The average lifespan of a male housefly is about 28 days. But David Cronenberg’s The Fly? That has lasted 30 years. And it’s still just as good as it was back when Fox unleashed it upon an unsuspecting public. Today The Fly is, without question, one of the best horror remakes of all time.
Based on the 1958 classic (which was inspired by a Playboy short story), Cronenberg’s The Fly stars Jeff Goldblum as charming genius Seth Brundle, who is about to make a breakthrough in teleportation. After meeting Brundle at a press event, science journalist Ronnie Quaife (Geena Davis) comes to Seth’s warehouse apartment to see Brundle’s “telepods” for herself. To keep the project kept under wraps, Brundle negotiates an exclusive deal with Ronnie for the rights to his story. The two begin a whirlwind romance, and that’s when things go horribly wrong.
Seth makes his breakthrough, finally cracking the secret to transporting living, moving flesh. Drunk and worried that Ronnie wants to leave him for her editor (John Getz), Seth climbs into a telepod to test the machine on himself. Little does he know, a common housefly is in the telepod with him. Seth survives the teleportation with no immediate side effects, but before long his mood and personality swing wildly. He sprouts wiry black hairs and exhibits super strength. Seth then begins one of the most horrifying and stomach-churning transformations in movie history.
And if you should happen to gag while watching The Fly, blame Chris Walas. His Oscar-winning makeup effects are what make Seth Brundle’s transformation into Brundlefly so disturbingly real. But despite The Fly‘s astonishingly gross makeup effects and general weirdness, it was a huge hit. Unlike the initial reception for John Carpenter’s The Thing, critics raved, and audiences showed up in droves to watch Jeff Goldblum turn into a big rubber bug. That wouldn’t happen today — wide audiences just aren’t into this kinda stuff, and no studio would greenlight this movie.
The estimated production budget for The Fly in 1985 was nine million dollars. Adjusted for inflation, that’s about 20 million bucks today. The last 20 million dollar horror movie was The Conjuring, which is so comparatively tame it might as well be in a different genre. Tastes have certainly changed, but The Fly has not. Both the 1958 original and Cronenberg’s groundbreaking remake is must-see cinema for fans of horror and hard sci-fi. Oh, and if you like Rick and Morty, watch this movie. You’ll finally get to see where the show’s creators found the inspiration for season one’s “Rick Potion #9“. Cronenbergs!