As promised, here’s my review of the 1986 movie, “The Fly,” which was recommended by Derek Jacobs.
For this review, I’ll start off with all the essential info, move on to my thoughts on the film and end with every last bit of behind the scenes goodness I can find about this production.
Release Date: August 15, 1986
Genre: Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi
Screenplay: David Cronenberg, Charles Edward Pogue, Charles E. Pogue
Based on the Story by: George Langelaan
Directed by: David Cronenberg
Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum), a brilliant and senstive if some-what self-absorbed research scientist, and Veronica Quaife (Genna Davis), a science-magazine reporter meet at an event. Seth invites Veronica to his lab and demonstrates his “telepod,” which can transfer matter through space. Seth promises Veronica an exclusive on his story if she’ll just hold out until he’s perfected the process. They grow romantically closer the longer they are together and eventually Veronica inadvertently pushes Seth into attempting the first human experiment, and Seth uses himself as the subject. Unfortunately when he teleports himself a tiny housefly hitches a ride and their molecules get all blended together. After that moment the movie becomes an exploration of Seth’s slow and painful mutation until things start to ramp up near the end.
**** I’m taking you right into the Spoiler Zone ****
What the critics thought when it was first released
Well… Caryn James from the NY Times felt it was a gross, gory, abomination of a remake that slimed all over the 1958 version.
This all-out, flaunted goriness becomes distracting, and it destroys ”The Fly,” which is too bad, because Mr. Goldblum’s fly-man has heart and humor, and Mr. Cronenberg’s vision is ambitious. […]
Seth Brundle is a likably offbeat scientist who begins an affair with Ronnie, a journalist writing about his secret invention […] Mr. Goldblum is wry and understated here, but Ms. Davis is stiff and John Getz, as her editor and former lover, is simply a rat. […]
This lifeless triangle is the first misstep in a film that tries to be too many things at once – funny but not campy, sad and scary, a horror story and a human tragedy […]
The plot diminishes to: How can he possibly look worse? And should I watch? This is intense, all right, but not scary or sad, or even intentionally funny.
The one consistently strong element in the midst of Mr. Cronenberg’s haywire, tone-deaf direction is Jeff Goldblum’s performance, a just-controlled mania that fills the screen without threatening to jump off it. As he becomes a creature, we can still recognize his voice and see his eyes peering through the increasing layers of rubbery goo that encase him. But like ”The Fly” itself, which opens today at the Manhattan Twin and other theaters, even he is finally lost in the gloop. [NYTimes.com]
Ouch. Well, despite what this particular critic thought, the world of horror felt differently, and I did too.
What Didn’t Work
While I agree with the “awkward love triangle” observation I felt it actually added some depth and complexity to Veronica as a character that made for a more interesting dynamic between her and Seth. Without her fighting off the slime-ball boss/ex boyfriend ‘Ronnie would have been a passive observer of Seth’s journey. So I actually liked what the love triangle brought to the table.
The pacing at times felt a bit erratic. I’m thinking specifically of when Veronica is at home stressing out about being pregnant with Seth’s (potentially mutant) child and how the scenes flow from there. They just don’t seem to flow as smoothly as the first half of the film did.
What the film rocked
Even with those (incredibly) knit-picky criticisms, this movie, really just knocks your socks off in many ways.
Jeff Goldblum’s performance is powerful
and (I felt) really did reach out and strum my heart strings. He was in love, he was broken, and he was ravenously mad. He showed the emotional specturm you needed to feel the depth of the tragedy and loss while creating a character with was witty, sensitive and lovable. And yes, there was a lot of gore and make-up, as the NY Times review said, but it was masterfully done, and Goldblum was able to emote and connect to the audience even through the layers of prosthetics.
The stages of decay will nauseate you
Because they are so inventively disgusting. But what the decay really does is prey on our very human fear of having the body fall apart and wither from disease or age. I felt this film tapped into something particularity raw in the human psyche, and did so very well.
Body horror fiction, ingeneral, has always struck a cord with me because I feel like I really can’t trust my own body.
I have a pretty severe egg allergy that tends to get me into trouble.
Which gets me into the special effects
This is an amazing movie with some spectacular practical effects and some touching drama between characters. If you have a strong stomach, you’ll love this movie. 5 out of 5 blood spattered stars.
Behind the Scenes Goodness
Does body horror get under your skin? Or is there something else that triggers you?
Leave me a comment, let’s talk about it, because as disturbing as your dreams may be, you’re probably not the only one suffering from them.