The Fly Review
The Fly is a slice of science fiction horror, and rightfully so, with its overt technological twist and clever acting by Jeff Goldblum, The Fly is quite scary and far fetched in 1986, but now?
The Fly is about a scientist working on a teleportation device, who accidentally splices his dna code with that of a fly. He then slowly transforms into a super human, then digresses into a full sized fly!
Here is a trailer for The Fly:
Jeff Goldblum plays the scientist role well and he legitimately sounds smart. He sounds just as smart here as he did in “The Life Aquatic”, “Jurassic Park” or even “Igby Goes Down”. Geena Davis is ok as the love interest and journalist, but Goldblum carries most of the film with his slow transformation into a mad scientist and eventual transformation of the fly.
The film is a straightforward love story and things aren’t really scary initially, but when the Scientist can’t seem to get his teleportation pods to transfer living things, he starts to really get obsessive. His obsession turns deadly when he slowly deteriorates into a full scale monster. Initially he isolates himself, wanting no one to see him, but then he allows his love interest to see him and things start go get really bad at this point as he is falling apart into a zombie like state, and his attempts to reverse the process don’t work at all. To throw a wrench into the machine, Veronica (Davis) is pregnant and now Brundle (Goldblum) is dead set on fusing everyone together to be one!
There are a few jump scenes here and there including one terrible birth scene where Veronica delivers a maggot! Then we get the horrific final transformation scenes which are a credit to the visual effects of the time. The film was made in 1986 and some of the electricity and make up effects are ahead of its time completely, and a great example of how you can mix grotesque with art, without sacrificing terror.
The director is notorious for showing you the complexities of the human emotion, and just like he did in “Videodrome” he once again plays the “Jeckyl and Hyde” angle with the scientist growing deeper and deeper into psychosis. Cronenberg did the same thing in “The Dead Zone” although with less grotesque characters and plot endings. This however is a whole different “beast” to say the least.
Why The Fly is Scary: The Fly seems laughable now, but in 1986 the world of transportation and scientific discovery was still rampant. Not only were movies being produced in regards to time travel “Back to the Future” there was also a lot to be discovered in the world of biochemistry. If the notion of time traveling and teleportation really don’t scare you at all, then the scary parts maybe reconciled to something you may not have considered previously.
The idea that the monster really grows mentally from desperation and loss of ones own mind is a scary idea. If you were given super human abilities would you also lose it? If you then found out that you had a child on the way with someone you loved, would you not fight to stick around a little longer? Furthermore, is the destruction of ones outer appearance really a catalyst for an interior demise? These questions need to be asked in order to properly dissect the films scary notions. The human mind is a lot more scary than just seeing the fly emerge from the chamber and start to kill or become sickening to look at.
The scariest thing besides the human emotion of desperation, fear, and trauma has to be the fact that we don’t really hear about rogue scientists in today’s culture. It seems to be an archetype that lived well in the era where you couldn’t get information immediately delivered to you. Is this to say that the internet is to blame for the decline in popularity of the mad scientist? I think it is plausible if you think about it. Prior to the internet and instant satisfaction and delivery of information, it seems that the world always viewed science in a scary light. Consider Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, where the Scientist’s obsession with his projects helps him create life. Consider also Lovecraft and his tales of reanimation, or the constant pummeling of robotic empire uprisings that paved the way to the United States’ fear of anything robotic like in “I Robot”, “Terminator”, “Total Recall”, “Robocop”, “Westworld” and many other examples of film and television where the main concern is a robotic takeover. Fear of the unknown aside, the sheer fact that anytime a mutation occurs that mixes the dna with human or creates a new strand of dna for an animal they automatically must attack to survive. Oh and if the animal is peaceful or wants to be left alone, man still marches to their lair and tries to snuff them out anyways; all in the name of fear. This last point occurs prominently in the horror and thriller region, as well as all vampire films. The reason why it is scary is not so much that we are not getting a lot of films based on this “mad scientist” idea as much as we are learning to trust scientists way too much, and when there is no healthy skepticism, that’s when bad stuff happens like global pandemics.
Why fear robots and not scientists? Why fear dna mutations? Because The FLY! The Fly was scary in 1986 due in large part to the grotesque nature of the half human half fly. Not only that, we got to see that flies are disgusting creatures by having a human sized fly come to life. Now I’m grossed out by flies, and poop, but that’s for another day. I recommend The Fly as a healthy science fiction horror film, but it might not be as scary as it was when I was 3 years old in 1986. The Fly also spawned an ill fated sequel, but the first initial installment was quite the creature feature 22 years ago.
And as a bonus for you Simpsons fans, you may have noticed that The Fly was referenced as a part of The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror from Season 9 and here’s a screen grab for you guys:
Oh and yes, I have seen "The Fly (1958)" and the sequels that spawned. I'll review those set of films at a latter date. Don't fret.
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