Fly Ultimate Collection
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The Fly Ultimate Collection

Those of us that grew up in the fifties and sixties might be considered as outdated and decrepit by the current generation, but we have the unique historical perspective witnessing the most significant technological advancements achieved by humanity. Many of these wonders have taken place in the fields of entertainment. Recently, a collection of classic creature features that demonstrates this point, ‘The Fly: Ultimate Collection.’ As a kid, one of the earliest sci-fi/horror movies I watched in the local movie theater was ‘The Fly.’ Although exceptionally frightening at the time, especially for someone still in elementary school, it pales in comparison to the terror induced by modern special effects. What audiences of tender years are unable to appreciate fully, the primitive nature of the creatures did not diminish the entertainment value of the movies. It wasn’t a matter of not knowing anything better; it was a case of surrendering to the enjoyment. This was long before the plethora of sources currently available existed. We had perhaps seven television channels and the neighborhood movies. For us, the important factor was the story, not the affection of the effects. This collection combines the original 1958 film with a remake done almost thirty years later. This provides a rare opportunity to compare golden and silver age effects directly and how the same premise and themes for two different generations. Most fans of this hybrid genre already own most if not all the individual titles, but this is an opportunity to experience them in the remastered high definition. Two of the titles, ‘The ‘Fly II’ and ‘The Curse of the Fly’ are available in high definition for the first time. The set came from Australia and listed as Region B, but I was able to play it on a straight Region A player. I suspect it is Region Free. Just in case, and for future reference, major electronic firms such a Sony does have an All-Region player for under $200. As a bonus it can also handle Blu-ray 3D from any region and has a full complement of access to streaming services, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and Vudu are DNLA enabled.

The fundamental premise driving the franchise is a classic for creature features. A scientist is researching a breakthrough that is a paradigm change of historic proportions, instantaneous teleportation. The diligent researcher, Andre Delambre (David/Al Hedison), in 1958 or Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum), for 1986, has created a system of two pods, send and receive, where matter disappears on one end and reappears on the other. The methodology involved fully analyzing the subject and recreating it perfectly. In the fifties, one of the greatest fears screenwriters employed was a prevalent fear of science getting out of control with disastrous consequences. The pivotal moment occurs when the scientist uses himself as a test subject. Unbeknownst to him, a common house fly was in the chamber. Upon exiting the scientist has become monster with the head and one arm of a fly. Consequentially, there is a fly with a human head and arm. The final scene of the original shows the hybrid insect caught in a spider web screaming in a tiny voice, "help me," as the spider approaches. That cinematic moment has become embedded in the zeitgeist of popular culture even a subject of a ‘Simpson’s parody. Of course, the remake is substantially more graphics and contains a gratuitous sex scene, but the underlying theme remains the same. Scientific advancements may begin with benign intent but utilizing the very fabric of nature can easily backfire. DNA had just become a part of the scientific vernacular around 1953, before that the atom held the potential to destroy everything.

The Fly (1958)   

bulletDirector: Kurt Neumann
bulletWriters: James Clavell, George Langelaan
bulletStars: David Hedison, Patricia Owens, Vincent Price

Most of the plot for this film was describe above but suffice it to say that upon its initial release it was considered something novel. With 20/20 hindsight the fly’s head and hand were obviously some forms of rubber prosthetic, albeit primitive by contemporary standards. Effects like this were part of the fun with vintage creature features. It might be difficult for younger viewers to completely comprehend how to incorporate borderline silly effects in crafting a scary environment, while watching this movie focus on the character development, particularly between Andre Delambr and his wife Helene (Patricia Owens). The infusion of a normal relationship offset the fantasy aspects of the story. This is a frequently used technique and is crucial in expediting bonding between the beleaguered scientist and the regular people watching. Fans of the franchise have undoubtedly seen this movie many times, but the 1080p resolution reveals details previously unseen. The result is a revitalized experience akin to seeing the film for the first time. The themes at the foundation of the story remain intact. As a cautionary tale, concerned with a scientist with good intentions can still taunt nature with disastrous results.

Return of The Fly (1959)   

bulletDirector: Edward Bernds
bulletWriters: Edward Bernds, George Langelaan
bulletStars: Vincent Price, Brett Halsey, David Frankham

A favorite trope in Sci-Fi/Horror is the scion of the scientist determined to vindicate his father by finishing his work. In the original movie the son, Phillipe Delcambre was a little boy who made a game of searching for the strange fly with the white head. Now he is an adult (Brett Halsey) and has become obsessed with vindicating his father by assuming his research and successful bring his father’s dream to fruition. He tries to obtain the assistance of his uncle, Francois (Vincent Price) but seeing your younger brother transformed into a literal bug-eyed monster it is understandable why Francois adamantly refuses. By convincing a name synonymous with horror and part of the original cast, Mr. Price conveys a sense of continuity and a seal of approval for this sequel. Unable to secure help from family Francois brings in a man from the family business, Delambre Frere, or in English, Delambre Brothers. The technician, Alan Hines (David Frankham). Everyone in the audience knows what fate awaits Francois was predictable, the use of effects must increase. This is readily achieved along with instilling a dramatic motivation by revealing Alan is an industrial spy named Ronald Holmes. When a government agent comes across the spy as he was absconding with research papers, they fight, and the agent is knocked out. Placing the agent in the teleporter pod where he is merged with a hamster from a previous failed experiment turning the rodent into a creature with tiny human hands. Holmes brutally kills it . as far as sequels turn out, this one is reasonably good.

