The Incredible Melting Man Blu-ray Review
Gloopy nature, running sores and bits falling off - but the film is quite fun
The Incredible Melting Man Review
What happens when you return from seeing the Sun through Saturn’s Rings? You melt.William Sachs’ low budget horror is notable for two things – Rick Baker's awesome make-up effects and being hailed as an awful film. The first is without question, the second deserves some debate. Based on the thinnest of premises, Sachs’ script wanted to pay homage to the 50s horror comics and be a dark comedy with a distinct narrative towards an inevitable ending. The producers, however, had other ideas and wanted a serious horror film, even going so far as to change the opening (including re-shoots). This led to a very tense production and a film that is clearly flawed.However, the resulting movie is actually quite good fun, with everyone involved playing it straight but for laughs - think of Leslie Nielson in Airplane. So you have a gloopy mess of a monster that leaves bits of itself behind, an improbable story, impossible physics, outrageous characters and it ends with the protagonist being scooped into a dustbin! It’s not to be taken seriously and on that level there is much to enjoy - corny dialogue, mad set pieces and a sickly, sticky mess that eats people. There are even boobs!
OK, you do need to be in the right frame of mind, and there has to be a bit of forgiveness in your viewing attitude, but on the whole The Incredible Melting Man is a fun ride, Baker’s effects are justifiably the star of the show but the rich vein of comedy running through the piece is rewarding in its own right.
The Incredible Melting Man Picture QualityThe disc presents a theatrically correct 1.85:1 1080p transfer using the AVC codec and is Region locked to B.
For what is a low budget shocker the image on display is quite remarkable. Detail is incredible with skin texture (those not melting), clothing weaves and scientific equipment looking gorgeous. The melting man himself even holds up under the extra detail, with his gloopy nature, running sores and bits falling off having a definite edge and managing to fool the eye about the makeup origins – a testament to Baker's astonishing techniques. Background detail is equally as well catered for with the various forest and desert locations holding edges and never faltering into softness. There is the occasional scene where some softness creeps in, but on the whole this is great stuff.
Colours are gaudy, heady, bold and strong, with all the primaries coming off with aplomb. Reds are probably the best with the melting man’s goo taking centre stage – the glistening muck that oozes from him is just wonderful. Though the green foliage and the blue skies are no slouches either.
For what is a low budget shocker the image on display is quite remarkable
Contrast and brightness are set to give very strong blacks indeed, this really adds a decent punch to the image, even affording it some good depth into frame, especially the location shoots. Shadow detail is a bit lacking, I’m not sure there was much there to begin with, but there is no crush – check out the old folks as they step out to scrump the lemons!
Digitally there are no compression problems or edge enhancement, no aliasing or posterization issues either. Original print quality is fantastic with a nice sheen of grain, no unruly DNR maintaining a decent enough organic feel. Sure a few nicks and pops slip through, and the stock footage used in the space exploration scenes at the beginning are just plain awful, but this is fully expected.
For a film of this vintage and budget, this image here is a revelation. Great stuff.
The Incredible Melting Man Sound QualityJust the one track to choose from: English LPCM 2.0 mono. Surprisingly for a mono source the sound is quite lively – this is due, in large part, to Arlon Ober’s wild score which dominates the sound stage. However, effects are quite well layered in; the schlick – schlop of the melting man as he navigates the forest, or the slurp-crunch as he chows down on his various victims is suitable fascinating and equally unnerving.
The schlick – schlop of the melting man is suitable fascinating and equally unnerving
Dialogue is clear and precise, sounds natural enough and is never lost in the mix. Bass is a little thin though, even the ‘big’ effect of the electrocution, suffers with a lack in the low end. Whilst there is enough to keep the sub turned on there are no LF effects to speak off, even gun shots don’t register. Again it’s up to the score to make the most of the low end.
For its vintage and calibre, though, the track is fine, it never heads towards the tinny side and has cleaned up greatly in that there is no hiss, crackle or distortion even at reference.
The Incredible Melting Man Blu-ray ExtrasAudio Commentary – Director William Sachs pulls no punches with his description of the film, telling of all the disputes he had with the producers about the tone of the piece – he wanted a horror comedy in the vein of 50’s comic books, they wanted a serious horror; the result a curious uncomfortable amalgamation of the two. There is plenty of anecdotal stories, about the cast, crew, locations and effects; well worth a listen as it may even change your mind about the film!
Super 8 digest version of the film – This is great; back before Blu-ray, before DVD and even before VHS, there was the Super 8 versions of films that you could own in your home. Presented here is an eight minute version of the film, in all its grainy, patchy coloured goodness – nostalgic, you bet (wish it had had some film judder and projection noise too!) and amazingly it makes sense even at this length.
Interview with Writer/Director William Sachs and Make-up Effects Artist Rick Baker – A twenty minute interview, interspersed with film clips, as the two discuss the film in quite some detail. Sachs repeats much of his commentary, but Baker is enthusiastic even if he is incredulous that anyone would want to hear about the film after all these years.
Interview with Make-up Effects Artist Greg Cannom – Much the same vein as the above, only just a few minutes in length; talks about how he got the job and the various scenes he contributed on.
Reversible sleeve - Featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin
Collector’s booklet - Featuring new writing on the film; brief review and a bit about the Super 8 version.
The Incredibel Melting Man Blu-ray Verdict1977 saw the release of Star Wars, a film that is said to have been the birth and the death of modern cinema. Also released was another space affair – The Incredible Melting Man, where astronaut Steve West returns from Saturn’s Rings and begins to melt, a curious ailment that increases his lust of eating people – all in the first five minutes. Shot on a shoestring budget, and with conflicts between director/writer and producers as to the tone of the film (horror/comedy comic book parody and serious horror film respectively) lead to a troubled production and a film that is ultimately flawed as it tries to be one thing when it is clearly meant to be another.
However, if you are in the right frame of mind, and are willing to show a bit of forgiveness in your viewing attitude, The Incredible Melting Man is actually a fun ride, Baker’s effects are justifiably the star of the show but the rich vein of comedy running through the piece is rewarding in its own right.
Baker’s effects are justifiably the star of the show
As a Blu-ray, Arrow’s package is extremely good; the picture is a revelation in terms of detail and colouring, considering the films nature and budget, while the sound is clean and clear despite its limited mono source. The extras package is great for the film, with interviews, commentary and a version of the film on Super 8. Not for the squeamish, but have fun with it.
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