Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Incredible Melting Man (1977) - Candle Wax Gore with Enough Karo Syrup to Feed a Hill of Ants (Blu-ray Review)

Let's not split hairs here. The first time I watched The Incredible Melting Man I thought it sucked. I fell asleep multiple times throughout and even tried to rewind, rewatch and continue with the cult classic. I couldn't be amused, and so I made up my mind that The Incredible Melting Man sucked. Simple. Label it sucked. File it in a drawer called "sucked". Never watch the shitty movie again. So that was that. Granted I watched it On Demand on cable TV late at night. The quality was miserable. I had to keep it quiet so the wifey wouldn't wake up next to me and ask me, kindly, ever so lovingly, what shit I was watching NOW. Still... you can't put a silk hat on a pig.

My next experience with The Incredible Melting Man was at the 2012 Exhumed Films 24 Hour Horror-thon this past October. It came on very early on Sunday morning after a night of watching some absolutely bonkers shit. The Hidden. Night of 1000 Cats. Son of Blob (a favorite of mine). The minute I saw the title card I pretty much made up my mind to leave the horror-thon. I figured out that the second to the last movie would be something I didn't exactly care about (Humongous... which I didn't guess considering Exhumed Films' doesn't reveal their movies before they screen, but was okay to have missed) and the last movie was Docter Butcher MD (had scene this on 35mm at Hudson Horror Show and wanted to get home to my little baby). So I left. I barely watched more than a few minutes of it, but I felt absolutely comfortable missing a few classic features.

When Scream Factory announced that they would be releasing The Incredible Melting Man I pretty much balked, but knew I had to pick it up. It's important to be thorough when examining the entire catalog of a company. I loved the key art; that's never been a problem for me and Scream Factory. They know how to pick the art they want and, when contractually allowed, they get it. I opened my copy of the new release, loved the artwork again and enjoyed the reverse cover on the inside and said, "here goes another hour and a half of my fucking life".

And this time I loved it.

This surprises me. I think I know why that changed though. I wasn't watching it in the wee hours of the morning or late late late at night when such a slow moving movie might otherwise put me to sleep. I was watching beautiful gory visions of Rick Baker's grilled cheese sandwich run down my screen in gorgeous hi-definition. Good sound too. It helps to watch a movie like this when you can appreciate the visual and get past a drudgy sludgy story. I suppose what I didn't understand about The Incredible Melting Man was that it isn't supposed to be taken all that seriously. I can safely thank William Sachs for explaining his vision of the movie in the interview that accompanies the disc alongside Rick Baker who makes you 100% know just how low the budget was. Let's dig deeper like I didn't do on my first two attempts.

The Incredible Melting Man is the story of four scientists that go into space, are hit by radiation and come back to earth with super powers (one can turn invisible, the other can turn into a fireball, one can stretch himself into infinity and the other is a giant human wrecking ball monster called THING)... WAIT... that's not right at all. This is the OTHER story about what can happen if you go into space, get hit with radiation and get transformed into something...  A MELTING MAN!  As Sachs explains in his interview, IMM is supposed to be a comic book movie. He even shot frames of it to appear like comic book scenes. Once you get that. Once you connect it to comic book fiction not unlike the Fantastic Four or EC Comics classic horror mags... you can allow yourself to have a good time. Riff on it. Enjoy the gore that may seem cheesy but can actually make you queasy.

The effects work is what you look for when you watch The Incredible Melting Man. The ooey gooey of the thing. Yes, this guy melts, but really it's a slow process. It probably would have been gorier with a bit more cash in the kitty. This isn't serious gore film though. This is fun. Probably not great for the kiddies, but good enough for a pile of stoners or drunkards looking to get a cheap thrill off the one pair of magnificent 70's titties featured in the film. For those of you who are watching the movie and thing, blah blah blah.. I've seen the first half of the film and the gore effects simply aren't that great.. wait. You have to wait for the finale to enjoy just what Rick Baker can do. This thing has hints of Gremlins and even some Howling in there (even though that last one's Bottin... ha ha ha).  Enjoy the finale. It's a real juicer.

So what does Scream Factory bring to the table other than a brilliant print with great audio? I mean I can tell you that the 35mm looked old when I watched it, but it was 1000% than that damn On Demand feature I watched on cable TV. Truly made the difference. Why the Hell do I even have cable again?  You get the usual trailers, radio spot (I think these things are standard issue these days). You also get the audio commentary with William Sachs and an interview with Sachs and Rick Baker (as previously mentioned). The beauty of this is that Sachs explains the movie he was trying to make, how the studio tried to impose their evil Lord Vader will and how he fought against it and, in editing, got some of his vision back. That's a great story. Sachs is clearly a fan of film and a guy who wants to entertain. He's the right kind of guy to make a "melting man" movie.  There's a brief interview with Greg Cannom  as well who did work on the notable horror release, Dracula from 1992. It's pretty short thought.

Not the Scream Factory Trailer in Hi-Def

The movie truly does come at the end of an era of movies; an era where radiation was terrifying and people didn't really understand what Microwaves were about to do to their lunch and dinner options. The naming convention suggests that this is a special effects movie, and it is. As long as you have the correct frame of reference going into The Incredible Melting Man, you can enjoy it for what it is. If you can't... YOU MAKE SURE TO WATCH THAT GODDAMN ENDING! Forgive the all caps. It's true. You get your money's worth in the final scene.

Pick up this Scream Factory title at DiabolikDVD HERE or go direct to the Factory HERE (for final processing of course). Street date is July 30th. Plan your menu accordingly.

This may not truly be the "first new horror creature", but it's definitely a beastie. This will clearly beat out the previous releases of this movie so don't be fooled.


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