The Enduring Legacy of The Fly

Curse of the Fly

It was six years before a second sequel was commissioned and the result, 1965’s Curse of the Fly, was a strange addition indeed. Shot in England, the film for one thing messes with the continuity of its two predecessors: Phillipe Delambre has somehow become Henri Delambre, played as an older man by Brian Donlevy (The Quatermass Xperiment), who has successfully achieved teleportation with the help of his own son Martin (George Baker). Of course, there are a few mutated humans that father and son keep hidden on their property as a result of failed teleportations, including Martin’s first wife, and Martin himself has “fly genes” from the family history that require a special serum to keep them in check.

Directed by Don Sharp, Curse of the Fly is also shot in black and white and opens with a striking nighttime sequence in which an underwear-clad woman escapes from an asylum. That woman is Patricia (Carole Gray), whom Martin rescues on the road and marries shortly thereafter. Everyone in the film, from Henri to Martin to Patricia, is damaged somehow by their past, and as the title suggests, Curse of the Fly is more about that legacy than literal monsters — and although there are some of the latter in the film, there are no human/fly hybrids present.

Curse of the Fly raises a number of interesting ideas but leaves them ultimately unfulfilled. The low budget and lack of an actual fly monster probably dashed its chances, and the film was a box office dud that relegated the series back into the Fox vaults for the next two-plus decades (Curse of the Fly itself was rarely seen for years thereafter, and never received a proper home video release until a DVD set of the original trilogy was issued in 2007).

Producer Kip Ohman first had the idea of remaking The Fly in the early 1980s, recruiting screenwriter Charles Edward Pogue to write the script. But Fox was unhappy with Pogue’s work and declined to move forward. Ohman eventually convinced the studio to distribute the film if he could get outside financing for it, which he secured through producers Stuart Cornfeld and, improbably, comedy legend Mel Brooks.

The Fly (1986)

David Cronenberg (Scanners) was the first choice to direct, but since he was developing Total Recall at the time, a British filmmaker named Robert Bierman was hired. But then Bierman’s daughter was killed in a tragic accident and he withdrew from the project. At the same time, Cronenberg exited Total Recall and was able to come aboard The Fly, heavily revising Pogue’s script before shooting began.

The Fly arguably remains Cronenberg’s masterpiece, a somber meditation on disease and aging, not to mention a tragic love story and one of the most effective horror/sci-fi films of its time. Cronenberg’s version centers on introverted, eccentric scientist Seth Brundle (Goldblum), who is developing a teleportation device. His efforts are documented by a reporter named Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis), with whom he begins a romantic relationship.

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