I have said it once and I will say it again, reviewing horror classics is a difficult job. Time changes everything and how we view a film in the present is not how it was viewed in the past. Ultimately it is up to the critic to determine how they will interpret a movie. The only way I know how to watch a film is in the now. Ultimately, does a classic film mean as much as it did then as it does in 2015?
Rarely does a horror film translate perfectly and The Fly is no exception. Beautiful cinematography and acting make this film strong technically, but the complete lack of fear generated by the movie results in a pretty unmemorable experience. The viewer is constantly reminded that the movie is “old”, which is not a fun thing to remember. Luckily, the plot line is enough to keep viewers interested. The film revolves around a genius scientist, Andre (David Hedison), botching his experiments with matter transportation. Needless to say, splicing genes from two different species is bound to end up in tragedy. The movie focuses on flashbacks, with the viewer attempting to figure out what happened from the jump and how Andre’s wife, Helene (Patricia Owens), is now under suspicion of murdering her husband. Of course, it wouldn’t be a classic horror movie without Vincent Price making an appearance. Sadly, the viewer isn’t privy to seeing him on screen as much as we would have hoped.
Many older films don’t hold up over time, so they naturally become “cult” classics. For me, a cult classic was either a film entirely missed by the general public and is genuinely amazing, or it is a movie that has unintentional comedy. The Fly isn’t completely over the top, but there are moments when the viewer is bound to laugh. This can definitely be seen in the special effects. Creating a human fly is difficult from the start, which is why this film avoids showing too much. At the end of the film, we witness not just the fly in multiple forms but also some pretty hilarious lines that may or may not attempt to be serious. In 1958, I like to think that the viewers found these scenes terrifying rather than humerous.
Is The Fly worth watching in 2015? If you want to see great directing and solid acting, then it is for you. If you are all about the scares or complex plot lines, then this movie probably won’t do it for you. Some people may say that there was nothing that complex going on during this time period, but let's not forget that Psycho, arguably the greatest horror film of all time, came out only two years later! Just like Andre’s matter transportation device was shaky when it came to transporting matter from one place to another, The Fly is just as shaky when it comes to transporting its source material to the present.
If you liked The Fly, you might also like The Birds.