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THE FLY COLLECTION
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Reviewed by: Ammon Gilbert

Directed by: 
Kurt Neumann
Edward Bernds
Don Sharp

Starring:
Vincent Price
David (Al) Hedison
Brett Halsey
George Baker

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
We follow three generations of Delambre men, all accomplished scientists working to perfect their teleportation machine for the benefit of mankind. Along the way, they discover the horrors that ensue when man tries to take science and nature in his own hands, resulting in mutations with common houseflies and an array of disfigured and mutated human tests subjects.
Is it good movie?
THE FLY (1958) - 3.5 Stars: The original 1958 classic surprisingly holds up well today, as it's style of storytelling emphasized that of mystery and the unknown, instead of all relying on horror gimmicks and special effects. What makes it so effective is that while you have an idea that there's something horribly wrong with the scientist who's working on perfecting his teleportation machine, you're not exactly sure what that something is, until he's dramatically revealed. They say it was one of the scariest movies upon it's release, and I can believe it. The revelation of what had become of Delambre the scientist is so masterfully done, that that horror felt some 50 years ago still holds strong today. The story and effects will have you tuned in right through it's climatic end. "Help me, help meeee!" Vincent Price does a great job in the supporting role as Delambre's brother, his presence giving the whole movie a classic horror aura. Throw in an effective musical score and top notch performances by everyone involved, and you have yourself one classic Sci-Fi/Horror trip.

RETURN OF THE FLY (1959) - 2.5 Stars: Cranked out one year later after THE FLY's success, yet set some 20 years into the future, with the late Delambre's son as the new scientist in question, now continuing his father's work on teleportation. RETURN tried to accomplish what so many sequels set out to do: give the audience more of the same. Except the focus here is on more mutated man-fly action, as this man-fly is given more screen time, going on a mini-rampage against those that did him wrong. This film also features a villain as well, an outlaw scientist wanting to steal and cash in on Delambre's invention. Price is back in yet another supporting role as this Delambre's uncle, who's forced to help the scientist with his experiments. The reason why this sequel isn't as classic as it's predecessor has to do with effects over mystery, as it's already established what will happen once the experiments begin to take place. Throwing in the villain was a nice touch, but wasn't executed as well as it could have. Not to say it wasn't an enjoyable ride into the Sci-Fi/Horror universe, it just didn't pack quite the dramatic punch as the original. Note: RETURN is in B&W, while the original is in color. The accompanied booklet claims it was a stylistic decision to do it this way, but I think it was more likely that Fox wasn't fully behind the sequel.

THE CURSE OF THE FLY (1965) - 3 Stars: The third and final of THE FLY films, this one doesn't even feature a mutated man-fly creature at all! If you walk into this film expecting that, you'll be highly disappointed and probably won't enjoy it as much. But now that you aren't expecting a fly creature, you can sit back and enjoy the bizarre house of scientists and mutated freaks that are locked up as lab experiments gone wrong. Yes, it's the Delambre clan again, playing God with their teleportation machine. But this time, it works... at the cost of a few human experiments. Throw in an escaped mental patient (Delambre's new wife), a couple of mysterious Asian house servants, and what you have is a surprisingly enjoyable horror flick. While the previous films were more Sci-Fi films with horror elements, CURSE is straight up horror, as the mutated freaks featured here and there are as weird and bizarre as they come. Price is nowhere to be seen in this installment, but as this is generations ahead of his bloodline, his character wouldn't have existed anyway. Also to note, the opening sequence of the women running in slow motion in only her underwear was one of the more stylistic sequences featured in any of the three films (and the most risqué ).

Video / Audio
Video: All three films are presented in 2.35:1 Widescreen, enhanced for 16x9 TVs. Crisp, clear and probably better than any other versions previously released. The color in THE FLY was beautiful, and the black & white of it's sequels were high in contrast. Superb in every way.

Audio: THE FLY is presented with 4.0 Surround, while the two sequels are both presented in 2.0 Surround. I preferred the sound of 4.0 all the way, but all things considered, the 2.0 was sufficient for the later two movies.

The Extras
Commentary on THE FLY with star David (Al) Hedison and Film Historian David Del Valle: This commentary is ideal for anyone who loves THE FLY, as there's plenty of behind the scenes info to be told and overall history of how THE FLY came to be what it is today. The two have great chemistry together, as it's set up in a more conversational style. They obviously have great love for this movie, and it shows.

The Fly Collection Disc of Horrors: This special features disc includes:

A&E's Vincent Price Biography (43:30): An in-depth Biography that only A&E has been able to accomplish (the original episode aired in 1997), it follows Price's life and fame through 4 decades of film and theater, and even explored his love of art appreciation. Did you know he had a line of art sold through Sears back in the 1960s? You will once you check this out - a great tribute to one of the great faces of cinematic horror.

Fly Trap: Catching a Classic (11:20): A by the book making of featurette, going through the history and the basic background of all three FLY films. Featuring movie historians, star Al Henison, and other big names in horror, it's barely long enough to hit up three different films, but what it does touch on isn't bad either. Could have been better... but could have been a lot worse.

Trailers: Normally this would be your run-of-the-mill selection of upcoming DVDs from Fox, but there are two menus of trailers (which you can select 'play all' or watch individually), and after some recent trailers for PERFECT CREATURE and 28 WEEKS LATER, it dives right into a huge selection of vintage trailers, including THE LOST WORLD, THE MEPHISTO WALTZ, THE VAULT OF HORROR, GORILLA AT LARGE, MYSTERY ON MONSTER ISLAND, DEVILS OF DARKNESS, WITCHCRAFT, A BLUEPRINT FOR MURDER and MAN IN THE ATTIC. This collection of vintage trailers is more than impressive, it's freakin' outstanding!

The Fly: Special Features contain a Fox Movietone News clip of THE FLY's premier in Hollywood (circa 1958), featuring classic movie monsters touring San Francisco (:50). The Theatrical Trailer, an interactive Press Book Gallery and Lobby Cards and Poster Gallery, and a detailed Behind The Scenes and Production Photo Gallery were also included. If you dug the promotional gimmicks films of this nature went to land people in the theater, you should get a kick out of this.

Return of the Fly: Special Features include a Trailer and TV Spot (for a double feature with THE ALLIGATOR PEOPLE), and both a Lobby Card, Poster and Production Photo Gallery.

The Curse of the Fly: Special Features include the Trailer, a Press Book and a Lobby Card and Poster Photo Gallery.

The set also comes with a FLY COLLECTION booklet, detailing the history and how the three films were made, it's reactions when they were released, as well as images, original poster art and a selection of quotes from the critics. A great companion to the Fly Trap featurette.

Last Call
This may be one of the most comprehensive 'collection' of movies I've ever seen. The bonus disc is bursting with features (the huge selection of vintage trailers is especially awesome), and will likely turn you into a fan of THE FLY series (if you aren't one already). While the original is obviously a classic, it's sequels are surprisingly better than you would expect. If you're a fan of the series - or even just the original - you couldn't ask for a better box set.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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