If there’s anything I’ve learned from world news, high school and film, it’s that Science is the enemy. It’s asked questions that drive people insane, robbed me of precious adolescent nothing-time and, in the case of this film, destroyed lives. Herein lies the world of Cronenberg, the filmic equivalent of a mad scientist. A deranged genius who has become very, VERY good at melding the scientific with the horrific into something that is a whole new beast. This film is a prime example.
To call this film an out-and-out remake would be doing it an injustice. Sure, it bears obvious similarities to the 1958 film of the same name, but this film is it’s own being. The story does not bear more than a passing resemblance, as it deals much more with the gradual procession from man to insect, rather than a quick swap.
The film introduces us to Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum), a young scientist who meets Veronica (Geena Davis), a reporter for Particle Magazine, a scientific periodical. He tells her that he’s created something that will change the course of mankind as we know it. He brings her to his laboratory where he reveals his invention, a pair of twin teleporters that are made to transport matter from one place to another. He begins by teleporting a stocking, and so begins their journey into the unknown as they prepare to perfect this process and reveal it to the world, while falling in love in the process. But genius has it’s price.
One night, after a successful test with a Baboon, Veronica leaves to her Editor/Ex boyfriend’s (John Getz) office to tell him to leave her, and Seth alone. Thinking the worst, drunk and jealous, Seth teleports himself. And although the test seems to have been a success, he was too drunk/angry to notice the ordinary housefly that flew in with him. Seth begins to change. At first it seems to be for the better. Aside from his constant need for sugar, he’s stronger, faster and more verile. But as time passes, his body goes through grotesque changes that begin to become more and more debilitating. We are left to question, is he a man slowly becoming an insect, or an insect finally realizing he’s been human. As is implied in dialogue “Man is an insect.”
This is Cronenberg, at his most, dare I say it: “Cronenbergian”. Throughout films like Shivers, Rabid, and Videodrome, his brand of Body Horror has become so strongly attached to his name that the term Cronenbergian had even started to apply to other films. The revolting changes Seth goes through whilst becoming ‘Brundlefly’ are both fascinating and, well, icky. Howard Shore (A Cronenberg staple) gives us what I believe to be one of the greatest film scores ever, and Chris Walas’s creature effects are still among the best in film history.
So, as I said before, Science is the enemy. The constant need to “Plunge into the plasma pool” has brought nothing but social awkwardness, pointless religious debates, classroom sleep, and has stopped an enormous group of people from getting laid. Now quickly, go forth and destroy every science lab you can find. For fuck’s sake, the fate of humanity depends on it!!
-Justin “Lecherous” Tunny