A scientist has a horrific accident when he tries to use his newly invented teleportation device.
Directed by Kurt Neumann
Starring David Hedison, Patricia Owens, Vincent Price
- You also can’t go wrong with Vincent Price - Cook
- The Fly is in tow with expectations from the era. How could women acting so flighty, be so mainstream? - Bryan
- There's just so many small annoyances that add up to a trying experience - Jon
When I mention “the story” I was familiar with, the first thing that immediately pops in my head is one of the shorts from the Simpsons Treehouse of Horror VIII, titled Fly vs. Fly. Here we get the teleporting disaster in which the scientist has the head of a fly and vice versa unlike the remake which shows Jeff Goldblum slowly body morph into a hybrid creature. The remake also adds the elements of a love story, which granted some are present in the original (there’s a happily-married couple with a son), but not to the extent of straying from the original source material.
We learn about the “accident” through a lengthy flashback, a technique that I thought worked great. We find out about Andre’s obsession with his experiments to transport matter from one pod to another, and once again, like in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, we learn how TV works. During our initial shown experiment, the letters on a plate appear backward showing that the obsession must continue and more tests must be run. He proceeds to experiment on animals—poor Mittens, or whatever its name was. After more trials, Andre successfully transports a champagne bottle and a guinea pig, but makes the promise to his wife to stop “animal” testing. Of course, if you know the story, you know what he’s going to do next. Womp womp.
After a long stint in the lab, and an uneaten dinner discovered by the maid, Helene goes down to check on her husband. He confesses to her about the accident through a typed letter (he swapped heads with a fly and has grown a deformity on his hand during an attempt to transport himself—although he covers his head with a towel), and with a one-tap, two-tap code he is able to communicate and instruct her with the uttermost important mission of finding the “white-headed” fly, which of course the son found earlier and the mom told him to release it. Womp womp.
Sugar is used to lure it, but the fly escapes through a cracked window. Desperation sinks in as Andre starts losing his ability to think straight—the fly is taking him over. He wants to destroy everything in the lab as he realizes the dangers of matter transportation. At Helene’s request, he goes through the machine again, but nothing happens. At this point (which is the point of no return), the towel comes off, we see the fly head, the wife faints (with a cool “fly-eye” view from Andre), and the lab and notes are destroyed. In a written message on the blackboard, he asks her to kill him and says that he loves her. Despite the transformation, we still see hints of the loving couple they once were as he grasps on to those last moments of humanity.
The two go to the warehouse where the events lead us to the film’s opening—she crushes him twice to eliminate evidence each of his deformities. Helene’s confession isn’t believed by the inspector who still plans to charge her with murder, although an insanity plea could possibly be beneficial. With all the evidence of the experiments destroyed, the only way to prove Helene’s story is to find the “white-headed” fly, which the son points out that he saw it in a spider web. Here we see a classic scene which I recall seeing on a TV screen in the film Little Monsters. Help me. Help me. The inspector drops a large rock on the spider and fly as the “murder” takes place. This provides a follow-up to the wife’s reasoning of wondering if what she did was really a crime since she didn’t kill a man, but rather a thing. The inspector would be guilty too. They rule Andre’s death a suicide.
The last scene I thought was unnecessary—other than setting up the sequel, 1959’s Return of the Fly. You go exploring kid, and we’ll make more money.
Overall, I enjoyed The Fly. I found it dominate to the remake in its use of original source material, although there are differences between the film and story (Helene kills herself at the end of the story, Andre picks up some of the atoms of the family cat during his last transport, and the spider web death didn’t exist). The characters were well-played, although I wasn’t too impressed with some of the son’s line deliveries. I liked that the story tackled the debate of murder/assisted suicide. It seemed only appropriate for a situation where the victim in question was morphed into a man with a fly’s head. Good use of a flashback for story flow purposes. And the small hints (for those that didn’t know the story going in) were appropriate—the characters asking about how long flies live, consistent fly buzzing, and of course the line of not harming a fly, also brilliantly used in one of my favorites, Psycho. You also can’t go wrong with Vincent Price.
I normally grade harsh, but I thought this was well-played. I’m going an A- on this.
Original Review by Chris