Horrendously icky in the right way, this sci-fi horror flick hits so well thanks to a convincing tragic undercurrent and the gooey downfall of Jeff Goldblum’s character. It’s thick with hair raising transformations added with an extra spice of fear with the music over all the action. An outstanding feat of human horror giving space to feel anxious of technology and flies at the same time.
In the throngs of a press event, scientist Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) meets and gets to know journalist of ‘Particle’ magazine Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis) rather well, so much so that he takes her back to his and shows her the latest invention he’s been tinkering away on. This scientific endeavour is a breakthrough, it being a transporting device to move items from one pod to another, soon normal items aren’t enough and Brundle steps into the ‘telepod’ himself little realising the company of a fly he’s got in there with him.
I’m going to go straight in with the whole make-up of this film and boy is it something special. Chris Walas hits it out of the metaphorical ball park with this ageing like process of Brundle’s condition. From nails peeling off to bulbous hunched shoulders, the decay and progression of his insect themed infliction is horrifying. It is so much better than any CGI stuff because it feels more together, the look of this hybrid creature needs more fleshy realism and special effects can’t do that. The gloop and gory nature of Brundle turning into a fly is shocking and adds whack to feeling for him, as he was never a bad guy. This emotional connection we feel for him makes the deterioration that much worse to witness. The final product of it all is seeing the ‘Brundlefly’ mutate into a tall and deformed fly wanting to drag Quaife into an even worse hybrid and let me tell you, the lighting, music and visuals of this final tense set-up are brilliantly mastered.
David Cronenberg directs with his flair of body horror style and poor Jeff Goldblum takes the majority of the flack in this sci-fi nightmare of fly/human bonding. It all starts with a nicer air as Brundle flips, makes love and works out like some Greek god, this all works in setting up a maddening decline as his sweaty hero appearance moulds into something much worse. The dull industrial feel of his lab makes everything seem that much worse too, really slicking on that layer of grimy horror needed for the story being told.
There’s some great, maybe not perfect character writing here but great nonetheless. Seth Brundle is an eccentric smart guy who wants the best for the future and himself but he never comes across as arrogant, a fine trait for empathising with him as he changes. It’s such a cool invention that you can’t help but share the passion he has for it as something like that would be awesome, though it being a horror you already know not to trust the pods. Veronica Quaife, splendid name by the way, is a caring soul and not the typically dirt digging two-dimensional journalist hack she could have been portrayed as. The relationship she has with Brundle may happen mightily quick but you end up believing it and caring for her as she gets herself stuck in a sticky situation.
This film is clearly iconic for the gory imagery it has, being referenced lightly or heavily in many later pop cultural items, from ‘The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror episode to the Mohinder curse in ‘Heroes’. It’s obvious to see why this has such an effect on media as it has such an effect upon watching it. The way he develops as this fly thing is so grotesque he still possesses his eyes, the last real ounce of humanity making you connect to him and identify with the monster. That’s a fantastic character move and plays on fears of obsession.
Jeff Goldblum is so good in this movie, going from sort of awkward science guy through his own stages of buff hunk to sexual master before the more demonic stages of his fly life itself. The ticks and little tongue movements as he begins becoming the fly are subtle but brilliant choices to make him feel that less with it and make him more deranged as he goes on. Even as he’s smothered in excellent make up, he sells the worried Seth magnificently making you still see that trace of compassion he’s so frightened to lose. Geena Davis is strong and shifts herself, from flirty to angry dealing with her ex, she demonstrates the right dose of horror in seeing Seth deformed, not too much which makes you like her as something in her performance makes you see she’s still trying to cling onto what she remembers of the man she met at the press do.
Squirmy, bloody and mind-scaringly searing in forcing such a worrying change of science fiction horror into our eyes. It’s quirky and interesting too with well rounded characters making everything that much more horrifying as you put yourself into this tragic situation.