The Incredible Melting Man
is a cheeseball 1977 American sci-fi horror film about an astronaut who is exposed to outer-space radiation and then comes back transformed into a hideous monster. The good news is that unlike the last time this happened, there really IS a monster here!
The bad news: that's not good news.
You see, Doctor Steve West's time over on Saturn has left him slowly melting into glop while simultaneously giving him superhuman strength and an insatiable appetite that only human flesh can sate (and a little aside for any monsters reading this: How do you guys know that only human flesh will satisfy your unholy urges if you'll never try
something different? Geez). Don't bother asking about how he can easily pull victims apart with a rapidly deteriorating musculoskeletal structure
; that'll just get in the way of all the ooey-gooey makeup effects! To its credit, this is one of the few things the movie does do well; Rick Baker's nastily convincing special effects really do look every bit like a man slowly liquifying before our eyes, and the movie is packed with Nausea Fuel
and graphic violence that really stood out at the time.
Okay, now for the bad stuff: The movie is also poorly written, dimly lit, loaded with uninteresting characters, and contains an extremely bad and unsatisfying ending in which everyone with a speaking part dies and the Incredible Melting Man melts. Incredibly
. And is thrown away by a janitor. The director wanted to do the movie as a parody, which could have indeed worked —several things left in the final film even hint at this original plan— but sadly, the studio forced him to turn it into a straight horror flick
, resulting in the ludicrous mess moviegoers wound up seeing.Not to be confused with The Molten Man, a Spider-Man supervillain.
For the Mystery Science Theater 3000
episode see here
This film provides examples of:
- Artistic License - Astronomy: Saturn, being a gas giant, doesn't have a surface on which a spaceship can land or from which it can take off.
- Also those aren't the rings of Saturn. They don't even remotely look like the rings of Saturn.
- Artistic License - Biology: The fisherman's head seems to be made of papier mache, filled with a liter's worth of red temper paint.
- Black Dude Dies First: Amazingly the doctor is the one character to survive but he disappears from the film.
- Body Horror: Good God, yes.
- Cat Scare: A particularly nonsensical one.
- Downer Ending. And a bizarre one.
- Dull Surprise: Ted Nelson, when he isn't experiencing severe Wangst.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: No, seriously, there is no story.
- Executive Meddling: This was intended as a parody of horror films; the producers decided it would work better as a straight horror film and cut out many of the (intentionally) comedic scenes. The result was indeed hilarious, but not quite the way it was intended.
- Gorn: Ugh, the film is dripping with it...
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Jonathan Demme has a bit role.
- I'm Melting: Well, obviously.
- Kill 'em All: Not that you'll care, really.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: One bizarre moment, when Ted speaks directly to the camera when consoling Judy, blaming himself for his emotional distance.
- Moral Dissonance: Judy's mother and Harold opt not to buy candy as a gift for their visit because they don't want her eating candy while pregnant. Eventually they decide to buy a bottle of wine.
- Neutral Female: Judy.
- Ted is a good example of a Neutral Male since he stands by and does absolutely nothing while the Melting Man overpowers the sheriff and subsequently tosses him into some power lines.
- Parody Retcon: Inverted. The director has gone on record to say that he intended it from the start to be a parody of monster flicks, but that that the final product isn't one. It ended up being a hot mess thanks to Executive Meddling, when the studio insisted that he play it all totally straight against his wishes.
- Say My Name: "I'M TED NELSON!" BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Judy's mother when guard dogs start attacking them when they're trespassing on a lemon grove.
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: The eponymous character is an astronaut who has been irradiated on his way back from Saturn and who is slowly melting to death. There is no cure whatsoever. Only killing and consuming people stops his pain, even briefly. In the end, during a confrontation at a power plant, his best friend is endangered and the astronaut regains a bit of humanity and saves his life — but said friend is shot to death by a pair of random security guards. The astronaut kills the guards, collapses and expires. A janitor cleans up what's left of the astronaut the next day and throws him into the garbage. Oh, also? More astronauts are headed to Saturn.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: The sheriff's radio is playing a spritely Country-Western song when he finds the corpses of Judy's parents.
- Super Strength: Apparently a side effect of the melting.
- Too Dumb to Live: Ted Nelson. And he doesn't.
- Unusual Euphemism: HOTCHGKA!
- What Could Have Been: Originally was going to be a spoof of horror films, until the executives told the director to play it straight. He wasn't amused.
- Your Head Falls Onto a Rock and Bursts Like a Watermelon