Updated: Nov 15, 2019
I'm an insect who dreamt he was a man and loved it. But now the dream is over... and the insect is awake.
Flies. Everyone hates them, right? Buzzing around your room without purpose. Landing on your meal when you know they have most likely, been wading around on a turd five minutes ago.
On the other hand….
Jeff Goldblum. Everyone loves him, right? Sitting, all sexy with his shirt flapping open, in Jurassic Park. Giving E.T. a fatal computer virus, using windows 95 to hack into their advance, alien, software in Independence Day.
So, surely splicing these, polar opposites together must make the most confusing thing ever. It’s a fly but it’s Jeff. Do we love it or hate it? What a conundrum.
The answer to this lies with David Cronenberg’s 1986, cinematic masterpiece, The Fly.
The Fly, for those who have never seen it, be you too young or just plain shit at picking good movies, tells the tale of Seth Brundle (in a brilliant performance from Goldblum), A scientist who is as eccentric as he is a genius. One night at a science fair, Brundle invites journalist, Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis), back to his place to do a bit of showing off. Is it just a ploy to get in her pants? Maybe, but you wouldn’t think he would have to try too hard, for he is the mighty Jeff Goldblum.
Once back at Jeff’s place, he reveals, what Veronica mistakes to be phone booths. She couldn’t be more wrong though, for Brundle, a lifelong travel sickness sufferer has only gone and cracked teleportation. He demonstrates by placing one of Veronica’s stockings, (the man is a sleazy genius), into telepod number 1, only to have it appear in pod number 2.
Veronica, being understandably impressed, and more than a little weakened around the knees by his sexy Jeffness, runs back to her editor with the story. He thinks she has been duped but instructs her to keep reporting on it anyway, just in case.
Meanwhile, Dr Jeff has a problem. It seems he can only teleport synthetic material. Any effort to teleport something organic goes horribly wrong. A baboon learns this the hard way when the telepod decides to reassemble it inside out.
Eventually, Brundleblum figures the problem out and decides that it’s time to try his pods out for himself. He climbs into Pod 1 and prepares to be transported across space to Pod 2, unaware that a cheeky Bluebottle has snuck in with him. The computer, not knowing the difference, decides to splice the DNA of both travelers.
Now far be it for me to pull apart such a good movie, and I admit that my scientific understanding of such things is limited, but, what? With such comparisons in mass, would it not be any different than if Seth had just swallowed the fly? If the mass has nothing to do with it then how come the fly didn’t come out of the pod and start slowly turning in to a man? Anyhoo...
So out comes Jeff, and he seems perfectly normal, for a while at least. Veronica is understandably annoyed with him, reprimanding him for being so foolish. A while later, Jeff Goldfly starts to notice a few changes. Nothing too significant at first. He feels physically better, stronger and more agile, which he puts down to the teleporter acting like a genetic filter. His sexual appetite grows, as does his appetite sugar. Then things take a downward turn, and by downward I mean, of the shit being introduced to the fan kind.
Brundle develops the skin condition from Hell. Bits start dropping off him until his bathroom cabinet becomes the Jeff Goldblum museum of body parts gone bye bye. Eagle-eyed viewers should be able to spot little Jeff, (his penis), in there somewhere. It gets worse. Seth, or Brundlefly as he aptly names himself, starts needing to vomit a corrosive substance in order to digest food. A trick that comes in handy, (get it? Handy? No? Just me then), later on. Meanwhile, Veronica discovers she is pregnant with Seth’s baby and after a pretty fucked up dream involving giving birth to a Maggot, she decides on a termination.
After discovering that he is to be a daddyfly, Jeff goes all Pro-Life on Veronica and kidnaps her before she can have the abortion. Brundlefly has hatched an insipid plan. Whereby he intends to bundle himself, Veronica and unborn babyfly into a telepod and splice them all together, making the ultimate family inhabiting one body, in the hope that the extra, human DNA will dilute the fly part of him. It’s icky. Bad Jeff!
Veronica’s editor comes to the rescue, shotgun in hand (why didn’t he bring a huge can of RAID?), to stop the madness and before you can say “I’m melting,” gets jumped by Brundlejeff who proceeds to vomit on his hand and leg, causing them to melt away in a gooey, sticky mess of wonderfully creative special effects. Jeffbottle then heads into his pod but Veronica escapes, thanks to a last-ditch effort from Captain melty Limbs. Goldfly isn’t so lucky and having only half escaped the pod, finds himself teleported to the other pod, now spliced with Pod 1. What emerges is one-third Seth, one-third fly and a final third pod. The film ends with Veronica shooting Brundleflypod monster in what can only be considered an act of mercy. The guy is a mess.
The Fly is a remake of the film of the same name from the 1950s, starring Vincent Price. Even the most hardened remake hater will admit to loving this movie. The story is tight and moves along at a brisk pace. It’s wonderfully acted, especially by Goldblum. His grizzly transformation from Man to Insect is given real emotional gravitas, where it would be all to easy to become lost in the makeup and special effects. The makeup does dominate a lot of the screentime, but you never forget there is a man under there and that’s down to Goldblum's fantastic performance.
David Cronenberg is the true, master of the body horror genre, and never is the body used more horrifically than in this movie. The transformation manifests as a form of Uber cancer and it’s at times a hard, disgusting watch. This, however, highlights just how incredible the makeup effects by Chris Walas and his team, are.
Other than my nit-picking about the science earlier, (which let's face it, I don’t understand stuff), There is nothing negative I could find to say, even if I wanted to, about this film. It’s a rare example of a perfect film. The acting, direction, atmosphere, Howard Shore’s score. It all comes together to form a truly great, modern, horror masterpiece.
There are rumours, abound that The Fly is a cultural metaphor for the AIDS virus. I’m not sure if there is any truth in that, but the real horror of The Fly comes from the idea of having no control when your body begins to fail and fall apart. Something that terrifies all of us.
If for some ungodly reason, The Fly has alluded you all these years, I would strongly recommend you add it to your watch list. But if you do...
Be afraid. Be very afraid...