Tuesday, June 12, 2018

BODY MELT (1993) (Umbrella Blu-ray Review)

BODY MELT (1993) 

Label: Umbrella Entertainment
Region Code: Region-FREE
Rating: MA 15+
Duration: 80 Minutes 
Audio: English DTS-HD MA Surround 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.77:1) 
Director: Philip Brophy
Cast: Ian Smith, Regina Gaigalas, Vince Gil, Andrew Daddo, Neil Foley, Anthea DavisMatthew Newton, Adrian Wright

Four happy homes...One hell of a drug...One thousand ways to MELT!

A peaceful morning in suburban Pebbles Court is interrupted by a deafening car crash. What the residents fail to notice are the strange tentacles that erupt from the dead driver's neck and force their way down his throat.

Body Melt (1992) is an low-budget Australian splatter film that began life as four shorts meant for an anthology film, when that didn't pan out the film was pieced together with a thru-line and the result was this gore-y and messy (in more ways than one) slice of early 90's ozploitation. Set in the Melbourne suburb of Homesville we find ourselves drawn to the Pebbles Court cul de sac of where the resident of the street are unwitting test subjects by an evil corporation who manufacture a line of new-age vitamin supplements, they're latest miracle drug is called Vimuville, and they're sending it straight to the residents via the mailbox as free samples, and they're only to happy to blindly swallow whatever pill manages to find it's way into their mailboxes. Of course this stuff ain't good for you, it's not exactly delivering the "new you" as advertised.

The pill is the brainchild of evil Dr. Carrera (Ian Smith) and his even-more evil-minded assistant, Shaan (Regina Gaigalas), the latter of whom at the open of the film is banging one of the lab guys, but apparently he's grown a conscious about the unethical experiments happening in Pebbles Court and plans to blows the whistle on the whole operation, so Shaan injects him with what she believes to be a lethal dose of some sort of Re-Animator re-agent looking stuff. As soon as he's out of her sight he hops in his car and makes a bee-line for Pebbles Court, but stops off at a convenience store when he begins falling ill, and for some inexplicable reason grabs a bottle of Palmolive dish soap and starts chugging it! He runs out of the place seemingly going through some sort of body mutation brought on by the massive dose of whatever-that-stuff-was, as he enters Pebbles Court at a very high rate of speed he crashes into a parked vehicle flying through the windshield while yellow tentacles emerge from wounds on his neck before withdrawing back into his body. 

Two local cops show up at the scene to investigate the crash/death, we have Sam Philips (Gerard Kennedy, Wolf Creek 2) and his younger partner Johnno (Andrew Daddo), the cops interview the neighbors but don't find out much, but they do find victim's tape recorder, mumbling something about the first step is hallucination, the second step is glandular, which sets them on a path to the evil corporate entity, all the while having to sift through the ongoing body-horror casualties in pebbles Court.

From there the cops begin their investigation and we follow them, and the residents of the cul de sac while they each experience their own Vimuville side effects, all of which are downright disgusting! There's a man who begins to have hallucinations of a strange looking woman whom he sees at the airport while on an errand, she shows up at her house and seduces him, during the act she massages one of his ribs right out of his body, and it's saying something that's this id the least bizarre part of the whole film. 

Then we have the health conscious Dr. Noble (Adrian Wright) who lives in the neighborhood whom takes his family to the Vimuville Health and leisure spa, each befalling a gooey or tongue-swelling-ly awful end, the doc begins flinging copious amounts of phlegm, the mom chokes on her over-sized mutated tongue and their bratty son has a face-crushing rollerblading accident. A pair of horny brother's in the neighborhood don't actually meet their end because of ingesting the supplements but the corporation is still the reason behind their demise, they're on a lust-fueled road trip but end up in the village of Nowhere, a strange hole in the wall town populated by a boil-faced father (Vincent Gil, Nighrider from Mad Max!), and his three hideous children, all of whom are apparently past victims of Vimuville's unethical experiments, one of his teen kids is "girl", a strange creature who for reasons unfathomable to me one of the teen boys decides to shack-up with, he regretted that decision for sure! 

