Monday, October 7, 2013

Review: The Incredible Melting Man

Let me start off by saying that I love horror movies. I grew up raised on horror and I am grateful for that because when people ask about my childhood favourite films, I name off the likes of Nightbreed, Evil Dead 2, Puppet Master, and Near Dark. But I'm not here to talk about those films. No, I'm here to talk about one I never saw as a child: The Incredible Melting Man. And let me tell you, I am torn between whether I am happy or sad about having not seen it growing up. Let me explain what I mean.

Keep it short, pal. I have a wife to leave in danger.



Most people look back at films from their youth through a filter of nostalgic joy, which can make eve terrible films seem like treasured memories to them. I am sure I would have ate this up as a kid too, but I am glad that I went into this with no preconceived notions about what it should be. I didn't read any reviews, ask anyone about it, and I really only glanced at the description on the cover. No, I just knew that I needed to see this movie. So I grabbed my newly procured Scream Factory Blu Ray and settled in this morning. Understandably, judging by the title, I decided against eating during the viewing.

Sure, he can see he's becoming a horrible monster, but can he see why kids love Cinnamon Toast Crunch?

Now, after the first 5 minutes I understood the set-up well enough. Man goes into space, something terrible happens, man survives and returns to Earth. Although, I am a bit confused how he got back, since he clearly was in a comatose state and the other astronauts died. Ah well, maybe a Xenomorph hitched a ride and steered him home? Whatever works. Anyway, we see him on Earth in a research lab where doctors are trying to figure out a way to help him. Apparently, this lab also thought it was a great idea to leave him alone so when he woke up confused and angry, he behaved like...well, a confused and angry person. He takes off his bandages, sees he's melting into a puddle of Jell-O, and proceeds to redecorate the room. After the nurse comes in, they both calmly discuss what happened to him and he settles back into bed, trusting the doctors to do their best for him...just kidding! No, instead he chases the nurse down and eats her (possibly getting diabetes in the trade).

 Not what I meant when I asked for some sugar, lady.

And, while I find the director's claim that he wanted this to be a funny movie a bit hard to believe due to the story being downright depressing, I must admit to laughing at the slow-motion chase scene with the nurse. Unlike most horror films, it's not really played for selling her sexually and comes off as really campy and weird. Moving on.

The rest of the film centers on three main points:
  • The doctor and general trying to find and contain the Incredible Jell-O Man.
  • Moments of humanity shown from said Jell-O Man.
  • Violence! BEAUTIFUL VIOLENCE! MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
Ahem...so, I don't want to delve into a play by play of the entire film, but I do want to talk about the second of the above three points. West's desperation to hold onto his humanity while also craving flesh. Alex Rebar only ever has dialogue in the opening minutes, so he plays the rest of the film a wheezing ghoul, essentially. And he manages to show genuine emotion under all that goo Rick Baker piled on him, which really impressed me quite a bit. I found myself feeling very sad for West, and in general that is the overall tone I got from the story. I wasn't giggling, laughing, or even smiling. I was empathizing with the doctor's struggle to bring his friend back, West's struggle to remain human as his mind and body deteriorated, and the doctor's wife's struggle to keep her sanity while all of this is going on.

The nurse's struggle with a glass door that could've just been pushed open.

Now, that isn't to say that there isn't any humour to be found. The part with the in-laws was amusing...sort of... And I got a chuckle when the old fisherman's head went over the waterfall and exploded into brainy bits. But overall, I would have to say this film was more of a horror-drama than a horror-comedy. And you know what? That's fine too. It works. After watching it and the bonus features, I get what director William Sachs was going for, but I also see more than he does in this film than a failed attempt at a horror-comedy that got buggered by the producers. I see a great film that really serves as a cautionary tale about how dangerous the nature of the universe really is.

Hey kids! Wanna be a famous astronaut like me?
 
The effects are great, which is to be expected from Rick Baker. I mean, if you can name a movie where Rick Baker's effects don't look great, please correct me. But I don't think you can, because the man knows his shit. I love werewolves and generally don't find them scary, but he made me scared to look at his version for too long. I won't even go to Halloween Horror Nights this year because I am honestly scared of seeing a real-life version of said werewolf. His work on the Melting Man really is great. Sure, it's an oozing mess, but you can really see the detail in the make-up applications and sculpting. I don't think he knows how to half-ass anything and it shows.

Yo, Baker! I think I could use a touch-up over here.

In closing, I have to say that if you're ever in the mood for a good horror film from a different era, you could definitely do a lot worse than to give this little gem a viewing. It's also a good thing to show to anyone who might want to be an astronaut. Until next time, makes sure to wipe your nose. Later days.

Say goodnight, Grandpa!

2 comments:

  1. Just saw this for the first time this weekend at Cinema Wasteland. I should upload the panel with the director that immediately followed it....

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