Body Melt

Body Melt

***1/2

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

"The first phase is hallucinogenic. The second phase is glandular. The third phase is... aaargh!"

The earnest whistle-blower racing to the rescue at the start of this film doesn't get to finish his sentence because he's already been spiked with the experimental drug in question, and when the third phase begins he experiences total body melt. Naturally, this interferes a bit with his driving. Before the detectives arrive on the scene the tentacles have retreated back into his mouth and he looks like a run-of-the-mill crash fatality, but at least he has succeeded in leading them to Pebble Court, where they soon begin to suspect that something dodgy is going on. The residents of this quiet Melbourne suburb know nothing, but they are the subject of experiments by a sinister group of scientists seeking to extend the powers of the human body. Body melt is an unfortunate side effect. The more unfortunate because the whistle-blower will not be its only victim.

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It's a crying shame that soulless films like Scream and Scary Movie get so much attention whilst this far more astute and entertaining horror spoof has languished on direct-to-DVD. The trouble is that, by doing his thing so well, director Philip Brophy has left audiences unsure if his film is a spoof - but you only have to pay attention to its innovative camerawork, perfectly arranged lighting and seamless continuity to realise that there's a lot of talent behind it. Whilst it would be entertaining either way, it's clearly more than just a halfhearted slice of exploitation movie-making - it's a hilarious tribute to the best-loved cliches of the genre, and the affection and understanding that have gone into it mean it has real spirit, energy and character.

Every Aussie exploitation success is referenced here. You'll see inbred hick mutants, crazed scientists, dangerous naked women, faces bursting open, a deadly pregnancy, weird drug experiences, squeaky-voiced bodybuilders, bizarre kangaroo antics and buckets and buckets of animate snot. What's even more entertaining, at least for Australians, is that you'll see it affect a cast made up mostly of popular soap opera stars like Ian Smith (Harold from Neighbours). UK readers might want to imagine TV's Richard and Judy melting live on air to get an idea of how much fun this is.

Body Melt is not a film for those who prefer to take their horror seriously, but if you like gore and grotesquerie with a great sense of humour, it's a real treat.

Reviewed on: 11 Apr 2009
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Body Melt packshot
Mad scientists perform crazed experiments on unwitting Aussie suburbanites.
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Director: Philip Brophy

Writer: Rod Bishop, based on the short stories by Philip Brophy.

Starring: Gerard Kennedy, Andrew Daddo, Ian Smith, Regina Gaigalas, Vincent Gil, Neil Foley, William McInnes, Maurie Annese, Nick Polites, Lisa McCune

Year: 1993

Runtime: 81 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: Australia

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If you like this, try:

The Mutations
Society
Terrorvision