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  Incredible Melting Man, The The Incredibly Boring Film
Year: 1977
Director: William Sachs
Stars: Alex Rebar, Burr DeBenning, Myron Healey, Michael Alldredge, Ann Sweeney, Lisle Wilson, Cheryl Rainbeaux Smith, Julie Drazen, Stuart Edmond Rogers, Chris Whitney, Edwin Max, Dorothy Love, Janus Blythe, Jonathan Demme, Westbrook Claridge, DeForest Covan
Genre: Horror, Trash, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: Astronaut Steve West (Alex Rebar) has travelled across the solar system with his crew to investigate Saturn's rings, and now is the point they have been waiting for, as the craft manoeuvres into position. Awestruck Steve remarks that you've never seen anything till you've seen the sun through the rings of Saturn, but suddenly a solar flare causes an unforseen tragedy: the astronauts black out. Somehow the craft manages to return to Earth, but two of the three of them have died and only Steve has survived - but in what state? Could it be his condition has caused him to melt?

Well, the clue is in the title, so yes, Steve is that Incredible Melting Man. This film has achieved a kind of infamy for its poor quality, but there is one aspect that almost everyone agrees was pretty successful, and that was thanks to the makeup expertise of Rick Baker. Judging by the rest of the production, the majority of the cash went on paying him, as everywhere else the signs of a low budget are painfully obvious. This means it's yet another monster movie where the creature wanders through the countryside where shooting was cheap - and none of those cash-consuming sets to build, either. Any indoor scenes can be taken care of at the production team's own homes.

That's what it looks like at any rate, and even the opening special effects extravaganza features no shots of Saturn, never mind any rings, and substitutes stock footage of the sun and a moon probe instead. To all intents and purposes, this is a remake of The Quatermass Xperiment updated to the seventies, so like that it depicts an astronaut transformed into a hideous monster thanks to the unexpected horrors of space. However, where the Nigel Kneale story still thrills to this day, The Incredible Melting Man would be hard pressed to raise the pulse of even the most easily pleased science fiction or horror fan.

The IMM's chief problem, as far as the military sees it, is that he is now wandering about eating people - or that's what we're told, as we have to take this as read for much of the story. But his condition has to be kept secret, so nobody must know he broke out of hospital and attacked his nurse (who treats us to an unflattering, slow motion charge towards the camera for dramatic effect). This leaves Steve's best friend Dr Ted Nelson (Burr DeBenning) to grab his Geiger counter and track him down, but first he has to have his lunch, making you wonder if he has his priorities quite straight, especially as he's more concerned with the fact his wife hasn't bought him crackers to eat with his soup.

Anyway, this unsatisfying repast out of the way, Ted - who seems to be the sole person on the case as far as we know - finds bits and pieces of Steve in a trail ("My God... it's his ear!") as meanwhile the IMM encounters various people who he alternately freaks out with his oozing countenance or kills. As in Quatermass, he meets a little girl, though she screams and runs away, and likewise we are intended to feel sorry for the big lump of greasy flesh who surely must have some vestige of humanity left? He does, but he still wants to munch on human bodies, yet as Rebar has difficulty conveying any personality under all that makeup, and equally you're unmoved by the supposed suspense, the overall effect is creeping boredom. As a concept, sci-fi horror can have a frisson of the chills of the unknown thwarting mankind's big ideas, but here the idea behind the movie is better than the execution. Music by Arlon Ober.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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