Body Melt

Original official trailer, 2 minutes, stereo mix - © 1993

Background

Body Melt is a $1.65m feature film shot on Super 16 with a 35mm blow-up and Dolby Surround audio. Funded by the Australian Film Commission and Film Victoria, the film was shot late 1992, with post-production completed by mid-1993.

The film is directed by Philip Brophy, whose 4 short stories form the basis of a screenplay written by Philip and Rod Bishop (both having worked on Salt Saliva Sperm & Sweat. Rod is also co-producer with Daniel Scharf.

Credits

Cast

Sam Phillips - Gerard Kennedy
Johnno - Andrew Daddo
Dr. Carrera - Ian Smith
Pud - Vince Gil
Shaan - Regina Gaigalas
Paul Mathews - William McInnes
Kate - Suzi Dougherty
Sal - Nick Polites
Gino - Maurie Annese
Brian Rand - Brett Climo
Cheryl Rand - Lisa McCune
Thompson Noble - Adrian Wright
Angelica Noble - JiIlian Murray
Brandon Noble - Ben Guerens
Elouise Noble - Amanda Douge
Slab - Anthea Davis
Bab - Neil Foley
Bronto - Matt Newton
Ryan - Robert Simper

Crew

Director - Philip Brophy
Producers - Rod Bishop & Daniel Scharf
Original screenplay - Philip Brophy & Rod Bishop
Director of Photography - Ray Argall
Special-FX Make-Up - Bob McCarron
Film editor - Bill Murphy
Production designer - Maria Kozic
Composer - Philip Brophy
Casting Greg Apps (Prototype)
Production manager - Yvonne Collins
First assistant director - Euan Keddie
Costume designer - Anna Borghesi
Sound design - Craig Carter & Philip Brophy

Robert Simper © 1993

2018

2k screening: Australian Cinematheque, Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane
US Blu-Ray release (2k restoration w/Dolby Digital 5.1 mix): thru Vinegar Syndrome
UK Blu-Ray release (2k restoration w/Dolby Digital 5.1 mix): thru 88 Films

2017

2k screening: Astor Cinema, Melbourne

2015-2016

Domestic streaming: SBS On Demand
Australian Blu-Ray release (2k restoration w/Dolby Digital 5.1 mix): thru Umbrella Entertainment

2001-2006

Domestic & international DVD releases: Australia, UK, USA, France, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, Holland
Domestic cable: Foxtel

1994-1998

International sales (theatrical, cable, broadcast, video, laser-disc): UK, France, USA, Canada, Mexico, Russia, Poland, Greece, Cyprus, India, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Baltic States, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Brazil

1994

Limited theatrical release Australia: Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Sydney - thru DUMB Films
Australian Centre of Contemporary Art screening - State Film Theatre, Melbourne
Domestic video release Australia: thru 21st Century

1993

Festival screenings: Sitges Fantasy Film Festival, Barcelona; London Film Festival; Melbourne Film Festival; Dublin Film Festival
AFI nominations: Best Sound, Best Art Direction, Best Editing

Jillian Murray © 1993

Overview

Synopsis

from original 1993 press-kit

Injected With an experimental drug, the research chemist Ryan (Robert Simper) leaves a mysterious rural health farm and drives to the outer-city suburb of Hornets, As Ryan's body starts to deteriorate and his driving becomes more erratic, a cruising police car starts to chase him. Charging towards a group of houses in Pebbles Court, Homesville, Ryan leaves a cryptic message on his dictaphone: "The first phase is hallucinogenic ... The second phase is glandular... The third phase is ..."

Before he can finish the sentence, Ryan crashes into a parked car and dies. The cops and various residents approach the wreck, but do not see the bizarre tentacles that crawl out of the dead man's neck.

Senior detective Sam Phillips (Gerard Kennedy) and his rookie partner Johnno (Andrew Daddo) start investigating the death. Was the dead man attempting to contact one of the residents In Pebbles Court? And why?

Strange things begin to happen to the residents. Paul Mathews (William McInnes) drinks an innocent-looking vitamin powder and starts hallucinating. A ghostly apparition comes for his ribs.

Two young Italian boys Sal and Gino (Nick Polites, Maurie Annese) drive into the outback and are captured by a feral, mutant family and their patriarch Pud (Vince Gill).

The pregnant Cheryl Rand (Lisa McCune) loses her placenta. It hides in the house and then attacks her husband Brian (Brett Climo). The Noble family go to a health farm for "a holiday we'll never forget".

