(Review by Cayla)
The Fly (1986) is a classic body horror movie, that revolves around a science fiction concept. The main character, Seth Brundle, played by Jeff Goldblum is a very passionate scientist with an invention that “will change the world” according to him in the opening scene. After I got past his weird looking mullet, the movie moves quickly into some very quality character development. Seth meets Veronica Quaife (Gina Davis) a journalist, at a convention, and comes off as socially awkward immediately. We learn about Seth’s childhood, that he puked from riding a tricycle, which helps foreshadow his desire to invent a teleporting machine, and gives depth to his character, making the climax more sad. When he brings Veronica to his lab, he shows her the “Telepods” and it’s exactly what a teleporting device would look like in the 80s. Gina Davis wastes no time getting sexy by slipping off her nylon stocking for Seth’s experiment, because she “doesn’t wear jewelry”. Early in the movie it seems both of these characters are bound to be together. Seth is clearly desperate for more human interaction and somehow forgets that Veronica is a journalist. He shares his invention, and Veronica runs off in hopes of bringing the invention to the public. The movie itself moves very fast as we learn that Veronica’s ex boyfriend, Stathis Borans, happens to be her boss as well. There’s obviously a juicy past between them that isn’t talked about much but the tension can be felt. Jealousy quickly becomes the main theme as the ex turns out to be a petty schmuck.
As the movie flips between drama and science fiction, Seth continues his work on perfecting his machine. He uses a baboon as a living test subject, because its a horror movie after all, and mice or frogs won’t do. We then get our first taste of the morbid nature of the movie when the baboon is turned inside-out. Veronica is clearly falling for Seth as she joins him in his work. At this point a relationship between Seth and Veronica moves abnormally fast and they soon appear as an old married couple. The ex/boss Stathis becomes more obsessive and jealous and even gives away penis envy at one point. This is when the plot gets messy. Veronica needs to clear things up with her ex and leaves, which causes Seth to feel insecure and paranoid. He gets drunk and chooses to teleport himself before knowing it’s safe. Veronicas personal problems soon begin a chain reaction which causes Seth to be hasty. In his drunken state, he misses the fact that a fly goes into the telepod with him. At first it seems his experiment is a success.
Seth is soon trying to sweep Veronica off her feet. For a brief moment everything is perfect, but he buys her jewelry despite the fact that she doesn’t wear jewelry, as she stated at the beginning of the movie. I saw this as a small clue that love wouldn’t last. Not long after this Seth looks like he has syphilis and wants to indulge in a sex marathon with Veronica. His behavior quickly becomes high strung and irrational as he gains super human abilities. It appears Seth’s solitude was meant to last his life time as he scares Veronica away. He tried too hard and grabbed onto his ideal of being a duo until it slipped from his fingers.
Now the movie finally starts to live up to it’s name of being body horror. Seth Brundle quickly progresses into a fly, when his nasty skin condition worsens and his body basically falls apart slowly. I personally cringe at the mere thought of fingernails being ripped off, and Seth rips a few off. He waits until it gets that bad, before finally checking his damn computer to see what went wrong when he was teleported. By this point of the movie, I really feel bad for the guy. His loneliness worsens as he has no choice but to isolate after learning that he has been fuses with a fly.
The solid married couple thing is short lived and quickly shatters and becomes impossible. I found Veronica’s dream of giving birth to a giant maggot to be quite horrifying. I think the most pro-life person in the world wouldn’t blame her for wanting an abortion. Seth’s body mutates and deteriorates over time in a way that's not only scary, but just downright sad. He learns of the baby and stops the abortion. But it becomes clear there is no cure for Seth and the movie climaxes at the end when his face falls off revealing a fleshy looking fly beneath. His longing to have a connection with others is quite sad when he tries to fuse himself with Veronica and her baby despite the fact that he has become half fly.
At no point in this movie was there a clear and obvious antagonist. There wasn’t much fear of the gruesome or gory. It’s a great movie because most of it is spent on building the main character of Seth. He is a likable character, which makes his progression into Brundle-fly all the more disturbing. You learn to care about the guy by the time the movie ends with his death. There are many aspects of this movie that hold my attention, from the love story, to the science fiction magic, to the suspense of seeing what Seth’s body will look like in the next scene. I’ve never seen the original black and white movie. But I know the acting is superb in this version. In my opinion, it is the ultimate body horror movie.
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