Friday, October 10, 2014

The MONTH of HORROR - Day 10: The Fly (1958)

No self-mutilations, acidic bile, or inter-species relations here, no siree, this is the original old fashioned fright flick where science was paramount, and the horror was mostly left on the back burner. That's not to say that this isn't a genuinely creepy movie at times but after so many years of being de-sensitized by hardcore violence, I find films from this era to be more charming than anything. Is that the first time I've used the word "charming" to describe something during The Month of Horror? A first for everything!

You really have to love the wide eyed enthusiasm that so many movies from the 50's had when it came to the horror, or science fiction genre. Everything was so "gee whiz!", and the laboratories were full of all sorts of neat gizmos that would whirr to life whenever a switch was flipped. The story here is essentially the same as the 1986 David Cronenberg remake, starring Jeff Goldblum--a brilliant scientist has created a teleportation machine however when he tests it on himself, a harmless house fly gets spliced with his own DNA, and a monster is born! Obviously not nearly as disgusting as the remake but where the original differs is that more time is spent on trying to track down where the fly is which now has the human head of the scientist attached to its tiny insect body. Human body, head of a fly. Fly body, head of a human; what an inconvenience!

The movie begins with a murder most foul, and no kidding, it actually is pretty foul as a body is discovered in a metal fabrication plant, its head and left arm flattened like a pancake in the industrial press, blood seeping over the edges. Quite gruesome really, had to have left a few audience members back in the day gasping when the crime scene is first visited, even I thought it was pretty gnarly. It's not much of a mystery as the man's wife immediately cops to the murder, explaining to detectives that it was her husband, and he had urged her to kill him as he was no longer a man but... something else entirely. The film then jumps back in time to a few months earlier, and we eventually learn what would lead to this brutal crime, and why the man's loving wife would commit something so heinous--is she telling the truth, or is she a loony? Ghoulish film legend Vincent Price plays her husband's equally brilliant brother, and he takes it upon himself to get to the bottom of what really happened, and to comfort his sister-in-law as well, who he is secretly in love with. This one's got it all.

I really enjoyed The Fly although the first act is a bit of a slog as it's extremely talky, and does take its time getting to the meat and potatoes but once it does it's pretty fun, and the makeup effects are enjoyably silly. It also takes awhile for the "creature" to be revealed, almost a little too much build-up but once we do see the twitchy head of the fly with its bulbous yellow eyes, it's worth it--I absolutely laughed out loud, in a good way! Classic sci-fi horror is a hoot, and if you also enjoy the works of Vincent Price then this is definitely one not to miss. It's on Netflix, too, so it's never been easier to catch!

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