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‘The Fly’ (1986) Is Solid 80’s Horror (Review)

Written by: Greg McCabe

Directed by: David Cronenberg

Cast: Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, John Getz

This David Cronenberg classic is the perfect balance of intriguing premise, strong characters, romance, dread, and gruesome gore. The result is one of the most compelling horror films to come out of the decade.

The film is a remake of a 1958 movie by the same name. While the basic set-up is the same (a scientist, working on machines that can transfer matter through space, inadvertently merges himself with a housefly), the storylines go in two very different directions.

In the 1986 version, Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) is an eccentric scientist working on machines, “that’ll change the world and human life as we know it.” He invites a magazine reporter, Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis), to a warehouse that serves as his laboratory/creepy apartment to check out the “telepods” that he’s been developing. Seth agrees to let Veronica document his experiments, and after a few weeks, the two begin a love affair. After successfully transporting a baboon through the telepods, Seth tries the machines on himself. However, he’s unaware that a housefly had made its way into one of the telepods with him. The DNA of the two very different species merges together, and Seth begins to go through a ghastly transformation.

One reason this movie is so effective is because of its strongly developed characters. At the center of all the biogenetic mayhem and mutation is a very tragic love story between two vulnerable people. It’s the timeless story of boy-meets-girl, boy-turns-into-horrendous-man/fly.

The acting is solid, both Geena Davis and Jeff Goldblum give very absorbing performances. Plus, they both have matching 80’s mullets, which is pretty awesome.

As usual, David Cronenberg’s direction is captivating, dreadful, and poignant. The gory special effects are well done and surviving the test of time, considering the movie is almost twenty years old. At certain moments, I was so grossed out that I almost had to look away. And in my book, that’s a good thing.

My only complaint is mild, but centers around some of the character’s motivation, especially in regards to Seth’s lackadaisical decision to try the telepods on himself. Basically, he did it because he was drunk on a half-bottle of champagne. I understand that characters­­—especially in horror movies—make bad decision to move the story forward, but this was such a dumb decision by a smart character in a good movie, that I found it a little distracting.

Overall though, I give this movie two buzzing mutant fly wings way up. Here are a few of my favorite lines from The Fly:


Seth Brundle: “Is this a romance we’re having, is that what it is?”


Seth Brundle: “It mated us, me and the fly. We hadn’t even been properly introduced.”


Veronica Quaife: “You’re changing, Seth. Everything about you is changing. You look bad. You smell bad.”


Seth Brundle: “You’re afraid to be destroyed and recreated, aren’t you?”

Rating: 4/5


About the author: Greg McCabe is a born-and-raised Texan. His debut novel, The Undying Love, was published in 2013. Greg enjoys all genres of fiction, but seems to gravitate towards horror and science fiction.

About The Overseer (2283 Articles)
Author of Say No to Drugs, writer for Blumhouse, Dread Central, Horror Novel Reviews and Addicted to Horror Movies.

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