Director: William Sachs
Starring: Alex Rebar, Burr DeBenning, Myron Healey, Rainbeaux Smith, Dorothy Love, Edwin Max
The Setup:Guy contracts something in space that makes him melt and crave human flesh.
Discussion:It seemed that the Gods were against my getting any moviewatching satisfaction. Earlier in the week, when I stayed home from work sick with a horrible fever and chills, I pinned my hopes for salvation on a movie I had been wanting to see since my youth: C.H.U.D. Unfortunately, that turned out to be a T.U.R.D., leaving me feverish, chilled, and pissed off.
Thus, later in the week, 90% recovered, I was excited to see another movie whose TV ads implanted themselves into my consciousness at the tender age of nine: The Incredible Melting Man. This is not available on DVD OR VHS anymore, and I totally had to eBay a copy. So I get home at 11pm, already knowing that this movie is going to keep me up later than I want to be, and open my refrigerator to pour myself a refreshing icy cold beverage to enjoy along with my movie. Now, due to my building manager’s tireless quest to procure ONLY the absolute cheapest appliances, the entire top door-shelf of my fridge comes flying out, spewing long-expired milk all over my kitchen, as well as a generous helping of this shredded “cheese food,” bought when I moved in during November 2005, which is DISTURBINGLY fresh and mold-free in April 2006. So I am cleaning all this sickening, smelly [except the radioactive cheese] stuff up, infuriated, when an additional plastic bottle of barbecue sauce falls out. In a rage, I fling it into the body of the refrigerator, wherein it promptly shatters and bounces out, spewing an additional patina of barbecue sauce all over the kitchen, making the whole place look like some sort of slaughter scene involving spoiled milk and radioactive shredded cheese "food." All at 11-fucking-PM, mind you, while I am still recovering from being massively ill. So I continue to clean and within 10 minutes I am in bed, uncomfortably sticky, disgustingly smelling of barbecue sauce, and mightily pissed off.
I tell you all this for you to fully understand how it was the power of THE INCREDIBLE FUCKIN’ MELTING MAN to remove me from my dreary barbecue-stankin’ daily trauma and deliver me into fuckin' B-Movie BLISSLAND!
This movie is perfect. It’s ludicrous enough to be fun and scary enough to remain interesting. Tonally, it’s very much in the vein of those completely silly 50s B-movies like Beast of Yucca Flats, but brought into the 70s, which is always SO delightful. Plus it stars people with ridiculous first names like Burr and Rainbeaux.
Alex Rebar stars as Steve, some astronaut who is part of a crew who is apparently hovering outside Saturn. We see some stock NASA footage which I suppose [?] is meant to be the ship they’re in. Then Steve says “Magnificent! You’ve never seen anything until you’ve seen the sun through the rings of Saturn!” A vision that must be left to our imagination, however, as the closest we come is some more shitty NASA footage of a solar flare or whatever. Then there's some sort of explosion or giant burst of light or whatever, which causes Steve to make a really stupid face. Don’t worry about rewinding this part to capture the nuances of its stupidity: it'll be fully repeated later in the movie.
Next thing we know Steve is back in a hospital on Earth [how did he get back? Same way The Fantastic Four did, I guess]. He is presided over by a corpulent nurse, and within a few seconds he wakes up, realizes he’s melting, and breaks free! And all of this is within the first FIVE MINUTES of the movie! That’s it fellas—skip the boring character development, bring on the fuckin’ MELTING MAN!!!
So the pleasantly plump nurse runs screaming down the hallway for like seven minutes, but by the time her plus-sized figure is out of the way you realize that the MM is NOT behind her! She then turns and, wouldn’t you know, there’s a huge plate-glass doorway RIGHT THERE! Then mysteriously the MM is right behind her! We cut away, but later find out that the MM did NOT extend the drippy, drooly hand of friendship.
Next we cut to Burr DeBenning as Dr. Ted Nelson, who gives us all this ultimately pointless yak about how his wife is pregnant again after her second miscarriage and they've been trying desperately to have a baby forever. So not only is Dr. Ted Nelson an ineffective, impotent hero [as we will soon discover], he’s got defective sperm, too. Our hero, ladies and gentlemen, is a fuckin’ genetically defective loser who can’t make no babies.
Meanwhile the MM is out assaulting innocent fishermen who are REALLY obsessed with finding out what made “that noise.” Curiosity killed the dumb cat, if ya ask me, as is clearly illustrated a few seconds later when the MM lobs his decapitated head like a basketball into a nearby creek! Lovers of the pastoral are then treated to intercut footage of the severed head lazily floating down the creek to a small waterfall, where it falls down and cracks open, spewing blood everywhere! 48 thumbs up!
