In 1958, a sci-fi horror film titled “The Fly” starring Vincent Price (not as the title character) & David Hedison (the actual title character) earned mixed-to-positive reviews from critics and managed to make a profit at the box office. The premise is about a scientist who invents a teleportation device, he tests it on himself to see if it works. Unbeknownst to him, a fly enters the same teleporter which resulted in their genes mixed such as their heads literally swapped. With time running out, he enlists his wife to search for the same fly who has his head attach to it.
Twenty-Eight Years Later, filmmaker David Cronenberg (Scanners, Videodrome, A History Of Violence) wrote and directed his darker take on the cheesy high concept (what if scenario) by transforming into a story about a man who’s slowly turning into a deformed monster instead of immediately swapping heads with a fly.
The Fly was released in 1986. (same year James Cameron’s Aliens came out) It received critical acclaim among critics such as Gene Siskel, Roger Ebert & movie goers alike. In addition to positive reviews, the film managed to make enough money at the box office. The Fly launched the career of Jeff Goldblum as a high profile actor typecasted as a brilliant scientist who gets roped into an extraordinary situation.
As a result surrounding unanimous praise, The Fly earned an Oscar for “Best Makeup” at The Academy Awards. A sequel titled The Fly II was released in 1989, unlike its predecessor, it never recaptured lightning in a bottle as the first film did. Gene Siskel was shocked that The Academy never handpicked Jeff Goldblum for a “Best Actor” nomination.
The reason why I’ve decided to review a remake of a 50’s film, is because a darker and dramatic remake of Judy Garland’s A Star Is Born starring Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper, is scheduled to come out on October 5th, 2018 around the same time as Tom Hardy’s Venom. What do A Star Is Born & The Fly have in common? They both came out in the 50’s and were remade as critically acclaimed films.
The following review does not contain any crucial SPOILERS. If you’ve never ever ever seen The Fly, feel free to read this non-spoiler article. Does David Cronenberg’s The Fly still hold up to this day? Let’s find out shall we?
Successful & Unsuccessful Elements
Successful: Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis & John Getz all did an excellent job for their respective performances.
Fun Fact: Before Jeff won the role as Seth Brundle, a few actors including Mel Gibson, Michael Keaton, Willem Dafoe, James Woods, John Lithgow & Richard Dreyfuss were considered for the lead role, but they all turned it down due to each one’s busy schedule.
David Cronenberg did a fantastic job for writing and directing.
At the time of its release, many critics compared Brundle’s transformation to The Aids Epidemic. Cronenberg metaphorically stated that the film reflects aging, cancer and terminal illness.
Chemistry between Jeff Goldblum & Geena Davis’ characters is considered one of the main highlights, makes you care about them.
Prosthetic Makeup and Bodysuits were heavily used on Jeff in order to show us audience members his grotesque metamorphosis as a half-man -half-insect as Brundle coined it, “Brundlefly.”
Howard Shore (The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy) orchestrated music for the film.
Cinematography didn’t suffer from technical difficulties.
Practical Effects were heavily involved to display Brundle’s Fly traits including sticking to walls like Spider-Man, acid vomit and animatronic puppets to bring Brundlefly to life. I’m giving the special effects and makeup Bonus Points, because they still hold up to this day.
Scare Factor didn’t contain any shove it in your face Jump Scares. The horror element relies on Brundle’s perspective as his body begins to change like his flesh deteriorating in a disgusting way inhumanly possible. If you’re not familiar with David Cronenberg’s signature style for body horror films, be prepared. I advise you not to eat anything, otherwise you’ll begin to puke outta control. No wonder movie goers at the time walked out in disgust after eating their candy & popcorn.
The tone for the remake is more darker and tragic than the original.
Unlike the original as its told in the scientist’s wife’s point of view, Brundle is given more screen time as both protagonist/antagonist.
Brundle said the original film’s famous “Help me” line. The context behind “Help me” is played for drama.
Character Development involving Brundle. As the story progresses, he goes from a mild mannered gifted scientist, to a desperate hybrid slowly losing his humanity as a result of his mixed DNA desperate to find a cure before time runs out.
David Cronenberg himself makes a cameo appearance as a gynecologist.
I refuse to tell you the ending, you’re gonna have to see for yourself.
Unsuccessful: To be honest, I couldn’t find anything wrong with this movie. I’m giving the cast & crew an Extra Point for making this movie as flawless as possible.
The Final Verdict: A, FOR APEX!
David Cronenberg’s The Fly is arguably is magnum opus. Jeff Goldblum delivered an amazing performance alongside Geena Davis. Practical Effects/Makeup still hold up for a film released in 1986. The tragic romance between Jeff & Geena’s characters among other positive aspects listed. If you never seen The Fly before, I strongly recommend it. This movie is one of the best remakes of all time next to “John Carpenter’s The Thing,” “Ocean’s 11,” “Peter Jackson’s King Kong,” “Cape Fear,” “True Grit” & “3:10 To Yuma.”
Who’s excited to see Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born?