The Fly

The Fly ★★★★½

I have always been terrified by the Fly. I got it from Santa one Christmas in a VHS boxed set along with Alien and Aliens - for the sake of completion this was also the year that Santa brought me Robocop and Predator - (what a wonderful Christmas that was) and after reading the tag line I decided that I was afraid, very afraid. The one time I did try to watch it I found myself repelled by the gloopy make up and horrified by the bodily mutation of the story. And so The Fly sat on my shelf un-watched for years. Many years. Now around 20 years later I have finally manned up and watched The Fly. Was I still afraid? Yes. Very.

Have you ever had one of those dreams where you think your teeth are falling out? They elicit a primal fear in the dreamer. a fear that cant be controlled as your precious body falls apart and everything you do seems to make the situation worse. Your teeth begin to rattle around in your mouth and as you move your tongue around to check how many you have left, more seem to fall away until you know that if you open your mouth all your pearly whites will clatter to the floor and you will be powerless to stop it. Maybe it's just me. It is this powerful fear that The Fly taps into. A fear of uncontrollable bodily transformation, and the kind of transformation that leaves it's victim deformed and decayed.

This film is relentlessly terrifying and like the teeth dream begins innocuously. It uses it's quiet moments to build up our bond with it's characters and to introduce it's mad scientist plot, then as you are getting comfortable with it's really likable characters it begins to slowly drip feed the horror. First we get small transformations - Hairs on Goldblum's back, his unsettling acne - but before long we are introduced to a man who's condition is disfiguring him in the most grotesque ways. We get vomit, we get fingernails and ears falling off, we get repulsive facial lesions and of course we get his penis in a jar. It's gross stuff, it really is.

At the center of all this repulsive disgustingness we have Jeff Goldblum, giving one of the finest physical performances you will ever see. As he slowly devolves into Brundlefly he develops ticks and idiosyncrasies so subtle that you don't really notice him doing them. He becomes more agitated, his gait more and more stooped and his mouth more and more pronounced, like a proboscis. He manages to maintain his humanity even when buried beneath layers and layers of latex and so when the films final, mental conclusion arrives we don't hate Brundlefly, rather we feel for him. We feel his tragedy and we feel his pain. If we weren't glued to our seats in terror we would probably be weeping at the injustice of it all.

The Fly echoes other classic monster tales as it unfolds. The Hunchback of Notredame, Beauty and the Beast, The Elephant Man even Phantom of the Opera are all clearly visible, even the score elicits the same kind of fear and tragedy that these stories have become synonymous with. The love story that is the films emotional core plays out like a classic. Geena Davis falls in love with a man, but that man begins to change. No matter how far he may sink though, she can can never not love him, she is even ready to embrace him as his body falls apart right before her eyes.

Even now 2 years before it's thirtieth birthday, the Fly has lost none of it's impact. It's fusion of Sci Fi and Horror still remain relevant and it's tragic love story is as powerful as ever. The effects works still has the power to disgust and yes it still scares me. Perhaps when my teeth begin to fall out I will no longer be afraid of The Fly but until that day I still am. Very.

Daniel liked these reviews