Tag Archives: Rick Baker

Octaman (1971)

It's Octaman!
It’s Octaman!

A scientific expedition, financed by a circus owner, goes in search of a humanoid octopus mutation in Mexico.

poster art
Horror heap from the nuclear trash!

Written and directed by Harry Essex, who wrote IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE (1953) and CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954), this cult flick’s major (only!) selling point is the fun creature costume created by Rick Baker and Doug Beswick. The rubbery, tentacled critter is often shot and lit in less than dynamic ways, but it is on screen a LOT!

Octaman confronts Pier Angeli
Don't mess with Octaman!
Don’t mess with Octaman!
In the film the fire 'sucks' the air from around Octaman: great science!
In the film the fire ‘sucks’ the air from around Octaman, even though this is taking place outside: great science!

Earlier in the movie we get to see a small mutant octopus that can crawl on land and apparently likes to live in fresh water. Later, there’s a sequence where the characters trap Octaman in a circle of fire, sedate it and imprison it under a net, which is silly but cool. But there’s a very tedious sequence towards the end of the film, focusing on the protagonists crawling endlessly around a cave, that is far, far from cool.

As Travis J Hill Cartoonist (a moderator for the Monster Zone Facebook group) says: What’s more fun than a barrel o’ cephalopod?

For the most part, however, if you’re a creature feature fan you’ll probably find this is a fairly watchable, low budget, cheesy, painless time-waster with a very shaky grasp of scientific principles. It stars Kerwin (7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD) Mathews, Jeff (THIS ISLAND EARTH) Morrow and Pier (SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES ME) Angeli, who gets carried off by Octaman at one point.

Kerwin Mathews and Pier Angeli
Kerwin Mathews and Pier Angeli

On a sad note, Pier Angeli was found dead in her Beverly Hills home (apparently from an accidental barbiturate overdose) before production on the film was completed.

Octaman carries off Pier Angeli
Getting carried away…
Behind the scenes shot of Read Morgan, who wore the costume
Behind the scenes shot of Read Morgan, who wore the costume
Octaman jumps from the RV
It’s in the RV!

The Incredible Melting Man (1977)

The melting man
Slimy, melting fun!

Three astronauts are exposed to a blast of cosmic radiation during a space mission, which kills two of them. Colonel Steve West (Alex Rebar) survives but, back on Earth in a hospital, his flesh begins to melt. West loses his mind and escapes the hospital after killing a nurse, going on a killing spree, consuming flesh to inhibit his melting, slightly radioactive flesh.

Taking off the bandages
Maybe he shouldn’t look under the bandages…

Scientist Dr. Ted Nelson (Burr DeBenning), a friend of West, starts searching for the melting man, helped first by General Perry and then by Sheriff Blake, following the trail of bodies and finally confronting West at a power station.

French poster
French poster

With a plot similar to FIRST MAN INTO SPACE (1959), this film hardly boasts the best dialogue or acting you’ll ever see, but it IS a schlocky sci-fi horror pic that makes up for its so-so storyline with some fine, gooey, gory practical FX by Rick Baker.

severed ear
Severed ear in a bush!
severed arm
Severed arm on the floor!

I first saw this film in the cinema as a teenager (in a double bill with THE SAVAGE BEES) and I loved all the gore, such as the severed fisherman’s head popping open in slow motion at the bottom of a waterfall. I enjoyed the film so much that I went back with my cousin to watch it again in the theatre that week – and, I guess, I have retained a soft spot for this pic ever since.

Savage Bees/Incredible Melting Man double bill UK quad poster
Savage Bees/Incredible Melting Man double bill UK quad poster
The fisherman's severed head
A fisherman’s head floats toward a waterfall…

It is definitely Rick Baker’s work that makes THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN worth viewing. I own Arrow Video’s high Definition Blu-ray release and it is great to watch Baker’s slimy creation shamble about the countryside in such a hi-def print.

Arrow Video Blu-ray
Arrow Video Blu-ray

In one of the extras on the Blu-ray, Rick Baker remembers quoting quite a high price to do the effects because he wasn’t sure he should be doing this film (it was originally titled THE GHOUL FROM OUTER SPACE) after working on bigger budgeted films like KING KONG (1976) – but his quote was accepted so he made the film. Result!

Melting man keeps on melting
His flesh keeps on liquifying!

If you are tolerant of a meandering storyline (probably made worse due to post-production reshoots), you will find a bunch of scenes to enjoy, such as the moment one of the melting man’s severed, radioactive ears is found hanging in a bush and the final scene, where the titular tragic character liquifies into a messy, bloody puddle on the floor that gets swept into a garbage can by an oblivious janitor!

gloppy-faced melting man
Gloppy goodness
Film poster
The first new horror creature!
The melting man loses an arm
He’s had a limb cut off but he’s not harmless!
He keeps melting
He just can’t stop melting…
Watch out!
Watch out!