“Drink deep or taste not the plasma spring!” The road to hell is paved with good intentions. And the leading manufacturers of this road are the mad scientists. Of course, none of them start out mad, the thing they all have in common is that they are fanatically passionate about something. The most famous of all was ardent about creating man from dead tissue. Psychopharmacology, invisibility, surgery, bio-medical research, biological devolution, and teleportation, to name a few other precarious fields of research, have all given us wonderful works of art, if nothing else. Intellectual curiosity, ambition, and a vehement desire to improve the world often result in pain, disfigurement, madness, and death… or, at least in the movies they do. Seth Brundle isn’t that much different than Victor Frankenstein, all he wants to do is “change the world as we know it.” A lifetime of motion sickness wouldn’t seem like the catalyst for inspiration to do just that, but here we are. Seth has unintentionally created a gene-splicer, and where things might go wrong for a scientist, they tend to go very wrong for a mad one. This is how Seth comes to meet The Fly. Both science and love begin with chemistry, and in The Fly it’s immediate. When reporter Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis) meets inventor Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) at a scientific expo, he promises her that his invention will change the world: a teleportation device that while effective is not yet perfected. Instead of teleporting living things it turns them inside out. Seth convinces Veronica to devote her time to his work that will result in a book. As his frustrations mount at the ineffectiveness of his invention, the two begin a powerful romance, which leads to him solving the poetry of “the flesh.” However, her past life interferes and just as Seth cracks the code, she leaves him to settle things with her ex and publisher, Stathis (Jon Getz). If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, alcohol is the main conveyance. Seth’s insecurities lead him to drink a bit too much and he decides to test his device on himself. Unfortunately, an unwelcome guest gets teleported as well… One of the more endearing aspects of The Fly is its intimacy. It takes place in predominantly one set, with primarily three characters. What could be otherwise claustrophobic never feels that way. The arcs of the characters and the parallel deterioration of Seth’s apartment provide all the depth and openness we need. Stathis goes from über D-bag ex-lover to knight in melting armor. Veronica, from skeptical reporter to broken-hearted lover. And as for Seth… The moment Seth has his atoms broken down and put back together he is a different man. In addition to some bizarre prickly hairs on his back, his strength, libido, speech, and taste for sugar have increased dramatically. Jeff Goldblum brings a fantastic and chilling physicality to the part as he begins to change. Despite Seth’s maniacal vigor, Veronica is worried and when Seth snaps at her apprehension of getting teleported he leaves her to fill his own needs, which include snapping a meaty wrist in some arm-wrestling and staying out all night with a denim babe with an 80s frizz job and an 80s name (Tawny, no shit). Veronica is so disturbed at Seth’s changes that she isn’t even mad when she catches him red handed. The coarse hairs are on his sore covered face now, but Seth still ain’t buying it, even after Veronica tells him she had the hairs analyzed and they are, in fact, insect hairs. He throws Veronica out for good but decides to look in the mirror for himself. He is understandably worried when his fingers explode with pus and nails peel off like dead skin. He decides to analyze what happened on that first teleportation. And sure enough, when Seth learns that he has merged his own genes with those of a common housefly, he’s afraid… very afraid. The 80s and The Fly, in particular, introduced audiences to David Cronenberg. The best directors have works that focus on a particular theme and David Cronenberg’s particular theme is body horror. His best work is remembered for examining how our bodies tell a story, how they have more power than we think they do, and how they ultimately betray us. David Cronenberg, The Fly, and body horror were all able to parallel the cultural relevance of the AIDS epidemic of the time. It’s only after Seth’s promiscuity his mutation accelerates. This was able to resonate with audiences then and now, by inciting a primal level of fear and anxiety that speaks to the frailty of our bodies. The special effects and makeup of the third act of The Fly have not aged one day despite being more than thirty years old. To see in high definition only magnifies its sensational Academy Award-winning work. Jeff Goldblum is present in every stage of his deterioration until the last possible second, and it makes the film that much stronger because we never lose his vulnerability, which is the heart of the film. When Seth has finally mutated to an unrecognizable state, the mad scientist takes over. After hearing Veronica is pregnant he devises a plan to splice the genes of Veronica, the unborn baby, and himself. This film and a handful of others during the 80s are what made the era so good for special effects and makeup. It’s part of the reason we still talk about those years and continue to see movies that reek of sweet nostalgia, not to mention every sequel and remake. But here in 1989, nothing will ever come close to when we see the fly emerge from behind what’s left of Seth’s face and body. The brief moments that follow prove that puppeteering and editing are among the highest forms of art. The audience doesn’t doubt the efficacy of this beautiful creature for one second, thanks to multiple technicians and the superb work of mad scientist in his own right, Chris Walas. Without a doubt, The Fly is profoundly and viscerally disgusting, but never gratuitously so. Every bloody stump, lost limb, and of course, maggot baby all serve the story and make it an experience that isn’t seen in today’s world of excess for the sake of excess or watering down for the sake of maximum profit. The final moment when Veronica reluctantly kills Seth and is left sobbing is a powerful moment that highlights the tragedy of these doomed lovers. After the most horrible sights, we are reminded that the price of scientific advancement can be a steep one. See larger image The Fly [Blu-ray] A scientist’s molecules merge with a fly’s in this remake of the 1958 shocker. Directed by David Cronenberg. New From: $3.99 USD In Stock Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... 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