Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Incredible Melting Man, The Best SciFi Film of the 1970s

1977's "The Incredible Melting Man" might be one of the top B Movies ever made.  The movie takes itself seriously and preys on our eternal fear of being reduced to a sticky ooze.  The acting is interesting, but highly entertaining, and the special effects and make-up were done by Rick Baker, the industry's best ("Squirm" and "Videodrome").  Alex Rebar plays the title role in a very deconstructing performance.  One wonders if America's space program started nose-diving because of the horrors revealed in this film.
As the film begins, three astronauts, travelling through the rings of Saturn, are marveling at the beauty of the sun. Then something goes wrong.  The three astronauts make it back to earth, but two melt almost immediately.  Steve, however, has more consistency.  He is in tact, mostly, but slowly melting.  His mind is gone and when he wakes up at NASA's Psychoradiological Research Center (no longer exists, a victim of recent budget cuts) the sight of his slimy appendages is just too much for him to handle.  With his new found superhuman strength, he busts out of his straps and chases down a fat nurse (see picture below), and eats her just outside the facility.  Upon his escape, Dr. Ted Nelson (Burr DeBenning) is called.  We know he is Dr. Ted Nelson because he states "I'm Dr. Ted Nelson" thirteen times in this film.  His definitive statement is usually met with disinterest.  Nevertheless, he is Dr. Ted Nelson, a friend of The Incredible Melting Man.  Dr. Ted Nelson notifies General Perry, who orders Dr. Ted Nelson to find The Incredible Melting Man.
Dr. Ted Nelson then undertakes one of the weirdest searches in movie history.  After the general's order, Dr. Ted Nelson goes home to help his wife unload groceries.  After telling his wife about their friend Steve, she wants more information, but Dr. Ted Nelson wants crackers for his soup.  Unfortunately she forgot them at the store, and presses Dr. Ted Nelson for more on Steve.  He can't get off her failure to buy crackers.  Dr. Ted Nelson eventually tells her he will need a Geiger counter to find Steve, and she asks "A Geiger counter, is he radioactive?"  Dr. Ted Nelson, trying to put her at ease says, "Only a little."  He then hits the fields with his Geiger counter, following the ooze and appendages (ears and eyeballs).  He then takes another break to pick up the general from the airport.  Meanwhile, The Incredible Melting Man needs blood, and goes on to attack and eat a fisherman, Dr. Ted Nelson's mother-in-law, and Detroit Tiger great Mickey Lolich.  After teaming up with the general for more intense searching, the two go to the Nelson house for dinner and a nap.
As the carnage continues, Dr. Ted Nelson is drawn eerily closer to his now slippery friend.  The final showdown delivers the most symbolic ending in movie history.  This cinematic masterpiece is available on Netflix and on YouTube in an episode of MST3K.  Will Dr. Ted Nelson ever trust his wife again after she forgot crackers at the grocery store?  Was Dr. Ted Nelson's 30% effort in his search for The Incredible Melting inspiration to all 1970s federal employees (thus leading to the demise of America's space program)? The shocking horror of "The Incredible Melting Man" is sure to please after you fork over big bucks to see Hollywood's early summer, underwhelming blockbusters. Also, as a special treat, the 'swinging cheerleader', Rainbeaux Smith, appears in this film as a nubile damsel in much distress....Enjoy!   


  1. I saw this on TV sometime ago, I realy enjoyed it. I do rember the title though. I seem to have rembered that it may have won a Saturn Award for best of someting back in the late 70's. I didn't get to see the movie untill 2002 I think. I think I would like to see again someday.