Everybody! Melt Your Body!
I absolutely adore Vinegar Syndrome. I frequently watch their movies thinking, “how the hell does this weird and unknown movie look and sound better than familiar releases?!” It amazes me that we live in a time where a company searches for and uncovers these movies and brings them back into the public eye. While the actual quality of the movie varies, you know you’re in for a singular experience with each release. And, honestly, a lot of the fun is hoping you’ll stumble upon some fascinating, long-lost gem.
Body Melt is that diamond.
The 1st Phase is Hallucinogenic
Body Melt is an Ozploitation story of a small community named Pebbles Court. The residents of this little villa are, unbeknownst to them, test subjects for a new pill that is supposed to unlock the potential of the human body. Pebbles Court has the uniform houses reminiscent of the kinds of suburbs that Tim Burton would create in Edward Scissorhands. Everyone seems to be incredibly focused on working out and living healthy lifestyles. So the health spa is more than happy to provide them with the latest and greatest: Vimuville. Unfortunately, so far the results of Vimuville are less than pleasant and involves gooey excretions, some kind of weird parasite and the body literally rejecting itself.
The story follows the inhabitants of Pebbles Court as they go about their everyday life. This basically creates little mini stories that all culminate in gooey and gross ends. We follow a pilot, who starts to hallucinate about a woman who’s been beaten up and is looking for a place to stay. The married couple who are expecting their first baby. The body builders working at the health spa, who are taking the pills to bulk up even more. Another subplot involving two dudebros who are on a trip and wind up at a farm run by some inbred-looking rejects from The Hills Have Eyes could have been its own movie.
While these stories are happening, the police are busy trying to get to the bottom of the deaths. They always show up late and have to clean up the messes left behind from the Vimuville. The stories flow from one to another, until they build into an explosively gross climax.
The 2nd Phase is Glandular
Body Melt was the first and only feature film directed by Philip Brody. He also did the music, and has gone on to be a composer. I have to admit, the soundtrack to Body Melt is pretty great; a pulsing mix of electronic and rave type music (think Mortal Kombat). He and co-writer Rod Bishop bring wit and charm to the story and take aim at the extreme health fad that I vaguely remember of the time. What surprised me most was just how good everything looked. The editing is fantastic and slick. It’s a surprisingly assured directorial debut. It surprises me he hasn’t done more. The best, though, is the goopy gore that literally explodes everywhere. Taking obvious inspiration from the early Peter Jackson and Sam Raimi films, Brody gleefully wallows in the gooey mess that, at one point, blankets the walls and ceiling of a police station.
Meanwhile, the kills are gloriously over-the-top and some of the taboo places they go made me laugh at the audacity. From bursting placenta to exploding penis, Body Melt shoots for the stars. The biggest problem with the movie is that it almost feels like an anthology film. As we follow the folk of Pebbles Court, we get a mix of little side stories and subplots, some of which are entertaining, others feel like padding for the already slim 80 minute feature. Some, like the inbred farm, have a payoff, but others don’t really go anywhere.
The 3rd Phase is….AAAAaaaahhhh!
This might be my favorite Vinegar Syndrome release, yet. It looks fantastic, sounds amazing and the effects are surprisingly well done. As an early 90s relic, it’s amazing to me that I’d never heard of it until now. I think what’s the most surprising is just how well it actually works. The fact Brody is able to pull such disparate stories together and make some kind of weird sense of it is testament to the filmmakers. This movie shouldn't work. And yet it's a madcap exercise in hilarity and gross outs that had me laughing in glee and surprise. Buy it now while you can get the limited edition. This belongs in every collector’s library.