Y’know when you forget just how much you like a movie? I kinda got that from re-watching The Fly. Of David Cronenberg’s back catalogue, The Fly has never really been one that I’ve revisited a great many times. As much as I enjoy it, I just find myself more likely to go back to Videodrome, Scanners and Naked Lunch far more than I do with this movie. This is doubly strange since, with the exception of Videodrome, I actually think this is somewhat superior to those movies.
This film excels at something I really admire, and something I have been really trying to hone in my own work – taking a simple, straightforward concept and giving it a unique voice.
In some ways, the groundwork had already been laid by the original 1958 film. However, while the cautionary tale from the original is still present in the 1986 version – Cronenberg’s take on the story, as is common in much of his other work, follows a protagonist who (somewhat) embraces the transformation of his flesh.
This conflict between maintaining humanity and moving beyond it can be seen in Videodrome, in Scanners, to some degree in Rabid, and even Naked Lunch.
Another distinctly Cronenbergian element to The Fly is the intertwining of the mind with the flesh. As Brundle’s body transforms, his mind begins to collapse. He becomes his own experiment, his own project.
” I’m an insect who dreamt he was a man and loved it. But now the dream is over, and the insect is awake.”
Of course, the biggest flaw with Cronenberg’s films is still very much present here. And, funnily enough, it really comes hand in hand with that inner conflict I mentioned earlier. Often Cronenberg talks through his characters. Brundle is a very distinct character but, on occasion, he speaks with Cronenberg’s voice.
While the “insect who dreamt he was a man” quote is genuinely amazing, that type of poetic dialogue can sometimes feel a little strange coming from a stammering scientist. For instance, I can’t envision any physicist ever talking about the poetry of the flesh, unless they also just happened to be a Cenobite.
But enough about poetic language and philosophical worldviews – let’s talk gore!
The body-horror in this film is perfect! The gradual transformation, from Brundle just looking a little under the weather, through to full-blown Brundlefly, is just so.. disgusting!
There is a very good reason that this movie is mentioned alongside the likes of The Thing and The Exorcist – as a masterpiece of body horror. The film holds nothing back in making a man slowly turning into a giant fly as grotesque and hard to look at as it rightfully should.
Look, just watch this movie because it’s fucking good!