The Fly (1958) Blu-ray Review
“Help me….please…help me.” These words, delivered in a high pitched voice, scared the hell out of me as a child. They come from the classic film THE FLY, which is newly arrived on Blu-Ray.
A night watchman is making his rounds when he hears a sound. Investigating he sees a woman running off and the body of a man, his head horribly crushed in an industrial press. The police are notified but the woman’s story is incredulous. She can’t be telling the truth….can she?
One of the better “atomic insect” films of the late 1950s, THE FLY takes an old fashioned murder mystery and gives it a spooky sense of science-fiction and fantasy. It tells the story of a scientist named Andre Delambre (Hedison) who runs a successful business with his brother, Francois (Price). Andre likes to experiment and has spent his talents working on a particle transporter – a machine that can take something in one place and magically move it to another. As his experiment gradually grows he works his subjects up from ice bucket to cat to himself. The experiment appears to be a success except for one little problem: a housefly was in the chamber with him. Their molecules have molded and Andre emerges with the head, and an arm, of a fly. Meanwhile the fly now has an arm and bears a very strong resemblance to Andre. Obviously Madame Delambre (Patricia Owens) is none too happy about sharing her life with an insect. But short of an industrial size can of RAID what can she do?
Well directed by Kurt Neumann, who sadly would pass away a week before the film’s release (that he still had three more films released after his death gives a good look at the way Hollywood used to function), THE FLY is a good, old fashioned scary movie. It also marked the first writing assignment for later-to-be-famous author James Clavell, here adapting a short story that had appeared in “Playboy” magazine in 1957. The cast is also full of familiar names and faces. Besides Price, generally regarded as one of the greats of horror cinema, the movie boasts the second film performance of actor Al Hedison, who would later go by his middle name, David, and appear in practically every classic television program of the next 30 years, including a starring role opposite Richard Basehart in VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA. Sharp eyed fans will also recognize Kathleen Freeman, who appears here as a housekeeper but is probably best remembered as “The Penguin,” the nun that helped raise THE BLUES BROTHERS.
The special effects are pretty well done for the period, with special emphasis going not on the man with the fly’s head but the fly itself. It’s ghostly face and horribly pitched voice can still send a shudder or two down the spine of even the most seasoned horror fan. I recommend a double feature of this film and David Cronnenberg’s 1986 remake with Jeff Goldblum. You’ll never look at a fly on the wall the same again.
THE FLY BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: Presented in it’s original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, the transfer by Fox is well done. The colors are bright and the image sharp.
Audio: Presented in DTS Master Audio 4.0, the sound is well mixed with no distortion.
Commentary with David (Al) Hedison and David Del Valle: A great commentary by star Hedison and film historian Del Valle. Even 50 years later Hedison shares some fun memories.
Biography: Vincent Price (44:03): This is a 1997 episode of the popular A&E program, “Biography,” detailing the career of the great Vincent Price.
Fly Trap: Catching a Classic (11:31): A short but entertaining featurette on the film.
Fox Movietone News (00:55): A very short piece on the “Out of this World” Premiere of the film in San Francisco, where attendees were greeted by such horror film giants as Dracula, Frankenstein and the Mummy, who were, ironically, monsters associated with Universal.