The Fly

The Fly ★★★★★

It's been a Cronenberg family kind of day, what can I say?

How can a movie simultaneously be one of the most viscerally disturbing monster movies ever AND one of the most heartbreaking, tragic love stories of the 1980s? It's a rarity to find a movie that hits so squarely on all intended marks (scares, suspense, gross-out moments, special effects, emotional intensity...), but David Cronenberg's still-stunning remake of THE FLY (oh yeah, it's also one of the greatest remakes of all time) does exactly that.

Jeff Goldblum has never been better than he is here, as a brilliant but socially awkward scientist who has invented a primitive form of teleportation, but makes a fatal misjudgment when he tries to teleport himself, unaware that a common housefly is in the pod with him. Arriving on the other end having had his DNA spliced with the housefly's, he begins transforming, gradually, over the course of several weeks into a truly hideous monster.

THE FLY is so painful to watch (in a good way), because it grounds us in the characters long before the freaky stuff starts to happen. Goldblum technically qualifies as a "mad scientist," but he is also a sweetly sincere, loveable eccentric, and his romance with a journalist (Geena Davis, also excellent) is genuinely touching.

Later in the film, with his body literally falling apart and Davis worrying about whether the unborn baby inside of her is infected with fly DNA, it's easy to see how THE FLY has often been read as an AIDS parable. That certainly works and deepens the film's impact, but first and foremost THE FLY is a great science-fiction/horror film, one of the best and most important and influential of the 1980s, or any decade.

When it reaches its chaotic, tragic, and very bloody finale, and ends very abruptly (no "look on the bright side" coda here), it's devastating and exhilarating all at once.

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