Friday, October 30, 2015

The Incredible Melting Man (1977) Review:

The whole decade of the 1970s brought on a lot of change in several areas of life. People were advocating for peace rather than war. Some were fighting for civil liberties. Others were making strides in space exploration and some were pushing the limits that were everyday filmmaking. The 1970s for Hollywood received a jumble of new people who were making films that attracted audiences like never before. The horror genre was being exploited and tested to see how graphic directors could get away with showing their material to casual audiences. Science fiction movies were also on the rise with a number of films that inspired many future film crew professionals. For director William Sachs, having produced only a few films before this, took a hand at the horror and sci-fi genre. What turned out being only a literal 2-week shoot, has also been regarded as one of the worst films ever released. It is pretty bad, but it isn't the worst. It does have some moments to point out but it's more for if you just want to laugh at how silly the execution is.

Burr DeBenning
The story is about an astronaut named Steve West (Alex Rebar - probably his most memorable role) who went on a trip with others to Saturn to see the Sun of our solar system. Scientifically the trip doesn't make sense, but that's the least of the problems. After receiving some type of radiation trauma from the rays of the sun (via public domain stock footage), West is the only survivor. When he awakes, he discovers his skin is beginning to fall off. Expecting the worst, West begins to rage with fear and develops an appetite for human flesh. Dr. Ted Nelson (Burr DeBenning), a friend of West is ordered by Gen. Michael Perry (Myron Healey) to find him before word gets out and also figure out how West got that way. This plot would be okay if it held a little more weight. Sachs was also the writer for this project. The screenplay is too light on exposition and hardly develops its characters. There are subplots, but much of the material is just filler making them pointless. Padding is really a big one. The whole running time is just an extended cat & mouse chase.

Also not helping that is 99% of the acting is dull and unconvincing except for maybe Sheriff Neil Blake (Michael Alldredge). The actor who's possibly the worst is Burr DeBenning. As the lead, his delivery is banal, carrying barely any hint of emotion. This is made all the more obvious when certain characters make extremely dumb decisions or lack any kind of deductive reasoning. Nobody can find a man who is literally melting and leaving trails everywhere he goes. Probably one of the more frustrating parts is not really getting to know the star of the film. Sachs script loves to indulge in giving its audience numerous playbacks of the first scene to West's poisoning. Yet, some viewers might actually like to get to know what's going on in West's mind other than the fateful day he went all brain stew on everyone. Audiences aren’t given any reason as to why West went after people he knew other than he needed buckets of blood to survive.

The creature idea itself isn't the most unique either (although only one film has been made about such a creature) but how it's treated visually is another story. Practical effects whiz Rick Baker (getting his kick-start from Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)) was head of special makeup effects. Wow is the melting man actually believably unappealing. Alex Rebar in costume as the slimy fall apart man is visually nauseating and that's good. Taking into account the budget and how long it took to shoot the movie, that alone is a feat in itself. The rest of the horror relies on more gore than anything else. There is nothing to be scared about because of how quickly the acting takes one out of even remotely feeling that it could happen. There is a funny moment though. The credits aren't exactly clear but there is a scene involving two old folks driving. There acting is by no means good but if anything they provide the most energy to the film. It's truly ironic that two older actors can show up the rest of the entire cast when it comes to showing any emotion beyond seriousness.

Alex Rebar in makeup....yuk
The last two components that need to be mentioned are camerawork and music. Willy Kurant took care of cinematography. Although mostly doing more of his native work for Belgian productions, Kurant does however give the film somewhat of a professional look. The lighting is clear and bright where it needs to be. The camera is also steady and that's always good. Arlon Ober composed the musical score. Ober who is more familiar with orchestrating and conducting still makes use of whatever he saw in this below average film. It's not a good score because of its typical 1970s sound using flutes, electronic piano and guitar. It’s an odd combo and it would be one thing if it was experimental, but this film was trying to appeal to mainstream audiences, so no. It also doesn't help with bad acting that it makes the scenes feel over dramatized. What does work however is the motif theme for the melting man. The theme consists of sad sounding strings in full orchestra, which makes the character feel that more tragic. Unfortunately, it's still not that good of a film.

The (though all too 70s) film score, well-lit cinematography and makeup effects are mostly well put together, nothing else is really that acceptable. Most of the acting is not even comically dry, almost all characters are one-dimensional and the padding makes the sit painfully slow.

Points Earned --> 4:10

No comments:

Post a Comment