The Fly – classic horror film review
“Something went wrong Seth. When you went through, something went wrong.”
The Fly is a 1986 sci-fi / horror starring Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis. It was directed by David Cronenberg (doesn’t that man just have great hair) and to this day remains one of his most popular movies.
The Fly is of course a remake of the 1958 Vincent Price film. But this seems to be one of those remakes we’re actually allowed to enjoy, without ostentatious comments about how the original is so much better and you just don’t understand you philistine. You remake watching bastard. I hate your guts. HOW DARE YOU.
The story centres around Seth Brundle (Goldblum) who is a tall, handsome and eccentric scientist – pretty much my ideal man. To be fair I still fancy 2015 Jeff Goldblum so 1986 Jeff Goldblum is just a dream. Though I do have a real soft spot for 1996 Jeff Goldblum…..and this is supposed to be a film review, I apologise. Anyway, just as he meets journalist Veronica (Davis) who is writing a piece about his work and a promising romance starts to blossom – one drunken night in his teleportation pod unfortunately changes everything.
I’m sure most of us are familiar with the story but for those of you who are not – sadly for Seth, he manages to fuse his DNA with that of a housefly – during his ‘I’m drunk and messing around with science’ episode. So the poor guy basically begins turning into a gross hybrid of man….and fly.
The Fly is easily in my top 10 films but why do I love it so much? Well firstly, it’s a great horror film. I find it truly horrific and scary. Seth’s transformation from man into Brundlefly is gross and unnerving. It’s interesting – I think – because there’s no Bad Guy.
Inevitably Seth grows more and more dangerous to be around but he’s not evil or twisted, something screwed up and unfair just happened to him. Some people say the film is a metaphor for having AIDS but Cronenberg has said he didn’t have that intention exactly. The Fly undoubtedly does make you think of illness – Seth’s teeth falling out, the disintegrating skin and hair….it’s very uncomfortable and undignified.
It’s kind of a mix between most repulsive film ever and a horror with a heart. The love story between Seth and Veronica is another reason I love the film. It’s so brilliant and genuine and despite knowing it all ends rather horribly I can’t help but wish things would work out for them every single time I watch it. Not only is this a horror film, but it’s an extremely tragic love story too. As soon as Seth and Veronica meet each other the attraction is banging, they’re both extremely likable and I can only imagine the ending had this been a Richard Curtis film instead.
The effects are fantastic. Now, I don’t mind CGI when it’s essential and done well – like the machine gun leg in Planet Terror – that is awesome CGI that I can only be grateful for. But generally I prefer ‘real life’ effects. My technical talk is shit at best, so apologies if I can’t explain this well. But I like effects ON camera, which is what The Fly is all about.
Kudos to Goldblum and the make-up team – who must have spent fucking hours creating each terrifying stage of ‘being a fly’. But it worked beautifully – I have never watched The Fly and not felt scared. He is scary. The more the Brundlefly comes out, the more we lose Seth. Though the physical changes are hideous, disgusting and visually scary, his personality changes are more unsettling. It’s only really Veronica who knows what has happened and a lot of the film is set inside Seth’s place, with an isolated feel. And the more Seth changes, the more you start to fear for Veronica’s safety.
“I’ll hurt you if you stay”
Apart from the terror, there are some sickening scenes, a few that are pretty famous – the arm wrestle scene where Seth’s super strength breaks a guy’s wrist bone clean out of his arm. The baboon scene – not very pleasant. And of course the gag-reflex-inducing maggot baby. Always worse for us girls eh?
Generally I can’t speak more highly of this film, which I think is a marvellous and perfect mix of true romance, gross-out visuals and horror in a tragic, gruesome story that repulses and saddens til the end. Brilliantly acted, expertly directed and better than the original (sorry Vince). Plus – it was made in the 80s which mean we have AWESOME 80s effects not the sort of shit I saw in I Am Legend recently. And I can’t write a review on The Fly without mentioning the soundtrack, which I adore. It’s a scored soundtrack with all music written by the wonderful Howard Shore. Very dramatic, it’s just the kind of soundtrack I love. My favourite track is Plasma Pool but it’s one of those that has one main score and variations of it throughout, depending on the scene and atmosphere.