This remake of the campy 1958 cult classic with Vincent Price is the story of a scientist who accidentally switches heads with a pesky housefly and is doomed to spend the rest of his days flitting from sugar bowl to toilet bowl, yelping “Help me!” – You know the rest.
What you don’t know is the maniacal, shlocky way Canada’s freaky B-movie director David Cronenberg has brought the story up to date.
This version has sex, nudity, home computers, laser beams, and slimy effects borrowed from Aliens to gross you out.
The fly is played by Jeff Goldblum, a bug-eyed actor who looks like an insect already. Some might call this perfect casting.
Trouble is, Goldblum looks more like a fly before his experiment goes awry.
Covered with spores and hives, flitting across the room and landing on the walls while vomiting white hydrochloric acid from his mandibles, he doesn’t much look like a human fly. He looks like a melted peanut butter cup.
The first forty minutes of The Fly is science fiction small talk about teleportation, laser transfers, and molecular fusion. This is strictly formula Frankenstein lab filler, created to pass time until the really disgusting stuff happens.
Goldblum attacks the sugar. Coarse hair grows on his back. The strength of an army buzzes through his wings. He looks bad. He smells bad. His ears fall off. He drips ooze all over the kitchen sink.
The Fly is supposed to be a horror flick about metamorphosis, but it turns out silly and, eventually, just plain revolting.
In the 1958 original, there was something oddly moving about the plight of a man doomed to watch his wife ignore him in her flower garden.
Goldblum doesn’t diminish in size; he turns into a hairy monster – and he tries to take his girlfriend with him.
As a sickening subplot, there’s Geena Davis (then Goldblum’s real-life partner), as a reporter impregnated by fly sperm.
A completely unnecessary ‘sequel’ of sorts – The Fly II (1989) – was barely a film at all, just a piecing together of scenes of elaborate carnage which proved that more gore and special effects are not necessarily better.