I recently saw the original 1958 version of The Fly for the first time and enjoyed it as a top-notch B-movie. Then I tried to watch David Cronenberg’s 1986 remake and lost interest after Jeff Goldblum’s face began to fill with pus. Cronenberg’s propensity for the gruesome does nothing for me. Even though the original begins with a scientist found dead under a giant printing press that has squooshed his head and one arm into a bloody pulp — and murdered by his wife! — it doesn’t rely on the gross-out to underlie the drama; all that’s shown is the blood (briefly), not the guts.
Then there’s the mystery: Why did the scientist’s wife kill him with a… huh?… a printing press? And why is she so concerned about the strange-looking fly buzzing around the house? She may be a typically vacuous B-movie female character, but what the hell’s going on here? The answer, of course, is that her husband’s latest invention, the disintegrator/integrator, has transmorgified him into a fly! He’s now a human with a fly head (and one fly arm), and the poor little fly now has a human head! So that pretty much makes The Fly a B-movie, but it’s a good movie because it’s not completely stupid. Vincent Prince looks like a creep, the performances are silly, but the low-tech special effects are inventive and the dramatic-tragic elements of the story are well-played. It’s not a bad movie to check out if you just want to have fun.