Monday, April 7, 2008

Film #25: The Incredible Melting Man

The Incredible Melting Man is one of those "good bad-movies" that people with a taste for irony or simply with a lot of time on their hands
seem to love. I have a lot of these guilty pleasures way on down my extensive list of favorites, but I find as I get older, I have less time for things that suck. But this movie--this one was an event I'll always remember from my childhood,so I guess I have no choice but to have a fondness for it. I recall getting an issue of Forrest J. Ackerman's Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, and inside was the proclaimation of The Incredible Melting Man as "The next great movie monster!" So when the film hit the drive-ins, of course I begged my parents to go see it. God bless 'em, though they had sense, they took me anyway.

A real z-grade affair, the plot is hardly worth recounting. Astronaut (the extra-memorable Alex Rebar) makes a space trip, gets a space disease, returns to Earth and glops all over the place looking for fresh human blood to keep him going. The guy's leaving mozzerella-style drippings on tree branches, trailing thin streams of creamy caramel and Karo Syrup wherever he goes--looks like dude wuz just bounced from Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. Lemme tell ya, it's not a pretty sight.

I love the constant replaying of space transmissions from the astronaut's trip as they ring in his almost-gone ears! I love the slow-motion near-escape of a big-boned nurse! And I treasure the moment when a little girl runs through the woods, playing hide-and-seek, and stumbles across Melty (as I like to call him) just as he's losing an eyeball! She screams like...well, like a girl...and runs away, of course. As a matter of fact, everybody runs away from Melty! Poor Melty. Hey, he just wants a hug. This man's just disintergrating, ladies! Give 'im a break! What's a little melting action when it comes to love?

Wow. People can be so quick to judge...

The makeup here, an early effort by the now-legendary Rick Baker, is the whole show. It IS really convincing, and suitably disgusting. In fact, surely, just by its title alone, one must realize The Incredible Melting Man is one of the most melancholy and putrid "bad" movies out there. Just stick through to the ending, where we witness Melty's eventual fate. It's gross and extra-cynical, but, I mean, what else could happen? I think, more than anything, it was this sense of sadness about the film that made it stick with me; it's hard not to feel sorry for ol' Melty. What'd he ever do to deserve this?

So, incredible as it may seem, The Incredible Melting Man, for all its occasional laughability, actually has a heart. Of course, if you don't like red-and-orange goo and sloppy ebola-like goings-on, stay away. But if this sounds like your thing, and you got a few beers in ya, pop this in and melt away, baby.


Lisa said...

Hi Dean!

Is the ending where he basically sits against a wall and his head just kind of sloughs off? Quite sad, as I recall, a horrible end to a miserable existence brought on through no fault of his own. This film is both gross and totally melancholy.

Dean Treadway said...

Yeah, the ending (SPOILER ALERT!) has Melty leaning again a corregated metal wall, doing his final big melt, dying, and then a maintenance guy comes out and begins the awful process of throwing him in the garbage can.
Ugh. I still remember seeing this as a kid for the first time. It's burned into my soul.