Directed by David Cronenberg and starring Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis and John Getz, The Fly is a 1986 sci-fi horror based on George Langelaan’s 1957 short story of the same name.
A well-regarded and much-loved film, over 30 years later it’s still easy to see why.
Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) is a young & eccentric scientist who has invented something that will change the world. Well, that’s what he tells Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis) when he meets her at a press event where she is working as a science journalist.
He manages to convince her to come back to his warehouse home and laboratory and shows her his invention: a set of ‘telepods’. She initially unimpressed thinking they’re nothing more then huge microwaves but after he demonstrates the machines ability to instantaneously teleport an object from one pod to another she is sold.
She wants to write about it but Seth wants to keep it secret until he has perfected it. You see, at the moment the telepods can only transport inanimate objects. It’s not able to teleport living tissue as demonstrated when a baboon is turned inside-out during an experiment.
Veronica agrees to keep the invention secret in exchange for exclusive rights to the story, something Seth is happy to do. Probably because they also start a relationship & their first sexual encounter inspires him to fix the telepods resulting in a second baboon being teleported safely.
Unfortunately, before they can celebrate, Veronica’s ex-lover who is also his editor threatens to release her story against her permission. He does this out of jealousy, unhappy that she has started a relationship with the brilliant scientist.
Seth gets drunk while she is gone & winds himself up thinking that she has gone back to her ex. Angry, Seth decides to teleport himself alone. However, he is unaware that a housefly has slipped inside the pod with him. The process takes place & he emerges from the pod seemingly normal.
Soon though he begins to notice changes in his body. He has increased strength, stamina, and sexual potency, which he believes is a result of the teleportation “purifying” his body. He doesn’t even consider that anything went wrong but Veronica isn’t so sure especially when she notices bristly hairs growing from his back.
She voices her concerns but Seth doesn’t want to know as his sanity begins to slip. He becomes arrogant & violent but once his nails begin to fall off he decides to check the computer’s records and discovers that he has been merged with the fly at the molecular-genetic level. He is becoming Brundlefly, a hybrid of a human and insect.
The rest of the film is pure visual wonder as Seth slowly becomes less human in appearance. Veronica, in love with Seth is desperate to save him but also dealing with her own issue as she discovers she is pregnant & the baby was conceived after Seth had been fused with the fly.
The Fly is simply sublime, a horror movie that has everything. Its story is thrilling and the pacing perfect. A small cast, every single actor excels but there is no getting away from the fact that Jeff Goldblum is the standout. His early eccentricity, his later confidence and arrogance, his eventual mean streak & portrayal of Brundlefly…it’s a performance for the ages.
There is a certain tragedy to Seth Brundle & his love story with Geena Davis’ Veronica is convincing,. You want them to get through this but you inevitably know it’s not possible. The final scene in the movie is genuinely heart-breaking while also being incredibly brutal.
What most remember about The Fly are the effects though because once you’ve seen them you’ll never be able to forget them. All practical, the stages of Brundle’s transformation is both fascinating and disgusting to watch. The eventual unveiling of Brundlefly is worth the wait, it’s gob-smacking in how inventive it is. If you’ve got a weak tolerance for gooey, bloody and visceral imagery in horror then you’re going to need a few sick bags here.
David Cronenberg has been responsible for many great horror movies but The Fly is arguably his best work ever. It puts so many modern horror films to shame & holds up so well. An absolute classic.
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