THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!
The Fly II (1989)
Directed by Chris Walas
“On its own though, The Fly II is a dark, disturbing and tragic tale.”
Poor Eric Stoltz. Dude always seems to get the shit end of the stick. He seemed to be either one role away from the big time, or he remained stuck peaking over the shoulder of the star. He was dumped from Back to the Future for that short kid on a TV show. He played second fiddle to big ass snake. He’s probably best remembered for wearing a robe and eating cereal in Pulp Fiction. Not that he’s probably complaining. A 30 + year career ain’t no joke.
However, in 1989 Stoltz probably thought starring in the sequel to The Fly would give him that big time starring role, the defining gig he most likely desired. Four years after his major breakthrough in Mask, which was more about his freaky looks and Cher more than him, he signed on to play the mutated son of Jeff Goldblum’s eccentric, quirky scientist (big surprise in that description). Stoltz plays Martin Brundle, who was born and raised in a lab. At age five, he was already a grown man and even seduces Princess Vespa (Daphne Zuniga) to hop into his super hip 1989 bedroom. Standing in their way of eternal love? The standard stuff like evil corporations and oh, Martin is a mutated monster…so that sucks for him.
The Fly II should have been a hit. It should have been the movie that made him into a star. Things didn't work out like that since the thing flopped. Most people regard it as, well, mostly a shitty movie.
But...that's not necessarily true.
As long as The Fly II is watched without worrying about the scale and depth from David Cronenberg’s 1986 remake of the Vincent Price classic, The Fly II can and does work. Granted, this isn’t A-quality material and doesn’t hold up compared Cronenberg’s work in terms of production values and story. The sets all look fairly generic. All the characters, beyond Stoltz as the young Martin, end up thin as a fly’s wing (sorry for that one). Seriously, some of them, especially the standard issue brutal security guard and the evil CEO Bartok, are laughably awful cartoon villains.
On its own though, The Fly II is a dark, disturbing and tragic tale. A sequel without Cronenberg had its work to do, but the new writers did their best. In fact, it’s slightly amusing with amount of the horror pedigree behind it with Mick Garris (who went onto fame with Masters of Horror), Jim and Ken Wheat (who wrote the Riddick movies), and, of course, Frank Darabont (who we all should know). That’s a hell of a lot of horror talent behind a typewriter.
And while few probably recognize director Chris Walas’ name, dude has credentials. Perhaps not in the director’s seat, but as a special effects and makeup artist, working on everything from Airplane, to Gremlins, to Enemy Mine, to…well, The Fly. Walas never really succeeded as a director, but the guy knew his special effects, which is what really makes The Fly II worth a revisit. More than anything element of the film, there's some tough, brutal gore here. The actual Fly effect, once Stoltz goes through his eventual transformation, isn’t the best as he looks more like a bad 1950’s B movie villain, but its gruesomely cool.
Other scenes end up down right painful to watch. Noteably, the dog sequence when Martin pets his mutated friend. I couldn't even watch that (I can watch many a people get slaughtered on TV, but an injured dog…no thanks). Then there's a face melting when Martin shoots a guy with his ooze, which I'll admit surprised me at the quality. But the best scene? When random security guard has his skull crushed via descending elevator. That one's top notch splatter. Good, solid looking stuff...if you dig that kinda thing.
The Fly II will never be considered in the same category as the original, but it’s still good fun.