Written by Patti Pauley
Thirty years ago today, something absolutely wonderful burst its way onto the horror movie market. David Cronenberg’s The Fly changed the way we looked at pesky poo-loving insects indefinitely, and I wanted to take a moment of my time to appreciate the gorgeous horror tragedy that has managed to keep us delightfully entertained and continually makes us vomit in our mouths a little three decades after the initial widespread theatrical release. Many horror bloggers before me have written about their fondness for this 1986 gem, and it’s a beautiful thing honestly. I’m not exactly sure what I can say that already hasn’t been stated about this national treasure, but I’m absolutely not going to let that stop me from giving a deserving nod to one of the greatest films to come out of the eighties.
If you’re going to remake a classic horror film, this is how it’s done.
For those who had no unearthly idea, the Cronenberg masterpiece is actually a remake of the 1958 science-fiction horror that starred the talents of David Hedison, Patricia Owens, and Vincent Price. The original is a classic film from an era that was learning how to push boundaries within film. In 1986, the remake that stars Geena Davis, John Getz, and launched Jeff Goldblum into superstar status, not only pushed the grotesque card, but did it in such a way that it was disgustingly beautiful. in 1958 you felt a little bad for the character of Andre (Hedison). I mean, the guy had the head and the hand of an insect. It was pretty shitty. But we never really felt THAT bad for the character, given the fact there really wasn’t a ton of human screen time for him. Goldblum’s character of Seth Brundle however, hits all the feels. His transformation into Brundlefly was painful and tragic on so many levels. In many ways, it’s not just a horror/ sci-fi film. It’s a love story gone terribly wrong. Watching Davis’ character of Veronica gazing upon on what is speculated as the love of her life, suffering from this mishap, is more than heartbreaking. The film dives miles deep into character emotions and if you don’t feel it, you sir have a heart of molasses.
Seriously, the monster magic is some of the best I’ve ever seen.
Sure, it may be a little under the radar if you’re comparing it to today’s technology, but when we’re talking practical effects you have to give a standing ovation to the special effects and make-up department. The Fly is not only a triumph in storytelling, but in the visual effects as well. Makeup wizards Chris Walas and Stephen Doo Pwah deservedly won an academy award for their makeup effects on The Fly, but they didn’t forget to thank the actor who brought Brundlefly to life. With the collaboration of these genius and stomach-turning prosthetics, and Goldblum’s brilliant acting chops, this movie gave us the most disgusting character that we’ve ever fallen in love with. Ever. After Seth Brundle steps out of a telepod that unknowingly to him, fused his DNA with that of a fly, his transformation begins slowly almost by the hour it seems into something eventually unrecognizable. With every layer of make-up, Goldblum submerged himself an inch deeper into the beast of Brundlefly. As we inch to the close of the film, the monstrous puppet that was used for the final result is a beautifully built piece of art that both horrifies and saddens us as we remember the innocent and bright soul underneath.
Let’s talk about that controversial deleted scene, shall we?
The deleted scene that was hidden from the public until a special two-disc DVD was released containing the footage, was originally cut from the film after an audience test screening in Toronto. According to Producer Stuart Cornfield, the theater guests were disgusted to the point of projectile vomit. The movie has some pretty nasty scenes that could definitely make someone gag a little, but I suppose this really was just a bit much for some. Apparently the general public didn’t take to kindly to Brundle experimenting on helpless animals and then bludgeoning them to death. Understandable. The scene had it been kept in, would make some folks take away any pity they may had for Seth, turning him from a helpless victim to animal-murdering dickbag. However, I can see what they were ultimately aiming for and from what I took from the scene, was an act of complete desperation. Brundle was halfway through his transformation and scrambling to find a cure as time was running short. You could see the defeat in his mangled face after the terribly gone wrong experiment on the roof, and ummm, ripping off an insect leg that had spawned from his stomach with his mouth. The whole scene is slightly painful to watch, but at least for me, not in a bad sense. There are a LOT of scenes from this film that will make you squirm. In my opinion, the scene with the dog in The Fly 2 was way worse than this.
The Fly is considered David Cronenberg’s crowning achievement in horror films, and I won’t disagree. It is truly a masterpiece in the sense of just how fragile life really is and the feelings the film evokes from your senses. It is so rare folks, that a horror movie such as this comes along that is done extraordinarily well in every goddamn aspect. Imaginative, compelling, and the dehumanization of what was once a curious man who has been forced into “insect politics”, is brilliant every time you view it. The Fly turns 30 years-old today. Don’t be afraid to pop that groundbreaking film into your DVD player in honor of not only of one of the best remakes, but also one of the greatest horror films of the twentieth century.