The Fly (1986)

The Fly is a 1986 American science-fiction body horror film directed and co-written by David Cronenberg. Produced by Brooks films and distributed by 20th Century Fox, the film stars Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis and John Getz. Loosely based on George Langelaan’s 1957 short story of the same name, the film tells of an eccentric scientist who, after one of his experiments goes wrong, slowly turns into a fly-hybrid creature. The score was composed by Howard Shore and the make-up effects were created by Chris Walas, along with makeup artist Stephan Dupuis.

A young Jeff Goldblum, before he became famous for being Jeff Goldblum, plays brilliant but eccentric scientist Seth Brundle. He mets journalist Veronica, a young and lovely (I had a mighty crush on Geena as a youngster) Geena Davis, at a party and convinces her that his latest experiment/invention is groundbreaking. She goes to his lab / home where he gives her a demonstration of his teleportation devices – teleporting one of her stockings from one telepod 15 feet away to the second one. After her initial attempt to sell the story to editor Stathis Borans fails, Seth convinces her  to keep the invention secret in exchange for exclusive rights to the story, and she begins to document his work. Although the telepods can transport inanimate objects, they mutilate live tissue, as is demonstrated when a baboon is turned inside-out during an experiment.

They begin a relationship and their first sexual encounter inspires Seth to o reprogram the telepod to cope with living tissue, and he successfully teleports a second baboon. Veronica departs before they can celebrate, and Seth worries that she is rekindling her relationship with her editor Stathis Borans; in reality, Veronica has left to confront Stathis about a veiled threat, spurred by his jealousy of Seth, to publish the telepod story without her consent. Seth decides to teleport himself alone, unaware that a housefly has slipped inside the transmitter pod with him. He emerges from the receiving pod seemingly normal. He starts showing increased strength and sexual stamina, which he believes is a result of the teleportation “purifying” his body. He has sugar cravings and Veronica is concerned about Seth’s insanity and strange, bristly hairs growing from his back.

He becomes more arrogant and violent and tries to force Veronica to do the procedure; when she refuses he abandons her, goes to a bar and partakes in an arm-wrestling match, leaving his opponent with a compound fracture. He meets a woman named Tawny and brings her back to his warehouse, where Veronica rescues her from teleportation. Seth throws Veronica out, but when his fingernails begin falling off, he realizes something went wrong during his teleportation. He checks his computer’s records and discovers that the telepod computer, confused by the presence of two lifeforms in the sending pod, merged him with the fly at the molecular-genetic level. He deteriorates, loses body parts and can even walk on walls. He reconnects with Veronica and theorizes that he is becoming “Brundlefly,” a hybrid of human and insect. He has begun vomiting digestive enzymes onto his food to dissolve it and has gained the ability to cling to walls and ceilings.

Seth installs a fusion program into the Telepod computer, planning to dilute the fly genes in his body with human DNA. Veronica learns that she is pregnant by Seth and has Stathis persuade a doctor to perform an abortion in the middle of the night. Having overheard their conversation, Seth abducts Veronica before the abortion can take place and begs her to carry the child to term, since it may be the last remnant of his humanity. Stathis breaks into Seth’s lab with a shotgun, but Seth disfigures him with his corrosive vomit. Seth reveals his desperate plan to Veronica: He will use the telepods to fuse himself and Veronica, together with their unborn child, into one entity.

As Seth drags her into one of the telepods, she accidentally rips off his jaw and an enormous insectoid-human creature bursts from Seth’s skin. It traps Veronica inside the first telepod and enters the other. The wounded Stathis uses his shotgun to sever the cables connecting Veronica’s telepod to the computer, allowing Veronica to escape. Breaking out of its own pod just as the fusion process is activated, Brundlefly is gruesomely fused with the metal door and cabling of Telepod 2. As the deformed Brundlefly/Telepod creature crawls out of the receiving pod, it begs Veronica to end its suffering with the shotgun, and Veronica tearfully shoots it.

The film was released on August 15, 1986 to massive acclaim by critics and audiences, with praise mainly regarding the special effects and Goldblum’s performance. It grossed $60.6 million at the box office against its nine-million-dollar budget, becoming the largest commercial success of Cronenberg’s career. Walas and Dupuis’ work on the film resulted in their winning an Academy Award for Best Makeup, the only film directed by Cronenberg to win an Oscar. Classic scifi horror from the 80s that still stands today as awesome. 9 outta 10!

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