THE FLY - 1986





The Fly is a 1986 science fiction film produced by Brooksfilms and 20th Century Fox, directed by David Cronenberg, and starring Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis and John Getz. It is a high budget remake of 1958 film of the same name, but with a substantially different plot. The soundtrack was composed by Howard Shore. This movie was shot in Toronto, Ontario.


The Fly was a box office success upon its release and was critically acclaimed in the press.






As with many of Cronenberg's films, The Fly deals with themes of bodily disfigurement or metamorphosis and the darker aspects of human emotions and behavior. The film also deals with the dangers of the misuse of science to terrible consequences. An underlying aspect of the story is the doomed love affair between Goldblum and Davis and the rivalry between Goldblum and Getz that results from this.


Goldblum plays Seth Brundle, a brilliant but eccentric scientist. He meets Veronica Quaife (Davis), a reporter at a convention. Brundle takes Veronica back to his place and shows her his invention: a set of devices that allow teleportation. She is highly impressed and agrees with Seth to act as a witness and document his work. Although the device can transport inanimate objects perfectly, it cannot do this with living things, turning them inside out. Seth demonstrates this with a baboon, killing it. Seth and Veronica begin a relationship, which inspires Seth. He realizes the machine is not perfectly recreating living objects but is rather "interpreting" them, and sets about adjusting his machine.


He succeeds in teleporting a baboon with no apparent harm. Flush with this success, and with his judgment impaired by alcohol and the worry that Veronica is rekindling her relationship with her boss and former lover Stathis Borans (Getz), he decides to teleport himself. Just as he's about to teleport, a fly gets into the pod with him. The computer, confused, splices together their DNA and Brundle gradually begins to transform into a hybrid (a "Brundlefly" as he calls it).


At first, Seth enjoys states of euphoria and heightened strength and endurance, especially in bed. As the metamorphosis progresses, he becomes violent and arrogant, and progressively less human in appearance, leaving sloughed-off human body parts in jars in his medicine cabinet. He also becomes incapable of eating solids and vomits digestive enzymes (which he refers to as "vomit-drop") that dissolve food and even flesh. Eventually, he realizes that not only is his body mutating, his mind is becoming more insect-like, brutal and driven by primitive appetites.


When he learns that Veronica is trying to have an abortion to rid herself of their possibly mutated child, he abducts her and traps her in a telepod, trying to restore his own humanity by fusing with her and their unborn child. Stathis Borans goes to her rescue but is injured and nearly killed by the almost fully-transformed Brundle, who dissolves Stathis' hand and foot with his corrosive vomit-drop. Stathis is spared death only by the pleading of Veronica, who begs Brundle not to kill him. Seth then undergoes his final transformation when his changed, more-insect-like body sheds the outer layer of decaying human flesh. However as the telepods are starting up, the wounded Borans manages to shoot the power cables connecting to Veronica's telepod so she escapes unharmed, and Brundlefly is gruesomely fused with chunks of metal from his own telepod door while trying to smash it open. As a final act of mercy, Veronica kills what used to be Seth Brundle.


The controversial sequel is The Fly II (1989). There has been some discussion as to whether the sequel "really" counts as a part of Cronenberg's Fly universe. Cronenberg feels that the stories in his films have defintiive beginning and endings, and he has never considered making a sequel to one of his own films (although others have made sequels to Cronenberg films, including Scanners (1981).



Critical Response


Upon its release, The Fly was praised for being more emotionally involving and genuinely poignant in comparison to Cronenberg's previous films, as well as having a certain simplicity and stylishness which set it apart from other, more gratuitous movies. Jeff Goldblum's tour-de-force performance was applauded as well, and many believe it to be his finest performance to this day.


The film was also widely taken to be about AIDS, although Cronenberg denies this and states that the subtext/metaphor of the film is the natural process of aging ans death. He states that "we've all got the disease, the disease of being finite." This, when coupled with the tragic love-story of the plot (harking back to films such as The Hunchback of Notre Dame) makes The Fly an all-too human film, albeit filled with Cronenberg's familiar obsessions and gruesome attention to detail. The spectacular "Brundlefly" make-up was given a 1986 Academy Award.





  • Originally a project for Robert Bierman to direct.

  • It took nearly five hours to apply the most extensive makeup stages to actor Jeff Goldblum.

  • The Chris Walas, Inc. designers studied graphic books on disease as a starting point for their "Brundlefly" makeup/creature designs. The final "Brundlefly" creature is horribly deformed and asymmetrical. This reflects director David Cronenberg's idea that the creature shouldn't be a giant fly, but rather a literal fusion of a man and an insect that embodies elements of both.

  • This film is the origin of the commonly used phrase "Be afraid. Be very afraid". (See below) This was also a tagline for the film as well as "Something went wrong in the lab today ... something very wrong".

