Feature: A View from the Id

The Incredible Melting Man (1977) Drips onto DVD

Author: Bob Etier
Published: September 14, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Some roles define an actor; some actors define a role. Could anyone but Marlon Brando have played Vito Corleone? Could someone other than Robert DeNiro be Travis Bickle? Could anyone replace Clint Eastwood as Harry Callahan? Or PeeWee Herman as…well…as PeeWee Herman in PeeWee’s Big Adventure? These actors and roles seem made for each other. So it is with Alex Rebar and Steve West.

Through a brilliant stroke of casting genius, Alex Rebar was chosen over all other contenders for the title role in The Incredible Melting Man. This is a role that required depth, range, sensitivity, and a lot of gelatinous goo. A masterpiece of 1970s filmmaking, The Incredible Melting Man is the story of an astronaut on the ill-fated Scorpion 6, who was the only crew member to somehow survive something--we're not sure what--terrible happening in space.

When we first meet Steve West (Alex Rebar) he is in a hospital bed, his head swaddled in bandages. Although his case seems hopeless, there’s plenty of life in the old boy, which he demonstrates by breaking his restraints and rising from his bed, tearing off his bandages (his hands are actually in worse condition than his face but they are not bandaged), looking in the mirror, doing a double take to make sure what he saw the first time was real, and then throwing a hissy fit and—at great length—chasing a nurse through the hospital (where there were no other people, and which resembled kennels in some areas) to her death.

Once escaped from the corrugated metal hospital, he really goes nuts as evidenced by his yanking the head off a fisherman and tenderly tossing it into a stream. The audience, in terror, wonders what could possibly happen next, as they watch the graceful arc of the head before it hits the water and gently floats away. The experienced movie-goer knows—more people will pop apart like Lego pieces.

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Article Author: Bob Etier

Two words describe Bob Etier: "female" and "weird." Like many freelance writers, there's something about her that isn't quite right. Read her stuff and find out what.

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