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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 18.37%
Average: 5.1%
Pretty Bad: 5.1%
Total Crap: 6.12%

3 reviews, 80 user ratings

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Fly, The (1986)
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by Jay Seaver

"Friends don't let friends drink and conduct teleportation experiments."
5 stars

One of my first thoughts after watching David Cronenberg's version of "The Fly" was that it is a horror movie for adults. Not just because the stars can't exactly pass for teenagers or college kids or because the science in its science-fiction is particularly good - it isn't. The thing that elevates it above many other horror films is how introspective it is.

If The Fly were being remade today (and, for all I know, there probably is something being worked on), there would be more characters, and the human fly of the title would be killing them off, sucking their blood after he did so. That's not where Cronenberg is interested in going, though - he's more interested in examining the effect Seth Brundle's metamorphosis has on the man himself rather than painting targets on people's backs.

Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) is a physicist who has been working in relative solitude on teleportation for years, and has managed to transport inanimate objects, but living things get turned inside out by the process. He brags about it to Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis), a pretty science journalist as a means to get her back to his warehouse which serves as both lab and living space. She's fascinated, both by the science and the scientist, but when her editor and former lover (John Getz) tries to publish before she is ready and insert himself back into her life, a drunken Brundle uses himself as a test subject, and though it appears he's fixed the inversion problem, a fly that accidentally entered his teleportation pod has been fused with him at a genetic level, and as time goes on, Brundle begins to exhibit more and more insect-like traits.

Since the movie is only focusing on two or three characters, it's important that we don't get sick of them. None of the characters in The Fly are terribly complex, but they play to the performers' strengths and keep us interested. Seth Brundle is the quintessential Jeff Goldblum character - smart, but more than a bit peculiar; he's the kind of guy who'll get engrossed by a problem and not recognize that it's well past time to be concerned for his own well-being or the world around him. His jealousy of Veronica plays as coming from the same personality traits that make him a successful scientist: He sees all questions as problems to investigate and solve, which is a sure route to madness in a relationship. His positing that he is no longer Seth Brundle, but some hybrid offspring he calls "Brundlefly" means that his curiosity rather than problem-solving instincts are engaged even as the other characters react in horror at what is happening to him.

Geena Davis and John Getz aren't quite that complicated, but they do their jobs very well: Davis's Veronica is sane and beautiful enough to serve as sharp contrast to Brundle's eccentricities, but she's also got the sort of interest in the unusual to be drawn to Brundle and hold off taking action until things get really strange. Getz plays Brundle's opposite, a guy who is basically a jerk and more interested in the practical than the amazing.

The story is good and the performances are pretty decent, and that gives the film an unsettling atmosphere. That might be good enough, but Cronenberg and his special effects team (notably Brundlefly designer Chris Walas) take that air of uncertainty and make it pay off with some top-quality gore. Bones get exposed when Brundle doesn't know his own strength, and its a tough call as to whether his shedding of human characteristics or the addition of insectoid ones are more gleefully disgusting. Even some of the effects which don't stand up as well at least succeed in being unsettling for a moment or two before the urge to laugh kicks in.

The script by Cronenberg and Charles Edward Pogue is smart enough to not be about any one specific thing, as science fiction stories are often wont to be. There's bits about scientific hubris, abortion, stunted emotional development; Brundle's transformation can be seen as disease, aging, or the delusion that he can handle things life throws at us. Cronenberg, Goldblum, and Davis do a pretty fantastic job in making sure that we can see bits of ourselves in Seth and Veronica, but the shift to a nail-biting finale doesn't seem artificial.

Cronenberg's "The Fly" is one of the great horror movies, not just because it can be accurately described as "more" and smarter than most horror flicks, but because it can do all that and still be eminently watchable when the goal is quality mutilation and gore.

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originally posted: 02/15/08 13:32:18
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User Comments

