Revisting THE FLY (1986) - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Revisting THE FLY (1986)

Geek Dave takes a quick buzz back to 1986.

David Cronenberg's The Fly is the greatest horror movie ever made. Full stop.

Well that's it, thanks for reading...

...Oh, you want more? Well OK then.

Remade from the 1958 movie of the same name starring Vincent Price, but bearing no resemblance outside of concept, this 1986 version was produced at a time when all the bigger horror movies consisted of teenagers getting sliced and diced by serial killers who couldn't be killed; think Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street. Smaller, independent productions, the types which gained cult followings on V/H/S (like Re-Animator, for example) were keeping the classic archetypal horror premise of science gone horribly wrong alive. The Fly repopularised this genre and resurrected it for the masses. And if there is ever a film which has represented this concept better then The Fly then I have yet to see it.

The Fly, from the master of horror David Cronenberg, sees Jeff Goldblum in a tour-de-force performance. When you have a resume like Golblum's it's hard to pinpoint a single film as the high point in their career but I truly believe The Fly is his pinnacle performance, and he absolutely got shafted by not receiving an Oscar nomination for best actor here.

Goldblum plays Seth Brundle, an independent scientific visionary who has been slowly designing a device that will "change the world as we know it" – a Teleporter. When he shows his invention to romantic interest Veronica (Geena Davis) it's not quite ready to handle living tissue, as demonstrated on screen in the first instance of quite confronting gore, but as the two enter into a relationship and fall in love the wrinkles in the technology are ironed out.

Brundle eventually takes one small step for man and one huge-leap for spliced kind by testing the machine on himself. In the process of teleportation his DNA is mixed up with that of a common housefly and, although not immediately transformed, the two species soon begin to genetically merge and change Brundle into a creature that has never existed before – the Brundlefly.

Even if viewed with the critical 2020 eye, The Fly's mid-eighties effects are still quite sickening, none more so than Goldblum's slow physical transformation. But what makes this whole affair really outstanding is his psychological transformation. The truly disturbing thing is how front and centre the humanity of these characters and their world is kept. Davis and Goldblum are the heroes in this regard, their chemistry is palpable and her affection for him struggling against her disgust at what he is becoming, coupled with his own struggle to keep the fly in check, create the kind of riveting discomfort usually only commanded by traffic accidents.

All the cast play their parts as if they're in a serious film, especially Goldblum and Davis, which makes The Fly an even more involving experience. Simply, if the actors believe in the story, it's more likely the audience will too. By the time Goldblum resigns to Davis with a regretful and yet matter-of-fact air that he is...
"an insect who dreamt I was a man and loved it. But now the dream is over… and the insect is awake"
...The Fly has become a genuinely moving experience. Of course, Brundle's prophecy becomes quite literal in the final act and our vested involvement with the characters and their lives make it all the more traumatic, horrifying, and deeply disturbing to experience.

Go watch The Fly again today. It's as disturbing, terrifying, sickening, twisted and perversely enjoyable as it was 34 years ago when released on August 15th 1986. From peak Goldblum, Cronenberg's masterful direction, first class make-up and creature effects, and its unnervingly psychological connection to it audience, David Cronenberg's The Fly is the greatest horror movie ever made. Full stop.

Well that's it, thanks for reading.

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