Dr. Ted Nelson then goes home to his patient wife, where he is a total abusive COCK to her. Her every sympathetic, understanding question is met with utter, sneering contempt. But she’ll just have to understand that when Dr. Ted Nelson wants crackers, Dr. Ted Nelson really, REALLY wants crackers!
We then cut to a front-runner for most annoying little girl in the world, who comes upon two little boys enjoying a forbidden cigarette, takes a puff, and when she coughs, throws it down and stomps on it! Oh, so just because YOU don’t like it, you have to ruin the fun for everyone? They then decide to go play hide and seek down by the waterfall, and we have the sweet, playful music of childhood innocence as the little tykes scamper down to WHERE WE KNOW THE SEVERED HEAD LIES!!! At a moment like that, you want to run up to the director and KISS him! Sadly, they don’t encounter the severed head, but the girl does encounter the Melting Man, after deciding to play hide-and-seek, counting to 50, then immediately declaring that she doesn’t want to play [I told you she was annoying]. Anyway, it’s only after she runs home screaming “I saw Frankenstein” that you realize “Oh, I guess that was an homage á Frankenstein.” Unfortunately he doesn’t kill her like in Frankenstein.
Meanwhile Dr. Ted Nelson is searching for Mr. Drippy with a Geiger counter, shouting out “Steve! Hey, Steve! Come on out! We want to help you! Steve! ” Oh yeah, ‘cause Steve obviously just wants to sit down for a warm chat. He just wants someone to understand how he FEELS. It can be lonely and isolating for a melting man, you know. Not to mention emasculating. Of course, since we had no character development before, we have no idea what kind of friendship Steve and Dr. Ted had. Anyway, Ted is bummed because this general or whoever that he has some sort of tension with [because the guy is barking orders to not alert the populous and just FIND the MM] is coming there that night. And his wife, Judy, the pregnant one who he was a massive asshole to, offers to make them both dinner, and the general accepts. Awkward! Anyway, only AFTER the general accepts, does the wife tell him “Oh yeah, my mother and her husband are coming too!” Which is hilarious, especially after the general is SO keen on Ted not telling ANYONE about the escaped melting man, and they’re going to have to have dinner with this other couple and not talk about it? Once again, Ted unleashes a torrent of contempt upon his poor, pregnant wife! Was this behavior just considered ACCEPTABLE back then?
Somewhere in here is a strange scene in which a model [played by a woman who’s first name is Rainbeaux] is almost raped by a sleazy photographer, before her ankle is grasped by the hand of a headless corpse. Yup.
Then God in his infinite wisdom chooses to bestow upon us a long scene with Helen and Harold, Judy’s mother and her husband, who are like these Jewish retiree grandparents! They bicker and kvetch and Helen makes kissy all over Harold while he says “I have to watch the road!” Helen is sorry she didn’t bring any candy or fruit for Judy, and wants to stop to buy some, until you’re like “Wow, she is OBSESSED with fruit!” Just like Ted was OBSESSED with crackers earlier. WHAT is going on? Anyway, as they are driving through the PITCH BLACK NIGHT, they spot a lemon grove, and are going to wander in and illegally snatch some tasty lemons to bring to their pregnant daughter! You know, the active seniors of the 70s! They soon hear a scary noise in the brush and scurry back to their car, and Harold is SUCH a gentleman he opens Helen’s door and seats her before going around the car and locking himself in—EVEN though there’s an angry Doberman running at them! The scenes with these two are reason enough to watch this movie—as IF it needs any more!! Sadly, they’re both soon melting man food.
Around this time I am reminding myself—fuck dude, I OWN this shit!!! I can watch this whenever I want! I can be the custodian that preserves this for future generations! I see now that the writer / director also did Galaxina, which I didn’t much like—do I have to reevaluate it now? I should totally check out what else he’s done.
Now, while Ted and the general are sitting around casually dining on Judy’s tasty meal, you start to wonder… Uh, isn’t there a marauding Melting Man on the loose? And you know, I don’t see anyone else looking for him. Aren’t they being a little casual about this whole thing? Actually, these thoughts have been going on throughout the whole movie, because they look around, yelling “Steve!” for like two minutes, and then say “Whew, I sure am hungry. Let’s take a break.” And this is one of those thoughts you think is never going to be addressed, because we’re not supposed to notice, when suddenly Judy stops taking Ted’s abuse, flips out, and tells him to get off his fucking lazy ass and get out there and look for the bastard! Wooo! Go Judy! All those Helen Reddy records were not lost on HER.
