[31 Days of Horror Part V: A New Beginning] Day 24 – The Fly II (1989)

Director: Chris Walas

Cast: Eric Stoltz, Daphne Zuniga, Lee Richardson, Frank Turner, John Getz, Harley Cross

Screenplay: Mick Garris, Jim Wheat, Ken Wheat, Frank Darabont

105 mins. Rated R.

 

As some of you are aware, David Cronenberg’s The Fly is one of my all-time favorite horror films. The sequel, The Fly II, has a steep ladder to climb, an impossible feat. But the question is whether or not The Fly II can be capable enough to stand on its own, and I think that, as a sequel, it actual is passable enough.

When Veronica Quaife dies giving birth to her child with Seth Brundle, the child, a victim of his father’s experiment, is taken in by Anton Bartok (Lee Richardson, Network, Prizzi’s Honor) and his company. The boy grows at an accelerated rated. and celebrating his fifth birthday, Martin Brundle (Eric Stoltz, Pulp Fiction, Class Rank) is a fully-grown man with extreme intelligence and a need to learn. Martin searches for a cure to his mutation. At the same time, Bartok is searching for the missing piece in Seth Brundle’s telepod experiment. When Martin discovers that Bartok is not interested in helping him, he must venture for his answers with only the help of fellow Bartok employee Beth Logan (Daphne Zuniga, Spaceballs, Those Left Behind).

The Fly II is nowhere near as strong a film as its predecessor. First-time director Chris Walas (The Vagrant), who worked on the creature effects for the original film, stepped behind the camera this time around. For a first film, The Fly II could have been so much worse. The faults here come with pacing, performance, and the ending.

The Fly II has some real pacing issues. It feels like a three-hour movie at times. I feel like the lack of a throughline direction from Walas is a big reason why this sequel suffers. It feels very unfocused at times, meandering about in search of meaning.

The performances from Stoltz and Zuniga are very underwhelming. Stoltz seems childlike, as he is still, but he is just uninteresting. Zuniga, though, is just dull. Richardson’s Bartok isn’t an interesting villain, but he is evil enough to suffice. I just missed the characters from the first. I feel like having more of a presence of Seth and Ronnie, or hell, even Stathis (John Getz, The Social Network, Trumbo), who appears in the sequel in a cameo.

The ending is pretty amazing, except that it half-sucks. There’s an ending for our main characters that is extremely underwhelming, Then, there’s a super-dark stinger before the credits that I loved. The entire third act goes insane, a larger-scale version of the original, and I liked where it was heading, but it just didn’t go far enough.

But there are some really cool moments of the film. The Fly II is at its best when it forges a new path rather than retreading its far superior parent. Walas kills it again with the incredible makeup effects. The attempts made at adding to the mythology are mostly successful, and I have to say, I did enjoy most of the film.

The Fly II is an inferior sequel, but it gets about as good as it was ever going to get after losing Cronenberg. It’s a fun 1980s camp horror sequel that does try to reach the stars even if it misses often enough.

 

2.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of David Cronenberg’s The Fly, click here.

31 Days of Horror: Day 13 – The Fly (1986)

Fly_poster

Director: David Cronenberg

Cast: Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, John Getz

Screenplay: Charles Edward Pogue, David Cronenberg

96 mins. Rated R.

 

I’m so happy that I am able to include this film on the 31 Days of Horror this year. David Cronenberg’s The Fly is and will always be one of my favorite horror films. I love the cautionary tale mixed with genetic experimentation and the effect of playing God on human sanity.

thefly1986a

The Fly, a remake of a 1958 Vincent Price horror gem, is the story of Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum, Jurassic Park, The Grand Budapest Hotel), a brilliant man of science who has just invented a teleportation device, but due to a horrific accident in which a fly gets into the teleportation pod with him, his DNA is forever altered. Seth chooses to document and study his terrifying metamorphosis into a creature he calls “Brundlefly” as his relationship with the beautiful reporter Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis, Beetlejuice, In a World…) is forever scarred.

I’m not the greatest Cronenberg fan. I don’t love everything he touches. I wasn’t really a fan of Scanners, and Eastern Promises made me very bored. On the other hand, I absolutely loved A History of Violence and find his adaptation of Stephen King with The Dead Zone to be particularly creepy. So I went into The Fly with mixed possible feelings. I didn’t know much about the film, except that funnyman Mel Brooks produced it, which was odd. I later read that Brooks tried to not discuss his involvement in the film due to its genre being something he isn’t usually associated with. When fans discovered he produced the film, he thought “to hell with it” and showed up the premier with fly antennas to give out to fans.

When I saw the film, it shocked me. But more than that, it broke my heart. I was so terribly saddened by the emotional journey between Seth and Veronica throughout the film that as I exited the theater, I couldn’t even speak. I had to words. The film just destroyed me.

From a physical aspect, the film is gorgeously oozing with feeling and ambience. The creature effects by Chris Walas are so good that I was happy to see his name first in the credits due to his excellent work in the film. I’m not surprised by his Oscar win for the either.

The film bothered me, and I suppose that it because of how perfect it is. I sometimes wonder how the film would have turned out under the steady hand of master-of-oddity Tim Burton, who the project was originally envisioned for. I just think that Cronenberg understood the cerebral which was inlaid with all the fantastic out pain. He injected this film with plenty of inner pain. I also think about The Fly: The Musical, a stage musical version of the film, and wonder how this movie would translate in such a way.

thefly1986b

From the opening titles (I love the fly vision as the film comes into focus at its intro) to the heart-wrenching finale, The Fly is a masterpiece, a wholly realized vision of terror that few could ever berth. David Cronenberg was definitely not the choice I would’ve had for director, but I can honestly admit I would have wrong in that decision. This film is perfect.

 

5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

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