Following Universal's triumphant release of Jaws in the summer of `75, it became virtually impossible to break free from the clutches of the rival studio's relentless output of blood-lusting, man-eating monsters. Fox deservedly struck gold with Alien, Roger Corman affectionately sank his teeth into a side of ham with the never less than entertaining Piranha, and TV stations around the world shivered their younger viewers' timbers with Snowbeast.
In the midst of all of this flesh-tearing silver screen carnage, bottom feeder schlock jockey William Sachs brought us his rather unique take on this ever expanding genre, featuring a creature guaranteed to bring his victims to a sticky end.
Astronaut Steve West is the sole survivor of a disaster in space. Rushed to hospital with severe radiation burns, he finds his flesh beginning to melt because of a strange extra-terrestrial contamination. When he escapes from his doctor's care, he sets in motion a bizarre series of cannibalistic killings in order to stem his own deterioration.
To pigeon hole this film as shallow would be an understatement. However, to dismiss it as a waste of time would be unfair. THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN does offer an evening of mindless fun for those willing to surrender themselves to its paranoiac 1950's sci-fi storytelling style. The entire cast delivers its lines with the same sense of stilted cadence and overbearing sincerity that made that generation's movies such a camp delight, and it works here, as long as you arm yourself with a hefty sense of play-along humour. In addition, Rick Baker's pre-Thriller prosthetics lend the production a technical value far in excess of its overall calibre...this movie must have proved quite a calling card for that gifted young fellow in the years before his American Werewolf triumph at the 1983 Oscars. Credit should also be given to the movie's cinematographer, Willy Curtis, who manages to bridge the less interesting scenes with a number of rather eye catching sunsets that almost contradict the artlessness of the movie's main body.
With Hollywood currently remaking its entire 70's back catalogue, it would be interesting to observe how they would put a new spin on this old timer. With a decent screenplay, and a whole lot more emotional content, they could conceivably lead our sticky fiend into the 21st century with his gloopy sights set on the horror A-list. Saying that, with all of the discarded eyes and ears on show here, one could argue that it has already paved the way for David Cronenberg's rather similar stage by stage dismantling of Jeff Goldblum in his perfectly crafted remake of The Fly. Perhaps they should simply relegate this one to the B-movie archive and consider that triumph enough.