However, women in horror movies who kick their husbands out often find melting men in their homes, or so Judy thinks when she hears glass shatter as she sits knitting on her tan velour couch with hideous macramé pillows in front of this FUCKIN’ HOT coffee table. But what do you know… it was just Elsie the cat! Who knocked over the glass of milk… that was just left out… in the middle of the kitchen floor. Judy is then given another false shock by her husband, back already from his half-hearted attempt to “find” the Melting Man! Judy, LOSE this shiftless, lazy, abusive dickhead with the defective sperm and get a real man! YOU ARE WOMAN!
So the moron Ted decides that a really smart thing to do might be to give his [pregnant] wife a SLEEPING PILL while there is a marauding Melting Man on the loose, and then LEAVE her in the house with the general while he goes out to “look.” This is about when one actively begins wishing for Ted to die. Anyway, naturally the MM is right outside, and kills the general while he is enjoying a brewskie and a TURKEY LEG [do people EAT those outside of Renaissance Faires?]. Anyway, the MM leaves before he hurts the unconscious Judy.
Many times in here one has the thought “Uh, wouldn’t he just have MELTED by now?”
Suddenly we cut to this other couple, composed of young Jill Nickworth [or something] and her semi-hunky mustachioed beau [just drop about 20 pounds, bud…] going in her house to make out. They notice that the door is open, with slime on the doorknob, and he goes in to “check it out.” When he doesn’t come out, she goes in, finds the body, and is assaulted herself. She runs into the kitchen and barricades herself, and brave [or dumb] girl that she is, chooses not to RUN OUT THE DOOR TO THE OUTSIDE, but to LOCK herself inside. She calls the police, and identifies herself before FREAKING OUT and collapsing. She then—like girls I dig—reaches for the CLEAVER, and at this point I was like “Is Jill going to be our Final Girl?” an impression added to a second later when she chops the MM’s arm off! Only then she cowers in a corner and REALLY has a mental breakdown—fun to see, but not very Final Girl-like. God, I just LOVE it when people have mental breakdowns in movies.
SPOILERS, BITCHES!!! > > >
Anyway, after all this carnage, Dr. Ted Nelson has FINALLY told the local sheriff what they’re up against, and he keeps telling the sheriff NOT to kill the Melting Man, to which you want the sheriff to say “Fuck you, dickhead, if I see that thing I am going to motherfucking KILL it!” The two of them corner the MM up on some ludicrous scaffold or whatever, and while the sheriff is being killed for Ted’s ineffectiveness throughout the movie, which he continues to exemplify by standing there, doing NOTHING but saying “Steve! No! Steve, please! Steve, no more!” as his friend is murdered. Does the fucking moron NOT GET that Steve is not exactly responding to his entreaties? Like hello—has he EVER throughout the entire movie? Maybe it’s not just Ted’s sperm that are defective.
Anyway, so Ted is soon hanging by one arm from the scaffolding, and I was like “Die! Die, Ted, Die! Fall and die! Die! Die! Fall and die, Ted! Fall and Die! DIE! DIE! DIE!” but one’s hopes are shattered when the Melting Man, in a final moment of grace, recognizes his friend and rescues him. Awww, that is so sweet. The fucking family of man and all that. But then these two security guards show up with guns pulled, and Ted is all like “Wait! I’m Dr. Ted Nelson! Listen to me! I’m Dr. Ted Nelson! Stop! I’m Dr. Ted Nelson!” …as if that means anything to these schlubs! So you’re sitting there, thinking “God, this guy is just such a fucking moronic prick,” when suddenly the guard PUTS A BULLET BETWEEN DR. TED NELSON'S FUCKIN’ EYES!!! Then follows a moment of disbelief—it is so rare when a “hero” one despises actually gets what’s coming—and then the celebrations begin! This movie is the fuckin’ TOP!
So finally the Melting Man wanders off and just melts. WHY he took so long to melt and then suddenly just melted is pointedly NOT addressed, but soon he’s just a puddle and the African-American employee who shows up for work in the morning shovels him into a garbage pail! Meanwhile we hear a radio report that they’re sending another mission to Saturn, i.e. cue potential sequel….
< < < SPOILERS END
What can one SAY? This movie is just so far beyond the beyond, so everything and more… it has been a LONG time since I’ve enjoyed a movie this much! I kind of worship it! And to have that one movie you remember wanting to see since you were NINE turn out to be such a gem! I hope it happens to you, folks! It was enough to send me happily off to sleep, a smile on my face, and the gentle aroma of hickory-smoked barbecue wafting in my nose.
Should you watch it?YYEESS!!!!! If this sounds appealing to you, it is worth selling a family member into sexual slavery to get!