It’s no real surprise that David Cronenberg appears again on the 101 Horror Movies list. And this time around it’s with his updated, and body-horror version of The Fly.
Jeff Goldblum plays Seth Brundle, a scientist on the verge of a brilliant discovery, teleportation via his creation of a telepod. He’s stuck on the reintegration of the flesh aspect, but inanimate objects are a piece of cake.
The socially awkward scientist shows his creation to a journalist, Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis) who is working on scientific articles for a magazine run by her ex-boyfriend Stathis Borans (John Getz) (and I’m sure it’s not a coincidence that both the male leads have the initials SB).
Seth shows her the telepods, and she knows she has the story of the century!
He invites her to shadow his life, and document everything, and he promises it will all culminate with his successful transport from one telepod to the other, which promises to revolution the concept of transportation once and for all.
However, on the eve of success Veronica goes to see Stathis, and Seth realizes they were romantically involved with one another, much as he and Veronica are now. He makes the drunken decision to use the telepod and doesn’t realize that a common house-fly has joined him in the telepod.
Terrifying consequences ensue.
The film is amazing, and has some truly chilling sequences, including Veronica’s pregnancy sequence which sees Cronenberg as her doctor delivering a larva. Ewww!
The fusion of man and fly is shown throughout the film as Seth slowly transforms, attempting to hold onto the shreds of his intelligence and humanity, even as his fingernails and teeth fall out, as his appetite and eating habits change (the regurgitation stuff is so gross, and yet you can’t stop watching).
The most terrifying bit occurs at the climax of the film as what is called the Brunde-fly is dragging Veronica to one of the telepods, the last of his human form is shed off, literally flesh sloughing off his body, dropping to messy chunks on the floor, as the final transformation to human/fly fusion is complete.
Cronenberg has never been one to shy away from showing graphic content on-screen, and this time around, the people who helped him create it, won an Oscar for Best Make-up. Deservedly so.
It’s amazing to watch Goldblum change, his posture, stride, speech, twitches all change, and this is an actor who tends to imbue his characters with a lot of individuality. For me Goldblum has always been a favourite, he acts as much with his hands and body as he does his dialogue.
Another bonus in a Cronenberg film is that more often than not, Howard Shore composes the score, and I always delight in hearing what music this composer creates (Lord of the Rings will always be my favourite score by him, but I do like seeing his name in a movie’s credits).
This film, like the John Carpenter remake of The Thing, shows that updates can be just as good as the original, in this case, this version of The Fly is the better one.
It’s wonderfully disgusting, and reminds us to be afraid, be very afraid…