The Fly (1986)

Am I Becoming a 185-Pound Fly?

Today’s movie is considered a classic.  Or, perhaps more accurately, a remake of a classic that then became a classic itself.  But, it’s also a movie I have never seen.  I find that I missed out on a great many classic movies because there was violence in it and my mother was hemophobic.  No, my mom doesn’t hate gays and I hit the wrong button from time to time.  My mom always claimed that she faints at the sight of blood because she is so afraid of it.  I’ve seen her do it a time or two in my lifetime.  And since she was my mother and necessary to get into rated R movies, I missed out on some classic movies just because of violence.  I’m trying to rectify that in my adulthood, but remembering all of the movies that I need to see can be difficult.  Friends of mine had to remind me to finally watch Jaws a few years back, and I loved it.  And when I saw today’s movie was available on Netflix streaming, I felt like it was time to get this classic horror/science fiction movie under my belt.  This movie is The Fly, written by Charles Edward Pogue, written and directed by David Cronenberg, and starring Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, John Getz, Joy Boushel, and Les Carlson.

Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) lures a vaguely pretty girl named Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis) back to his warehouse with the promise that he has invented something that will change the world.  When they get there, Brundle shows Veronica that he’s invented a teleportation machine, currently capable of teleporting inanimate material from one pod to another in the same room, but that’s still an accomplishment.  Veronica turns out to be a journalist and is going to break the story until Brundle suggests that she wait until he’s able to transport living material, and he’ll let her record the process so that she can do more than just write a measly article about it.  They try to teleport a baboon, but it gets turned inside out and was none too happy about it.  Brundle and Veronica start developing a relationship, probably to make up for the relationship he just lost with the baboon.  Over pillow talk, Veronica says something that helps Brundle figure out how to transport living material, and he successfully does so.  When something leads Veronica to go talk to her editor and former lover, Stathis Borans (John Getz), Brundle starts to get jealous and drunk simultaneously.  In his inebriation, he decides it’s time to try this mamma jamma out on himself.  Unbeknownst to him, a fly gets into the telepod with him, but doesn’t get out the other side when he does.  He starts to notice changes in himself after this, all of them positive at first.  He concludes that the machine purified him of any imperfections, but Veronica starts to think something else is going on.

This was a pretty cool movie, and I think it holds up pretty well.  The story is a cool idea, though I think they took the main part of it from the original movie.  The basic premise of the teleporter mashing up a guy with a fly was taken from the original, but I’m fairly sure the bulk of the movie was original.  At first, the story comes off like they’re remaking Spiderman and telling his origin story.  He becomes stronger and more agile, and even gets more virile in the bedroom.  So what if he has a couple of gross hairs growing out of his back?  This guy fucks like a champ!  I got confused by some of this stuff because it’s not something I’d normally associate with a common household fly.  I know that they digest their food by vomiting on it and drinking the liquid.  I don’t know that the stuff could melt through a human hand in a matter of seconds, but it’s based enough in logic for me.  And they can also climb walls.  I’ve seen them do that.  I guess you could even call them agile because they fly.  But what makes them super strong and really good at fucking?  Every time I’ve watched flies have sex (and it’s happened more than once), it’s usually over pretty quickly.  And why does he never develop wings and nothing ever comes from his eyes being split into sections?  I think it’s arguable that flies are super strong, but I’m pretty sure it’s inarguable that flies can fly.  But then it starts turning sour as he starts resenting that Veronica won’t go through the machine and become more awesome like him, and his transformation starts getting worse and worse.  I found myself wondering how he wasn’t able to fix himself when he finally decided that he wanted to.  He was able to get the machine to tell him that he was combined with a fly, and it seemed to know which one was which.  I don’t know why he couldn’t just tell the computer to remember what Brundle was and what the fly was and just reassemble me with slightly less fly.  Though it takes some time to get there, the movie turns into a pretty good horror and science fiction movie by the end.  I thought it was weird that they kept throwing in new plot twists up until about 10 minutes from the end of the movie.  Usually you get all of that stuff out of the way by act two and then act three is all wrap up, but it worked out okay.  The look really holds up in this movie too, which made me even more surprised to see that it came out in 1986.  The teleportation effects were cool, the fly transformation was icky but convincing, and even the computer stuff was not horribly dated.  I had a couple more thoughts, but they require  ::SPOILER ALERT::  I did, however, take issue with the fact that Veronica was actually unsure about getting an abortion.  Fer reals?  You’re seriously thinking about giving birth to something with fly DNA?  How are you going to explain that to people?  I understand that abortion is a big issue and some people are completely against it, but I feel like those same people would be more malleable if the baby would most likely not be human.  And how does Brundle reach the conclusion that the best solution for everyone’s troubles is to fuse himself with Veronica and his unborn child?  Fusing has not worked out very well for you so far and, if their consciousness remains at all, I’m pretty sure one of the worst things you could do with yourself is force a woman to do something that means she’ll be able to nag you from inside your brain for the rest of your ungodly life.  ::END SPOILERS::

I liked pretty much every performance in this movie, which was easy because there are really only three people with significant enough parts to warrant a mention.  Jeff Goldblum was pretty great.  He starts off the movie acting like … well … like Jeff Goldblum.  You know the way.  The way he acts in almost every movie.  But his performance does change pretty drastically as he starts turning into Brundlefly.  At first it makes him a dick, then it makes him a little bit scary, then it makes him frail, and then he ends up a lotta bit scary.  Geena Davis did a fine job, but didn’t really blow my mind or anything.  John Getz sets himself as a super scummy dude really quickly and I hated him for the first 90% of the movie, but then he takes a strange turn to be almost heroic in the end of the movie.  I guess that could be held in contrast to Goldblum’s character.

Though I was late in doing so, I was happy to finally get to The Fly.  I really liked the story, I thought it made a pretty interesting horror and sci-fi movie, it looked much better than I would’ve expected from the time, and I liked the greater majority of the performances.  It’s definitely a cool enough movie that everyone should give it a shot.  Especially since you can stream it on Netflix right now.  The Fly gets “Are you some sort of magician?” out of “The medicine cabinet is now the Brundle Museum of Natural History.”

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