Digital Dismemberment: The Incredible Melting Man Collector’s Edition Blu-Ray Review
Producer– Peter Cornburg, Robert L. Fenton, Samuel L. Gelfman and Max Rosenberg
Special FX– Rick Baker and Greg Cannom
Cast– Alex Rebar (Tales of Canterbury), Burr DeBenning (A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child), Myron Healey (Varan the Unbelievable), Michael Allredge (The Entity), Ann Sweeney (Bittersweet Love), Lisle Wilson (Sisters), Cheryl Smith (Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural) and Julie Drazen
Released By– Shout! Factory
Release Date– 7/30/13
The Premise: “Colonel Steve West has just returned from an incredible history-making flight to Saturn when he is hospitalized with an ailment that baffles the entire medical community. His flesh is melting and to stay alive he must consume human flesh and blood. The infected Colonel West escapes from the doctors’ supervision and hides in the surrounding community where he begins to hunt for human flesh. Who can stop the Incredible Melting Man?
Featuring “excellent makeup effects” (Leonard Maltin) from six-time Best Makeup Oscar winner Rick Baker (An American Werewolf In London, Ed Wood, Men In Black) and written and directed by William Sachs (Galaxina, Exterminator 2), The Incredible Melting Man delivers the gelatinous goods while humanizing a character rapidly losing his humanity. In short: it’s bloody good!”
Featuring some of the more amazing FX work from Rick Baker, The Incredible Melting Man is an interesting footnote in the history of horror/sci-fi. Almost universally panned upon its release, the film had many changes that occurred not only behind the scenes, but on it as well. Director William Sachs is on the record in an interview with Michael Adams stating that “the film was originally meant to be a a parody of ’50’s style sci-fi and is the reason why there are so much comedic lines in the film”(1). While that element is not hard to believe, it is even more amazing that while Baker came up with several different stages of make-up, author Richard Meyers is on the record stating “actor Alex Rebar was impatient and uncooperative with the extensive make-up sessions required for the effects, and thus did not wear all of the facial appliances Baker designed. This, Meyers said, may have been an additional factor in the lack of make-up effect stages in the final film”(2)(3). Arguments can be made about whether this film is a genre classic or not and if the film is a morality tale, but while the acting and some of the camera work can be described as shaky at best, there is no argument that Baker’s FX work alone makes this film stand out and makes you wonder what could have been had the film been played straight and more stages of the characters make-up had wound up on the film…
Solar flares flash across the screen as we see Colonel Steve West (Alex Rebar) and his crew fly threw the rings of Saturn. The chatter of the astronauts can be heard as they watch the flare in the rings, but massive amounts of radiation kills the other members of the crew right away, but West begins to bleed from his nose and instead passes out. When we seem him next, he is in a hospital heavily bandaged and burned. He awakens and tears his bandages away to see his heavily burned and melting face. In a rage, he destroys his room and chases after a nurse, killing and consuming parts of her face and brains before disappearing…
The military becomes involved after the murder in the shape of General Perry (Myron Healey). He and Dr. Ted Nelson (Burr DeBenning) begin looking for him. They realize that he has a short amount of time to live until he melts completely, and in the meantime, he needs to consume human flesh to slow down his condition. West attacks and beheads a fisherman, his head later exploding after falling down a small waterfall and hitting the rocks. West also scares a little girl, sending Perry and Nelson after his radioactive trail. Nelson is told to keep everything quite, but after his wife’s mother, boyfriend and the General are killed by West, he spills the details to Sheriff Blake (Michael Alldredge). After Blake receives a call about another attack were West kills a husband but is injured when the wife hacks his arm off with a kitchen knife(!), they head out to find him…
They manage to track West down at the town power plant, but even Blake’s shotgun can not stop the advancing West. Enraged at being shot, West throws Blake over the side of a walkway into some power lines, electrocuting him in an amazing spray of sparks and flame. Nelson finally confronts him at the end of the film, but is he able to communicate with his friend and help him before his condition melts him into nothingness, or is the man to far gone and does the monster carry out his rampage until the messy end? You are going to have to watch then film to find out…
Audio Commentary: Writer/Director William Sachs
Interview with Make Up Effects Artist Greg Cannom – (Run time of 3 minutes) A quick discussion on how he met Rick Baker and the work he did on the film.
Interview with Writer/Director William Sachs and Make Up Effects Artist Rick Baker – (Run time of 20 minutes) Great segments from both Sachs and Baker discussing the influences for the film, how they saw it more as a horror comedy vs straight horror, how the film has developed its cult following and the cast and the crew.
Aspect Ratio: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.78:1)
Shout!/Scream Factory brings us a rare gem to add to our Blu-Ray DVD collections, and on top of that, the real star of the film is its FX artist, Rick Baker! While quick to admit that this is the first time I have seen this film, I was more than aware of it and the work Baker did on the film. The only other releases that I could find listed for the film are the 1986 Vestron Video VHS, the 1994 re-release from Orion Pictures Library, the MGM VHS re-release on VHS in 2000 for their Midnite Movies line and a Region 2 CMV Laservision DVD in 2003. I can’t compare this edition to any of them, but from what I can see of the technical specs, Shout!/Scream Factory has once again hit a home run. The color and sound on this edition look amazing. There is some shaking of the film in several spots, but these are not a technical error on the Shout!/Scream Factory’s end, but a product of how the film was shot. While short on Special Features, the interview with Sachs and Baker really help to bring in a backstory on the film and the struggles on playing the film to studio desires. I also liked the inclusion of the Radio Spot as a Special Feature as it shows what Hollywood had forgotten about effective advertising. Shout!/Scream Factory has managed to include some great features for a cult classic that prove once again is once why it is becoming the standard bearer for Blu-Ray horror releases!
Movie Rating: 3.0 out of 5
DVD Rating: 7 out of 10
(1)Adams, Michael (2010). Showgirls, Teen Wolves, and Astro Zombies: A Film Critic’s Year-Long Quest to Find the Worst Movie Ever Made. It Books. ISBN 0-06-180629-3.
(2)Meyers, Richard (1980). The World of Fantasy Films. A. S. Barnes & Company. ISBN 0-498-02213-7.
(3)Meyers, Richard (1984). S-F 2: A Pictorial History of Science Fiction Films from “Rollerball” to “Return of the Jedi”. Citadel Press. ISBN 0-8065-0875-2.