For those of you who know nothing about 1958’s “The Fly” this section is for you to read before you watch if you still intend to. The Fly is about an investigation into why a woman, Helene, killed her husband, Andre, using a hydraulic press. This is explained, followed by the rest of the movie being told through Helene.
The way they set this up was great. They pull you in with the murder, then slowly explain the events leading up to it with the rest of the film. Any sci-fi fan should enjoy watching this.
The one problem I found myself having is the fact that The Fly was so influential on other works that I had a pretty good idea of what the movie was about, so it was almost like watching a movie for the second time while I had never seen it before.
Like I said, I do really like the way they give you the ending of the movie and then go on to show you the events leading up to it through the rest of the movie. When Gaston walks into the building he hears noises coming from to find a dead guy in a press and a woman running away had me sitting there like “wha- who the hell is that?” but little did I know The Fly had already hooked me in.
Just after this when Andre’s brother François comes into Andre’s destroyed lab with the police investigator, the movie really had me because of my love for sci-fi and this lab looked like it was used for something crazy. I wish I could have gone into watching this with no knowledge of the film because I feel like the way they tease you with Helene’s obsession with flies would be genuinely intriguing. I did laugh out loud at Helene when she freaked out and flipped the bed table off of herself at the point where she thought the maid had killed this mysterious fly.
The worst part of The Fly is Andre and Helene’s son, Philippe. I hate Philippe. The first scene he shows up in is when he is eating dinner with François and I immediately hated him. Philippe is actually here to progress the story in this scene but he’s one of those horrible child actors. He talks of a fly with a white head that his mother was looking for which is the first François hears of it. This was an important part to the mystery of the plot but every time Philippe opened his mouth, I hated him more and more.
François goes on to talk to Helene to try to get her to explain why she squished her husband in a press. She says she won’t tell unless François has the fly with the white head, in which case François finesses her by lying about having the fly. Helene says she’ll only tell the story once so François has to get the police investigator to listen to the story as well.
Helene should have started this story with an “Alright, look.” because it is quite the crazy one.
It starts off pretty normal with Andre pulling Helene into his lab in the basement of their house to show her his new discovery. Andre had discovered the way to teleport solid objects to different places. He displays this with a plate. Andre places the plate into his machine and flips some switches that make a bunch of lights turn on because the way to show something was technologically advanced in 1958 was to show it really lit up. Then, with a sound that I can only describe as two tin cans having sex while also being shot with a shotgun and a bright flash, the plate had disappeared. Helene’s mind was blown. It was inconceivable that something could disappear like that, it was 1958! Andre explained what had just happened to Helene’s pea sized brain by comparing it to the way television works, but with solid objects. Andre then opened a second door in his lab, behind which was the receiver for his teleporter with the plate inside. Helene pulled out the plate with a “It’s the same one!” because people in 1958 could not comprehend that the teleportation of the plate had happened and needed to have the previous events explained to them directly. It turns out that the teleporter flips the object so it is right back to work for Andre.
Andre eventually fixes it off-screen then sends a newspaper through to prove it which I’m glad they did without showing it because I’m just sitting here like “Give me the good stuff, the horror/sci-fi stuff!”
Oh boy do I get what I wanted.
While Andre is reading the newspaper he had just sent through, his cat, Dandelo (I’m not sure how to spell it, but it doesn’t matter for much longer), walks in. Andre gives the cat milk then has a genius idea. “I bet I can teleport this cat.” Normally I get upset when you know an animal is about to die in a movie but I was all in for the death of Dandelo. At the very beginning of the movie, Gaston brings in his cat. His cat had the hots for Dandelo and Dandelo was nowhere to be found so Gaston hit his cat with a “Dandelo found someone else.” Now I’m mad. My boy Gaston’s cat just got ghosted like that? I wasn’t having it. Now’s the time for his retribution, Dandelo was about to get killed by this teleporter. Andre picks her up and puts her into the teleporter. He says she’s going to be fine and I laughed. Andre fires up the machine and poof, the cat is gone. Andre goes in to check the receiver to find the cat isn’t there. Meows can be heard all over the place so now Dandelo is everywhere and nowhere I guess, lost in space. Wait! It hits me. This is a flashback. I just witnessed the reason Dandelo wasn’t there at the beginning of the film. My emotions were now all over the place. Let’s move on.
After all this Andre brings Helene back to show her that he can now teleport living things using a guinea pig and she freaks out, fearing for the guinea pig. I couldn’t help but laugh because Andre already killed the cat. He successfully ‘ports the guinea pig, showing his progress with his machine.
