Fly, The (1958)
Cast: Vincent Price, David Hedison, Patricia Owens
Director: Kurt Neumann
Nutshell: Classic 50’s horror film
The Fly is a Stupendous yarn which among other things brought the superlative talents of Vincent Price to the mainstream for the first time. Even though Price was not in a specifically horror oriented role, somehow his presence in this 50’s box office sensation was enough for him to be magnetized toward the genre forever after.
The plot is ingenious or insane depending on your point of view, but whatever the case, the film works as a fascinating and bizarre entertainer. The story involves David Hedison (Felix from the Bond movies) who is experimenting with a transportation device, when his matter transplant machine stumbles, he is left with the monstrous head of a juicy bottle green housefly as well as a hand that doesn’t look too healthy either.
He adopts to wearing “purdah” while he taps and writes out instructions to his increasingly frustrated and desperate wife – I mean, bloody hell, suddenly she is married to a housefly, and a pretty bad tempered one at that.
Anyway, Hedison tries desperately to somehow reverse the process but sadly, each attempt ends in doomed failure. The only way out is for them to find that single fly that is merged with Felix – it should be easily recognizable, as far as flies can be recognizable, because it may have a human head and one human hand attached to it!
Once they find the fly, perhaps the two messed up identities, the fly and Hedison can be reemerged so that they are unscrambled and so on. Things don’t turn out quite so simple, as a search for a housefly may well suggest. This does sound totally insane, and rest assured, IT IS, but nonetheless it is vintage 50’s Horror Sci Fi at its grandest.
The anniversary edition has a new remastered soundtrack which helps, especially when the fly is buzzing around the place. It’s a lavish looking production with decent production values. Patricia Owens is adequately overwrought as the distressed wife, who has to face the most horrendous decision of her life when faced with her suicidal husband.
The ending and some of the effects are quite startling and ahead of their time. The ending especially is not what one would have expected from the prim and proper 50’s. This version if quite different from David Cronenberg’s fantastic retelling of the story in the mid 80’s. Both of them manage to work in their own way, with Cronenberg’s a memorable love story and Neumann’s a bizarre, twisted tale that one cannot easily categorise!