The Fly 1958

A scientist has a horrific accident when he tries to use his newly invented teleportation device.

The Cast

Jeff Goldblum-Seth Brundle
Geena Davis-Veronica Quaife
John Getz-Stathis Borans
Joy Boushel-Tawny
Leslie Carlson-Dr. Cheevers
George Chuvalo-Marky
Michael Copeman-2nd Man in Bar
David Cronenberg-Gynecologist

The Director: David Cronenberg
The Writers: George Langelaan, Charles Edward Pogue, David Cronenberg
Music by: Howard Shore
Certificate : 18

Film Trivia

In a 1987 interview on Sinister Image (1987) Vincent Price revealed that when this remake was released, star Jeff Goldblum wrote him a letter saying, "I hope you like it as much as I liked yours." Price was touched by the letter, he composed a reply and went to see the film, which he described as "wonderful right up to a certain point... it went a little too far."
After watching some of his early films, director Martin Scorsese asked to meet David Cronenberg. Upon meeting him, Scorsese said he looked like a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon. This inspired Cronenberg to give himself a cameo as a doctor.
Scripted, but never filmed, was a segment meant to have followed the deleted monkey-cat scene: A homeless lady screams after interrupting Brundlefly as he feeds out of an open dumpster. Brundlefly seizes the bag lady and disintegrates her face with his vomit drop. Before he finishes feeding on the woman's corpse, Brundlefly's humanity emerges for a moment; just long enough to contemplate the horror of his sub-human existence.
The line, "I'm saying, I'm an insect who dreamt he was a man and loved it, but now that dream is over, and the insect is awake." is a reference to author Zhuangzi's famous Butterfly Dream story. It's also a reference to Franz Kafka's famous short story, The Metamorphosis.
The infamous cat-monkey scene where Brundlefly fuses a cat and the remaining baboon and then beats it to death with a lead pipe was cut following a Toronto screening. According to producer Stuart Cornfeld the audience felt that there was no turning back for Seth and they lost all sympathy for his plight, which caused the rest of the film to not play as well. In Cornfeld's own words: "If you beat an animal to death, even a monkey-cat, your audience is not gonna be interested in your problems anymore".
The first name mentioned in the end credits is Chris Walas, Inc. as the creator and designer of the fly. After a screening the audience cheered upon seeing this first credit. Producer Stuart Cornfeld turned to Walas and said, "You're getting the Oscar". Cornfeld's prediction came true when Walas did in fact win the Academy Award for Best Makeup. Walas claims that this was probably because his name was listed first.
Jeff Goldblum was often wearing as much as 5lbs of prosthetic makeup during his fly transformation.
The scene where Seth and Ronnie are having coffee at the restaurant, and Seth is talking endlessly, was only half scripted when production began. The remainder was written the night before the scene was going to be filmed, as Jeff Goldblum felt that he could add more to the character.
Those involved with the making of the film, including David Cronenberg, remember that the baboon (whose name was Typhoon) was very much a wild animal, and not an actor. Visual effects supervisor Hoyt Yeatman said in a special features documentary that Typhoon was once startled by the flashing lights in the telepod and broke the door off to get out. The wrangler and Jeff Goldblum (who is 6'4") were the ones who had to keep the primate in check. "They're very volatile, and there's no such thing as a tame baboon," Cronenberg said. "Jeff, because he was much bigger and stronger than the baboon, was able to dominate him, and the baboon's wrangler said it was a good thing that the baboon formed that relationship ... Otherwise there could have been big trouble on the set with some of the female members of the crew."
The famous tagline, "Be afraid, be very afraid!", originated in this film as dialogue spoken by Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis).
Seth's saying, "Drink deep, or taste not, the plasma spring", is a reference to a famous quote from Alexander Pope's "An Essay on Criticism". The full quote is: "A little learning is a dang'rous thing; drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring: Their shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again."
Mel Brooks didn't want people to know he was a producer for the film, because he thought people wouldn't take it seriously if they knew he was involved. When people did find out, he decided to make the most of it by handing out deely boppers at the premiere.
According to David Cronenberg, the line "Be afraid, be very afraid!" was invented by Mel Brooks while discussing how characters should react to the early stages of Seth Brundle's transformation.
Several sequences were filmed but cut from the final release, including: a sequence where Brundle sends a cat and the surviving baboon through the telepods, resulting in a mutated creature he beats to death with a pipe; a scene where Brundle climbs the outside of his building as an insect limb emerges from his side; and an alternate ending in which Veronica has another dream of her unborn child, this time as a baby with beautiful butterfly wings.
Michael Keaton was offered the role of Seth Brundle, but he declined.
