The Incredible Melting Man (1977) | The First New Horror Creature! Now in gore-ious High Definition
He Is A Human Time Bomb. He Must Be Stopped Before He Kills Us All!
Astronaut Steve West (Alex Rebar), a man barely alive after a disastrous space mission to the rings of Saturn has become exposed to a mysterious organism, which has taken possession of his flesh, and is now turning him into a goopy flesh-eating ghoul. Escaping from his hospital bed, Steve embarks on a murderous rampage of the local countryside. Can concerned scientist Ted Nelson (Burr DeBenning) and dim-witted sheriff Neil Blake (Michael Alldredge) stop the melting human time bomb before the body count rises?
A NEW PEAK IN TERROR
Director William ‘Bill’ Sachs originally envisioned his 1977 sci-fi as a comic book spoof called The Ghoul from Outer Space. He may have lost that fight, but his grisly humour is still very much evident; a turkey leg mistaken for a decapitated limb is a standout, as are the closing scenes in which Steve’s liquefied remains gets unceremoniously shoveled into a rubbish bin.
Taking its cues from the 1950s classics The Quatermass Experiment, The First Man Into Space (the crusty blood sucking creature scared the hell out of me as a child) and The Hideous Sun Demon, and with clear nods to James Whale’s Frankenstein (1931) and George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968), Sachs’ sci-fi is a silly popcorn treat that well deserves its reputation as a cult classic thanks to its riotous dialogue and comedic performances (especially Myron Healey as the General). But the real hero here is make up legend Rick Baker whose blood, pus and mucous dripping effects are simply amazing (they look even better on Blu-ray). The film also served as a launch pad for emerging SFX talents like Greg Cannom and Rob Bottin.
I first learned laid eyes on The Incredible Melting Man back in 1978 when it featured on the July cover of Famous Monsters of Filmland. Declaring it as cinema’s ‘New Horror Creature’, I had to see it. But it never came to Australia, so I had to settle on the superb New English Library novelisation by Phil Smith (which I still treasure), until it eventually came out on VHS in 1986. What a disappointment that was! The Vestron Video print was muddy, the sound shoddy, and with most of the action taking place at night, I couldn’t see any of Baker’s fine work. But when MGM released the film on DVD as part of their Limited Edition Collection (in 2003), I thought my search was over as the print was excellent. Now we have Arrow’s Blu-ray release to savor. Not only it is based on a new HD master from MGM, it also includes some must-see extras. Oh the joy! I feel 13 all over again. Let the melty mayhem ensue.
THE UK BLU-RAY RELEASE
Arrow’s High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of the feature is transferred from original film elements in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with mono 2.0 sound (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray). The High Definition master was produced by MGM and made available for this release via Hollywood Classics.
• Audio Commentary with William Sachs (very illuminating)
• Super 8 digest version of the film (this 200ft seven-minute Super 8 variant was the cutting edge of home cinema in the 1970s – look how far we have come?)
• Interview with William Sachs and Rick Baker
• Interview with make-up effects artist Greg Cannom
• Reversible sleeve featuring artwork by Gary Pullin
• Collector’s booklet featuring essays on the history of the film by Mike White and an excellent brief history of Super 8 digest by Douglas Weir (who supplied the 8mm digest version).
Posted on October 29, 2014, in Cult classic, Horror, Must See, Must See, Must-See, Sci-Fi and tagged 1970s sci-fi, Alex Rebar, Arrow Films, Arrow Video, Blu-ray release, Burr DeBenning, Famous Monsters of Filmland, Greg Cannom, The First Man Into Space, The Ghoul from Outer Space, The Incredible Melting Man. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.