The Fly

Movie Review #876


By Alexander Diminiano


Relased August 15, 1986 (nationwide)
Horror, Sci-Fi
Rated R (contains gore, nudity, sexual content, profanity, violence)
96 minutes

David Cronenberg’s “The Fly” is not so much a remake as it is a reimagining of the 1950’s film.  It presents not a sudden, but a gradual shift of its lead character from human into fly, though using the same concept that was employed in the original work, both of which serve as adaptations of George Langelaan’s short story “The Fly”.

The gist of this remodeling is, we have a mad scientist (Jeff Goldblum) who is thrilled by the possibilities of what he has just invented.  He has created a machine that can effectively teleport any object from one “telepod” to another.  The two telepods are fifteen feet away from each other, but it’s assumed that this will work just as effectively with any distance between the two machines, as the teleportation is a matter of destroying the object inside one telepod, spinning the matter through space, and recreating the object inside the second telepod.

The first thing our scientist, whose name is Bruntle, transports is a journalist’s (Geena Davis) stocking.  She is amazed, and in love with him instantly.  She wants to get the word out about this new fascinating invention, but Bruntle insists that his invention should be modified before the world knows about it.  He deems any publicity to the invention dangerous, as he has only discovered how to transport man-made objects.  Inevitably, humans will try and transport themselves through space and recreate themselves in the second telepod.  What if this goes wrong?

With a few more additional touches on the invention he has so astoundingly created, Bruntle figures out how to transport a live baboon from one telepod to the other with no problem at all.  He decides that just to be safe, he should take the baboon to the vet and make sure it wasn’t harmed inside the telepod.  But one night, when he is drunk and melancholy, Bruntle decides to go through the telepods himself.  At first, everything seems to be fine.  He’s in one piece, and nothing has changed.  But things do change, over time, and Bruntle slowly, horribly loses any touch with humanity, or being a human being at all.

The setup in “The Fly” is very elaborate.  It progresses with a logical plot (or what seems substantially logical) and acts as a two-part movie.  During the first hour, we watch Bruntle remain unaware of his transitional stage, and his recent girlfriend–the journalist–also unaware.  However, she grows increasingly confused.  She can tell something’s wrong with his condition, but she cannot quite identify it.  He, however, shows no concern over his depleting health.  During the last half-hour, the metamorphosis becomes obvious.  Bruntle has become a whole different kind of “mad scientist.”  While he still resembles a (very sickly) human, he’s begun to become more of an insect, and to relish that.

The best of what the second act offers is the twist ending.  It’s a real shock, in simplest terms, but it’s unfortunately just as much fun as it is unpleasant.  Jeff Goldblum, while not initially the perfect embodiment of the character, becomes more involved with his transformation into a fly-like human and seems to develop in his performance as the film moves forward.  But during the finale, his delivery is ruined by makeup and special effects, which are nearly constant, disgusting, hideous, and poorly executed.

I honor that David Cronenberg is the “Baron of Blood”, but in “The Fly”, that seems to work more on a level of substance.  The style offers more and more gratuity as we draw closer to the end of the film.  This rendition beats out the earlier version of the film in terms of creativity, but if you can only stomach so much gore, it might be tough to watch.


7 thoughts on “The Fly

    • Some of the effects do hold well today. Example: the earlier visuals of the transportation mechanism and all the lightning. Compare that with the clock tower scene in Back to the Future…The Fly wins by a long shot. Then you take a look at the gore, and it’s just…well, it’s gross. I guess we don’t really see gore in movies any more (not much, at least), so it’s kind of hard to say, but I found those such effects to be rather dated.

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