Since it is the month of all things spooky-ookie and ya boy just got a projector, I thought it would be fun to put out some different content. Every week this month, I will be watching different horror movies, new and old, and doing more of an overview rather than one of my normal reviews. To start the fun, I picked David Cronenburg's 1986 film The Fly, starring Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis. Not only will I discuss the film and my thoughts about it, I would like to also dip into the production and some of the inside details that went into the making of the movie. Since this is less of a review and more of a discussion, there will be massive spoilers. If you have not had a chance to watch The Fly, and don't want the experience to be sullied, go give it a watch and come back when you are ready.
It may come as a surprise to some of you but I have never actually seen The Fly. I know this seems odd as someone who is a big Cronenburg fan and an even bigger Goldblum fan, but for some reason the 1986 remake has escaped my viewings. So I bought that shit on Blu-Ray, forgot about it for a few months, and popped it in this past Friday. Let me tell you, I am embarrassed to have waited so long.
There were so many things about The Fly that I not only liked, but loved. The pacing, the characters, the performances, the ambiance, and the tone are all top of the class. From the opening scene, the film moves like a drag racer and blasts to the finish line. There are no wasted scenes and no unnecessary character plodding. Cronenberg gets this movie going and pushes both the plot and the evolution of the Brundlefly at a masterful pace. While the dialogue is a bit sloppy, we are dealing with a pulp horror movie here. Tight dialogue is pretty low on the scale of what makes a movie like this great.
When I say Cronenburg gets the movie going from the first scene, I mean the movie opens with a conversation between the two main characters. Then in scene two, we are introduced to the telepods. Before you know it, Seth Brundle is climbing up the walls and mainlining sugar. There really was never a dull moment and this all has to do with the fantastic pacing. Every time you see Brundle, he has fallen deeper and deeper into the madness that is the Bundlefly, both mentally and physically.
Now for a few words about the man, the myth, the Brundlefly himself, Mr. Jeff Goldblum. If you are a fan of the guy and all of his little quirks and studders, this may be the most Goldbummy of all of his movies that I have seen. The dude is so on it in this movie, he is just a joy to watch throughout. Not only does he command the role but he also is able to bring humanity to what ultimately becomes one of the best movie monsters of all time. Not to mention his chemistry with co-star Geena Davis (Who to be fair he was dating at the time) which is such an integral part of the movie.
It is interesting to note that the studio was opposed to casting Goldblum in the beginning. They believed he was not a bankable enough star and his face was not ideal for the heavy amount of makeup he would have to wear for the later half of the movie. To the credit of Larry Gordon, head of the Fox at the time who believed casting Goldblum was a "huge mistake" let the producers make that "mistake" themselves and allowed himself to be proven wrong.
There was even more opposition when Goldblum suggested that his then girlfriend Geena Davis be cast opposite him. It is well known that casting a real life couple to star in a movie is a bad idea and David Croneburg knew this all too well. After auditioning first, the producers said no audition even came close, and thus one of the strongest on screen chemistries was born.
Moving from the human stars of the movie to the real star of the flick, the Brundlefly! I am not the type that necessarily enjoys gross out movies, but I can respect when they are done right and this one is absolutely done right. My favorite horror movie of all time, John Carpenter's The Thing also had a fantastic monster with all types of ooze and muck but the Brundlefly may have it beat. From the start of Brundle's decent into monster with the removing of his fingernails in the second act to the full on metamorphosis in the third act watching the Brundlefly get more and more disgusting was a pleasure. I found myself screaming "EAT IT" when our villain turned hero had his hand reduced to a stub by some Brundlefly vomit, when his jaw gets ripped off I could not help but utter to myself "This shit is crazy!"
While I am sure there are scores of people involved with The Fly who made it as good as it is, makeup artists, special and visual effect artists, costume designers and stunt men, you get the point, but you can feel Cronenberg's fingerprints all over the movie. From the lighting to the overall tone of the movie the master of body horror does so many things to make this movie as good as it is, not to mention his obvious hand in the design of the monster. He is also able to accomplish something that is hard for any movie, but especially horror movies, nail the third act.
The final act of The Fly is one of the finest I can remember in the genre. The villain from the beginning of the movie becomes a sort of hero, Geena Davis is broken down by her love for Brundle, her fear of the Brundlefly and her utter need to get the possible mutant baby removed from her body. The key to the whole thing is how we view the Brundlefly. While a utterly disgusting portrait of mankind's need to push scientific knowledge to the brink, we remember that he was once a man that we could not help but like. There is no better display of this than in the Brundlefly's final moments, when he is part Brundle, part Fly and part telepod and furthest from his human form that he encourages Geena Davis to destroy him and with that all of his sacrifice in the name of science. No words are needed, just a Brundlefly claw gripping the barrel of a shotgun to it's head as the heroine cries out "I can't do this".
Well that's it for this edition, remember every week I will be looking at a new horror movie and getting deep into it. I'm not sure which will be featured next week but it will certainly have trouble besting the masterpiece that is The Fly. We hope to see you around here again and always remember, "Be afraid, be very afraid"
SmallRedMachine on October 30, 2017:
Just watched it, the pacing was amazing,. Shame that somewhere along the line the film industry forgot how to create horror movies like the old ones.