Written by: George Pacheco on February 11th, 2017
BluRay released: December 7th, 2016
Approximate running time: 83 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: MA 15+ (Australia)
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 Surround English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Umbrella Entertainment
Region Coding: Region B
Retail Price: $34.99
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.
Note: The BluRay portion of this review was written by Michael Den Boer
Body Melt comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. The transfer for this release has been sourced from a brand new 4k restoration and the end result is by far and away the best this film has ever looked on home video. Colors and flesh tones look accurate, details look crisp and there are no issues with DNR or compression. It should be noted that the film’s begins with a scene that was shot on a non-film source and it does not look as good as the rest of the film does.
This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD 5.1 surround mix in English and included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles. The audio sounds excellent, dialog is always crystal clear and everything sounds balanced. Range wise this audio mix is a robust experience that takes full advantage of the sound spectrum and the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented.
Extras for this release include, a slip cover, reversible cover art, a trailer for the film (1 minute 40 seconds), a storyboard gallery, a stills gallery, a script / concept / props gallery, a Behind the Scenes featurette (16 minutes 54 seconds), a featurette titled Making Bodies Melt: The Making of Body Melt (33 minutes 55 seconds) and two audio commentaries – the first audio commentary is with co-screenwriter / director Philip Brophy, producer Daniel Scharf and co-screenwriter / producer Rod Bishop and a second audio commentary is with Philip Brophy who discusses the sound design / filmmaker score and he also discusses this release brand new audio restoration.
Topics discussed in the extra titled Making Bodies Melt: The Making of Body Melt, the genesis of the premise / screenplay, mixing Horror and Comedy, the special effects, the soundtrack, the characters, rehearsals, editing and other production related topics.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary with Philip Brophy, Daniel Scharf and Rod Bishop include, the origins of the film, the Australian Horror film industry at the time this film was being made, the cast, the look of the film, special effects, audience / critical reaction to the film, other production related topics and their thoughts about the film.
Overall Body Melt gets a definitive release from Umbrella Entertainment, highly recommended.