The Incredible Melting Man, a horror film released in 1977 about an astronaut who comes back from his mission irradiated so much that his skin begins to melt off, is a movie that has a few faults, but for the most part, is one that entertains. Made in the vein of those monster movies of old, it is a tragedy dressed up in fright as a man becomes a monster through no fault of his own and seeing him deteriorate so much to the point where he finally just melts away is sad more than anything else. There is of course quite a bit of blood and gore present, not only that of astronaut Steve West who has become the shambles of what used to be a man, but that of those he kills along the way as he tries to escape not from those who try to hold him back, but from himself and the little bit of sanity he is able to grasp onto.
With special effects from the one and only Rick Baker, a man who had worked on Octaman six years previous and would go on to An American Werewolf in London and many other famous films later in his career, the ‘melting man’ would look quite gruesome at times with the mixture of skin and blood and puss running down his face and hands. To any that would encounter West in the film, it was like running into a monster pure and simple and he definitely looked the part. The effects, to say the least, were the best part of the entire experience and made the movie what it was. With a title like The Incredible Melting Man and showing him on-screen as much as they did, practical effects are not only essential, but they have to be good and Baker did not disappoint. As for Alex Rebar who played West, the man did a excellent job at selling the part, especially during the last act where little of his mind and his body are left and that final scene where he lies dying and the audience can see the pain and suffering, not to mention the horror and the relief in his last remaining eye as he dies a torturous death.
As for negatives, one lies in the pacing as there were a couple of moments where it simply started to drag. The story was good though it could have used a little more excitement to make it pop with the cast doing the best they could with that which they were given. As a horror, it worked for the most part though it was said much was cut from the final product and subsequently filled with different scenes much to the dismay of director William Sachs who envisioned something completely different. As it stands, the movie is ultimately successful in what it sets out to do – delivering a few scares and making the audience empathise with the man whose entire self melted away despite the acts committed before there was nothing left that could be called life.
3 out of 5