Synopsis by Cavett Binion
Essentially a seedy '70s version of The Quatermass Experiment, this painfully cheap production from writer/director William Sachs involves the horrific plight of returning astronaut Steve West (Alex Rebar), the sole survivor of a disastrous expedition to the rings of Saturn. The fatal outcome of the mission apparently involved the discovery of a space-borne virus, or radiation, or something (it's never made quite clear) that killed the rest of the crew and is causing West's flesh to melt and slough off his body. For reasons unexplained, the only relief from the pain of his condition can be found by consuming live human cells. After munching on a few bystanders, West escapes into the surrounding woods, pursued by NASA researcher Dr. Nelson (Burr DeBenning) and a disorganized posse of military monster-hunters. Unable to stop his rapid dissolution or resist his cannibalistic urges, West agonizes over his dilemma (as indicated by laughable scenes of Rebar trying to register emotional anguish through layers of goop), but he still finds time to terrorize a few locals, including the topless Rainbeaux Smith and a pair of comic-relief oldsters trying to score some lemons. The film's notorious ad campaign rallied the makeup FX work of Rick Baker, but his talents are largely wasted thanks to AIP's frantic cost-cutting and a truncated shooting schedule that forewent many of Baker's elaborate prosthetics in favor of a cheap latex mask covered with gallons of syrup. Future Silence of the Lambs director Jonathan Demme contributes a brief cameo.
melt, disfigurement, astronaut, virus