There's a new health farm opened up near Melbourne, and it's advertising its wares on television as well as sending out free samples of its brand new vitamin which is guaranteed to keep the consumer in shape. But all is not as it seems, as the head of the establishment has realised there may be a spy in her midst, and so has slipped him an extra strong dose of the vitamin to ensure he doesn't get far once he slips out of her bedroom and investigates the records. Sure enough, he pinpoints the area of the suburbs where the samples are going - but will he be in any kind of shape to raise the alarm?
Although it looked like one of those cheapo horror movies where they thought up the special effects first and then struggled to invent a plot to go with them, the credits told us the script to Body Melt was based on director Philip Brophy's short stories, which explained why it seemed to be pulling in so many different directions at once. Not that those directions ended up in vastly different destinations, as they all pretty much concluded with one or more of the cast members falling prey to the designs of the makeup department, and that meant gore and lots of it. For those feeling nostalgic for the good old days of rubber and goo in their shockers, here was a work which supplied them plentifully.
Almost as if they were going out of fashion, which with the prevalence of computer-based imagery just around the corner was not such a stretch in the horror movie world. It should be noted that while some of the characters melted, there were others who underwent more imaginative demises, but not so that you were under the impression there was much groundbreaking going on. Or at least by the standards of, say, Troma in the United States, for this was an Australian film, and there was not much like it from that continent until the first phase of Peter Jackson's career was established, so in that way the film resembled a pioneer heading towards its own splattery dead end.
After a while there was a narrative, and it took the form of taking down suburbia, which explained why there were a bunch of Aussie soap opera actors in the cast. That included Harold Bishop himself, Ian Smith as the conniving doctor who concocted the vitamins in the first place and is now frantically trying to cover his tracks, which basically means striding purposefully around with a handgun, getting his ear bitten off, and indulging in a spot of good old fashioned bad language of the sort you'd never expect to hear from Harold. The health fads that the middle class were prone to was sent up as if Brophy had a real grudge against them - or perhaps he truly disliked his country's homegrown soaps and intended to, essentially, melt and explode them off the screen by proxy.
Not that this effort was as clever in its own disgusting way as the Jackson bad taste on a budget epics, but they did conjure up a notable commitment to their sticky and messy setpieces that you often got in a chiller where the effects budget was the most important part of the production. After the spy ends up crashing at the cul-de-sac where the samples have gone and melted by the roadside, the police are involved and you might expect us to follow the two cops (Gerard Kennedy and Andrew Daddo) as they investigate, which we do in a way, but Brophy had other things on his mind such as destroying his cast in a colourful manner. So some die in their homes, and others out on the way to the health farm in Texas Chain Saw Massacre style, while more actually reach the farm and succumb to the dubious delights of its self-improvement product. In spite of not being at all subtle, any messages against the status quo were blunted by the obsession with gore, but as it went Body Melt was one of the last gasps of a sort. Techno music by Brophy.