David Cronenberg’s The Fly depresses the shit out of me. And yet, in a weird, mutated kind of way it’s one of my all time favourites and a movie I find myself returning to time and time again. As it turns the grand old age of thirty this year, it suddenly dawned on me that a lot more has changed in that time than Seth Brundle’s eating habits. I started to wonder whether a viewer’s journey to films like this could possibly be the same as they were during the intervening years since its release or if right now, everything's as unrecognisable as Brundlefly himself.
I remember buying a battered VHS copy of The Fly from a dusty video store as a teenager. It was right around the time that I’d made the bulletproof decision to start collecting video tapes because it wasn’t like they were going anywhere anytime soon and they were really cheap for some reason. Until then, the only time I’d crossed paths with the movie was on late nights where I’d managed to stay up past my bedtime and even then I’d only seen snippets. I’d fallen asleep before the end, glimpsed some gore and heard rumours about its outlandish spectacle. I was instantly intrigued.
Because back then (well, in the mid-90s), you couldn’t just Google a film, learn all its trivia and watch a Youtube montage of its best bits within the space of three seconds. That’s why finding an old video shop was such, well, a find. It was akin to what vinyl fans are experiencing today. When I saw that knackered copy of Cronenberg’s movie, I knew I had to snap it up.
That £3 investment didn’t disappoint. Looking back, The Fly perfectly encapsulates all that was great about 80s cinema. Fear of technology, dystopian futures, slime - I’ve always had this theory that the 80s had the best movie ideas but lacked the technology to do them all justice. However little did filmmakers at the time know, their barriers were in fact charm generators. All those shortcuts and rough-and-ready make-up techniques are now the most fondly remembered scenes of all and no film has more of these than The Fly.