Fly, The (1958)

The Fly (1958), produced and directed by Kurt Neumann.


Brain says strange things now.

I hadn't seen this since I was a kid. It made me queasy then, and it still does a bit now. I didn't know it was in color, and I'd forgotten that everyone is supposed to be French for some reason.

An early example of body horror, you can see why David Cronenberg wanted to do the remake. Transformations of the New Flesh are always perilous.

Given the glossy titles and lush Paul Sawtell intro score, you might think this will be a high-concept science fiction or thriller film, but it is a leisurely-paced murder mystery with a horror solution. We have ample coverage of the matter transmitter in operation. The great fly hunt goes on too long and is kind of ridiculous, but we're not laughing.

Queasiness: we don't see it explicitly, but the wife crushes her husband's head under a hydraulic press. His hand is still twitching afterwards. Earlier he transported the family cat into an unknown "elsewhere" and we hear its ghostly yowling. Finally, the spider and the web and "Help me!".

I perceive some messages, whether they were intended or not. First, the plausible fear that science does not comprehend the complete human being, and that a copy will never produce good results. That we are more than matter.

Second: it's ok to kill your loved ones if they change too much. It's like mercy killing. (Well, in this case, it really is).

Screenplay by James Clavell. Filmed in 18 days.

Available on Blu-ray. The commentary track is a chatty conversation with David Hedison.