THE FLY *****

From the Devil's Advocates series. Written by Emma Westwood.

RRP: £9.99 134pp

Out now from Auteur Publishing.


Be afraid; be very afraid, because Emma Westwood’s entertaining and enlightening examination of David Cronenberg’s THE FLY will immediately get you buzzing to revisit the 1986 body horror romance and/or possibly shack up with a mad scientist. It’s a film that, even after 33 years, is still the go-to rebuttal whenever someone says there’s no such thing as a good remake. Therefore it’s well overdue the rigorous and impassioned appraisal it receives here, in a new release from the DEVIL’S ADVOCATES series that looks at the classics of horror cinema.

Westwood’s admiration for the film is firmly established from the off, and shines throughout, becoming ultimately as infectious as a typical Cronenbergian disease. Her writing style is accessible and breezy, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t also extensively researched and perceptive. She covers every conceivable angle of the film; from box office analysis of the opening week figures, to insight in to how it fits within Cronenberg’s wider body of work, and also a thorough discussion of the changes Cronenberg made from the original script.


Westwood comprehensively guides us from the film’s origins as a 1957 short story published in Playboy Magazine through to its first film adaptation released just one year later. She pays the original movie due respect, highlighting that it was one of the most financially and critically successful 1950’s horror films, leaving many contemporary cinema goers genuinely terrified (it was banned in Australia!). Then she even finds time to discuss the much maligned 1959 sequel, and helpfully saves you from having to watch it yourself by including perhaps the only thing of note from it; a screen shot of a guinea pig with tiny human hands (that used to be a human policeman). Interestingly she also praises CURSE OF THE FLY, the third film in the original series, as an underrated gem in spite of no Vincent Price and, perhaps even more egregiously, no flies. Whereas some might skim over these seemingly lesser films I appreciated Westwood’s effort in properly engaging with them.


Interesting quotes from Cronenberg are peppered throughout but Westwood also gives time to many of the others involved throughout the film making process, from producers to crew, with insights from those such as Lee Wilson who was “responsible for everything that appeared on Seth Brundle's computer” and Katherine Kean whose work focused primarily on the pod teleportation effects. This overall adds up to an inclusive and illuminating view of the production as a whole.


Unfortunately there is a notable omission of first hand quotes from Davis and Goldblum, but plenty of space is still rightly given to examining their excellent performances. My favourite takeaway being that they are consciously placed on equal footing in their first scene together by both having almost identical “poufy brunette coiffures” (there’s also a handy screenshot of said hair included too).


Refreshingly Westwood highly applauds the somewhat overshadowed John Getz as Borans, the 'bad guy' of the central romantic fairy tale, who walks “a tremulous tightrope between reprehensibility, humour and even hero”.  She even goes as far as saying he has the film’s “most pronounced character arc” which is certainly saying something for a film whose main character literally changes in to a giant fly. Most excitingly for Getz fans we also get a link in the footnotes to an article from Dread Central where John Getz’s beard is featured in a list of the ‘Best 10 Beards in Horror History’. Westwood really does cover every angle.


All the titles that I’ve read from the DEVIL’S ADVOCATES series have been excellent, but Westwood’s entry is by far my favourite. It’s an easily digestible read but still tells you everything you could ever want to know. THE FLY is a film that I love, but still this book found new ways for me to look at it. I never had previously considered the following; “While converted warehouses as the 'cool' abodes for creative types may seem commonplace in cinema these days, THE FLY is one of the first films that helped kick off such a trend”. So for THE FLY fans, fans of horror cinema in general and even fans of converted warehouses, this is a must read.


Reviewed by John Upton.







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THE FLY *****

This web site is owned and published by London FrightFest Limited.

FrightFest is the registered trade mark of London FrightFest Limited.
 © 2000 - 2018