Oct 23, 2014

Review: The Fly (1986)

I think it's been years that my sister has been asking me if I'd seen The Fly yet. Strict adherence to my system of movie selection has kept me away from it but luckily for me, my girlfriend decided that she wanted to see The Fly. Of course I'll need to go back to the original movie as well as it's sequels eventually, I knew before watching it that I was in for something special with David Cronenberg's version.

I really respect David Cronenberg as a director even though I've hardly seen anything he's done. Most of what I've seen are his more recent films like A History of Violence, Eastern Promises and Existenz. There's lots more for me to see, but The Fly definitely represents an important pinnacle in his career and I'm happy to finally have seen it.


Genre: horror, sci-fi
Directed by: David Cronenberg
Produced by: Stuart Cornfeld, Marc Boyman, Kip Ohman
Written by: Charles Edward Pogue, David Cronenberg
Music by: Howard Shore
Running time: 96 minutes
Production company: SLM Production Group, Brooksfilms
Distributed by: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, 20th Century Fox de Argentina, 20th Century Fox, etc. 
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $9,000,000
Box office: $60,629,159 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, John Getz, Joy Boushel, Leslie Carlson, George Chuvalo, Michael Copeman, David Cronenberg


Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) is a scientist working on something huge. At a big meet and greet between scientists and the press, Seth approaches Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis) of Particle magazine. He invites her back to his lab where he shows off a never-before-seen teleportation machine. However, he's not quite finished yet and asks for her to wait before publishing a story for which she will have the exclusive rights to. Something goes significantly wrong during a seemingly successful test with Seth and he refuses to believe it despite Veronica's warnings. Quite simply, Seth is no longer himself.


The Fly is pretty much everything I'd imagined it to be and more. The setup is quietly unsettling before giving away to shock and body horror. It's up there as one of the most effective body horror movies I've ever seen and a lot of credit should be directed to Chris Walas who is responsible for all the makeup in the movie. It's hard to watch what he's designed, but at the same time it's impossible to look away.

Jeff Goldblum gives a really great performance that absolutely needs to be highlighted. He's just a kooky and socially awkward scientist to begin with before he begins his unfortunate transformation. Seth changes as a person, pretty much always in a constant frenzy that's just chilling to watch. It's just a great buildup before things get more and more graphic. Geena Davis also does a great job as pretty much just an unknown at the time.

Now in terms of horror, The Fly isn't a jump scare bonanza. It's unfailingly tense when it needs to be and supplements that with the horror, shock and revulsion of watching Seth Brundle's slow transformation. David Cronenberg takes a slow and steady approach with things and shocks you at perfect moments. Howard Shore's score also beautifully accentuates everything that goes on. It's almost too effective.

The science fiction aspect is simple and doesn't try to explain everything away. It's better for it and I'll just leave it at that. There's a fair amount of drama as well which is very well executed. There's absolutely no melodrama here to speak of. (Spoilers) I guess you could say that The Fly is as much a horror film as it is a tragedy film. The ending left me flabbergasted and brokenhearted by the end which is just an extremely weird combination to be feeling. (End Spoilers)

The Fly is a huge success in pretty much every way. Jeff Goldblum is unbelievable to watch and the effects and makeup that accompany the whole thing are well done and have aged extremely well. It's like I want to watch The Fly again but also never want to speak or think of it ever again. It's haunting  and impactful as a horror film but also as a drama film. Thank you (I think?) David Cronenberg.



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