2/13/17 morris campbell gross the original is better 2 stars
1/17/14 Spencer T. Chang A true masterpiece. Goldblum is superb, but Geena Davis gives the film its heart and soul. 5 stars
6/07/13 David Hollingsworth A very superior remake that makes you cringe in a great way 5 stars
6/27/09 brian Help him. Please help him. 4 stars
4/13/09 Dane Youssef One of the greatest sci-fi ever made. Goldblum and Cronenberg, Davis and make immortality. 5 stars
3/29/09 Phineasandhiskillerspear Worst vomit-inducing moment? Jeff Goldblum in his BVD's.BUUUUULEEEEEGGGHHHH 1 stars
1/20/09 Camilo Espinoza A Cronemberg's masterpiece 5 stars
4/19/08 mark madsen one of a kind movie 4 stars
4/05/08 smrtpants has hollywood appeal while yet maintaining that cdn/indie film quality - bravo! 5 stars
4/04/08 Colleen Cousineau Excellent remake, and the special effects were tops for the time. 5 stars
4/02/08 Kaijumorpher Great movie, and those who give this movie 1 star don't have an eye for what's good. 5 stars
3/17/08 Zachary Don't bother, it's a terrible movie with a very lame story. 1 stars
3/14/08 Wes Dave did a great job bringing this up to date! 4 stars
2/18/08 blyskalp Good Movie ok 3 stars
2/18/08 debdahlin Loved the original movie - thought this was well done 4 stars
2/17/08 Donald D A horror masterpiece, simply put. 5 stars
1/15/08 mb Nothing there to watch ... empty substance ... degrading to viewer 1 stars
8/22/07 Jubei A sci-fi nightmare/ tragedy.The final 20 minutes leave you speechless. 4 stars
1/29/07 action movie fan a rarae remake that.s good! engrossing as well as slimy-recommended 4 stars
10/27/06 David Cohen Gory special effects almost make up for the paper thin characters, almost 3 stars
10/23/06 Lindsay the ending was bad, over all not a great movie it looked cheap too 2 stars
6/27/06 millersxing Kafkaesque and grotesque. A monster movie for grownups. 5 stars
5/03/06 Josh Standlee What are you people talking about?! You're all witches! Witches!! 2 stars
3/11/06 Dillon A horror movie thats able to raise the hairs and stir the emotions 5 stars
1/22/06 Sam Justus One of the greatest horror movies ever. Really emotional. I fucking cried at the end. 5 stars
11/20/05 Bestit I of the best horror films in the last few decades. 5 stars
11/16/05 Adrian Definately reaches the Classic status, and possibly goes past it. 5 stars
11/14/05 Kumble Yes, it's brilliant...don't listen to that last skid mark. 5 stars
10/30/05 K. Sear Very enjoyable but not brilliant. 4 stars
10/26/05 Crumbcake David Cronenberg's best film. 5 stars
10/25/05 ShadowFace5 On my Top 10 Horror list. 5 stars
10/24/05 Suk-R-Punch A science-fiction/horror masterwork! Cronenberg is the MAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
10/19/05 Gumbo Yes, the "Collector's" DVD is just amazing...for an amazing film. Incredible! 5 stars
10/15/05 OodlesofOs A sci-fi/horror masterpiece and Cronenberg's best film! Get the CE DVD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
10/14/05 Agent Sands One of the greatest horror movies ever. Really emotional. I fucking cried at the end. 5 stars
10/14/05 gasp Truly is one of the greatest horro films of the last 20 years. 5 stars
10/13/05 Bryant Gumby This has been in my all-time top ten list for's just incredible. 5 stars
10/11/05 Biz-e One of the best horror films ever made. Pure genius on every level. 5 stars
9/23/05 Jakub This is Cronenberg at the top of his game! EXCELLENT!!!!!!!! 5 stars
9/19/05 mung An amazing, emotional, grotesque thrill-ride...Kafka-esque and brilliant! 5 stars
9/16/05 drippy Perhaps, the finest remake ever crafted. 5 stars
8/01/05 Jeff Anderson Disgusting special effects aside, this was a great & emotionally effective horror remake. 5 stars
5/15/05 Indrid Cold Surprisingly weighty and emotional. The graphic horror is secondary to the drama. 4 stars
2/18/05 Naka Cronenberg's most accessible film, and that's not an insult. Great! 5 stars
10/25/04 Keith A remake that is 100 times better than the original! 5 stars
10/20/04 Andile A visual surealist orgy 5 stars
8/14/04 Alien assassin A great sci-fi thriller - shame about the gross content 5 stars
7/10/04 Daveman Better characterisation would have risen the film above the level of competent remake. 3 stars
3/26/04 Teddy Bear one of the best horror/sci-fi movies ever made! Higly recommented to horror fans 5 stars
10/22/03 Aut Gore at its worst without any reprise 3 stars
3/10/03 Matt Thiel A good remake of a good film. 4 stars
1/13/03 Jack Sommersby Flat-out gross rather than grotesquely artistic 2 stars
10/14/02 Charles Tatum A remake better than its original? 5 stars
10/11/02 sheren that's is a great horror i had never seem before 5 stars
9/17/02 Adam I loved it, and all you whiners who are obsessed about the 50's version need to shut up. 5 stars
9/03/02 Latricia Bradford Loved it! 4 stars
7/27/02 I Can't Swim Goldblum's best hour; Cronenberg is at the top of his game too 5 stars
6/24/02 Baal A bit gory at times, but very entertaining. Over-the-top-ending though... 4 stars
3/30/02 dan maurath gory but interesting concept, a little lame at times 4 stars
1/16/02 David A. A big bore. If you want the Fly, watch the real one from back in the 50s 1 stars
11/03/01 Greg Truly Awesome. 5 stars
9/26/01 Shane Robert Myers!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Its gory & disgusting but you don't have to be afraid,very afraid its only a 7ft fly!!!!!! 4 stars
9/03/01 The-Dude great sci-fi modern monster film with a great ending 5 stars
8/09/01 E-Funk Cronenberg is twisted...this movie is twisted...I highly recommend it. 5 stars
6/28/01 Judith Latham It will blow you away. Shocking, Gory, Tension filled. LOVED IT!!!!! 5 stars
5/23/01 Bada Bing Crosby Be Afraid 5 stars
2/24/01 R.W. Welch Not as much fun as the original but more realistic. 4 stars
12/05/00 Terrie Smith Not a bad horror flick; special effects can be a turnoff. 4 stars
11/30/00 Latasha Renee Nelson Sabrina It sucked 1 stars
11/15/00 The EVIL Penguin Amazing but not that scary 4 stars
4/10/00 Matthew Bartley Fantastic. The birth scene is unbelievable 5 stars
3/17/00 David Rogers Both disgusting and boring. It wasted my time. 1 stars
11/10/99 JED! Somewhat not bad but it seems to be more of a MST3Kish movie. 2 stars
10/27/99 Glitter Berry I suppose it would've been better if I wasn't so traumatized by it 4 stars
1/09/99 Jo Mama one of the best sci-fi flicks in recent memory 5 stars
11/23/98 little jerry More spectacular than the original but not as unnerving. Lacks the stark contrast. 4 stars
11/14/98 Jules What a horror film should be 5 stars
11/13/98 Lord Of The Dunce Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelp meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. Great movie. 5 stars
10/06/98 Tommy Maguire Excellent shocker. Gross, gory and at times very frightening. Cronenberg at his best. 5 stars
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  15-Aug-1986 (R)
  DVD: 04-Oct-2005



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