The Fly

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(1986) ★★★★

Sky Movies Sci-fi/Horror: Tuesday 17 November, 11.15pm

Research scientist Jeff Goldblum fails to spot the presence of a fly in his teleportation pod. The effect on his secret experiment is devastating. Director David Cronenberg’s triumph was to take a tacky 1950s B-picture concept and remould into a terrifying love story of tragic dimensions. Reporter Geena Davis thinks the telepods are designer phone booths. In fact, Goldblum’s invention can handle inanimate objects but anything organic is a different matter – it turns flesh inside out.

“It’s an old nightclub routine,” scoffs Particle magazine publisher John Getz, “two cabinets.” Cronenberg only turned to The Fly, with some misgivings, after spending a year on Total Recall script rewrites (the film was eventually directed four years later by Paul Verhoeven). The Fly became his biggest hit. The effects are graphic and disturbing (Cronenberg’s the doctor delivering Geena’s baby), serving to illustrate the director’s obsession with death, decay and disease, and our own uneasy responses to these usually undiscussed subjects.

“Society’s sick grey fear of the flesh!” the crazed Goldblum calls it. “I was absolutely floored by The Fly,” said Stephen King, in 2011. “I had no idea it would be as grim as it was.” A serious film that’s hard to shrug off, superbly performed by the endearingly awkward Goldblum and hauntingly scored by Dead Ringers composer Howard Shore, latterly The Lord of the Rings maestro. Shore’s great score is utilised to especially powerful effect during Goldblum’s distressing confrontation with Geena Davis: “I’m saying if you don’t leave, I’ll hurt you.”

It’s an incredibly powerful emotional moment, Goldberg as tragic as Charles Laughton’s Hunchback of Notre Dame. None of the principals were involved in the Fly-by-night 1989 sequel (The Fly II follows at 1am). “Like father, like son…” claimed the posters. Don’t you believe it. Special effects whizz Chris Walas forsakes the tragic dimensions of the original for the splat-tastic dynamics of schlock horror.

Certificate: 18

Duration: 96min

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Other Showings Date & Time
Sky Movies Select Friday, 4 December at 6:00AM