Viking Night: The Fly
By Bruce Hall
October 26, 2016
Let’s say you answered your phone and it was me, telling you that I was going to write a column about The Fly this week. What would you assume, other than I was some kind of creepy weirdo for having your phone number? No doubt Jeff Goldblum would come to mind, and he certainly Jeff Goldblumed the hell out of the 1986 remake. No crime there - it’s a classic, and so much so that you might not even realize that it WAS a remake. THAT is the actual crime you have committed, and to be perfectly honest, it’s probably the worse of the two.
So, shame on you. That was most uncool of you.
But hey, come on. How many of us, at this point in history, have - or will - sit down and intentionally watch an almost 60-year-old film in any context other than the ironic? Well, if you’re reading this at all, you already know the answer to that. You either know me, and are doing it because you’ll feel guilty if you don’t, or you’re one of those weirdoes who digs deep into the things that entertain you, to the point where it becomes a part of your personality. To the point where you’re willing to spend a perfectly good Tuesday night writing about it.
Welcome aboard, psychos. It’s a complicated world we live in, and sometimes only the imagination can make sense of it. From there, it’s not much of a leap before you realize that life’s a whole lot more fun inside your head than on the outside. That’s not just the kind of person who writes stuff like The Fly; it also describes the maniac who came up with the film’s marketing. The Fly holds the unfortunate distinction of being one of the few films whose publicity campaign completely spoiled the central plot of the story.
I guess, for the sake of journalistic purity, I will act the way people do when someone they admire says something racist. I will bravely stand fast in the face of reality, and blithely pretend the 800 pound pink gorilla is not really sitting right behind me. And you can pretend with me.
The Fly is based on a short story that originally appeared in Playboy Magazine. It would take a whole other article to explain to most of you what that means, so let’s just say that Playboy was the same thing as Maxim, only invented in the 1950s and run by the time traveling duo of Lady Gaga and David Bowie. Okay, no - it was actually run by a cross between Rupert Murdoch and the undeniably charismatic cab driver your Aunt Laura once ran away with.
That’s no lie. In one of the great paradoxes of history, Playboy was more than just a lowbrow rite of passage for teenagers looking for a gateway into vice. It was also a great place to read quality work by legit authors like Isaac Asimov and Chuck Palahniuk. That’s probably how they got equally legit horror legend Vincent Price to play the lead in the film adaptation of George Langelaan’s short story. Because of all this, the “plot twist” was pretty well known from the beginning, but if you’ve never seen or heard of this film (or the Goldbum-y remake) you owe it to yourself to go in cold.