The Fly ('58)

If you don’t know what The Fly is about, grab a noose and just get it over with. If you’re not aware of the fact that The Fly is considered to be a sci-fi/horror classic, thrust your genitals into a lathe. The moral of the story here is that you should already know everything you need to know about The Fly. So why am I reviewing it? Because I want to! And also because I want uninitiated horror abecedarians to stay alive and to keep their genitals. While I prefer David Cronenberg’s centroidal remake, genre hounds the world over have no business ignoring its antecessor. The Fly was a smash upon its release, and I can only imagine what it was like viewing this milepost shocker on the silver screen in 1958.

Vincent Price is on board, but don’t get too cozy with his star appeal. He’s a supporting player. In fact, he’s entirely absent from the second act. Price plays François Delambre, a modish upper-cruster whose brother, Andre, has locked himself in his laboratory for weeks on end. What could he be working on? You already know the answer to that question, but what you might not know is that The Fly’s chief plot details are relayed via a flashback. Andre’s fate is spoiled for us before we even get to the film’s midsection. I didn’t take kindly to this expository artifice. When you’re exposed to the climax before you reach the prefatory build-up, the build-up itself can be tedious. I didn’t want to know how the story ended. This is both a pro and a con. Thankfully, I was attached to the characters, and I actually wanted them to meet a favorable resolution. I rarely pine for rainbows and sunflowers, so for the cast to beslaver me was quite an accomplishment.

Patricia Owens is the very definition of charming as Helene, Andre’s fretful wife. She is the resinous epoxy that holds this picture together. Plus, I have a thing for redheads, so there you go. David Hedison gives a stiff performance as the titular musca domestica (that’s “housefly” for those of you playing at home). His delivery is awkward at times, but I still warmed up to him. Considering that Hedison only has 20-30 minutes of screen time as a full-blown human, that’s rather impressive. Naturally, Vincent Price is...well, he’s Vincent Price! His acting is...well, he’s Vincent Price! He was always “on.” Come to think of it, I don’t know of any spiritless performances of his. If he didn’t give 104.6%, it was more than likely an imposter.

Unlike its direct sequel, The Fly was shot in color. Director Kurt Neumann, who left us one month after the film’s premiere, utilizes the polychrome spectrum to its full potential. The imagery is vivid, especially during the “teleportation” sequences. Some may cluck at the creature design, but I found the monstrous make-up to be adequate. It’s kept under a cloth for the most part, so even if you impute your jaded sensibilities to the outdated special effects, it shouldn’t variegate the viewing experience. Of course, anything will look crude after witnessing Cronenberg’s twisted vision of The Fly. This flick doesn’t feature Jeff Goldblum vomiting onto a pastry, but it does flaunt sound acting, engaging characters, and a timeless parting shot. Oh, dear. I can’t think of a way to cap off this review. Help me...help me...help me!!!!!!!!!!


  1. This is the better version by far. I reviewed it on my blog and I adore it!

  2. Ive never seen this movie, so I guess Ill wave bye bye to my genitals. But seriously, I need to watch this one like now.

    Curious, you posted a review for a film in which its director died a short time after completion, same as I just did with Witchfinder General. And they are both Vincent Price movies!