David Cronenberg noted on his DVD audio commentary that the baboons used in the film frightened him personally, as they are potentially dangerous, physically very strong and, as very intelligent and very wild animals, are highly unpredictable. However, Cronenberg believed due to his tall and muscular physique, the baboons behaved affectionate and deferential towards Jeff Goldblum, who had trained and worked out in preparation for the role, making the scenes with them easy to film. Other films using baboons often have mixed success, such as during the filming of The Omen (1976), when Lee Remick had to be rescued from an overly-excited baboon during the zoo attack scene.
Originally a project for Tim Burton to direct.
David Cronenberg was surprised when the film was seen by some critics as a cultural metaphor for AIDS, since he originally intended the film to be a more general analogy for disease itself, terminal conditions like cancer and, more specifically, the aging process.
David Cronenberg met with some opposition when he announced that he wanted to cast Jeff Goldblum in the lead role. The executive at Fox who was supervising the project felt that Goldblum was not a bankable star, and Chris Walas felt that his face would be difficult to work with for the make-up effects. Both, however, deferred to Cronenberg's judgment. Cronenberg himself later had reservations when Goldblum suggested Geena Davis, his girlfriend at the time, for the other lead role, as he did not want to have to work with a real-life couple. Cronenberg was convinced after Davis's first reading that she was right for the role. Producer Stuart Cornfeld suggested that they audition more actresses saying that it's the "script that is brilliant". Cornfeld relented after "nobody else even came close".
Chris Walas had a meeting with his crew prior to production. He said they could do this film or Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990). Working on this film meant that they would have to come up with all of the designs and begin construction in three months. Walas' crew unanimously agreed that it wasn't possible in that time frame but decided to do it anyway because it was more of a challenge.
The Fly's vomit was made from honey, eggs and milk.
Although his script was extensively rewritten, Charles Edward Pogue still receives onscreen credit for the screenplay. David Cronenberg demanded that Pogue receive credit claiming that he would have never known how to write the script if not for Pogue's version.
The Chris Walas, Inc. designers studied graphic books on disease as a starting point for their "Brundlefly" makeup/creature designs. The final "Brundlefly" creature is horribly deformed and asymmetrical. This reflects director David Cronenberg's idea that the creature shouldn't be a giant fly, but rather a literal fusion of a man and an insect that embodies elements of both.
It took nearly five hours to apply the most extensive makeup stages to actor Jeff Goldblum.
Chris Walas asked Jeff Goldblum to give a physical characteristic to his performance he could easily transfer over to the end 'spacebug' puppet. Goldblum thought about it, then added his trademark twitches which they could then easily add to the their puppeteering.
Screenwriter Charles Edward Pogue wrote the first draft of the script. When David Cronenberg was hired as director, one condition was that he be able to rewrite the script to his satisfaction. Cronenberg substantially altered the characters (and their names), the dialogue, and much of the plot. However, key details from Pogue's script (the fusion of man and fly and details of the metamorphosis) were retained.
While working at Fox, it was Scott Rudin's suggestion to Stuart Cornfeld that they hire David Cronenberg as director. Cornfeld agreed and after Mel Brooks had written an eloquent letter to the bosses at Fox, they agreed. Cronenberg's asking salary at the time was 750,000 dollars. Brooks, Cornfeld, and Fox, countered with an offer of 1 million dollars, which sealed the deal.
During his audition, John Getz recalls having a terrible migraine the entire time. Later, while filming Stathis' first scene where he and Veronica discuss the tape, David Cronenberg asked if he could have the headache again. This is why Getz has his fingers on his head throughout much of the scene (especially during the line, "He's conning you.")
Most of the makeup work and puppets used for the film are now located in Bob Burns' collection.
Linda Hamilton was David Cronenberg's first choice for the role of Veronica based on her performance in The Terminator (1984), but she turned it down, because she was disturbed by the script. Particularly the scene where Veronica gives birth to a maggot baby disturbed her the most.
Jennifer Jason Leigh and Laura Dern were considered for the role of Veronica Quaife, but the producers wanted an unknown.
David Cronenberg didn't want Seth Brundle to swap heads with a fly like in the 1958 film and instead decided to have Seth Brundle undergo a horrifying gradual transformation by having his genes fused with a fly on a genetic level.
An early treatment for a sequel, written by Tim Lucas, involved Veronica Quaife dealing with the evils of the Bartok company. Brundle's consciousness had somehow survived within the Telepod computer, and the Bartok scientists had enslaved him and were using him to develop the system for cloning purposes. Brundle becomes able to communicate with Veronica through the computer, and he eventually takes control of the Bartok complex's security systems to gruesomely attack the villains. Eventually, Veronica frees Brundle by conspiring with him to reintegrate a non-contaminated version of his original body. David Cronenberg endorsed the concept at the time. Geena Davis was open to doing a sequel (and only pulled out of The Fly II (1989) because her character was to be killed off in the opening scene), while Goldblum was not (although he was okay with the cameo), and this treatment reflects that. However, a later treatment written by Jim Wheat and Ken Wheat was used as the basis for the final script, written by Frank Darabont. Mick Garris also wrote a treatment, with elements incorporated into the final film.