  • The 2005 Collector's Edition DVD version of the film includes a variety of deleted scenes. Of particular note is one scene in which a desperate Seth Brundle, already quite far along into his metamorphosis (in a transitional makeup stage that appears only in this one scene), attempts to merge an alley cat and a baboon (the same one that Brundle successfully teleported earlier in the film) together (as a test run for his "cure" seen at the end of the film). The resulting "monkey-cat" creature, however, comes out terribly deformed and attacks Brundle, and he ends up beating the two-headed creature to death with a metal pipe to end its misery. The sequence goes on to show a disturbed Brundle scaling the wall of his lab up to the roof, only to feel a pain in his side (specifically, a pain in the hernia-like bulge seen in the final cut when Brundle first demonstates his wall-crawling powers). He accidentally slips off the roof, slides down the wall, lands on a metal awning, and watches as a small, fly-like leg emerges from his side. Horrified by this new appendage, Brundle chews it off. The script additionally called for Brundle to encounter a homeless woman after this sequence in the alley, whose face he would vomit on and consume, but this segment was written out of the script before filming.

  • Cronenberg was intrigued when he first read Charles Edward Pogue's screenplay (Pogue was the film's initial writer), but agreed to sign on as director only if he would be allowed to rewrite the script. Producer Stuart Cornfeld revealed on the Collector's Edition DVD that prior to Cronenberg's involvement Walon Green attempted to rewrite Pogue's script, but that his adaptation proved unsatisfactory.

  • It is a common misconception that in the film, Brundle simply "turns into a fly". In actuality, the final Brundlefly creature represents a true fusion of man and insect (albeit a very deformed and asymmetrical one), a new life-form somewhere in-between Brundle and fly.

  • The film was spoofed in the episode "Treehouse of Horror VIII" from The Simpsons, when Bart tries to use a teleportation machine to become a superhero half-man half-fly. However, the machine only ends up swapping his head with the fly's, much like the original 1958 film.

  • Much of the concept of the 1988 episode "Enter The Fly" in the 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon is based on The Fly. Baxter Stockman and a fly mix their DNA together.

  • The last portion of "Day of the Tentacle" shows the three player characters to try to travel in time simultaneously. Dr Ed warns them 'Haven't you seen The Fly?'. Indeed the characters arrive in a single combined body. However much later it is revealed that all three aren't mutated, as they first thought, but that they just have been entangled in one's clothes.

  • An episode of Jimmy Neutron involved a similar teleportation-pod accident, in which Juimmy accendatally "splices" with his friend's pet hamster. However, only their heads are switched.

  • The Invader Zim episode Bolognius Maximus pays tribute to several scenes from The Fly. On the DVD commentary for the episode the creator of the show, Jhonen Vasquez, said it was supposed to be like "The Fly", only stupid. A quote from the film is also used in Johnny the Homicidal Maniac issue #4, both comic and T.V. show having been created by the same person.

  • The Spongebob Squarepants episode "SquidBob TentaclePants" takes its entire premise from The Fly.

  • Michael Keaton was allegedly offered the role of Seth Brundle but turned it down.





(first line)
Seth: "What am I working on? Uhhh ... I'm working on something that will change the world and human life as we know it."

Seth: "Don't be afraid."
Veronica: "No. Be afraid. Be very afraid."

(At Brundle's lab, Veronica finds him scaling the walls.)

Seth: "I seem to be stricken by a disease with a purpose, wouldn't you say? Maybe not such a bad disease after all."

Veronica: "I can't stay here."

Seth (jumps onto floor): "No, no, no! Why not? Why can't you?"

Veronica: "I can't take it ... It's too much."

Seth: What's there to take? The disease has just revealed its purpose. We don't have to worry about contagion anymore ... I know what the disease wants."

Veronica: "What does the disease want?"

Seth: "It wants to ... turn me ... into something else. That's not too terrible, is it? Most people would give anything to be turned into something else."

Veronica: "Turned into what?"

Seth: "Whadda you think, a fly? Am I becoming a hundred-and-eighty-five pound fly? No, I'm becoming something that never existed before. I'm becoming ... Brundlefly. Don't you think that's worth a Nobel Prize or two?"

Seth: "You have to leave now, and never come back here. Have you ever heard of insect politics? Neither have I. Insects ... don't have politics. They're very ... brutal. No compassion, no compromise. We can't trust the insect. I'd like to become the first ... insect politician. Y'see, I'd like to, but ... I'm afraid ...(groans)"
Veronica:"I don't know what you're trying to say!"
Seth: "I'm saying ... I'm saying I-I'm an insect who dreamt he was a man ... and loved it. But now the dream is over ... and the insect is awake."
Veronica: "No. No, Seth ..."
Seth: "I'm saying ... if you stay... i'll hurt you."





Jeff Goldblum Seth Brundle
Geena Davis Veronica Quaife
John Getz Stathis Borans















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