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The Incredible Melting Man is a 1977 American science fiction horror film directed and written by William Sachs. The plot concerns an astronaut whose body begins to melt after he is exposed to radiation during a space flight to Saturn, driving him to commit murders and consume human flesh to survive. During post-production, the producers reshot scenes without Sachs' participation. The film starred Alex Rebar as the main character, alongside Burr DeBenning as a scientist trying to help him and Myron Healey as a United States Air Force general seeking to capture him. While writing and shooting, Sachs was influenced by Night of the Living Dead. With the changes by the producers, the final film has been described as a remake of First Man into Space (1959), which in turn was directly influenced by The Quatermass Xperiment, even though Sachs had never seen either of those films.

The screenplay which Sachs dramatized was originally intended as a parody of horror films, but comedic scenes were edited out during production and new horror scenes added. Sachs claimed that the producers decided during shooting that a straight horror film would be more financially successful, and that the film suffered as a result. The Incredible Melting Man was produced by American International Pictures, which also handled the theatrical distribution, while Columbia Pictures handled international rights under the Columbia-EMI-Warner Distributors label. The film includes several homages to science fiction and horror films of the 1950s. Makeup artist Rick Baker provided the gory makeup effects for the film. He originally created four distinct stages of makeup design so that the main character's body would appear to melt gradually, but the stages were ultimately cut from the final film.

The film was commercially successful, but it received largely negative reviews, although even critical reviews complimented Baker's makeup effects. According to writer/director Sachs, many scenes that were re-shot and changed by the producers proved problematic due to their inferior acting. The Incredible Melting Man was featured in the comedy It Came from Hollywood (1982) and inspired the makeup effects for a scene in the science fiction-action film RoboCop (1987). It was also featured in a season 7 episode of the comedy television series Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Plot

During a space flight to Saturn, three astronauts are exposed to a blast of radiation which kills two of them and seriously injures the third, Colonel Steve West. Back in a hospital on Earth, West awakens and is horrified to find the flesh on his face and hands melting away. Hysterical, he attacks and kills a nurse (Bonnie Inch), then escapes the hospital in a panic. Dr. Loring and Dr. Theodore "Ted" Nelson, a scientist and friend of West, discover that the nurse's corpse is emitting feeble radiation, and realize West's body has become radioactive. Nelson believes West has gone insane, and concludes he must consume human flesh in order to slow the melting. Nelson calls General Michael Perry, a United States Air Force officer familiar with West's accident, and the general agrees to help Nelson find him.

West attacks and kills a fisherman in a wood, then encounters and frightens a little girl Carol there, but she escapes unharmed. Nelson and Perry arrive at the crime scene where the fisherman's body was found. Sheriff Neil Blake suspects that Nelson knows something, but Nelson tells the sheriff nothing because Perry had earlier informed him that any information about West was classified. Later that night, Nelson returns home to his pregnant wife Judy, who tells him that her elderly mother Helen and Helen's boyfriend Harold are coming over for dinner. On their way, however, Helen and Harold are killed by West.

When Blake finds the bodies, he calls Nelson, who comes out to identify them. After Blake angrily demands an explanation, Nelson reluctantly reveals West's condition. Nelson believes West is somehow getting stronger the more his body decomposes. Back at Nelson's house, West attacks and kills Perry, although Judy is not harmed. Nelson and Blake arrive just as West escapes. West then stumbles upon the home of a married couple. West kills the man and attacks his wife, but she drives him away after chopping his arm off with a cleaver. Blake receives a call about the attack and takes Nelson with him to investigate.

They track West to a giant power plant. Blake tries to shoot West with a shotgun, but West throws the sheriff into power lines, killing him. West knocks Nelson over a railing, leaving the doctor hanging on the side. Nelson appeals to West, reminding him that they were friends, and West decides to pull Nelson to safety. Two armed security guards then arrive and, in a panic, fatally shoot Nelson in the face as he tries to protect West. An infuriated West kills the security guards and stumbles away. After collapsing against the side of a building, he slowly, and completely, melts away. The next morning, a janitor finds his gory remains and casually mops them into a garbage can. Enthusiastic radio reports announce the next manned mission to Saturn.

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