30 Day Horror Review – BODY HORROR – The Fly (1986)

A brilliant but eccentric scientist begins to transform into a giant man/fly hybrid after one of his experiments goes horribly wrong. (IMDB synopsis)

All right, maybe I was too hard on Cabin Fever. It was just one of those days, you know? My head was pounding, my hayfever was acting up, I was sick from the nine jam sandwiches from the night before, and those teens were just so irredeemably irritating! But I digress. Maybe by the end of the month, it won’t seem so bad and I can give a more objective, retrospective opinion when I have more time.
But anyway! The Fly! (Yay, Jeff Goldblum is in this, woo hoo, I love Jeff Goldblum.) Just like John Carpenter’s The Thing, this one has its own cinematic predecessor, and is also based on a short story. And since David Cronenberg was the director and co-writer, it’s sure to be a load of fun!


The first thing we see is Jeff Goldblum’s character Seth telling Geena Davis’s Veronica about his world-changing top-secret scientific work. He takes her to his lab and shows her the telepods, which are capable so far of teleporting inanimate objects. I love how he logs into the control hub with voice recognition and gives his name as ‘Uh, Brundle, Seth?’. Voice pattern recognised! Only Jeff Goldblum talks like that!
Anyway, Seth convinces Veronica, aka Ronnie, to document his continuing research, which will culminate when he can teleport himself from one end of the room to the other. Ronnie agrees and they begin a relationship, despite the interference of Ronnie’s ex-boyfriend and editor, Stathis. One night, jealous, drunk, alone, and very naked indeed, Jeff – I mean, uh, Seth – tests the telepods on himself, unknowingly fusing himself with a fly at a molecular-genetic level and beginning his slow, gruesome transformation.
There is a continuing theme throughout this film, of FLESH. Of course, this could be expected with any bit of body horror, but it begins with Seth trying to teach his invention the ‘poetry’ of flesh; to make it crazy for flesh, to make it understand, say, a baboon or a piece of steak, as more than its composite parts. Then, after his first teleportation, his flesh begins to change, and his understanding of flesh changes also. He gives Ronnie a big speech about it which sounds rather… how can I put this… cenobitey.
Later on, Seth watches his body fall apart and become more soft and squashable, just like that of a fly’s. He tries to have a sense of humour about it, of course, but that can only get you so far in this business.
It’s interesting to watch the likeable main character slowly alter and become something else, mind and body, as it makes the audience both afraid of AND sorry for him. This is probably where Cabin Fever fell down, as I didn’t care for its characters, and therefore couldn’t muster any sympathy. Actually, as well as Seth having to live with the corruption of his flesh, Ronnie also has the horrifying possibility of giving birth to an infant human/fly hybrid. DOUBLE BODY HORROR!
There are a few plain old bloody moments, too – a broken arm, a broken-down-by-acid-fly-saliva arm – but apart from the spectacle of gore, there was a message about Brundlefly losing his humanity. My favourite scene was near the ending, when Brundlefly was so desperate to remain human that he planned to splice himself together with Ronnie and their unborn child. The scary part is that Seth wants this, not the other, insectoid part of him. He becomes a monster in more than one sense of the word.

Final Verdict:

Yeah, this was a good effort. It’s a great example of body horror as it incites in the audience a kind of morbid curiosity – “Oh my God, what’s he going to look like now? What’s he going to look like NOW?” But it also shows the true terror of losing a battle against your own body, which is the one thing you can’t escape, and it does so from more than one character’s point of view. I like it a lot.


8 1/2 jam sandwiches.


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