I’m drawn to different movies for different reasons - sometimes it’s the acting, or the script, sometimes the cinematography. Sometimes it’s less high-minded than that. Admittedly I’ve been drawn over the years to films that don’t necessarily sit on the same shelves as something that Clint Eastwood or the Coen Bros would pump out this close to the Oscars, if only for a decent kill-scene or boobs or something.
As the holidays draw nigh, I find myself behaving strangely, doing things I would never do under normal circumstances. I wander into malls voluntarily, and not to defend myself from the upcoming zombie holocaust. This past weekend, as I was waiting in line with an armload of crap, I imagined that the fat woman in front of me hauling off on her kid had suddenly dissolved into a pile of steaming goo. Naturally this cheered me up plenty, but it also served to remind me that thanks to the following movies I had a fairly wide frame of reference to draw from.
10 – The Incredible Melting Man An astronaut returns to earth, starts to crave human flesh, and umm… melts and stuff. Aside from some pretty decent low-budget effects from Rick Baker, this one moves along about as slowly as its anti-hero. The guys at MST3K centered an episode around it once – worth a look and a laugh if you can find it.
9 – The Stuff Larry Cohen has a masterful way of straddling the line between comedy and horror, and this 80′s paean to cocaine and commercialism is one of his best. The story revolves around an ice cream syndicate that hires an industrial spy to investigate the source of a new product that threatens to topple its long-standing confectionary stronghold (seriously). Plenty of clever nods to Invaders From Mars, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and The Blob, as well as a riotous performance from Garrett Morris as a guy named Chocolate Chip Charlie.
8 – Hollow Man I threw this one in because even though nobody technically melts, they kind of look like they are. The scene where they restore the ape to its former visible state is totally batshit. Plus, Rhona Mitra gets naked a few times.
7 – Fright Night Notably missing from the 2011 remake was Billy Cole; Jerry’s ghoul, or daywatcher or whatever you want to call him. Anyway, in the original version, he got staked through the heart and turned into a bunch of sawdust and green slime, and then he fell down the stairs.
6 – Robocop Apparently in the future, all of the organized crime in Detroit has been taken over by a group of violent, skinny middle-aged white guys with male pattern baldness. My theory is that Sy Sperling masterminded the decades-long feud between Bloods and Crips, and his Hair Club For Men struck the death-blow when both gangs were at their weakest. In all seriousness though, the scene where Paul McCrane gets a toxic waste bath before a truck splatters him like an overstuffed bratwurst is pretty awesome, and the first Fangoria I ever bought ran a piece on this movie.
5 – Cabin Fever One of the kids from that “Boy Meets World” show runs afoul of a flesh eating virus. Flesh eating virus wins.
4 – The Blob It mystifies me that this movie does not get more love. Shadowy government agents (Are there any other type?) develop a mutant space-protozoa and then crash-land it into a small town. Mayhem ensues. This, along with John Carpenter’s The Thing, are those rarest of remakes that manage to eclipse the original film. And on that note…
3 -The Thing “I thought you’d feel that way, Gary. You were the only one who coulda got to that blood… We’ll do you last.” One of the best horror movies ever made, and a fairly compelling reason to stay the fuck away from Anarctica.
2 – Hellraiser Clive Barker’s directorial debut just about had it all - interdimensional sadomasochists, guided meathook missiles, a demonaic hobodragon, clawhammering and cougartits. That’s right, I said clawhammering. Plus it had some guy named Frank, who after rising from the dead in a reverse meltdown, could suck the life-juice out of people by jamming his fingers under their skin somehow. Oh yeah, and a dead guy vomited maggots on somebody.
(Cue drum roll…)
1 – Street Trash The “Citizen Kane” of people dissolving into brightly colored piles of shit. In it, a liquor store owner starts selling bottles of something called “Tenafly Viper” to the local hobo population. They melt, in real time and slow-motion. A couple of people explode, and one guy gets flushed down a toilet. I think that’s supposed to be subtext, but who knows.
All kidding aside, there’s a special place in my black little heart for each one of these movies. They induce some scares, and some cringes and more than a few laughs. If you haven’t checked one of them out yet, give it a try. Then the next time you’re stuck in a waiting room somewhere, you can play the “Melting Patient” visualization game, too. Cheers.