They celebrate by going to a ballet and having some champagne that Andre sends through the teleporter for some reason. Like, we get it, you made a great scientific discovery or whatever. Then they bang but it is 1958 so it’s off-screen.
Now it’s time for Philippe to come back. Philippe had been outside catching flies in a net. I was born in 1998 and have never experienced what it was like to play in 1958 but I feel like catching flies is still a weird thing to do. Anyway, Philippe caught a fly with a white head. A prize for this strange fly boy. Helene tells him to release it which becomes important soon.
Andre had been in his lab for quite a long time, even missing a lunch with Helene and François. The maid took him food but it turns out he didn’t eat it. The maid relays this information to Helene so she goes to check on him. She calls to him through the locked lab door and Andre doesn’t answer, instead sliding a note under the door telling her that he can’t speak and needs a bowl of rum milk. Rum milk is exactly what you think it is, milk with rum in it. She gets him his delicious rum milk and he lets her into the lab. Andre has a towel over his head and he hands Helene a note telling her to look for a strange fly in the back of the lab.
While Helene is in the back part of the lab Andre drinks his rum milk without taking his towel off, letting you know something weird had happened.
Helene remembers the white-headed fly talk with Phillipe earlier and goes back to talk to Andre. She tells him that Philippe had caught the fly earlier and she told him to release it. As Andre goes to punch her lights out for being so dumb (because 1958), he pulls his hand out of his coat pocket revealing it is black and fuzzy. Helene proceeds to scream for like, 30 seconds. Andre types another message to her explaining how he had been teleporting himself back and forth and during one of his ‘ports, a fly had been in the chamber with him. When the teleportation had occurred, the atoms of Andre and the fly had gotten tangled and now he needed the fly in hopes of fixing this problem.
Helene goes on to find the fly but it escapes. The fly gets caught in the curtains of her window. The window has a hole in it so Helene goes outside to catch the fly while Philippe keeps it trapped in the curtain. The fly escapes because Helene sucks so the problem is not resolved. I have two problems with this scene.
One, the way it’s shot makes it seem like Helene stood and watched the fly escape then try to put the net over the hole. It’s kind of hard to explain, you just have to watch the movie.
Two, there is no way in hell this fly gets out of the hole that quickly. The hole in the glass of this window is maybe three inches big. I have opened whole windows for flies and those dumb bastards will still tink against the glass until they die.
Helene goes back to tell Andre that the fly got away and he almost immediately decides to kill himself. I couldn’t help but think Andre was acting a little quickly, but who am I to tell Andre what to do. He is clearly much smarter than I.
Helene convinces Andre that maybe going through the teleporter again will fix him, it doesn’t.
Helene pulls the towel off of Andre’s head to reveal his head had been replaced by the head of a fly and honestly the reveal was pretty good. I could see how this could give people nightmares in 1958. My thoughts were confirmed when Helene screamed for another long period of time and fainted.
Andre was struggling to keep control of his fly half and couldn’t think straight.
Andre had decided now was the time to destroy the abomination he had become and he needed Helene’s help. He proceeded to destroy his lab. He then wrote the plan out on a his chalk board for Helene in cursive which with my high school diploma, I struggled to read at points. He had Helene follow him to the press where he would squish his head and arm, destroying the fly parts. This didn’t make much sense to me because this wouldn’t get rid of the parts, just flatten them, but Andre was the scientist and I am not so he can do what he wants. Helene crushed him and boom, we’re right back at the beginning of the movie again and I still like that a lot.
The investigator and François then discuss whether or not she made the whole thing up. François believes her, but the investigator isn’t convinced. The investigator arranges for Helene to be put into a mental hospital.
The next day, François sits on a bench next to a spider web with a fly on it as the investigator shows up with the warrant and people to drag Helene away. François, somehow missing the “help me!” cries coming from the web, follows the investigator in and up to Helene’s room. They begin to strap Helene up and François leaves the bedroom. He meets up with Philippe. Philippe mentions he saw the fly on the web next to the bench and François runs to go get the investigator, as he now has the one thing that can prove the story was real.
They run to the spider web to find the fly about to be eaten by the spider. The “help me” cries can still be heard as they look closer at the fly. The fly has a human head and arm and it is by far the scariest thing in the movie. Seriously, this man fly thing will show up in my nightmares for years. He is about to get eaten by the spider when the investigator crushes the spider and fly with a big rock for some reason.
Now that both Helene and the investigator have both killed a “Thing”, they come up with the story that will get the murder charges against Helene dropped, so everybody lives happily ever after.
This was a quality movie and I fully understand why it had such a big impact. The Fly is the pinnacle of 1950s sci-fi.