Written by: George Pacheco on May 4th, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: Australia, 1994
Director: Philip Brophy
Writers: Rod Bishop, Philip Brophy
Cast: Gerard Kennedy Andrew Daddo, Ian Smith
DVD released: April 30th, 2013
Approximate running time: 81 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Anamoprhic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Scorpion Releasing
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $17.95
The influence of New Zealand’s home town boy made good Peter Jackson permeates this debut feature from Australian director and avant-garde performance artist Philip Brophy, if not in style, then most definitely in the spirit of splatter.
Body Melt is a satirical and black humored take on the pharmaceutical and health care industries, detailing the downfall of a small and insular community whose members suffer some severely messy side-effects from a “wonder drug” vitamin supplement which arrives in their mailboxes. The smirking script of Brophy and Rod Bishop pokes fun at a culture which encourages this search for perfect health and longevity, as—one by one—all of the Pebble Beach community residents begin experiencing severe hallucinations and glandular mutations before eventually falling victim to a goopy, melting end.
The film fails to establish a suitable protagonist, however—apart, perhaps, from two curious local detectives—with much of Body Melt simply bouncing back and forth from character to character as they each make increasingly poor decisions. There is little to no development or reason to care about what happens to these characters, despite the presence of a big, bad corporation as the film’s comparatively faceless antagonist. The film’s humor makes this flaw endurable for the most part, yet it’s still an uncomfortable stumbling block, given that Brophy and Co. clearly have their creative hearts in the right place.
Thusly, it becomes challenging to invest oneself emotionally into the admittedly light-hearted and slapstick approach of Body Melt as a whole, despite the film’s obvious debt to such similarly executed Jackson efforts as Dead Alive or Bad Taste. There are some humorous characters to follow—the aborigine family and mad doctor immediately come to mind—yet no real source of conflict to follow as Body Melt trudges along to its inevitably sloppy conclusion.
Brophy’s obnoxious techno soundtrack is indicative of the film’s early nineties origins, as is the serviceable yet unadventurous cinematography which is devoid of the sort of intriguing visual style present in the cinema of the 1970s and 80s. Body Melt attempts to head down the lost highway into Cronenberg territory, but simply lacks a direction confident enough to take it all the way to the annals of horror history.
Scorpion Releasing presents Body Melt in an anamorphic widescreen presentation which preserves the film’s original aspect ratio, with very few imperfections to be found within the overall print. Sound is clear and decipherable throughout, which—when considering the often thick accents which present themselves here—is fortunate. Extras are limited only to the original trailer, the Katrina’s Nightmare Theater option and a Scorpion trailer reel. Overall, Body Melt receives a basic presentation, designed primarily for fans of the film who don’t mind a lack of any special features.