When it comes to Australian genre films, or Ozploitation as they’re so often referred, I’m very much a novice. Yeah, I’ve seen all the Mad Max films and I’m a huge fan of Brian Trenchard-Smith (read my reviews of Turkey Shoot and The Siege of Firebase Gloria) but basically that’s where my knowledge ends. Fortunately Umbrella Entertainment releases a number of titles under a series they called “Ozploitation Classics” and as a result I’ve slowly begun to expand my knowledge. My latest journey down under was with 1993’s Body Melt!
Body Melt is the story of a small community called Pebbles Court whose residents are unknowingly being treated as test subjects for a new dietary pill. Pebbles Court is like your typical cookie cutter suburb. All the houses look the same and there is just a general fakeness to everything. The people are all kind of vain and so when free pills arrive in their mailbox promoting the ultimate healthy lifestyle they eagerly take them without hesitation. Unfortunately for the residents of Pebbles Court these pills come with some truly awful side effects.
The idea of the pill, I think, is to help you lose weight and in a way that’s what it does. But in losing weight it first causes hallucinations followed by mutations. So those that use it do lose weight, but it’s in the form of their skin melting off. And that’s with the lucky ones! One unfortunate chap has his penis enlarge (not so bad) until he gets the point of exploding and kill him (not so great). Some folks have tentacles come out of their mouth which is never fun. And let’s not forget the imploding heads. Basically, things get pretty messy in Pebbles Court.
The film was directed by Philip Brophy off a script he co-wrote with Rod Bishop. Both Brophy and Bishop were members of the Australian experimental band → ↑ →. I feel like when you’re dealing with a couple of dudes that named their band → ↑ → that you kind of know you’re going to be in for something very weird. Body Melt is definitely weird. It has that slapstick gore that Sam Raimi and early Peter Jackson had perfected with maybe a hint of David Cronenberg. It’s definitely never not interesting.
The film is a satire of extremely healthy living. It kind of makes fun of the stuff like those GNC shops and the people that shop there. I don’t know if this stuff was super popular in the 90’s in Australia, but I’m going to guess that it was which is probably how this film came about. I feel like stateside I remember seeing these stores all over the place and inside shopping malls and such. I don’t think you see them as much now or maybe I don’t notice them. But just because these health supplement stores may not be around as much, I think the satire still holds up. We’ve just moved on to a new health craze. And we’ll probably continue to move from one craze to another so in that way Body Melt will always be relevant. That’s not to say the movie isn’t dated with a 90’s feel. It very much is, but I loved the 90’s so I don’t mind.
Body Melt is currently available on DVD from Australia’s Umbrella Entertainment. Don’t let the Australia part worry you too much because this is region free, so wherever you are in the world you should be able to watch this. I did so on a standard American Blu-ray player without any issues. This is a DVD so don’t expect an HD picture or anything, but this still looks very good. This is a pretty bright film with a lot of colors and practical effects and they all look just fine here. There’s not a lot in the way of special features but you do get the trailer for the film and a behind-the-scenes featurette with cast and crew.
Body Melt is a great party film. Pop this one with some friends, order a pizza and sit back and enjoy a slapstick splatter fest!
Body Melt is currently available on DVD from Umbrella Entertainment.