Geena Davis wasn't acting when Jeff Goldblum's right ear falls off. Her reaction in the film was genuine and she was genuinely shocked when it was filmed and David Cronenberg kept the take of her reaction in the film.
This film recycles the line "Help me," said by the main character in both versions. Famously, stars Vincent Price and Herbert Marshall required several takes to film the scene with that dialogue in the original, because they could not stop laughing. In the remake the context of the line is completely serious and not comedic at all.
An opera in two acts based on the movie was produced for the stage in 2008. David Cronenberg served as director, Howard Shore composed the music and the lyrics were written by David Henry Hwang (with whom Cronenberg collaborated on M. Butterfly (1993)).
The first bar and the last bar of music on the soundtrack is taken from the last bar of music from Puccini's tragic opera 'Madame Butterfly'. Perhaps a reference to the deleted dream sequence of the heroine giving birth to a butterfly.
It is loosely based on George Langelaan's 1957 short story of the same name, which also formed the basis for The Fly (1958).
Mel Gibson was considered for the role of Seth Brundle. But he turned it down to do Lethal Weapon (1987).
Eventually played as a double-billed movie with Aliens (1986) which was released the month before.
Musician Bryan Ferry originally composed a song called Help Me at Mel Brooks and Stuart Cornfield's commission and was originally going to be played in the movie's closing credits. However, David Cronenberg, despite liking the song, felt that it was inappropriate to the film itself and after screening to Brooks and Cornfield, they all agreed that the song didn't mesh with the film, resulting with the song being played only in the film's bar scene and not being included in the movie's soundtrack album making the song extremely rare.
This was the first theatrical film to have its broadcast premiere on the Fox television network.
This was the last film on which Mark Irwin and David Cronenberg collaborated. Irwin was unavailable to work on Dead Ringers (1988) as he was already committed to The Blob (1988). Irwin told Cronenberg, "I wouldn't leave one of your films to work on somebody else's". Cronenberg instead hired Peter Suschitzky, having admired his work on Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980), and has used him as cinematographer on every one of his films since.
Originally, David Cronenberg turned down the film because of scheduling conflicts with the shooting of Total Recall (1990) for Dino De Laurentiis. The producers then hired Robert Bierman; unfortunately, Bierman experienced a terrible family tragedy just prior to the beginning of production and decided he couldn't make such a dark film. At about the same time, Cronenberg realized that he and De Laurentis were not seeing eye to eye on Total Recall (1990) and backed out, leaving him free to direct this film. Bierman has since stated that he has never seen the film, as it brings back bad memories and he does not want his own vision of it compromised.
The inspiration for the design of the telepods came from the shape of the cylinder in David Cronenberg's vintage Ducati motorcycle. Brundlefly's "vomit drop" was, in reality, made from honey, eggs, and milk.
A scene was filmed in which Brundle is seen eating Stathis's severed foot after melting it off with his vomit drop, but it was cut for pacing.
John Lithgow auditioned for the lead role.
James Woods turned down the role of Seth Brundle.
According to the script, Stathis goes skeet shooting, which is why he had a shotgun on hand for the film's climax.
It was Geena Davis' idea that David Cronenberg cameo as a gynaecologist.
Seth rolling onto a circuit board and getting a nasty cut on his back, after sleeping with Veronica for the first time, foreshadows him being betrayed by his own technology.
When David Cronenberg agreed to direct, it was on the condition that he be allowed to work with his regular group of collaborators, including Editor Ronald Sanders, Production Designer Carol Spier, Director of Photography Mark Irwin and Composer Howard Shore.
The exact reason why Seth Brundle's head becomes so enlarged and misshapen towards the end of his transformation was that two large compound fly eyes were to be revealed on the top of his head, back when Seth was going to turn into more of a fly monster than a fly/human fusion. If you look closely, especially in shots that show the back of Seth's head, you can still see the circular outlines of the fly eyes.
David Cronenberg named Seth Brundle after racing driver Martin Brundle.
While the setting is never explicitly discussed by the characters, the CN Tower, Kensington Market, and various other Toronto landmarks are shown throughout the film. Lingo-savvy viewers will note that the local barfly in the arm-wrestling scene uses the Canadian term "chocolate bars" instead of the American "candy bars."
Richard Dreyfuss turned down the role of Seth Brundle.
The design of Brundle's Telepods was inspired by the engine cylinder of Cronenberg's Ducati 450 Desmo.
Prior to production, Robert Bierman was hired to direct the film, but pulled out of the production because his daughter had died and when production on Total Recall (1990) was canceled, David Cronenberg took over to direct the film.
Willem Dafoe was considered for the role of Seth Brundle.
