Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Written by Hombre Divertido
Uttering “Help me, please help me” in a high-pitched squeal will still get looks of recognition almost fifty years later, because The Fly is a classic science fiction film that was subtle in its brilliant storytelling.
In The Fly we are introduced to the Delambre family. Francois (Vincent Price) is in love with Helene (Patricia Owens), the wife of Andre (David “Al” Hedison), his scientist brother. Interestingly this triangle remains unexplored as we are thrust into the scene of a murder and the events are told to us in a wonderful retrospective fashion. Andre has developed a machine capable of teleporting items from one place to another much like that which would be utilized on Star Trek less then a decade later. In this case, it is 1958, and it is necessary to try it on a human for the first time (Insert dramatic music here). Shot in just eighteen days, this is 94 minutes of Saturday afternoon fun. Vincent Price is at his intense best, though his performance in the theatrical trailer may actually outdo his effort in the actual film.
Since The Fly was such a huge success, production began almost immediately on The Return of the Fly, which was shot in black and white instead of color like the original, was completed in eleven days, and released in 1959. Brett Halsey takes on the lead role of Philippe, Andres’s son, who is a brilliant scientist in his own right, and out to continue the family business by reconstructing the machine that lead to his father’s death, much to the objection of his uncle (Price again).
Though the Return of the Fly is faster paced than the original, and the story has more depth, it suffers from the expediency with which it was created. It simply seems thrown together, as we watch the stuntman in the fly-head, which is much larger than the original, holding his mask when he moves, or the podium in the transportation chamber disappear and reappear as if it had been transported out when objects too large are transported in. Nonetheless, it is difficult to go wrong with Vincent Price and a monster taking his revenge during the 80-minute romp.
Unfortunately, not only is there no Vincent Price in our third installment, The Curse of the Fly, there is no fly. There are other members of the Delambre family, though it is a little unclear how they are related to the characters from the original, and they are still teleporting. They have now set up stations in their basements located in America and Europe. Unfortunately there have still been problems, and the results of said problems are being stored in cells out back.
This film has more of an Island of Dr. Moreau feel to it than a connection to The Fly, and considering it was released in 1965, the black-and-white filming only adds to its B-status. This film is worth watching simply for curiosity factor as it is obvious that the writer and producer are literally stuck between the movies of the sixties, and the classic science fiction B-movies of the fifties. The original two movies would never open with an underwear-clad woman (Carole Gray) literally running down a country road after escaping from an asylum, only to be picked up by our hero (George Baker), and find our two characters married a week later. If only poor Patricia knew that she was running from one asylum to another.
The fourth disc in the set The Fly Collection Disc of Horrors contains a biography on Price, a too-short featurette on the series, lots of artwork, and the theatrical trailers. There is good stuff here, though the best extra in the set may be the audio narration on the first film by Hedison and film historian David Del Valle. Hedison is very comfortable in telling stories, and obviously has a great appreciation for the film. His recollections are priceless.
Recommendation: Perfect for a rainy day, and a great way to introduce kids to the classic B-movies of the fifties. The extras alone make it worth picking up the set.