Curse of The Fly (1965)   

bulletDirector: Don Sharp
bulletWriters: Harry Spalding, George Langelaan
bulletStars: Brian Donlevy, George Baker, Carole Gray

As a second sequel, this offering could technically be considered the closing installment of a trilogy. The production was moved to the United Kingdom, and the overall quality of the movie supports the often-observed result of overextending a premise, the rule of diminishing returns. As budgets are reduced, and the narrative diverges from the original, by several details most significantly the loss of Vincent Price as a member of the cast. The timeline is a flexible and removed from reality as typically seen in the afternoon soap operas. The story picks up focusing on the third and fourth generations in the cursed Delcambre family. If a semi-realistic time span were imposed the year for this movie would be sometime near 2030. Henri (Brian Donlevy), is apparently the son of Martin who passed that name on to his son (George Baker). Henri has continued in the family’s covert endeavors determine to perfect the teleporter finally. He has radiation burns received during an experiment which is considerably better than sporting the over-sized head of a fly. In the real world the nature of DNA was a significant form of research so its understandable that some details would be incorporated into the story. Martin has residual fly genes causing him to age rapidly. The project finally makes some progress with Martin, and his brother, Albert (Michael Graham) have successfully teleported people between Montreal and London. The plot becomes muddied by the secondary storyline. One-night Martin encounters a young woman on the road to Montreal, Patricia Stanley (Carole Gray), running clad only in her underwear. The narrative spirals out of control when it is revealed she has recently escaped from a mental asylum. The story turns full-on soap opera when Patricia marries Martin which is complicated by the fact that he is already married to Judith (Mary Manson). She was severely deformed by experiments and is locked in the stables. The major significance of including this film in the set is it took until 2006 for it to be available on disc.

The Fly (1986)   

bulletDirector: David Cronenberg
bulletWriters: George Langelaan, Charles Edward Pogue, David Cronenberg
bulletStars: Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, John Getz

Whereas the original film was an innocuous movie with appropriately scary effects for the time, the 1986 version was ramped up in every respect thanks in large part to the filmmaker helming the project, David Cronenberg. He was, and remains, one of the greatest masters of horror the genre has ever known. The most noteworthy of his stylistic trademarks is his penchant for highlighting diseased, malformed, mutated flesh. The catalog of his work includes such on-point examples as ‘Videodrome,’ ‘Crash’ and ‘eXistenZ.’ The brilliant scientist in this instance is Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum), a brilliant but highly eccentric scientist. Of course, his obsession is the teleportation of matter, including human beings. He meets a journalist for a popular magazine concerned with scientific breakthroughs, Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis). He invites her back to the warehouse that serves as is apartment/laboratory. Unlike movies in the fifties, by the mid-eighties ostensibly risqué sex scenes were de rigueur. The publicity surrounding this film was enhanced by the fact that Mr. Goldblum and Ms. Davis were romantically involved. In keeping with everything expected of Mr. Cronenberg, the effects are especially intense, bordering on the revolting. One of the most infamous examples occurs when the mutated Brundle-Fly attacks Veronica’s editor, Stathis Borans (John Getz). Brundle is more fly than man at this point with most of his body is affected grotesquely. To torture and incapacitate him Brundle regurgitates a vicious and highly corrosive liquid on his leg dissolving it to the bone.

The Fly II (1989)   

bulletDirector: Chris Walas
bulletWriters: Mick Garris, Jim Wheat, Ken Wheat
bulletStars: Eric Stoltz, Daphne Zuniga, Lee Richardson

At the end of the previous movie, Veronica discovered she was pregnant. The conception occurred while Seth was in the process of mutating, so he passed affected genes down to their son. The boy was delivered in a larva killing his mother. He is taken in by the owner of the company that financed the project, Anton Bartok (Lee Richardson), is the owner of the eponymous facility confining the child to a research laboratory. His physical and mental maturity is highly accelerated, and he possesses a genius-level intellect, incredible reflexes, and no need for sleep.by his second birthday Martin (Eric Stoltz), looks like a twenty-five-year-old man. By five Bartok arranges for Martin to move out of the lab to a house on the facility’s property. Martin discovers that he is constantly under observation the young man rebels against Bartok and his team of scientists. This story qualifies as one of the most bizarre comings of age stories in cinematic history. Special effects makeup master directed the film’. Chris Wales. He won the Academy Award for his creature makeup in the ‘Fly. The screenplay was written by Mick Garris, a certified Master of Horror. As a sequel, this film succeeds better than most, capable of standing on its own merits.

Posted  04/14/2018

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