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Illustration for article titled If Youre Feeling Too Good, You Can Watch David Cronenbergs The Fly

Hey, how's it going? Good? Good. I just wanted to check in and let you know, in case you're feeling too good about how life is going, you can always watch David Cronenberg's The Fly.

I myself recently was feeling 'good' about 'life' in general. My new job's off to a good start. My fridge is well-stocked. I have delicious, life-giving coffee. And I found myself thinking, Ya know what? This is too much of an emotional high, right now. I should really bring it down a few notches with finely-tailored heartbreak and gut-churning body horror, as only David Cronenberg can deliver.


Bing bam boom, 96 minutes later, everything's right as rain. 'Right as rain' here meaning, re-opening the gaping wound where a man's heart should be; and that fine and good confidence that all will be well, replaced with doubt and remorse for things wreathed in shadow.

For the record, I love this movie. It's sublimely well made, Howard Shore's score is hauntingly on-point, the acting is superb, and the practical effects (rightly) won Chris Walas and Stephan Dupuis an Oscar for best make-up.

There are 'feel good' movies out there for every life scenario, as easy to suggest as the right flavor of ice cream to complement a fine meal. The Fly is a 'feel awful' movie, that sours and despoils the joy of being alive like nothing else I care to think of.

[It's okay to leave now, by the way. If there is still sunlight shining, you can bask in it. From here, much as they did for Seth Brundle, things only get worse.]


I contemplated doing a beat-by-beat breakdown of the movie, but frankly I still want to enjoy life at some later date, so I choose not to spelunk down that cavern of despair, thank you very much.

We can handle broad strokes, right? Okay. Yeah, I can live with broad strokes.

So you have a perfectly charming romance between an attractive young couple (Goldblum and Davis were a couple at the time, adding to their on-screen chemistry). That falls to shit. Between him becoming a BrundleJerk, literally falling apart, and scaring off Veronica, they don't really have much of a shot here for lasting happiness. Bless her, 'Ronnie' tries her best to be there for him... 'til she learns she's pregnant.


Oooooh, boy. Okay. Deep breaths. In. Out. You can do this. It's just a movie. It's just a movie. It's just a perfectly-captured metaphor for all these horrible types of cancer and aging and— mm. Deep breaths.

So, that happens. /swallows/ Brundle's first betrayed by his machines— more or less doing exactly what he told them to do— then his own body, then his mind. He stops being Seth Brundle, and aptly re-christens himself 'BrundleFly'.


There's a third party in the mix here, one Stathis Borans. He's Ronnie's editor at Particle Magazine, and an extremely jealous ex. He's not above stalking her, nor jeopardizing her career and her relationship by sending inflammatory materials to her boyfriend's home. He's a real prince, our Stathis. He's also the only other support Ronnie has.

Things turn ugly, then they get uglier. Then they literally get inhuman. Once Brundlefly learns it can't undo the original gene splice, it starts working on ways to minimize the percentage of Fly left in its genetic makeup. The only way to do this is to graft/splice/'oh god no' another human being onto its own crumbling form. When it realizes Veronica's carrying its child, it decides the only option is to put her into one telepod, put itself in another, and come out in the third pod as "the ultimate family." That's a direct quote.


Stathis arrives with a shotgun, only to fall victim to Brundlefly's 'vomitdrop', aka the only way the creature can still eat: vomiting corrosive enzymes (or acid, for the layman), and sucking back up the now-digested food. Deep breaths.

Brundlefly successfully drags its pregnant girlfriend, kicking and screaming, into the first telepod. It loses the last vestiges of humanity in the process, thematically and physically. This was the last shot to include Jeff Goldblum beneath Oscar-winning makeup, before Brundefly shed the last of Brundle's rotting flesh. The first time I saw this scene was on daytime cable, on a Sunday. They showed this on TV, unedited, and I very nearly threw up right then and there. THERE SHOULD HAVE BEEN WARNINGS, PEOPLE.


Professional miners are brought in to blast a hole right through Rock Bottom, to discover the grim and unforgiving conundrum that lay beneath Rock Bottom: The UnderDark. Revealed in that smoking cavern below is what you'd expect: a smiling David Cronenberg, sitting in his Director's chair, munching on popcorn.

The film ends on a low note. Again, literally, as Howard Shore's amazing score perfectly captures the churning sea of remorse in which Veronica pitifully sinks. Fade to black.


I have now successfully purged any good, warm feelings from my cold, insensate form. I may one day recapture that foreign sensation known as hap-py-nesz, but if I do so it will be entirely by accident. I can no longer recall the smell of fresh bread. The taste of strawberries. The vision of cream, swirling and mingling in a cup of warm coffee— it eludes me.

All is as it must be. I have re-watched The Fly.

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