Revisiting the “Classics”: THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN
How old does a movie have to be to be considered a “classic,” anyway? Does it have to be in black-and-white? Not by my definition. And there’s such a thing as an “instant” classic, too. THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN was released in 1977, the year I started first grade. I certainly don’t consider that old enough to warrant a designation of “classic,” but if we put that word in quotation marks, this one sure qualifies. It’s pure cheeseburger macaroni with diet soda as a chaser–and if you’re thinking that sounds tasty, it is! Just don’t try to eat it while watching THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN.
The plot is simple. An astronaut is exposed to solar radiation in space, which causes him to start “melting,” drives him insane and lends him enhanced strength. Back on earth, he promptly escapes a government hospital and goes on a killing spree. The only way he can slow his own body breaking down is to ingest physical matter, i.e. flesh and blood, from other humans.
The movie had no budget at all, but what money they did have, they spent wisely; they hired FX master Rick Baker. As a result, the Melting Man looks damn good on film–which actually means he looks really, really bad. Ironically, considering he is buried under “melting” makeup and does not speak, the film’s best acting is done by Alex Rebar as the monster, who, in a couple of short though effective sequences, manages to invest the Melting Man with a level of pathos and elicit the viewer’s sympathy. Mostly, though, this is just a fun, hammy B-grade monster movie. Which means I freakin’ LOVED it. If you have a taste for those kinds of films, you’ll love it, too.