Movies: The Incredible Melting Man (1977)

At this time, I own over 3000 blu-ray discs and God only knows how many DVDs.  Managing this large number of titles requires rental of a storage unit.  I imagine most people, especially those who only stream media, would wonder why I would go through this effort for physical media. 

One reason is because of the special features on many of these discs.  I doubt most people would understand why I would watch some deeply terrible movies and then watch them with the commentary track on.  I do this because the good and great movies rarely have interesting commentaries, while the commentary tracks for the worst movies are almost always the most interesting, informative and bereft of industry ass-kissing.  There are many discs I own solely for the commentaries and other special features.

That’s why I will be holding onto my blu-ray of The Incredible Melting Man.  This is a terrible film but director William Sachs’s commentary is blunt, highly informative and conveyed in a jovial, conversational manner.  I get the impression he would be a fun person to hang out with.  And he doesn’t name names, but it isn’t hard to determine who he is referring to when he relates tales of incompetence, nepotism and creative differences.  Most people in the industry deliver boring commentaries, as they are primarily interested in continuing their careers and have no wish to commit self-sabotage.  Those who no longer have such aspirations, especially those who worked solely in the shoestring-budget world, give you the truth (or at least their truth).

Something Sachs goes to great pains to clarify is his intention for this to be a parody instead of a straight horror film.  As there were few movies in the late 70’s with titles like The Incredible Melting Man, that does suggest this is a tribute to, and potentially parody of, sci-fi horror of the 50’s.  Unfortunately, nothing else in the finished film suggests this.

Sachs blames the producers for this change in tone, frequently pointing out where additional footage was added at their insistence.  At the same time, he proudly admits authorship of such scenes as an overweight nurse running in slow-motion down a hallway (that doesn’t look like any passage in any area of any hospital I have ever seen), only to crash right through a glass door.  This was so ridiculous that I burst out laughing, but I never assumed the intention of the scene was parody. 

Similarly, the dialogue is largely terrible and almost entirely delivered through stiff line readings.  Supposedly, the best parody is indistinguishable from what is being mocked but, if that is the case, how would one even recognize such a parody unless they are told that directly?  In that case, what would be the point?

If there is one thing here that is effective, it is the makeup effects on the melting man.  No surprise, as the effects are by Rick Baker.  The titular character is always covered in dripping strands of what looks like discharge from a bad sinus infection.  It is genuinely nauseating, and I think the filmmakers missed an opportunity by not titling this The Incredible Booger Man.  However, after the melting man has had sufficient screentime, we begin to notice those effects are little more than a latex skin base covered with tons of dripping goo in assorted colors.   

The Incredible Melting Man is a terrible move but which, on its own, can be enjoyed as camp.  But I think the ideal way to watch this film is with the commentary track on—it feels like the affable Sachs is sitting beside you, maybe with a cold beverage on a weekend afternoon, regaling you with his anecdotes.  After all, the directors of low-budget films shot on the fast and loose tend to have the best stories.

Dir: William Sachs

Starring nobody you would recognize

Watched on Shout Factory blu-ray