Veronica tells Seth (Jeff Goldblum) that "Something went wrong." Ellie Sattler tells Ian Malcolm (Goldblum) the same thing in Jurassic Park (1993). Brundle and Malcolm are also both in the habit of wearing the same set of clothes every day.
Co-producer Kip Ohman was the person who originally had the idea of remaking the original film. He had recently landed Charles Edward Pogue as a client, and suggested that he should be the one to write it. They pitched the idea to Twentieth Century-Fox, who agreed to finance it. After reading Pogue's first draft, however, they rescinded the offer. Not only would they not finance the picture, they refused to relinquish the rights so that Ohman and Pogue could take it to another studio. Ohman finally convinced Fox to distribute the picture if they could get someone else to finance it. Ohman ultimately found producer Stuart Cornfeld, who had previously produced The Elephant Man (1980), and therefore knew Mel Brooks. Brooks agreed to allow Cornfeld to use Brooksfilms to produce the picture, but decided a new writer was needed. Pogue was therefore booted off the project, and Walon Green was hired in his place. It was decided that Green's draft was even worse than Pogue's, so he was fired and Pogue was re-hired. Pogue was ultimately booted off the project once again once David Cronenberg demanded to be able to re-write the script to his own satisfaction, as a condition of coming on board to direct. Cronenberg and Pogue didn't actually meet until after the film had come out. When they spoke, Cronenberg told him "apparently we made a hit movie together."
David Cronenberg often has stated that he doesn't see the film as a horror movie so much as a metaphor for the aging process and terminal disease, and how dehumanizing the toll on the human body is to the person experiencing it and to those close around them. Some people have also claimed that it's also a metaphor for AIDS and while Cronenberg has said he did not intend that to be, he is fine if people conclude that from his film.
Seth says he doesn't like to wake up every morning wondering what to wear. In Michael Crichton's novel Jurassic Park, Ian Malcolm says he only wears black and grey because he doesn't like to spend time wondering what to wear when he wakes up. Jeff Goldblum played Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park (1993) and its The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997).
One version of the script had Brundle losing his ability to speak while becoming more fly-like, as in The Fly (1958).
The tag line for this movie; "BE AFRAID. BE VERY AFRAID!" became an instant catch phrase in the culture at large and people still use it today for a variety of reasons.
Early designs of the teleportation pods resembled glass showers or phone booths.
Rob Bottin submitted his own idea for the design of the Brundlefly, it ended up being scrapped.
After bringing Veronica, a journalist, to his apartment, the first thing Seth does to impress her is play the piano. In real life, David Cronenberg's mother played the piano, while his father was a journalist.
This is the second of three movies that co-star Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis. The others being Transylvania 6-5000 (1985), and Earth Girls Are Easy (1988).
One of the many attempts to remake this version of The Fly dates back to 2003, when Fox Spotlight announced they were remaking The Fly for a Summer 2006 release date. This version would be written and directed by Todd Lincoln, who stated the first half of the film would be a scene-for-scene remake, but the second half would turn more into an action-horror film, teasing that "we'd get to see Brundle fly with wings and go on a killing spree". Lincoln was also eyeing Billy Crudup or Brad Pitt for the role of Seth Brundle, who would turn into a creature that resembled less of a human/fly hybrid and more of a literal giant fly, with large red compound eyes and fully developed wings. After being in development hell for several years, the film was finally removed from Fox Spotlight's upcoming schedule in 2007.
Jeff Goldblum found the makeup which Seth is nearing the end of his transformation tiring because the makeup and latex was putting weight on his eyes.
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
Brundle's mishap results from the computer's confusion at the presence of an extra genetic pattern, and its attempt to rectify the situation by fusing them. This conveniently ignores all the genetic material belonging to the bacteria and other microorganisms that make up a sizable proportion of the human body. Probably Artistic License, as otherwise there is no movie. (Though, it could be argued that the fly's genetic structure was sufficiently complex to confuse the computer, while nascent organisms were considered a part of the human body.)
After the successful teleportation of the baboon, Veronica tells Seth that he'll never have to be carsick again, to which Seth says "or airsick or seasick." In The Right Stuff (1983), Jeff Goldblum played a man who got seasick. In Independence Day (1996), he played a man who got airsick.
The silver car driven by Stathis Borans (John Getz) is a 1980 Maserati Quattroporte III.
John Travolta was considered for the of Seth Brundle. But 20th Century Fox wouldn't allow him to be cast due to the critical and commercial failure of his previous film for them, Two of a Kind (1983).
Marky, the barfly whom Seth gruesomely defeats in one-sided arm-wrestling, is played by George Chuvalo, a famous Canadian heavyweight boxer.
Cronenberg told the makeup team to think of the transformation process as a form of cancer, something Seth actually mentions in the film, and it shows.
