Wednesday, January 11, 2017

I'm Getting Better, or Thoughts on Jeff Goldblum in The Fly

I know, I keep saying I hate remakes and yet here is another perfectly updated adaptation of a horror classic, David Cronenberg’s The Fly (1986).  Much like John Carpenter’s remake of The Thing (1982), the 1986 version got rid of the Cold War radiation fears and added an unhealthy dose of sci-fi bio-horror while retaining the goofy sensibilities of the original movie.  I mean, half-man, half-fly, from a failed teleportation experiment?  The original script could have easily become a Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis vehicle with a few tweaks; the premise is inherently funny.
But there’s nothing funny about the 1986 version, director David Cronenberg had already established himself with subversively uncomfortable Canadian horror films including Rabid (1977), Scanners (1981) and  Videodrome (1983).  Jeff Goldblum was already known to audiences with performances in Death Wish (1974), Annie Hall (1977), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) and of course, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the8th Dimension (1984), but The Fly was surprisingly one of his first leading roles. 
As Seth Brundle, the quirky genius systems manager, Jeff Goldblum infused the role with his signature boyish charm that co-star Geena Davis found irresistible.  There’s a natural chemistry between the two, it shows on film and they were married a year later.  He had already starred with Geena Davis in Transylvania 6-5000 (1985) and in The Fly she portrays Veronica Quaife, journalist and biographer.
The fly transformation happens from the inside out as Seth’s DNA is fused with the errant, titular fly but my question is why wasn’t there a clean room set up in his downtown loft warehouse space?  This couldn't have been the first time a fly had gotten in there, and the absence of basic scientific protocol is distracting.  But without that fly audiences wouldn’t have seen the debut of a truly horrifying monster with none of the haunting beauty of say, Karloff’s Monster or the absurdity of a fly mask in a lab coat of the original movie.  The design was innovative enough to win an Academy Award for Best Makeup, and adds to the inevitable tragedy of the updated Jekyll and Hyde love story.
There’s no turning back from The Fly, a stylish, intellectual sci-fi thriller that exploited the 80’s AIDS panic and took the bio-horror genre to a new level.  And another question; putting aside the ethics of teleporting a baboon inside-out, how did he even get one?  I mean, even in the 80’s, experimenting on a primate had to be a big deal involving FDA regulations (or the Canadian equivalent).  It’s not like you can go down to a pet store or the pound and pick one up.  I’m sure there was a paper trail.  But then again, he transformed himself into a giant fly, so why dwell on the details.
But technically, I built this entire blog on the details…




my first novel?  thanks for asking:)  it’s a the first book in a 4-volume supernatural martial arts series chock full of killer kung-fu witches, haunted carnivals, punk rock assassins, and a 24-hour diner with the best pie in town…
read for free on kindle unlimited or buy the paperback, available at fine bookstores everywhere (amazon).