Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Fly (1958) Blu-ray Reivew

The Fly is a punch line. We say “Help Me” and laugh at the image of a little bug with man’s head attached trapped in some obviously phony spider web. It’s nearly as memorable as the theme music from Jaws or at least as widely used and usually for comedic intent. To those of you who feel that this two word catch phrase is funny, that the image that you have in your mind’s eye of a spider descending on a helpless, disfigured man-sect is something to chuckle at yet another example of dated effects from the 1950’s… I say to you go watch The Fly again. The whole thing and not just the memorable scenes. This movie is actually quite scary if somewhat dated. Do not let your memory of The Fly outshine the brilliant performances by David Hedison, Patricia Owens and Vincent Price. Sure, the spotlight these days is on the David Cronenberg remake from 1986 which has breakout performances, an amazing score and special effects to wrench your guts, but this should not overshadow the premise and promise of the original picture. Actually sit down with it and bring a skeptical friend. They don’t make horror quite like this.

Synopsis from FOX:

When a scientist (David [Al] Hedison) attempts to transfer matter through space, things go horrifically wrong and two grotesque man-fly hybrids are created. Now, with the head of a fly and a wing in place of one of his arms, the scientist desperately hopes that he, his wife (Patricia Owens) and his brother (Vincent Price) can capture the other mutant and reverse the experiment.


The Fly from 1958 as directed by Kurt Neumann (one of his final pictures) is plays on common tropes of 1950’s Horror and Science Fiction. Man is not meant to play God or try to circumvent the laws of nature. If he does so, punishment will ensue in a fantastical and horrific manner. In this case, a scientist believes he has discovered how to teleport matter across large distances, but in testing his device he accidentally crosses the make-up of his very being with a common house fly yielding two separate hybrids: one with a man’s head and fly’s body, the other with the gargantuan head of a fly and the body of our ever optimistic scientist. This moral tale is timeless even if the tech behind it doesn’t quite live up to our computerized, digitized standards. The archaic look of the machines simply adds to the charm of the movie and plays on a nostalgia that genre fans cannot help but feel the pull of. We might as well look to our new 3-D printers for examples of how a new “Fly” like picture might be crafted from the atrocity of technology if not respected.

The transfer of this film should be studied as a model for Blu-ray transfers of older films. This is a stunning release. The color is vivid and as Technicolor as the day the film was exposed. The audio quality is good. This is obviously a cared for restoration that does not look beat up. Vincent Price fans will enjoy the near feature length documentary on Price’s life. While you wont’ necessarily find anything profound or brand new about the actor, fans will become more intimate with this great actor who loved the movies he made as much as the cooking he enjoyed and the art he helped to preserve and bring to the masses. There’s a commentary track and original trailer as well.

You can pick up The Fly here now and check out the rest of the Fox line-up coming soon. These classic releases from Fox are well cared for. You can trust that they want to see a proper release as much as you do. 

Feature listing:

**Commentary with Actor David Hedison and Film Historian David Del Valle
**Biography: Vincent Price
**Fly Trap: Catching a Classic
**Fox Movietone News

There’s a reason this list makes it to AFI lists even though it feels like a B rate Sci-Fi movie. The characters are loveable, hopeful. You’ll feel sorry for them, and the hand that fate has dealt them. The Fly is a cruel lesson, and a fine piece of cinema.


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