The cops begin to piece the puzzle together, making connections between the bizarre events in Homesville and the so-called health farm run by the insidious Dr. Carrera (Ian Smith) and his assistant Shaan (Regina Gaigalas).

But can they stop Carrera's crazy scheme? Or will everything Just keep melting?

On location - Hoppers Crossing, 1992 © 1993

Technical

Production

Making Bodies Melt
1992 on-set documentation, 33 minutes © 2016

from original 1993 press-kit

Director and co-writer Philip Brophy describes Body Melt as "the suburbs on weird drugs. It started off with ideas of what you could do to the human body. Something that pushes the body beyond its normal capacities." His inspiration came from "recently married perfect couples, woolen jumpers, baby name books, aerobics classes, four wheel drives, new housing estates and anything else associated with complacent lifestyles."

Body Melt is the story of the deluded Doctor Carrera who is experimenting on normal suburban people. With his assistant Shaan they find ways to administer their new drugs to unsuspecting residents of a suburban housing estate. Their aim is to "create the new you". But it all goes horribly wrong.

"Generally, everyone's become much more obsessed with the living body", says Brophy in the Australian magazine Fatal Visions. "That's what's so great about modern horror movies. Over the past ten or fifteen years, what has come to the forefront is the question of how you can transform a body, whether it's through steroids, psychic healing, or any drugs you want to name."

On set - Bob McCarron with William McInnes © 1993

The casting for the 36 speaking parts In Body Melt was a challenge for Brophy and producer-o-writer Rod Bishop. "We had to find the right combination of types" said Bishop. "Our casting agent was thrilled. There were so many weird and wonderful characters in Body Melt. He could offer up all sorts of actors hidden away in the depths of his filing cabinets." Well-known film and television professionals like Gerard Kennedy, Vince Gill and Ian Smith were cast alongside actors from television commercials and soap operas. Brophy wanted everyone "to play it straight. This is not an over-the-top Monty Python splatter-skit. It's a straight horror film with comic moments".

The main location for the new housing estate of "Homesville" was found in an outer suburb of Melbourne. "It's hard to believe it's a real location" says Bishop. "It's so new. There are no trees. Just identical architecture, lawns and driveways. The houses all look like they have popped up from the ground like mushrooms." The location for the health farm called Vimuville run by the doctor and his staff was also found in the outer suburbs of Melbourne. On the outside, It looks like an ultra-modem clinic, equipped with swimming pools, gyms, skate-rinks and fine dining. But behind these facades lie the laboratories where experimental drugs are created, and where huge, muscular assistants prepare to transport the "vitamins" to an unsuspecting world.

For the numerous special make-up effects needed for Body Melt, Brophy and Bishop turned to Bob McCarron, Australia's leading expert in prosthetic effects. "Everything I do in this film is like horror magazine front cover material", says McCarron. "Being called Body Melt, most people do melt, but they do so from within and we've used three 40 gallon drums of phlegm." Called on to create gigantic tongues, a placenta that jumps on a character's face, tentacles which crawl out of a neck and up somebody's nose, McCarron says of the actors: "They all took it as fun and looked on it as good experience. Most of them had never worked on a film like this before. They all had a good time, right down to the young kid playing the roller-bladder who gets his face sheared off on a skateboard ramp, which we had to film in rain and darkness."

Bob McCarron, Philip Brophy & Robert Simper + Brett Climo on-set © 1993

Releases

Australia VHS 1995

Australia DVD 2007

Australia DVD 2013

Australia Blu-Ray outer cover 2016

Australia Blu-Ray inside cover 2016

Brazil VHS (dubbed) 1995

Brazil VHS (dubbed) 1995

Canada VHS 1994

France VHS (dubbed) 1999

France DVD (dubbed) 2001

Germany DVD (dubbed) 2001

Germany DVD (dubbed) 2003

Brazil DVD (dubbed) 2007 + Netherlands DVD (subtitled) 2006

Japan VHS (subtitled) 1998

UK VHS 1994

UK VHS 1994

UK VHS 1994

UK DVD 2010

UK DVD 2008

UK Blu-Ray 2018

USA VHS 1994

USA laser disc 1994

USA DVD 2003

USA DVD 2005

USA DVD 2013

USA Blu-Ray outer cover 2018

USA Blu-Ray inner cover 2018