The last of the test subjects is a pregnant couple, the woman has been taking Vimuville supplements as directed by her doctor, who's working for the evil corporation, but fears something is wrong with her unborn child, and boy was she right! Her husband catches her about to cut herself open to rip out the unborn mutant freak when suddenly a face-hugging placenta latches onto his face, the end result is an eye-bulging, mouth-shredding mess. 

The film has a rough phlegm-y connective tissue based around the resident of the doomed cul de sac but the story doesn't hold together all that well, and feels like what it is, four shorts thrown together with some uninspired acting and loads of spew and gore, and to that end it's a fun watch, but I think you have to be a particular frame of mind to enjoy. There's some serious shortcomings to overcome, like what the fuck happened to the teens windshield, one moment they're driving down the road and it's there and in the very next scene it's covered in plastic, and there's something missing, because that fact that something has happened to it is a plot point of that particular story! 

The bloody and low-budget special effects are the true selling point here, they're creative and fun, there's loads of spew dripping everywhere, and if you're fan of old school splatter there's gonna be something here you love. Not all of it is great though, the placental face-hugger is good, but the pregger belly exploding open in a torrent of steam not so much. There's a lot of body parts exploding here, this includes faces, stomachs and even a cock, someone evene manages to choke on their own mutated tongue, someone's face erupts like a snot-volcano,  like I said, there's some great creativity on display here, it's just not all executed to perfection, but I still had a blast with it. 
Audio/Video: Body Melt (1993) arrives on region-free Blu-ray from Umbrella Entertainment as part of their Ozploitation Classics line-up. Restored in 4K from the interpositive, it looks pretty good, considerably better than my previous Vanguard DVD to be sure. The source offers very few blemishes, the colors are fairly strong and the black levels are decent, but the film does have a slightly soft appearance about it. The grain structure looks nicely managed, while there's some DNR applied it's not over-aggressive.

Audio on the disc comes by way of an English DTS-HD MA Surround 5.1 track that's strong and clean, it's mostly front channel-centric but does offer some use of the surrounds, optional English subtitles are provided. I didn't notice any hiss or distortion but did pick-up what sounds like source limitations, a slight echoey clipping during a few scenes, most notable when the teens are first pulling in Nowhere. As I recall that was also evident on by old DVD version, but I no longer have it to compare this to.

Umbrella give this ozploitation splatter-fest a healthy dose of extras, beginning with two audio commentaries, the first with Director Philip Brophy, Producers Daniel Scharf and Rod Bishop who go into the origins and financing of the film, the locations used in the film and the influences, there's a second commentary with Brophy who goes into great detail about the sound design and score he composed for the film, if which I must say annoyed me quite a bit, early '90s electronic music is not my bag, but it suits the film just fine.  

The single-disc release comes housed in an over sized Blu-ray keepcase with a sleeve of reversible artwork, the a-side features a Vimuville branding design, the b-side featuring a nicely grotesque illustration by Umbrella staff designer Simon Sherry, the disc itself features an except of the Vimuville branding design.  

Special Features: 
- Behind-the-scenes featurette with cast and crew (17 min) 
- Making Bodies Melt - The Making Of Body Melt (1992)(34 min) 
- Audio commentary with Director Philip Brophy, Producers Daniel Scharf and Rod Bishop (Production)
- Audio commentary with Director/Composer Philip Brophy (Sound Design and Score)
- Stills Gallery (98 images) 
- Body Melt - The Full Storyboard (98 images) 
- Original Theatrical Trailer (2 min) 

Body Melt (1993) is low-budget, fun and chock full o' gore with melting bodies and mutated strangeness to spare, it's not a great film, but I still give this a hearty recommend to fans of Street Trash, Society, The Melting Man and Brain Dead, if you're a fan of those this is right up your gore-strewn alley. Umbrella Entertainment have been doing some great work, they've put together a fine Blu-ray of Body Melt, it's the best I've seen it look and the extras are damn decent.

More screenshots sourced from the 
Umbrella Entertainment Blu-ray 


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