As far as his creative relationship with Cronenberg, Walas says the director "is fascinating to work with. He's very intelligent, observant, and understanding. He's also challenging and supportive. He has a very clear idea of what he wants and how he sees things, so the design phase tends to go quickly. His design directions also tend to be more emotional and psychological than most directors. Most directors will describe what they want physically. They'll say, 'It needs to be bigger; make the eyes red; add more horns.' David's descriptions were more like, 'It needs to be in more pain, and I want to see confusion in its eyes.' I would say David's style is much fuller and covers a wider design approach than most directors."
The film was later parodied in the ITV sketch comedy show Hale and Pace (1986). Norman Pace is seen going into one telepod and is teleported into the other, and he comes out as a zipper. The word "fly" is slang for the zipper on a pair of pants.
In the bathroom scene, as Seth's gradual transformation into Brundlefly begins, Seth has lesions on his face. Lesions are a skin condition related to HIV/AIDS. The film was released during the dawn of the AIDS epidemic and the film was seen by many as a metaphor for the disease and the film deals with even more basic issues that everybody can identify with.
Before production on the film could begin, the original director Robert Bierman had to pull out of the film due to the death of his daughter whom had been killed in a tragic accident and production was halted for 3 months. He decided not to do the film due to the film's dark film subject matter and was replaced by David Cronenberg.
The shotgun Stathis Boran uses at the end is a Browning 12 Gauge over/under double barreled shotgun.
The opening line of the film foreshadows the entirety of Seth's transformation. What he's working on certainly changes his world and life as he knows it.
This is the first Fly movie to be shot in the 1.85:1 ratio. The three previous films were all shot in 2.35:1.
Seth gets queasy as Veronica drives him to his loft so he can show her the telepods. She comments "You're not a very accomplished drunk" (he had a glass of Scotch at the Bartok event) before he explains that it's actually his chronic motion sickness kicking in. Later Seth actually gets drunk and decides teleporting himself with no other human beings around is a fantastic idea.
The character Mr. Bean, played by Rowan Atkinson, makes at least two references to this film: Mr. Bean's wardrobe is the same as Brundle's, and the sentence "Be afraid. Be very afraid." was used to promote the character's first movie.
The License Plate on Stathis Boran's car reads "Particle."
Seth mentions earlier because of his motion sickness he had vomited on his tricycle as a child, foreshadowing his later ability to vomit corrosive substance to digest food.
David Cronenberg's previous film was The Dead Zone (1983), which had Christopher Walken, Brooke Adams and Colleen Dewhurst. Jeff Goldblum had previously appeared in Annie Hall (1977) with Walken and Dewhurst, and another sci-fi/horror remake, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), with Adams.
The noises Brundle's computer makes, sounds a lot like buzzing.
For Chris Walas, one of the most important lessons he learned from Gremlins "was the fact that there is always more than one way to do an effect. There's always another option. We developed a lot of our own technology for Gremlins that we adapted to The Fly, particularly along the animatronics line, so we had an existing library of hardware available. That became critical on The Fly as we had to rethink some effects due to the tight schedule."
It's been reported that initially Chris Walas felt Jeff Goldblum's face would be difficult to work with, make-up wise. Stating, "David asked if there was anything specific he should be looking for when he was casting Brundle. We told him to try and find someone with a small bridge of the nose to allow us more freedom with the make-up. Jeff's got a larger nose and big ears that were a bit of an issue to deal with, but when David said he was thinking about Jeff for the role, both Stephan and I were very enthusiastic and said we'd make it work. We were both fans of Jeff's work."
According to Chris Walas, Rick Baker had once told him that "when you would read a Cronenberg script, it was a challenge to try and figure out what effects could actually be pulled off, and what effects couldn't. Walas tells us, "I don't remember any effects we didn't attempt. There was a lot cut from the film, naturally, as that's the nature of practical creature effects. There's an entire stage of the make-up that didn't make it into the movie."
How to create a modern day creature for the story was the real challenge of the film, Chris Walas says. "We really needed to have a carefully worked out, logical visual development of the character that would keep Jeff onscreen as long as possible. The final transformation wasn't as drastic in David's original script. I think the jaw coming off and the head splitting open are the only descriptions."
The only technique that Walas avoided for filming was bladder effects, which were used in An American Werewolf in London (1981) and The Thing (1982) to great effect. Walas didn't go this route because it had already been done many times in previous effects movies, "and I didn't want the final transformation to become just one more in a long line of them."
Walas says that on every project there's usually one effect that's a real pain to pull off, and it was the melting hand. Walas wasn't thrilled with the end result, but the shot was sped up, and Cronenberg was happy with the end results.
The scene where the arm wrestler's wrist breaks originally had a more elaborate rig, then Chris Walas came up with a simpler approach, "a plate was glued to the actor's hand that had a projection (the snapping bone) extending a couple of inches down the arm so that when the actor snapped his hand back, the bone came popping out.
