Reviewbr> "Look on the plus side Sam. We can probably get this bloke for not wearing a seatbelt" - Johnno
The new subdivision of Homesville and in particular Pebbles Court has been selected for trials of a new vitamin drink, Vimuville, being pushed to market by local spa Yantabulla Heath Farm. The only problem being is the instant drink formula hasn't been run through the proper clinical trials. A chemist tries to warn locals of the dangers, but is pumped full of the drug, and experiences some nasty side reactions. This brings into play top Detectives Sam Philips and Johnno, who soon find a mounting body count of mutant victims and murderous placentas.
When Suburbanites go down, they tend to go down in fairly gore laden fashion, and this movie goes over the top with the concept. Add in steroid abusing health spa larkies, backwoods inbred cannibals, and a couple of "wog boys" on the prowl, and you don't have the normal Police drama you might have expected. Let's go see what's going down at the health spa.
[Editor's Note: "Wog Boys" is a term used by the Italian community here in Aus for people playing a prejudice style of Australian Italian]
Director Philip Brophy is doing his best to channel Peter Jackson circa Braindead (1992) as he lays on the splatter in torrential amounts, though you are probably going to be more apt to be trying to decipher the ingredients that make up the gore rather than gagging on the delivery. We're talking bodies melting, chests bursting open, exploding penises, and the topper on this particular highway to hell a wannabe killer placenta. How on earth did Lisa McClune get convinced to rock on up to this "B" grade shocker! Betcha it's not on her resume. Anyways if a voyage through unconvincing gore isn't your thing then this movie probably won't light any fires, though I guess the Roo adrenal glade scene looked somewhat convincing.
While the mayhem is very much to the forefront of the screen, do we get many scenes without it after the establishment plot devices are finished? - the actual development of the movie isn't pull off with anything approaching Professionalism. Characters are introduced, and in no way built in a sympathetic fashion, prior to their demise in various melting pools of ooze, while the Detectives spend their time solving what should have been a pretty obvious case. All roads point to the Spa, maybe a search warrant might have got things working. There are three deaths however that stand out as being simply exercises in body count creation. The kid who wonderfully finds a skating ramp at the Spa, they apparently all have them, comes a cropper in fairly nasty fashion. How on earth does this advance the plot? - and on the subject, we must be talking the most obnoxious kid in creation, as his Mom and Sister seemingly don't care that he's gone AWOL on them. We also have our two Italian stallions who run afoul of an outback family of inbred mutants who for no apparent reason infest the back roads of Victorian, and some would say AFL head office. I'm not entirely sure if this aspect of the movie was meant to be taken seriously, the clown car of a house seemed at one stage to be spewing forth a never ending supply of family members that made the Texan Sawyer family look like wholesome church attending middle class aspirants. We know that Pud, who seems to be the father of the misbegotten brood, worked on some chemicals that latter went into the infamous "health drink", but by and largely this detour into the deaths of a couple of obnoxious teens really didn't add anything to the hand being dealt in Body Melt. There are deaths to drive the plot along in a movie, and then there are needless additions that detract from the central plot focus.
The movie may have been meant as satire but don't expect The Bard or anyting approaching the concept of "good"
So yeah we're talking lots of gore, body horror that's more out of the Peter Jackson trick bag than approaching famed Canadian Director David Cronenberg, and an appreciation of a rising body count to keep the punters happy. However what we don't get is anything approaching a central narrative to drive the movie. Body Melt is all about its death scenes, there's nothing much else going down here.
There's talk around Aussie movie circles that Brophy's flick is a satire on the whole health movement that was apparently sweeping Brogue circles at the time, but I kind of think to get that happening successfully you must first get over the apparent parody the movie looks to be during greet swathes of it's running time. You can hardly attack an aspect of society when the film you are making leaves the Audience wondering how in hell you managed to get a budget. It certainly wouldn't have been based on the daily rushes of an increasingly imploding movie that is being made by people who apparently don't know what they are doing.
Got to admit when the movie kick off I was wondering if I hadn't put on a porno by mistake, not that we have a lot of porn sitting around the ScaryMinds bunker, no sirreee bob, nothing to see here Governor. Besides boobage going down, and the sort of sleazy camera shenanigans you associated with carnal intent movies, the soundtrack is direct from backstreet porn merchants and probably was lifted direct from Hugh Heffner's private stock. So yes Ozploitation gets rocking, plenty of flesh being flashed, did I mention exploding penises (the ultimate erectile dysfunction don't you think), and the wild thing going down in the wilds of Victoria?
I'm not too sure I want to add much else here, Body Melt is a pretty bad movie that got made due to an insane idea from the Federal Government of the time that they should fund the Aussie movie industry. All the "B" grade boxes are ticked, but unfortunately not in a loving fashion, we're talking stuff going down that is aimed at an Audience who don't get they are being pander to in order for some film makers to score a few easy dollars, art and Body Melt aren't terms likely to be collecting dust in the same paragraph. Nothing like a recommendation folks, not sure what the Audience would be for this one, besides those of us trying to finish our Downunder dance cards.
Surprisingly Body Melt is available on an R4 DVD release that includes extras that I didn't bother checking out. Umbrella Entertainment is the culprits here, good on them for continued efforts to keep the back catalogue of Aussie horror ticking over. I'm not going to say check it out, but might be one of the more bizarre options for a rainy Saturday arvo if the footie doesn't look overly enticing.