Astronauts encounter a deadly burst of radiation while on a space mission to Saturn.
Colonel Steve West (Alex Rebar) is the only survivor but on his return to Earth he wakes up in a hospital to discover that something most alarming has happened as a consequence of the radiation. He seems to be slowly melting . . .
West is soon on the run, a completely insane, gelatinous mass – killing, decapitating, and cannibalising whoever he runs into.
General Perry (Myron Healey) assigns Dr Ted Nelson (Burr DeBenning) the mission of tracking Steve, who has by now lost an ear and his right eye and is leaving behind him a virtual trail of radioactive flesh.
Meanwhile, Ted’s pregnant wife Judy (Ann Sweeny) frets over her missing father-in-law and mother, who stop to steal some lemons from a citrus grove and get munched by the Incredible Melting Man.
General Perry is Steve’s next victim, followed by a young couple (Janus Blythe and director Jonathan Demme) – but not before the wife hacks his left arm off with a meat cleaver.
The film climaxes as Ted and the local sheriff chase (what’s left of) West around a huge industrial complex while two security guards pursue the three of them. The sheriff is thrown over a railing, perishing in a hail of sparks on some power lines, and Ted’s amusing protestations of “Don’t shoot, I’m Dr Ted Nelson” fall on deaf ears as the security guards riddle him with bullets – and then meet their own demise at the hands of the rapidly degenerating Steve.
Collapsing next to some garbage cans, Steve’s body begins to completely disintegrate in a pool of bloody goop as he expires.
The next morning, a second Saturn mission launch is intercut with the industrial park’s visibly disgusted maintenance man depositing Steve’s remains into the garbage with a broom and shovel.
The Incredible Melting Man has something of a cult following today – because it is a famously bad film.
William Sachs actually wrote and directed the film as a spoof of old sci-fi horror films. It was supposed to be a comedy. The producers, however, felt that a straight horror film would be more lucrative so they changed the film into a horror film and inserted several new hastily filmed scenes – all of this done without Sachs, who later complained that his original intent had been ruined.
As a consequence, The Incredible Melting Man is a bizarre mix of the silly and the horrific (and contains some of the worst acting you’ll ever see).
Colonel Steve West
Dr Ted Nelson
General Michael Perry
Sheriff Neil Blake
Cheryl ‘Rainbeaux ‘ Smith
Stuart Edmond Rodgers