court as test subjects for their new product. There are three major phases to the gross-out side effects of the drug. First comes the hallucinations, then a glandular attack, and finally full-blown body melt.
Save for one early victim, an employee who tries to warn the residents only to succumb to weird tentacled decay first, Brophy keeps emphasis on the wackiness of the cast of characters. Two horny teens on a road trip to donate sperm, only to run afoul of an inbred family at a service station. A neighbor who is plagued by multiple visions of the same woman, a sometime seductress and sometimes battered victim. It doesn’t make much sense, just go with it. There’s also a young, pregnant couple, the evil corporation villains, and a slew of other over the top weirdos, all mostly played by Australian soap and television stars.
Basically, you’re lulled into the comedy and forget all about the horror, which doesn’t really start to ramp up until a little more than halfway through the run time. Then it becomes a no holds barred splatstick affair with mutations, killer mutated placentas, exploding penises, every possible bodily fluid you can think of, and of course a ton of melting. There’s not as much blood as you’d think, but it more than makes up for that in the sheer volume of pus, snot, and slime green vomit. Released just a year after Peter Jackson’s Braindead (Dead Alive), the influence is clear.
Of course, there’s also one major connection between the two; special makeup effects supervisor and creator Bob McCarron. McCarron also worked on the gruesome special effects for Braindead, which still remains arguably the goriest film of all time. What’s interesting about McCarron is that he’s not just an award-winning special effects and prosthetic artist, but a medic with four degrees in paramedicine, nursing, pre-hospital medicine and wildlife biology. So, he’s well versed in anatomy and the extremely repulsive things the human body is capable of, and puts that on full display in Body Melt.
Brophy wasn’t just content to compose the soundtrack and score for the film he wrote, directed, and storyboarded, he’s even got a special effects credit – “testicles.” This singular word aptly sums up the type of humor that saturates this icky satire. The horror takes a while to kick in, but man is it the precise type of gooey, slimy, melty practical effect driven Ozploitation that will threaten even the steeliest of stomachs.