J.D. Lafrance
The Fly: The Ultimate Collector’s Edition DVD Review

The Fly: The Ultimate Collector’s Edition

May 17, 2006

Director: Kurt Neumann, Don Sharp, Edward Bernds, David Cronenberg, Chris Walas, ,
Starring: David Hedison, Patricia Owens, Vincent Price, Brett Halsey, John Sutton, Brian Donlevy, George Baker, Carole Gray, Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, John Getz, Eric Stoltz, Daphne Zuniga, Lee Richardson, ,

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DVD Review

J.D. Lafrance

Should Man play God, should we attempt to better the world with radical inventions, should we push scientific know-how to its limits and should we test it, on ourselves? The Fly movies would suggest that, no – we don’t, because when it goes wrong, and it will, the sacrifices are too great: family, love, sanity, life’s work and ambition and also not being a 180 pound man genetically mutated with a common house fly, is quite nice as well.

The Fly box set starts off well by giving us all five of The Fly franchise. This includes the three original fly films and not just the more known 1986 remake and its sequel. Based on a short story, The Fly (1958) stars Vincent Price as Francois Delambre, the brother of a scientist who has been viciously squished in a industrial press by his loving and devoted wife. The story takes a Hitchcockian-like mystery as Francois tries to uncover the reason of his brother’s demise. Was he having an affair? Is the wife mad? Or, does it have something to do with his new teleportation invention he’s been working on in the basement?

Things go all B-Movie and black and white in the sequels and get increasingly ridiculous with Return of the Fly (1959) and Curse of the Fly (1965). The son of the original Fly foolishly decides to follow in his father footsteps to conquer areas of knowledge where man is not suppose to go and ends up recreating the teleporting pods but also manages to not only switch heads with a fly, but also inherits the murderous brain of a fly. The Curse of the Fly introduces a new problem in which the events from the climax of the second film lead a third generation of the Delambre family to suffer from a fly related virus or illness of mutating proportions. The only hope of a cure is to fix the bugs in the life changing invention that caused it in the first place.

The original set up is brilliant, it asks all the right questions and proves to be a neat little thriller. With its romantic themes of love, happiness and family seamlessly stitched into a sci-fi mystery with a touch of horror, it’s easy to see why The Fly is unforgettably charming, but be prepared for hammy acting and every couple referring to each other as “darling” every ten seconds. The two sequels produce more killings and more mutants but that does not hide its shortcomings. The lack of effort in the productions is disappointing and results in weaker, less engaging scripts and characters, and feels like quick buck money spinning at its best.

Now this is where the good stuff is, the really good stuff – The Fly remake from 1986. This special edition release of a twenty year old film proves that nothing beats a good, well crafted story. Taking the original Fly as a template, director David Cronenberg takes on rewriting duties and boy does he rewrite, turning the fly into something absolutely awesome. The perfectly cast Jeff Goldblum bumbles his way through as eccentric loner genius Seth Brundle, who has created the world’s first teleportation device, able to teleport any inanimate object from one telepod to another. His goal is to teach his invention to teleport living tissue and change the world of transport. This time, after an experiment on himself, Brundle does not swap heads with fly but his entire body assimilates the fly and he begins to change at molecular genetic level. A reporter, excellently portrayed Geena Davis, covering the experiments finds herself falling in love with a man who is slowly becoming a horrific creature that has never existed before.

Made three years later and the “Brundlefly” is back and this time no fly is necessary. Taking its cues from both Son of and Curse of the Fly, Seth Brundle’s son, Martin, is working on perfecting the telepods, unaware he shares the same genes as his farther, and is being secretly monitored by Bartok Industries who are awaiting for his mutation in order to perform biological exploration. After becoming friendly with resident hottie Daphne Zuniga, things start to go very wrong for Martin and he goes on the run from Bartok and his destiny.

The structure of script for The Fly is perfect, subtly bringing a darker, grimmer and more meticulous edge to this nightmare which is essentially a Beauty and the Beast type love story. All the effects area superb from make-up to rubber suits to puppets and Cronenberg’s direction is flawless. He lets the lighting reflect the moods and performances pace the compassion that drives the story, right the way to the totally horrifically gross yet highly sympathetic ending

In the sequel, directing duties falls to Chris Walas, head of creature effects in the 1986 film, and he gives a more by-the-book presentation for his debut piece, The Fly II. Walas relies more on horror movie conventions and shock value to sell the film, so watch out for head squashing and face melting. There is less sympathy and attachment, due to the fact that the actors do not have their craft as finely tuned as Goldblum or Davis, but the creature creation and puppets are frighteningly realistic, especially that poor dog.

From thriller, through mystery, B-movie, sci-fi and horror. From classic to masterpiece. From greatness to degrading, The Fly stands the test of time and versatility – and all in the name of love. So why the hell does 2006 warrant a third remake??????

Special Features:

Amazing Extras. Perhaps the greatest collection of tidbits and docos ever compiled. The Fly extras will take your breath away.

When of the nicest thing about this box set is being able to watch the evolution of the franchise from 1958 through to1989, but to add to this The Fly (1986) extras disc gives you the chance to read the original short story by George Langelaan of which the 1958 film was based on, giving audiences an even greater insight.

When the main documentary is even longer than the film itself you know you’re in for a treat. Fear of the Flesh: The Making of The Fly brings a in-depth look at development process, creation of the fly monster, sketches, miniatures, puppets, models, rejected ideas, behind the camera footage, deleted scenes, editing process, writing the score, and marketing. There is no avenue left unexplored.

The deleted scenes come in many forms including, a scene in which Brundle beats a cat/monkey mutation to death with a lead pipe and eats off his own fly arm, to pages from the script of scenes that were never even filmed, like when Brundlefly attacks a bag lady.

Speaking of scripts two version are available for reading here, the original attempt at remaking The Fly and the version by Cronenberg. Worth a read as the first try does not resemble the final draft in the slightest.

The Fly II documentary is just as in-depth as the first and is as equally enjoyable, even looking back to the ‘50s films. The scene deleted was scrapped for a good reason. As was the alternate ending. But still worth a look.

Trailers for all 5 movies and in some cases T.V. teaser trailers as well.

The Cronenberg commentary is a must. Watch It.

J.D. is a freelance writer who is currently doing research for a book on the films of Michael Mann. He likes reading anything written by Jack Kerouac, James Ellroy, J.D. Salinger, Harlan Ellison or Thomas Pynchon. J.D. is currently addicted to the T.V. series 24 and enjoys drinking a lot of Sprite. This is not a blatant plug for the beverage but if they ever decided to give him a lifetime supply he certainly wouldn’t turn them down.
view all DVD reviews by JD Lafrance


Rating: 94%



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