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Review: BODY MELT (1993) – Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival 2018

Playing as part of a three film Body Horror retrospective, (the other two films were VIDEODROME and SOCIETY). This Australian horror comedy was the most obscure of the trio. I’d seen it back in the days of VHS, when it had gotten a brief buzz due to its outrageous effects. Then it vanished from sight. Having recently been restored by Vinegar Syndrome, this was a great opportunity for me to see BODY MELT on the big screen.

BODY MELT was intended as an anthology film, but prior to filming all the stories were combined into one. The resulting strange structure may have been a large part of why the film didn’t catch on. It bounces back and forth between four stories involving the effects of unscrupulous drug trials on residents of Pebbles Court and the police investigation into them. As you can guess from the film’s title, this involves a lot of slimy goo and melting bodies. The exception being two lads on their way to the company’s facilities to be sperm donors. They run afoul of some inbred cannibals, and even the cannibals have a connection to the drug company.

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The influence of Peter Jackson’s early films on BODY MELT can’t be overstated. The over the top effects and dark, gross-out humour of BAD TASTE and DEAD ALIVE are all over it. A pregnancy gone out of control, complete with a sentient placenta. A man who gets an explosive erection while watching porn. Somebody drowning in their own snot. You get the idea.

While on one level it tries to be a satire of pharmaceutical companies and health clubs, it’s really too scattershot to really work as such. But that does make a great framework for the gross goings-on, and that’s what really matters. It’s a shame this was director/co-writer Philip Brophy’s second and final feature. Despite its structural issues, it is laugh out loud funny in a wonderfully gross, juvenile way.

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If that sort of thing is your cup of tea, (or can of Fosters), BODY MELT is certainly worth adding to your collection. It’ll fit nicely next to your copy of STREET TRASH.

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