Curse Of The Fly (1965)

FEBRUARY 27, 2012


Much like fellow Curse (Of The Cat People), Curse Of The Fly is sort of lacking in the title monsters; there are failed experiments and mutations (more than any previous Fly film, in fact), but not a single damn fly. Of course, the odds that this shit could happen AGAIN are pretty slim, so I guess it’s good that they went with logic over popular demand. Then again, the deck was stacked against them from the start – no Vincent Price, relocated production (London instead of the FOX lot), etc – this must have been a damn tough sell back in 1965.

Luckily, it’s not too bad. It’s got a sort of Island Of Lost Souls vibe to it, as the original scientist’s son (although not the one from Return; not sure where the hell he was in the previous two films, but whatever) has kept all of the poor victims from his failed experiments in cages, and they’re scary but not really the villains of the movie. There’s even a romance at the center of it all, and lots of fun talk about how science is built around breaking a few eggs to make omelets (so to speak). In other words, it’s a little more interesting than another rehash of “I know we can make this work! Ah, shit, it didn’t.”

I also like that this one actually has teleportation, though the kinks haven’t been worked out just yet. Our characters travel between Montreal and London with some frequency, thought they suffer radiation burns and age more rapidly – still better than turning inside out or being melded with a bug, I’d argue. They’ve redesigned the pods as well – now they lay down in enclosed glass “coffins” of a sort, which I guess makes it easier to spot wayward insects. In fact it just makes me kind of bummed that the series never progressed (in either incarnation) long enough to see a world where the teleporters WERE used for the things they claim they’ll be able to do (send help to disaster areas in an instant, teleport food to the hungry, etc), only to discover long-term side effects 20 years or so into their common use (i.e. fly-people). That would be a pretty awesome movie, I think.

Back on track, it simply works more as a horror film than the first sequel. There are some pretty great suspense bits, particularly around the halfway point where the heroine first discovers the caged “mutants” while wandering around her new home. And later there’s a creepy reveal of a woman with a half melted face (and even more messed up arm), which is much more unnerving than a guy wearing a three piece suit and a giant fly head. Sure, Price is missed, but Brian Donlevy is a decent enough replacement, and Carole Gray is a knockout.

It IS a bit slow though. There’s very little action (even of the human on human variety), and since it’s only tangentially related to the first films (the only returning character is the cop from the first movie, played by a new actor) it’s sort of like starting over, which means they can’t speed things along like a normal sequel could. We have to meet everyone, get their back-stories, set up the new storyline, etc. The romantic scenes probably take more screen-time than anything involving failed teleporter victims. It all pays off, but by this point in mid 60s, horror films tended to be a little more exciting (and in color); this one almost feels like an early 50s film at times.

Apparently this one never hit VHS or Laserdisc; its inclusion in the boxed set (from 2006 I believe) was its first ever home video release. I actually didn’t even know a 3rd film existed until then, so it’s a minor shame that it was sort of “lost” for so long. It’s not a masterpiece by any means, but it’s a more interesting and scarier follow-up to the first film than Return, and the British sensibility gives it some much needed flavor. I also suspect Cronenberg had seen it; this one has a rather depressing finale, much like his film (the original Fly’s finale was more goofy than tragic). In short, I’d watch it again!

What say you?


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