Halloween Horror Movie Month: The Fly (1986)

Talk about FLYing solo. Actually I have no idea what that term has to do with this film I just felt like being witty.

While testing his teleportation device, scientist Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) accidentally merges his cells with those of a housefly. As his reporter girlfriend (Geena Davis) bears witness, Seth slowly — and quite disgustingly — morphs into an insect.

I’ve never really taken time out of my film-reviewing and looked at any of David Cronenberg‘s films but after seeing this one, I may just check out more because this guy’s crazy!

The one thing that Cronenberg does well is that instead of being just another dumb and silly gore-fest about a dude who turns into a fly is that he actually lets there be time for the story to actually build up to where we actually care for everything that happens. There’s a very smooth pace that Cronenberg brings to this film and one that seems like it’s more of just developing the story and characters rather than just being slooooow.

Another thing that Cronenberg does well is that he takes all of these different sides of the story, and puts them together well. There’s a little bit of romantic comedy stuff here, some sci-fi stuff as well, real human drama too, and then to top it all off a lot of scary stuff to keep people scared as well. It seems like a very goofy combination that wouldn’t work at all but somehow Cronenberg makes it work beyond belief. There’s a lot of people who said they saw a metaphor for AIDS in here too but I mostly just saw how people react to a disease all differently and how it can make some people never want to let go, but in some cases, you just have to no matter how much you love them.

The make-up and costumes are also pretty cool looking even though they may be incredibly gory and will turn many others away. We see how Seth’s body changes and transforms over time and to say the least, it’s not pretty but it actually looks very detailed and disgusting in a good way. In a world filled with CGI everything, it’s a huge relief to see an 80’s film that makes a dude who is turning into a fly, actually look like a fly with the power of some really cool-looking make-up and costumes.

My main problem with this film is that I feel like too much of it was a little too over-the-top just for the sake of being over-the-top. Granted, I liked how gory and disgusting these costumes looked but there were times where I felt like Cronenberg just wanted to shock people with what he was showing in Seth’s transformation and for me, it came off as a bit annoying.

One example is that Seth’s girl, Veronica, gets pregnant and she has no idea what’s in her. Is it a human, a fly, or a flyhuman? Nobody knows and neither does she but she has a dream that she actually gives birth to a little fly baby thing and she’s just yelling and screaming with this blood all over and to me this just seemed random and really forced. It was almost like Cronenberg just wanted us to see something we’ve never seen before by showing us a little fly thingy coming out of a woman and it seemed a tad forced and random.

The cast isn’t a real big one but with the people they have, it really is a treat. Jeff Goldblum is perfect here as Seth because Goldblum is such a goofy actor that to have him as this guy go through this total transformation works because he brings this sort of funny charm to his character as well. I was rooting for this guy even though he did go through this terrible transformation and how Goldblum plays him like a real, likable human being is also very sad especially when he starts to really turn into a fly at the end. It’s also rare to ever see him in a leading role and he does great with it. Geena Davis is also very good as Veronica, as she doesn’t lose sight of her love for Seth even as times get harder and harder. Their chemistry is great and how these build it up more and more as time goes on really adds an extra layer of heart to this film and works for the full product as a whole.

Consensus: The Fly is a little too over-the-top at points, but David Cronenberg perfectly mashes all of these different elements of romance, drama, and horror as well as a great leading role from Jeff Goldblum to give is a disgusting but emotionally well-told film.



  1. Nice review. I revisited it a while a go and it still held up pretty good. As you say Goldblum is perfectly cast and the effects are very gory. It’s a shame that effects like this aren’t used that much anymore as it looks so convincing.

    • It is a shame because so many films go with CGI effects that don’t really do much other than look like they were done from a computer. Thanks Nostra!

  2. Good review Dan of a great science-fiction horror film. I love how these two genres have produced such great films…Alien, The Thing and loads more.

  3. Nice review Dan; metamorphosis, especially the gory kind, seems to central to horror films: humans mutating into werewolves, aliens, insects, etc. So Kafkaesque!

  4. Great flick. I always remember the arm wrestling scene. Creeped me out as a kid.

    “Seth Brundle: [typing] If primary element is Brundle, what is secondary element?
    Computer: Secondary element is not-Brundle.
    Seth Brundle: Run sequence.
    Computer: [identifies secondary element as a fly]
    Seth Brundle: [typing] If secondary element is fly, what happened to fly?
    Computer: Fusion.
    Seth Brundle: [typing] Assimilation? Did Brundle absorb fly?
    Computer: Negative. Fusion of Brundle and fly at molecular-genetic level. ”

    Pretty sure I heard Cronenberg is remaking this himself…

  5. Sorry that I haven’t been commenting much. I don’ watch many horror movies, so the Halloween rush has left me without much to say. But I do vaguely remember seeing The Fly years ago, and it completely freaked me out! Great review!

  6. I remember seeing The Fly in high school and Videodrome too. It’s like Cronenberg compulsory Canadian viewing. Good stuff. I should revisit his earlier, edgier work one of these days.

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