Taglines: Something went wrong in the lab today. Very wrong.
Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum), a brilliant but eccentric scientist attempts to woo investigative journalist Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis) by offering her a scoop on his latest research in the field of matter transportation, which against all the expectations of the scientific establishment have proved successful.
Up to a point. Brundle thinks he has ironed out the last problem when he successfully transports a living creature, but when he attempts to teleport himself a fly enters one of the transmission booths, and Brundle finds he is a changed man. This Science-Gone-Mad film is the source of the quotable quote “Be afraid. Be very afraid.”
The Fly is a 1986 American science fiction horror film directed and co-written by David Cronenberg. Produced by Brooksfilms and distributed by 20th Century Fox, the film stars Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis and John Getz. Loosely based on George Langelaan’s 1957 short story of the same name, the film tells of an eccentric scientist who, after one of his experiments goes wrong, slowly turns into a fly-hybrid creature. The score was composed by Howard Shore and the make-up effects were created by Chris Walas, along with makeup artist Stephan Dupuis.
The film was released on August 15, 1986 to massive acclaim by critics and audiences, with praise mainly regarding the special effects and Goldblum’s performance. It grossed $60.6 million at the box office against its nine-million-dollar budget, becoming the largest commercial success of Cronenberg’s career. Walas and Dupuis’ work on the film resulted in their winning an Academy Award for Best Makeup, the only film directed by Cronenberg to win an Oscar. A sequel, directed by Walas himself, was released in 1989.
About the Story
Seth Brundle, a brilliant but eccentric scientist, meets Veronica Quaife, a science journalist, at a press event. He takes her back to his warehouse home and laboratory and shows her his invention: a set of “telepods” that allows instantaneous teleportation from one pod to another. Brundle convinces Veronica to keep the invention secret in exchange for exclusive rights to the story, and she begins to document his work. Although the telepods can transport inanimate objects, they mutilate live tissue, as is demonstrated when a live baboon is turned inside-out during an experiment.
Seth and Veronica begin a relationship. Their first sexual encounter inspires Brundle to reprogram the telepod to cope with living tissue, and he successfully teleports a second baboon. Veronica departs before they can celebrate, and Seth worries that she is rekindling her relationship with her editor Stathis Borans; in reality, Veronica has left to confront Stathis about a veiled threat, spurred by his jealousy of Brundle, to publish the telepod story without her consent. Brundle decides to teleport himself alone, unaware that a housefly has slipped inside the transmitter pod with him. He emerges from the receiving pod seemingly normal.
Brundle and Veronica reconcile. Brundle begins to exhibit increased strength, stamina, and sexual potency, which he believes is a result of the teleportation “purifying” his body. He has sugar cravings and Veronica is concerned about Seth’s insanity and strange, bristly hairs growing from his back. He becomes arrogant and violent, insisting that the teleportation process is beneficial, and tries to force Veronica to undergo teleportation.
When she refuses, he abandons her, goes to a bar and partakes in an arm-wrestling match, leaving his opponent with a compound fracture. He meets a woman named Tawny and brings her back to his warehouse, where Veronica rescues her from teleportation. Brundle throws Veronica out, but when his fingernails begin falling off, he realizes something went wrong during his teleportation. He checks his computer’s records and discovers that the telepod computer, confused by the presence of two lifeforms in the sending pod, merged him with the fly at the molecular-genetic level.
Brundle continues to deteriorate, losing body parts and becoming less human in appearance. He reconnects with Veronica and theorizes that he is becoming “Brundlefly”, a hybrid of human and insect. He has begun vomiting digestive enzymes onto his food to dissolve it and has gained the ability to cling to walls and ceilings. He realizes he is losing his human reason and compassion, driven by primitive impulses he cannot control.
The Fly (1986)
Directed by: David Cronenberg
Starring: Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, John Getz, Joy Boushel, Leslie Carlson, George Chuvalo, David Cronenberg, Carol Lazare, Michael Copeman
Screenplay by: Charles Edward Pogue
Production Design by: Carol Spier
Cinematography by: Mark Irwin
Film Editing by: Ronald Sanders
Costume Design by: Denise Cronenberg
Set Decoration by: Elinor Rose Galbraith
Art Direction by: Rolf Harvey
Music by: Howard Shore
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: August 15, 1986