David Cronenberg’s take on the 1958 Vicent Price classic The Fly is something of an eighties horror classic, and rates up their with The Thing where a remake is actually far superior to the original material on which it’s based. But what it does share with the Price version is the core elements of a doomed love story, which is destroyed through a science experiment gone badly wrong.
Jeff Goldblum gives possibly his best film performance as the unfortunate Seth Brundle, whose experimentation with matter transportation lead to him being genetically fused with a fly that accidentally enters the chamber with him.
His love interest is the journalist Veronica, played sympathetically by Geena Davis who witnesses much of Brundle’s decent from rational human to instinct driven mutant.
When the Blu-ray disc arrived it was some time since I’d seen this film, and I was amazed how little of the film involves his metamorphosis, it happens relatively far into the proceedings after the relationship and characters have been well established. As such the fly effects we get are small in number, but no less effective for their scarcity. The makeup created by Chris Walas is amazing, and believably transmutes Goldblum from mild mannered scientist to giant human hybrid insect, in seven distinct stages over the course of the action.
So how does the Blu-ray disc version present his horror masterpiece of the modern era? Fox haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory recently, but this disc is actually one of their best efforts on a number of levels.
Most noticeable is the transfer which is of exceptional quality, and shows off the technical care that Cronenberg put into The Fly, especially the simulation of natural lighting used in many scenes.
The audio is crisp and concise, and the subtle score by Howard Shore is given the depth and pathos he intended. By direct comparison the DVD looks like video sludge, lacking anything of the contrast or colour representation of this version.
It’s also got some decent extras for once, possibly one of the most comprehensive disc inclusions I’ve ever seen. There’s an audio commentary, visual trivia pop-ups, personal scene selections, a ‘fly zapper’ game, two documentaries, deleted scenes, film tests, ‘written works’ (including the original screenplay and Cronenberg rewrite), promotional materials, trailers, you name it. If you love The Fly then you’ll love what’s on this disc.
For me it was great to revisit such a strong film with many highlights that contradict so effectively the general view held about science-fiction and horror productions of this era. The Fly has an emotional underpinning that many films lack today, and Cronenberg managed to illicit such strong performances from both Goldblum andDavis that their characters carry the story to its tragic conclusion without ever descending into melodrama or histrionics.
This is a superb movie, which if you can handle the graphic nature of the events is well worth another visit, even if you’ve not especially a horror fan.