The Fly (1986)
Director: David Cronenberg
When testing his teleportation device (called Telepods), quirky scientist Seth Brundle (Goldblum) gets his genes spliced with the ones of a house fly who happened to enter the pod with him unnoticed. Seth mutates into a half-man, half-fly hybrid and it’s up to luscious long legged Geena Davis to save him.
"I'm an insect who dreamt he was a man and loved it! But now the dream is over...and the insect is awake."-- Seth Brundle
I remember seeing "The Fly" for the first time in the theatres. It was part of a badass double bill too! The first flick playing was "Aliens" with "The Fly" as the follow-up. What a finish to an evening that was! This little insect kicked my ass back then, and I’m happy to report that it still swatted my brains all over the windshield when I watched it today. Directed by Canadian “madman” David Cronenberg, this loose remake of the 1958 Vincent Price opus of the same name was quite the tour de force.
The first thing that should be commended is the inimitable Jeff Goldblum who gave quite the show here. When out of makeup, his constant “I lost my puppy and I can’t find it” type of facial expressions worked wonders for the role. He also put out a mix of playfulness and vulnerability that totally endeared me to him. When in makeup, the man didn’t slum either, displaying a mix of menace, insanity and awe regarding his condition that never failed to engage me 100%. This is Jeff Goldblum "Goldbluming" like he never "Goldblumed" before. It’s his best performance to date. The fact that the lovely Geena Davis was cast as his love interest also complemented the whole perfectly. Their magical on-screen chemistry (which translated off-screen-- they eventually married) kept my point of focus where it should be...on the characters. Amidst all of the gross out bits, odd incidents and icky shenanigans, the people and the investment I had in them is what kept me watching.
Special-effects wise, what can I say other than blow me upside down with an ice cube in your mouth. Translation: THEY ROCKED! Effect guru Chris Wallas (who actually wound up directing "The Fly 2") went for the gold with this one, efficiently communicating the various “sickness” stages of the lead “buzz buzz” character while not pulling any punches when it came to delivering some genuinely disgusting moments. I still wince like a school girl getting the paddle every time that damn acidic vomit does its damage on human flesh. Or what about that inside-out baboon or the body parts Mr. Brundle loses over the course of the film? Freaking gross! Gore hounds will have a canoe trip with this one. They went "all out" and then some!
Thematically, the film can be interpreted in many ways. Cronenberg has always had a fascination with the human body and the struggle within itself (see Dead Ringers or Videodrome for more on that jive). So "The Fly" can be viewed as Cronenberg, once more, jacking off to the themes that fascinate him so much. It can also be perceived as an analogy to AIDS or any other disease of the like. Although the AIDS comparison rang home, I personally always saw "The Fly" as a metaphor for the affliction known as “death” where we, as human beings, are forced to witness our loved ones, grow old and expire. And there’s not a damn thing we can do about it! Sure, we can prolong the process, but in the end, the result will be the same. WE ALL ROT AND DIE! Shit, I’m depressed just thinking about it. Where’s the rum bottle?
On the slight downside, I will admit to finding the “love story” in the film a tad implausible. I mean, for one thing...these two crazy kids fell in love hard in the blink of a slit throat. That was fast! Secondly, you’re trying to tell me that the affection they shared was so strong, that it would have Veronica stick it out through it all? Any chick I know would be out the door, never to be heard from again, the second my ear fell off. Having said that, the actors’ talent and charisma helped compensate for the love story’s shortcomings. I was therefore still into it and buying most of it the whole way. Lastly, some of the dialogue in the movie was a little too “out there” (i.e. pretentious) for my liking. If I hear talk of “plasma pools”, “plasma springs”, or “beyond the veil of the flesh” one more time I’m going to change my name to Colonel Mustard and kill my butler with a candle stick in the study.
But when all was said and shooed away, "The Fly" wound up being a mucho solid movie all around, with strong characters, many standout moments, (loved the arm wrestling match), a dark sense of humor, a bleak aura, one hell of a gripping score and awesome sound effects to boot. To this day, I still remember the eerie noises the pod doors make when they shut. Brrrrrr….now enter this pod and teleport to Goldblum Land! It’s a great place to visit!
It’s a gore buffet with a nasty broken wrist, a peeled off fingernail, falling teeth and ear, a baboon turned inside out, acid puked on a hand and ankle (nasty), ripped off jaw, decomposing flesh and a blown off head. Want a side order of onion rings with that? I didn’t think so. You be full!
Jeff Goldblum’s (Seth) unique brand of acting couldn’t be more suitable for a role than this one. Wide-eyed and pausing left and right, Goldblum brought a child-like, empathetic, yet threatening, energy to the role. He nailed every facet. GOOD SHITE! Geena Davis (Veronica) laid the charm on thick with her intelligent and sexy performance. I’ve never seen anybody take off a nylon in such a steamy way. Now that’s talent! John Getz (Stathis) played a great asshole and was ably supported by his thick beard which would, at times, do its own brand of acting on the side.
T & A
The ladies get Jeff Goldblum in all of his high metabolism, cut body glory and John Getz showing off in the shower. We get Geena Davis showing minor skin here and there (great legs!) and some tramp in her undies, revealing half her tits.
Cronenberg served the film well by keeping to a drab and depressing tone (it’s the Canadian in him) and letting the images serve the story as opposed to having them drown it out. I call this mature filmmaking, kids!
The beautiful, dark and poignant score by Howard Shore always makes me “gulp”.
"The Fly" was a tight character-driven chiller that not only pierced my heart on a human level via its endearing characters and the twisted situation that they were in, but it also gave me quite the eyeful when it came to things that go “yuck” in the night. Yes, the gore was all over the place. The script did falter a few times when it came to its credibility factor though, but I easily let that shit go for two reasons: 1) the actors’ strength kept me in the game and 2) it’s a film about a man turning into a fly, if I can buy that...I can buy anything! They certainly don’t make films like this anymore! I recommend that you Telepod to your DVD store and acquire it “pronto”! It’s a keeper!
This movie was shot in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Director David Cronenberg has a cameo in this film. He plays the doctor delivering the “special” baby in the dream sequence.
Several scenes were filmed but snipped from the final cut. They include:
A bit where Brundle sends a cat and a baboon through the Telepods; of course, a mutated beastie pops out and he kills it. The scene was cut out when test audiences thought it was too cruel.
A scene where Brundle climbs outside his building to then bare witness to an insect limb popping out of the side of his leg. He then amputates it.
There’s also an other ending where Veronica has a dream of her unborn child who’s sporting beautiful insect wings.