Saturday, May 20, 2006

DVD Review - The Ultimate Fly Collection

Has it really been twenty years have past since Cronenberg's remake of The Fly hit the big screen?

As ever, Twentieth Century Fox have decided to celebrate by releasing a somewhat bloated anniversary box-set, this time it's all The Fly films. The Fly Ultimate Collector's Edition is a seven-disc (yes, seven-disc!) set that boasts the groundbreaking 1958 original, its sequels (including the previously unreleased Curse of The Fly), the Jeff Goldblume/Blundelfly/Cronenberg version, and all its little wizards.

The original (and in my opinion ‘best’) 1958 movie is quintessential black and white 50s horror/sci-fi. David Hedison, playing single minded inventor Andre Delambre, obsessed with his work in matter transportation. When testing the device on himself (duh!), a perfectly normal house fly gets caught in the machine and the scientist, with perfectly abnormal results. Now that’s cinema! "Man with big fly head, film at 11". Eventually, Andre’s wife Helene (Patricia Owens) and Fran├žois Delambre (the one and only, Vincent Price) discover the scientist’s secret and she must destroy the unholy mutant ‘thing’ her husband has become. Surely that parting shot of the tiny human-headed fly squealing "Help me!" from the web of a spider has to be the single most disturbingly memorable moment of 50s horror/sci-fi.

The Return of the Fly was a "son of" movie, where Vincent Price's character, Fran├žois Delambre, returns to help Andre’s son, Philippe (Brett Halsey), who naively carries on the family business of transmigration, only to befall the same fate as father (duh again!). Set fifteen years later, the story follows Philippe’s rampage as half-man, half-fly to seek an insane revenge on anything with binocular vision…

So far, so good. But here comes Curse of the Fly. Noticeably absent is the saving grace of Vincent Price. This time, three descendents of the Delambre bloodline are still trying to perfect the matter transporter, but things take a tur
n for the worse (for the audience too) when one of the trio marries a woman (who not only happens to be on the run from a neighbourhood mental institution but whose meddling uncovers a truck-load of botched human experiments) with inevitably disastrous consequences. After this film the whole Fly concept died an appropriate death, until David Cronenberg.

The basic concept for Cronenbergs new version is pretty much true to the original. Dr Brundle's relationship with Veronica (played by Geena Davis), the love of his life, is a lot stronger and the driving force behind the plot. Sometimes the plot does get a bit overshadowed by the prosthetics and model effects (but that’s Cronenberg). The film was a breakout success for Cronenberg, and justifiably so. It’s great, and the second best thing in the box-set with loads of documentaries and extras to support the movie geek in all of us.

As with the previous sequel, with a plot centred on the doomed doctor's son, The Fly II failed to effectively follow its predecessor. Controversially, I have a soft spot for it. That doesn’t make it a good movie though and it stars Eric Stoltz as the son and was directed by Chris Walas (who was responsible for The Fly's creature effects). Lets face it, few FX people make the transition to director, and know jack about working with actors, relying more the effects to carry the picture, and it shows with this movie. Stoltz could certainly have done with the support a ‘real’ director should have been able to offer.

This seven-disc set is reasonable value (with the two The Fly movies) but the rest are really just curios and fillers. It is a ‘nice’ idea to put them all together in one package (to get a historical perspective if nothing else) and there are some good extras. In honesty, unless you’re a genre or gore fiend, save some pennies and just buy the 2 ‘originals’.

Movies: 2.5 out of 5
Extras: 4.5 out of 5