The Fly (1986)

The remake of the 1950’s science fiction horror story is full of disgusting effects, great performances of some of the most horrific and horrifying images possible. It’s incredibly effective even 33 years later.

The story follows a journalist named Veronica, played by Geena Davis, as she interviews a scientist named Seth Brundle, played by Jeff Goldblum, as he unveils his invention that will change the world. He has developed a teleportation system. He has been using it on inanimate objects, but with her help takes the leap to teleporting animals and people. However the first human test has a problem, there is a fly in the machine along with the human subject. The machine fuses the two on the genetic level and the subject begins to change into the most disgusting combination of a man and fly possible.

First, how did this movie ever get made? It is based on a sci fi film from the 50’s that only has a cult following and is only known today as the almost laughable product of the nuclear era. This film is disgusting body horror. It explores the ways in which the body can betray the person. It shows off all the worst ways in which the human form can be manipulated into something grotesque. It is also extremely bleak. This is not a film with a happy uplifting message about people or human nature.

That said, there are positives and negatives… Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis are fantastic. He is charming and delightful in the early scenes. He is a convincing absent minded scientist who doesn’t spend a lot of time with people. Geena Davis makes the viewer believe that she is in love with him. She sells the whole film. She grounds it and makes it all credible. She is convincing and genuine. She conveys real personality and an inner life. Goldblum gets the flashy part, but she makes it work. Without her there would be no movie.

The creature effects and designs are completely convincing. The man’s transformation into a man-fly combination is done with makeup and prosthetics that are a masterclass in how to pull off the impossible. Every inch of his body is shown to be in some stage of transformation sometimes some parts of him are further along than others and each part is vividly realized in horrible detail. Parts of his body seem to have new appendages trying to force their way through. Some patches of his old skin seem to still be hanging on. He is covered in gnarly looking fly hairs that jut out in horrible ways. It is revolting and every time he’s about to come on screen again it creates a sense of dread because the viewer knows they are about to see something far worse than they had before.

The drawbacks, the film is incredibly bleak. It leaves so many questions unanswered. It ends right when it needs to for the momentum of the movie, but it cuts off the story before a conclusion can be reached. The film lease a lot up in the air and it’s a little unsatisfying to be left hanging like that. There’s no redemption, no positivity, no sense of hope. It’s just over. That combined with the horrors of the film make it a movie that I wouldn’t want to watch again any time soon. It is relentless and horrifying and bleak. It’s perfect if that’s what you’re looking for. It is incredibly well made. It has a clear vision and command of the cinematic tools, but it’s not a ton of fun to watch.

I enjoyed it thoroughly for what it was. I was impressed and committed to the story throughout. I am very glad I got to see the work and craft on screen, but I will not be watching it again for a few Halloweens that’s for sure. It is my cup of tea A-

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