The Fly (1986)

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The Fly (1986)

Post  BoG on Sun Oct 19, 2014 2:40 am

This remake of the fifties sf/horror version is Cronenberg's own masterpiece of horror. Sure, he had original, unusual ideas before this (The Brood in '79; Videodrome in '83,etc.) and branched out into other genres after this, so it's odd that a remake is his ultimate effort. But it's here that all the elements of horror came together in a nearly perfect mix. Many of the scenes, particularly in the 2nd half, are uncomfortable to watch, and this may be why many viewers do not rate this film higher - it's just too disturbing to view. A lot of this has to do with the likability of the two main characters, played by Jeff Goldblum & Geena Davis. Goldblum as Brundle especially, comes across as a slightly goofy, harmless eccentric in the early scenes. His charm works on Davis and also on the audience; we certainly don't want anything bad to happen to him. But you already get that sense of dread very early, when he first unveils his macabre-looking pod teleporters. You sense he has some bad times ahead of him - you just don't know how bad. The horror is so effective because it gets really, really bad - just so much worse than you could have ever imagined.

The other aspect to the story, the progress represented by a scientific breakthrough, is another element which, rather than a potential science fiction premise, becomes subverted into a tragedy of horror. Usually, a concept such as teleportation, successfully accomplished, is cause for celebration (see the Star Trek series & films for a brighter version of such technology). Here, progress such as this should probably be avoided at any cost. But, the real tragedy is Brundle's horrific bad luck, falling prey to his human failings, notably impatience. If only he'd waited another day. If only he noticed that fly. If only he'd placed some safeguard to prevent his machine from performing a function it was not intended for. The machinery here becomes a dispassionate godlike creator of monsters; the machine is not so much demonic as remorseless and unfeeling. It's a most disquieting argument against the supposed benefits of escalating technology.

Or maybe it should be termed evolving technology. Brundle's rapid evolution after he first steps into the teleporter touches on some of the most primal fears associated with modern mankind: death and disease. We watch him first seemingly devolve after he first voices our primary concern ("Am I dying?"). A cancer-like affliction cripples him, and it looks like he'll fall apart into nothing soon. Only later do we realize this was only a transitory step and further horrors await our eyes as Brundle changes, changes. By this point, many viewers may want to turn away or turn it off. It's really slow death we're seeing and, unless one has sadistic tendencies, there is no compelling reason to watch. Well, unless it's to feel grateful we will never fall victim to something like this. Or will we?  BoG's Score: 9 out of 10 Idea  Sequel in 1989.

Fly Trivia: Goldblum & Davis became an item in real life; they reunited for the much lighter Earth Girls Are Easy (1988)
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