One of the biggest disappointments for Chris Walas was the monkey-cat scene. It was shot very, very quickly at the end of a long day with no rehearsal. "We needed more time to get it right, but there just wasn't any." He stated.
Chris Walas had a hell of a learning curve on Gremlins. In the days of practical effects, effects artists had to reinvent the wheel to make something come to life, and it was a hard process to make an army of animatronic creatures. As Walas recalls, "I should say that I was personally terrified for the entire show. It was a gigantic project for me, beyond anything I had done before, and time and the schedule were not on my side."Once he got Gremlins under his belt, "It was a very empowering experience for me," Walas says. "I think I gained a lot of confidence out of it. The Fly wasn't really that much of a leap so much as it was a journey down a different path. The Fly was all about the make-up and the emotional reality of the work. It was less crazed fantasy and was less puppets from start to finish like Gremlins was."
"Am I dying? Is this how it starts am I dying?", David Cronenberg set this sequence in a bathroom specifically because in real life many people's first sign that they are gravely ill comes to them in the privacy of their bathroom as they realize something is amiss with their body. Interestingly, the later reveal that Veronica is pregnant takes place in her bathroom, where she's gone to cry after receiving the news offscreen.
What appears to be sweat coming from Seth's fingers during the arm-wrestling match is actually pus, presaging what happens to them the next morning as the fingernails begin coming off.
Veronica refers to the telepods as "Designer phone booths" upon first seeing them. The full-sized teleportation booths in the 1958 film were more or less those and as scripted would have had a similar appearance, hence the line. When the "designer Italian phone booths" the creative team came up with came off as too intimidating, the more-exotic-looking pods of the finished film were conceived, but the line still worked and was thus kept.
The oft-parodied moment from the original where the human-headed fly is caught in the spider web and screaming "Help me! Please, help me!" in its squeaky voice? Seth makes a desperate plea for help to Veronica with those words in one of the film's more emotional moments. At the bar where Seth seeks another romantic partner, "Help Me" is the title and key lyric of the song heard in the sequence's first stretch. (The Bryan Ferry song was originally intended for the film's closing credits, but was delegated to background music because it was too much of a tonal shift from Howard Shore's orchestral underscore...although it was released as a single.)
Explaining the concept of teleportation to Veronica, Seth says "Your stocking was disintegrated there and reintegrated here, sort of." In the original short story and the 1950s films, the central device was generally referred to as a "disintegrator-reintergrator machine" rather than a teleporter.
In the Pogue draft, the principal antagonist was a Corrupt Corporate Executive who cheated the protagonist out of the proper royalties he deserved for his work on the "F32 formula", and went on to try and seize control of the telepods from him upon learning of his tragic plight. In the final film, Stathis tells Veronica that earlier in his career Seth was "the leader of the F32 team. Remember them? An inch away from the Nobel Prize for Physics he was only 20 at the time." Amusingly, what exactly either version of F32 was is not specified in either script.
John Getz (Stathis Borans) is the only actor to reprise his role in The Fly II.
The white car driven by Veronica Quaife is a Saab 99.
People felt sick when they attended a preview screening and had to leave the theater.
"It's the flesh -- it makes you crazy" originates as pillow talk and becomes the eureka moment Seth needs to properly program the telepods. His subsequent Teleporter accident results in a mutation of the flesh that literally makes him crazy.
Stathis Borans has a copy of Carl Sagan's novel, "Contact", on the bookshelf in his office. This novel was adapted in 1997.
The film explores the ideas and consequences of genetic fusion and what would happen if a human being has his genes fused with a insect on a genetic molecular level and how the genetic fusion of human and insect would affect that person as he gradually transforms into a hideous mutant hybrid creature.
Stathis is associated with shadows and orange lighting (example being Veronica finding him taking a shower in her apartment), while Seth is given more light and blue tones. But then the tragic mistake happens. Seth's decaying skin takes on a very reddish-orange, rusty shade as his metamorphosis progresses, and he becomes associated with shadow. Come his penultimate form and the final 20 minutes, which take place at night, blue contrast is brought back by the lighting and Veronica's blue dress, while Stathis gets the light along with a blue-gray sweater as he becomes a Hero Antagonist. The final five minutes push things further as Seth's final Brundlefly form emerges and Stathis shoots out the cables connecting Ronnie's telepod to the others, which is followed by the botched teleportation destroying part of a telepod, leaving the entire loft a blue-suffused scene as smoke fills it. These are just a few examples of the film's use of this color contrast.
This might be unintentional, but the song Seth plays on the piano when he first brings Veronica up to his lab to show off the telepods is "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing"...and the movie that song comes from is about Star-Crossed Lovers.
DIRECTOR_TRADEMARK(David Cronenberg): Multiple instances of carnage.
When they meet at the Particle offices, Stathis (who at this point believes Seth to be a fraud) makes a smug joke to Seth: "If you plan to make anything disappear, let me know." Foreshadowing when they meet again in the climax, Seth uses his vomit drop on Stathis's hand and ankle.
