The Fly (1986)



Videodrome may be the most Cronenberg of Cronenberg’s films, but The Fly is probably his most famous film. Prior to revisiting this movie, I objected to Netflix’s label of Cronenberg as “Goremeister,” but after that baboon is turned inside out in one of Seth Brundle’s telepods, I remembered how gloriously gooey and gory he can be.

Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) is a brilliant and terribly socially awkward scientist who’s spent the last few years working on what he believes will be an incredible scientific breakthrough. He drunkenly convinces Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis), who is (unbeknownst to him at the time) a journalist for Particle magazine, that what he has to show her will blow her mind. Veronica, of course, is more than skeptical, but I guess Seth’s awkward charm wins her over, and she dares to go to his place and see for herself.

Diggin' it.

Diggin’ it.

What look like “designer telephone booths” are actually telepods: put an object in Telepod 1, press a few buttons, and a few beep-boop-bops later your object will end up in Telepod 2! Veronica is quite impressed when her stocking successfully goes through this process before her eyes. The catch? The transport process only works on inanimate objects. As already mentioned, an inside-out baboon along with a synthetic-tasting piece of steak prove that the teleportation process just doesn’t know how to deal with flesh.

Perhaps that’s because their programmer Seth himself hasn’t had much luck in the world of flesh. That changes of course after a night of passion with Veronica; Seth has an epiphany about the

Teleportation successful.

Teleportation successful.

machines’ misunderstanding of flesh and does a little reprogramming. Baboon number 2 comes out just fine, sprightly even, and Seth believes he’s finally got the last piece of the puzzle in place. All he wants to do now is celebrate with Veronica, but she’s got some ex-boyfriend/current boss baggage that she’s got to take care of. Convinced she’s screwing around on him, Seth gets wasted and decides to “go through” and be the first human experiment of the teleportation process. One thing Seth didn’t count on was a stowaway: a housefly joins him in telepod 1, and in Seth’s drunken, emotional state he didn’t notice. The computer, not knowing how to handle the two different sets of DNA, fuses them. What follows is a terrifying metamorphosis as Seth becomes more fly and less human with each passing day.

I don't suppose flies have much need for fingernails.

I don’t suppose flies have much need for fingernails.

Gore or no gore, this movie is one of the best sci-fi/horror films out there. The acting is great: Jeff Goldblum makes me feel genuinely sorry for Seth Brundle. If the poor old guy would have just trusted in Veronica’s love, if he hadn’t been so damn loaded with self-doubt and fear this whole disaster wouldn’t have happened! But, of course, the fear is the whole point, because this is a Cronenberg movie. It’s a theme we’ll see in the next one, too – another of my favorites, Dead RingersThe Fly isn’t just about how science can transform you, but how love and self-doubt can, too – and what it does is really, really ugly.


2 Responses to “The Fly (1986)”

  1. 1 ladyfaceladyface
    January 14, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    I saw this as a kid and am still flipping out.

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