The Fly (1958) review
The Fly (1958)
A poster of The Fly
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The other day we watched the original adaptation of the Fly short story. I was hesitant with the film pondering whether it would seem very outdated but I really enjoyed it. Within this film the transformation of the scientist is known as theriocephalic as he kept his body but his head changed into that of a fly. The unmasking scene of ‘the thing’ as Helene refers to it, was to the class humorous but I feel that back in the day it must have been rather horrific. (Must have been much worse for Helene as she was afraid of insects in real life as well)
Because of her husband’s transformation and her realisation that ‘the thing’ was becoming more and more fly-like as Andre lost control of his instincts, it came apparent at the end that she did not feel anything more for the fly/human hybrid and was manically determined to find the fly with the white head. You can tell that she has lost all empathy with the hybrid by her explanation of the events at the end:
It wasn't André.
I couldn't have hurt Andre
But I'm glad. I'm glad the thing is dead.
The scene which was quite disturbing and I believe was really well done was the final scene where François and the inspector come across the fly trapped in the web. The inspector horrified to find that Helene was telling the truth about the fly/Andre hybrid and strikes it down with a stone when it is being devoured by a spider.
This scene is extremely powerful in my opinion and burns a horrible image within my mind. When the camera has an extreme close up shot of Andre’s face as he is about to be devoured by a spider it is simply horrifying. Accompanied by a screeching ‘help me....help me’ it really was disturbing and created a very memorable scene.
This film is about the idea of humans meddling with nature or playing god as it were. Andre being the culprit of this but due to his mistake and lack of concentration he becomes spliced with the head and hand/claw of a fly while his counterparts are attached to that of the fly’s body. Not such a radical or horrific change nowadays but more of a comic and camp change.
‘If you watch this one expecting a sci-fi or horror spectacular, then you’ll be disappointed. If you’re more interested in psychological drama, then you might enjoy this fun, slightly campy film.’
Even though the transformation is more comical in my eyes we as the audience do feel sorry for Andre as the fly begins to start taking over his thoughts. This film seems to be about the horror of the change in humanity of Andre as he begins to fight himself to complete certain tasks and also gives a sense of a turn into a sexual predator when Helene is passed out on his desk.
‘Silly it may be but the tension is quickly cranked up as Hedison realises he has to find the fly so that he can try to reverse the damage. Any humour in the situation quickly drains away as Hedison battles to stop his personality being consumed with his new found predatory instincts. Meanwhile his 'other half' is trapped in a spider's web. This desperate 'double' struggle cleverly detracts from the cheap-looking monster effects and allows a dramatic and quite poignant film to form.’
Overall not many prizes for the acting in this film and due to the film being outdated it did have a few laughable scenes. I did enjoy it however and was a good introduction into the idea of metamorphosis. Shane burridge however disagrees and believes it was much creepier than it was funny:
‘A lot of the film doesn't make sense - the fly/man size ratio; the lingering voice of the cat even though it has disappeared; Hedison's arm acting of its own volition - and makes a barometer for what some people perceive as funny and what others think is creepy. I sway to the latter, because unlike many other horror films I saw as a kid, THE FLY frightened me precisely because it was illogical.’
Shane Burridge from RottenTomatoes.com