In the bathroom scene, when Seth squeezes his middle finger, puss splatters on the mirror. It oddly but unintentionally references masturbation which a male and female sexually stimulates their own genitals for sexual arousal to the point of orgasm which semen is released from the genitals. When Seth gets fused with the fly, he gets highly sexually active with Ronnie and Tawny and the film itself was seen by critics as a metaphor for AIDS which is a sexually transmitted disease which lesions is one of the symptoms. As Seth begins his gradual transformation, his face is covered with lesions.
The arm-wrestling match between Seth and Marky, involving a bet the former makes over $100 and a night with Tawny, ends with Seth grotesquely breaking Marky's arm. In the climax, Seth uses his super strength to overpower Stathis -- the latter having arrived at the loft to rescue Veronica -- grabbing his arm and proceeding to use his vomit drop to dissolve the hand.
At first, Walas figured they'd just need a couple of fake heads for the final transformation, but Cronenberg of course wanted an extreme transformation, "so there was no way we could use an actor for the final creature. We initially tried to design different make-up approaches, working from Jeff to what might be the final version, but it quickly became clear that we needed to define the final stage first, and work our way backwards with the make-up design."
Walas wanted a actor in a suit, but Cronenberg wanted to make sure it was unrecognizable as a human in any form. "Once we had that design done up as a maquette, we worked backwards with the make-up designs to suggest the final forms slowly growing into place."
John Getz remarked in interview that he took his role because the character was a stereotypical, unlikeable 80s yuppie villain, a role he was often offered but actually became the hero in the end.
Cronenberg's cameo in this film marks the second film with Geena Davis to feature the director in a role, at the insistence of one of the lead actors, allowing the two of them to play a scene together. Previously, Sydney Pollack appeared in Tootsie (1982), which he also directed, at the request of Dustin Hoffman.
Seth in his final Brundlefly form. For a mutated abomination, his eyes rather resemble puppy-dog eyes. The trick, as Cronenberg explains in the DVD Commentary, is that Brundlefly's eyes were designed to look human rather than fly-like, taking some inspiration from Jeff Goldblum's eyes.
"It's the flesh it makes you crazy" originates as pillow talk and becomes the Eureka Moment Seth needs to properly program the telepods. His subsequent Teleporter Accident results in a mutation of the flesh that literally makes him crazy.
David Cronenberg: [disease POV] Brundle describes his condition from the "disease's" viewpoint, saying its "purpose" or its "want" is to "turn him into something else."
David Cronenberg: [composer] Howard Shore composes the film's score.
David Cronenberg: [mutation] Seth is mutated into Brundlefly.
Geena Davis claims that the only time she felt "grossed out" by the amount of gore was in the scene where Seth's ear falls off and she holds him. She states that her reaction to holding her face up to Goldblum's was not acting and that she was indeed really grossed out.
Two puppeteers (one of them Chris Walas) were located underneath the floor animating the inside-out baboon while a third pumped blood. All three of them had to wear raincoats because of the large amounts of blood being pumped. Frequently the rest of the crew would break for lunch and forget about the three underneath the floor.
Several versions of a happier ending were shot but ultimately never used. Two were filmed in which Veronica has another dream of her unborn child, this time as a baby with beautiful butterfly wings. She wakes up in both and is revealed to still be pregnant in one while her pregnancy is left open in the other. Another two versions featured her having an unseen nightmare and being comforted by Stathis, who in one version states the baby is his and in the other that it is dead. Jeff Goldblum admits to being angry about the filmed "Stathis" endings, as he felt Veronica ending up with Stathis undermined the tragedy of the film. Eventually it was decided that, although some of the filmmakers - including producer Stuart Cornfeld - liked the alternate ending, it was more appropriate to end with Seth's death as, according to Cornfeld, "Once your hero is dead your movie is over".
Stathis' hand and foot both survived for some time after the completion of the film. John Getz claimed to have kept one of the prosthetic feet used in the film for years in his freezer with neighborhood kids visiting almost daily to see it. Conversely the arm with the melted hand was turned into the base of a lamp and put in the Chris Walas, Inc. shop before going to Bob Burns' collection.
Seth's gradual transformation into Brundlefly happens over 4 weeks and 6 days.
Stathis's melting hand effect was created by sculpting the mutilated hand, then building up an intact hand on top of it out of gelatin. The gelatin was then melted using stage lights and a hair dryer, and filmed at low speed. Chris Walas essentially recreated the same effect he had used earlier for Toht's melting face in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).
In the 1990s, Geena Davis was reportedly involved with an alternate sequel to "The Fly", to be directed by her then-husband, Renny Harlin, titled "Flies". The script was said to feature a story where Veronica does not die in childbirth, and instead gives birth to twin boys.
