Directed by Philip Brophy [Other horror films: Salt, Saliva, Sperm and Sweat (1988)]
Body Melt is a film that I have a bit of a history with, and by “history,” I mean that I have some odd sense of nostalgia for it, despite not having seen it until I was in my late teens. What is more important, though, is despite that, this Australian movie isn’t one I particularly enjoy or really care that much for whatsoever, despite the potential the plot holds.
Let’s take a trip back to my childhood, though, for a brief moment. For a time, my family lived in a medium-sized house in Northwestern Indiana, and when I was maybe nine or ten, I found an old typewriter in the basement. It still worked, and I remember just copying lists of horror movies from the internet (why, I don’t remember, but it entertained me then, so whateves). Some of these movies, though I’d never seen them, just stuck with me – movies like Jack Frost and Uncle Sam, for instance.
And another one was Body Melt.
When I finally saw this one, I have to admit I was disappointed. Partially this is due to how I hyped this up in my own mind, but another has to be the fact that I hadn’t had many experiences with Australian horror movies, and as anyone who’s seen more than a handful of horror films from that country can attest to, they’re not always normal.
In Body Melt’s case, the movie is an odd horror/science-fiction/comedy mix. It’s not easy for me to tell how intentional some of the comedy was, but suffice it to say that the over-the-top feel this movie sometimes had totally turns me away. A good case-in-point would be the sequences at the gas station with some inbred country folk, sequences which I wholly disliked and just found very hard to get through.
The thing is, the special effects are pretty solid throughout, and there are some really disgusting special effects here. They’re often not pleasant to witness (with a title like Body Melt, though, you should probably know what you’re getting into), but they are done well.
Another thing I have to give immense credit to is the plot, which, while I don’t like the final execution, I enjoy the story well enough. The medical conspiracy elements were interesting, some of the background on why the experiments went wrong decent (such as the gas station guy’s relation to the experiments), and that final tracking shot showing the distributed vitamins, while not surprising, was a fantastic way to end the film.
There’s not really much in the way of great performances here. I think the best would probably be the two police detectives, played by Gerard Kennedy and (?) Andrew Daddo, along with Ian Smith as a doctor involved with the medical testing. None of these three were amazing, but they form an okay backbone of the movie. Regina Gaigalas was suitably sinister, but I just don’t know if we got enough background on her character for her to really make an impact.
Ultimately, Body Melt is a movie that I like the concept of much more than I like the final product. There are some interesting and engaging ideas in the movie that I could get behind, but the way they made this just feels too off-the-wall, and I just don’t find watching this that pleasurable of an experience, underserved nostalgic value or not.
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