#90: The Fly (1986)

“I’m all flemmy.”

David Cronenberg
Year: 1986
Genre: Sci-Fi

We’ve seen how well transporters work in the year 2258 – beautifully demonstrated in Star Trek when Scotty beams multiple beings into a space ship traveling at warp speed. Now we have the privilege of seeing how transporters worked back in the year I was born, the year 1986. Seth Brundle, played by my favourite Jeff – Jeff Goldblum – invents the world’s first transporter in The Fly; arguably the best remake of all time.

I have not had the privilege of seeing the original 1958 film, but this 1986 remake is unique in that it is directed by one of my favourite Davids; David Cronenberg. Cronenberg’s films stand out because they are genre films, usually sci-fi’s or thrillers, that do not lend themselves to typical blockbuster tropes. Cronenberg often tackles fantastical concepts, i.e. a scientist accidentally fuses his molecular structure with a fly, but explores them within the confines of one character . Rather than being introduced to a new world and seeing how the characters interact with it, a Cronenberg film will challenge us to identify with a character who undergoes a strange transformation and/or evolution, whether it be physical or philosophical. Being a remake and a great box-office success, The Fly is Cronenberg’s most accessible film, making it the perfect selection for those who are interested in pursuing the director’s filmography.

The Fly has had a great influence on me as a sci-fi fan and a writer. The gradual, biological transformation of Seth Brundle fascinates me because it addresses two ideas which I very strongly identify with: fear of disease and playing God. The horror fan in me also gets a tickle; The Fly happens to be an iconic “body horror” film – thanks to the grotesque special effects used to bring Seth’s transformation to life. The 80’s was the pinnacle of hands-on special effects and Body Horror films. These days CGI is used to make things look too perfect. Gore and actors who need to be physically manipulated, for whatever reason, always look best when make up is used because it is really there, which means it looks more realistic. CGI may be able to achieve details that make up can’t, but the jilted movements that occur from the limitations of hands-on effects can be scarier than a seamlessly moving computer generated image. Watch Sam Raimi’s Drag Me To Hell and tell me which sequences gross you out more; the ones that use CGI, or the ones that use hands on effects and make up. Of course you’d choose the latter because green liquid coming out of a dead woman’s mouth is inherently more disgusting than a computer generated eye flying through the air. If you are interested in seeing how horror effects were done in the 80’s then you have another reason to watch The Fly.

If a scientific exploration through one man’s body and dazzling, gross-out special effects aren’t enough candy for your show-bag, keep it open, because the career defining performance by Jeff Goldblum is enough to fill a show-bag all by itself! As much as you are watching special effects physically transform Seth’s body, you are also watching big, bad Jeff himself transform his character from a geeky scientist into the world’s #1 bad boy. Jeff is equally compelling at both ends of his character’s evolution. In the adorable nerd we meet at the beginning of the film, we see why Jeff has made a career out of playing eccentrics. The cold, confidence Seth develops later on in the film is equally unnerving and arousing…



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