Chris Walas wanted to avoid the use of bladders for the final transformation in which Brundlefly becomes the "Spacebug" as the technique, created by makeup legend Dick Smith, had been used in films like An American Werewolf in London (1981) and The Howling (1981) so much that "housewives knew about it". He eventually came up with having the Spacebug's head extend and push the prosthetic likeness of Jeff Goldblum's head apart. Walas' crew constructed a puppet that featured a retracting and extending head.
Throughout the film, Seth does not kill anyone. He only wounds and severely injures. However, in a deleted scene, Seth kills the Baboon/Cat hybrid. Additionally, a scripted scene that was never shot, was one in which Seth kills a bag-lady in an alleyway. In the sequel, The Fly II (1989), unlike this film, Martin Brundle kills four people.
In order to get all the actors in the bar to jump at the right time David Cronenberg had the crew, unbeknownst to the actors, make a loud, sharp bang onset.
While filming the finale, the puppeteers under the floor would get bored and start gluing pictures to John Getz's real foot, or place it in oatmeal. Getz fondly recalls that he should have realized, being unable to move, that he was a perfect target.
The transformation was broken up into seven distinct stages, with Jeff Goldblum spending many hours in the makeup chair for Brundle's later incarnations. Stages 1 and 2: subtle, rash-like skin discoloration that leads to facial lesions and sores, with tiny fly hairs dotting Goldblum's face, in addition to the patch of fly hairs growing out of the wound on Brundle's back. Stages 3 and 4-A: piecemeal prosthetics covering Goldblum's face (and later his arms, feet, and torso), wigs with bald spots, and crooked, prosthetic teeth (beginning with stage 4-A). Stage 4-B: deleted from the film, this variant of stage 4 was seen only in the "monkey-cat" scene, and required Goldblum to wear the first of two full-body foam latex suits, as Brundle has stopped wearing clothing, at this point. Stage 5: the second full-body suit, with more exaggerated deformities, and which also required Goldblum to wear distorting contact lenses that made one eye look larger than the other. Stage 6: the final "Brundlefly" creature (referred to as the "space bug" by the film's crew), depicted by various partial and full-body cable- and rod-controlled puppets. Stage 7: another puppet which represented the mortally-injured Brundlefly-Telepod fusion creature (initially dubbed the "Brundlebooth" and later the "Brundlething" by the crew) as seen in the film's final moments.
The scene in which Seth breaks Marky's arm in the bar almost didn't happen. Chris Walas and his crew kept putting development of the effect on hold to focus on more difficult ones. The prosthetic arm piece and bone was made within a few days, as soon as they realized they were almost out of time.
In the original ending, Ronnie gets back together with Stathis and dreams about a human baby hatching from a cocoon. The original ending was removed because test audiences didn't like Ronnie getting back together with Stathis as it didn't feel right.
Brundle's speech 'I'm, just gonna have to disintegrate. In a novel way, no doubt. And then I'll die and it will be over.' is verbatim the events that happen to him by the end of the film.
When Ronnie and Stathis go to the abortion clinic, Ronnie says that "the baby will start off normal" foreshadowing the sequel The Fly II (1989). When Martin Brundle is born, he is a normal newborn baby and 5 years later, he begins transforming into Martinfly.
In Charles Edward Pogue's draft, the film ended with Ronnie falling into a coma and having a nightmare of giving birth to a giant maggot, but waking up in a hospital and learning she gave birth to a healthy baby boy.
Veronica ripping off Seth's jaw in the final transformation sequence took 2 weeks to film.
It is believed Seth and Ronnie's baby is conceived when Seth and Ronnie have sex on Brundle's couch 39 minutes into the film. In The Fly II (1989), Martin Brundle inherits Seth's mutant genes, and it is logical that Martin Brundle was conceived after Seth went into the telepod with the housefly trapped inside.
Two of the cues from Howard Shore's score are reused for the climax. "Plasma Pool", from the scene where Brundle storms out on Veronica ignoring her belief that something went wrong, is used when Brundlefly is fused with the telepod. "The Last Visit", from the scene where Brundle tells Veronica to never come back before she can tell him about her pregnancy, is used when Veronica mercy-kills the Brundlefly-telepod fusion.
When they filmed the scene where Seth finishes his transformation at the end of the movie and Veronica rips off Seth's jaw, David Cronenberg told Geena Davis to "rip that sucker off" when she pulls the jaw off the Brundlefly puppet.
The climax of this film includes many plot elements from Cronwnberg's previous film, The Dead Zone. Both involve a character breaking and entering, armed with a shotgun, intending to kill another character. The female lead appears in that scene, along with both a former and current liver. Sarah also has her infant son, while Ronnie is pregnant with hers. The lead character is also fatally shot in both films. That makes this the first of two monster movies starring Jeff Goldblum that borrows its ending from a Stephen King adaptation. The second was Jurassic Park, which made references to The Shining.