The original The Fly (1958), directed by Kurt Neumann and starring Vincent Price, is a fairly routine sci-fi programmer with one or two inspired moments. Years later, when David Cronenberg found Charles Edward Pogue's updated screenplay, he saw that there were several ways to rethink and improve upon the original story (written by George Langelaan) and to include his own favorite themes. Moreover, it was a way to deal with one of Cronenberg's own personal problems: motion sickness. In the new film, inventor Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum -- who deserved, but did not receive, an Oscar nomination) spends all his time working on teleportation pods so that he'll never have to ride in a car ever again. It was also Cronenberg's most seamless exploration of the changing of the human body via the introduction of outside elements, a theme he has very recently attempted to expand and deepen with Spider (2002) and his gangster films A History of Violence (2005) and the new Eastern Promises.

The Fly (1986) opens at a kind of science convention where inventors gather to discuss (or hint at) their latest findings. A sexy reporter, Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis), is there, hunting for a story. Somehow Seth's kooky enthusiasm intrigues her and she agrees to accompany him back to his lab to see his work. He gives her a cappuccino (from a real cappuccino machine with the eagle on top), and teleports her scarf across the room using two "pods." The pods, of course, are designed to look like huge, metallic beehives or cocoons. Seth decides he likes Veronica, but doesn't want her to write an article about his as-yet-unfinished invention, so he persuades her to hang around and work on a book instead. Together they work on the final hurdle: sending living tissue safely through the pods. In one horrific scene a lab monkey gets turned inside out. In another intriguing sequence, he teleports two slices of steak. The steak looks the same, but the teleported piece tastes wrong; it's the first time Cronenberg really dealt with food and the way the human body perceives and absorbs it. (Eastern Promises goes a little into this as well.)

categories Features, Cinematical