Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Fly (1958)

The Takeaway: If you're in a movie and Vincent Price happens to walk onscreen with you, chances are you're gonna have a really bad day.

Format: Netflix Instant Streaming

First Time Screening. Vincent Price. Have any other 2 words in cinema language ever been more perfect? Well I guess - FADE OUT on a Michael Bay movie, but why be negative, right? Vincent Price is one of my all time favorite actors. The man can simply do no wrong. That voice, oh, that voice: chilling, lyrical, exciting. I wish Vincent Price were in every movie ever made. Even a bit part - it could be like a Where's Waldo - "Didya spot Price in that one?"

Here, sadly, he's underused - but at least he fills up lots of the first act.

I've only ever seen Cronenberg's remake of The Fly, which as it turns out, happens to be a radical departure from the source material. What struck me most about the original is its non-linear structure. A very bold and exciting choice for its time, really. Having the after effects of the disaster/experiment play in the opening act adds so much mystery to what is actually going on, and to be honest - is better structurally than Cronenberg's film. However, Cronenberg's remake does have the whole visceral, organic body mutilation thing going on. Cronenberg treats the effects of the experiment as a disease really with Goldblum's scientist, Seth Brundle, literally falling apart as his body handles (rather poorly, I might add) the assimilation of the fly's DNA.

You can't compare two films made nearly 30 years apart. Everything from the state of motion picture production to societal parameters have changed so radically in that duration of time, it would be foolhardy. So - here we go:

Original: Totally badass "human head on fly" getting nearly eaten by a spider before getting whacked by a police doctor (whatever the hell that is - it's his character name though).

Remake: Brundle's fingernails plucked out - by him.

Original: Vincent Price.

Remake: David Cronenberg playing a gynecologist - which is creepier than any special effect he put in his film.

Original: Labcoat sportin' scientist whose head is now a FLY's head! ARRGGGHHHHHHHH!

Remake: Nasty ole' hairs on Goldblum's back. His ex-wife/co-star Geena Davis complained about the same thing for years - my guess is it led to the divorce. Apparently he didn't need to sit in the makeup chair for that application. Yes, I'm kidding. It probably wasn't the only reason they got a divorce.

Original: Patricia Owens. In bed. A lot.

Remake: Geena Davis Side Boob.

Winner? It's a draw for me. I love the fast paced, gooey onscreen nastiness that Cronenberg drenches me with. But the original has Vincent Price, A human man with a fly head walking around, inventive structure, it's in B+W!, and the cheesy, but still freakin' sweet fly with human head superimposed on crying, "HELPPPPPP MEEEE.... PLEEEEASE HELLPPPP MEEEE!" in a wee little voice.

Enjoy, Kiddies. Twilight Zone Marathon.


  1. As crazy as the remake was, I think I prefer the original. Perhaps it's because I saw that one first (it was always on during Vincent Price week on the 4:30 movie, Channel 7).

  2. Look - there's no doubt the original's a classic and when caught on tv like you did - it just adds to the cool factor. For me though (a very proud child of the 80s) you can't dismiss the gooey awesomeness of Cronenberg's vision). That's why it's a draw for me. What I love so much - is it is a draw! These are two completely different films and exactly what a remake should be.