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The Fly (1986 film)

The Fly is a 1986 science fiction/horror film produced by Brooksfilms and 20th Century Fox, directed by David Cronenberg, and starring Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis and John Getz. It is a big budget remake of the 1958 film of the same name, but with a substantially different plot. The film is more of a re-conceptualization than a remake, one which takes the basic germ of the 1957 short story and the 1958 film and then goes in a different direction. The soundtrack was composed by Howard Shore. This movie was shot in Toronto in 1985-1986.

As with many of Cronenberg's films, The Fly deals with themes of bodily disfigurement or metamorphosis and the darker aspects of human emotions and behavior. An underlying aspect of the story is the doomed love affair between Goldblum and Davis and the rivalry between Goldblum and Getz that results from this.

The Fly was a box office success upon its release and was critically acclaimed in the press. A sequel, The Fly II was released in 1989.

Plot

At a meet-the-press party held by Bartok Science Industries, Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum), a brilliant but eccentric scientist, meets Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis), a journalist for Particle magazine. Bartok Science Industries provides the funding for Brundle's work, and he tells Veronica that he's working on a project that will change the world. Intrigued, Veronica accompanies Brundle back to his warehouse laboratory (where he also lives) so that he can show her his invention: a set of "Telepods" that allows instantaneous teleportation of an object from one pod to another. Veronica is highly impressed and eventually agrees to document Seth's work. Although the telepods can transport inanimate objects perfectly, they do not work correctly on living things. Seth unintentionally experiences this horrific fact when he attempts to teleport a baboon, which is killed when it is reintegrated inside-out. Shortly thereafter, Brundle and Veronica begin a romantic relationship, and their first sexual encounter provides inspiration for Seth. He realizes that the machine is not perfectly reassembling living objects, but is rather "interpreting" them, and sets about reprogramming the telepod computer to cope with living flesh.

Seth then succeeds in teleporting a second baboon with no apparent harm. Flush with this success, he wants to spend a romantic evening with Veronica, but she suddenly departs before they can celebrate. Brundle's judgment soon becomes impaired by alcohol and his paranoid fear that Veronica is secretly rekindling her relationship with her editor and former lover Stathis Borans (John Getz). In reality, Veronica has left to confront Borans about his continuing interference in her life, and his threat to reveal the existence of the telepods to the world prematurely. Unaware of all this, a drunk and jealous Brundle decides to teleport himself, partly due to the fact that the second baboon has shown no ill effects since being teleported. His last-ditch decision serves both as a way of getting back at Veronica for her imagined infidelity (she would miss a great moment in science) and also to provide the teleportation system with its first human subject. Just before the telepod door automatically closes, however, a common housefly slips into the pod, unseen by the distracted Brundle. After being teleported, Brundle emerges from the receiving pod, seemingly normal.

Shortly after his teleportation, Seth reconciles with Veronica, and eventually begins to exhibit a sense of intoxicating euphoria, as well as heightened strength, endurance, and sexual potency. However, he also becomes arrogant and violent, and when Veronica sees that something has gone wrong and refuses to allow herself to be teleported, Brundle abandons her, claiming that she cannot "keep up" with him. Brundle then meets a voluptuously sleazy woman named Tawny at a bar, and armwrestles with a burly man named Marky, with Tawny as the prize. After using his superhuman strength to give Marky's arm a compound fracture, Brundle takes Tawny home for the night.

The next morning, Veronica arrives at the warehouse in time to prevent Brundle from forcibly teleporting Tawny, telling her to "be afraid, be very afraid". After Tawny runs away, Veronica tries to warn Brundle that something is happening to him, but he throws her out of his warehouse and tells her never to return. After she leaves, however, Brundle is horrified to discover that his fingernails are beginning to fall off. Realizing that something went wrong during his first teleportation, Brundle checks his computer's records, and discovers that the telepod computer, confused by the presence of two separate life-forms in the sending pod, has merged him with the fly at the molecular-genetic level. He then realizes that he is slowly becoming a hybrid creature that is neither human nor insect (which the doomed Seth begins referring to as "Brundlefly").

After a month-long period of self-imposed isolation, a desperate Seth again reconciles with Veronica, but he has already begun to deteriorate, becoming progressively less human in appearance. He also quickly begins to exhibit fly-like characteristics, as when he becomes incapable of eating solids and must vomit digestive enzymes (which he refers to as "vomit-drop") onto his food in order to dissolve it. Soon, he discovers that he can even cling to walls and clambers around his lab upside-down. He also develops fly-like twitches and tics, and begins leaving his sloughed-off human body parts in his medical cabinet, dubbing it "The Brundle Museum of Natural History". Brundle comes to realize that he is losing his human reason and compassion, and that he is now being driven by primitive impulses he cannot control. To her horror, Veronica learns that she is pregnant by Brundle, and she cannot be sure if the child was conceived before or after his fateful teleportation.

Although Veronica visits Brundle to tell him about her pregnancy (and her intent to abort their possibly mutated child), she can't bring herself to do so. Outside Brundle's warehouse, Veronica begs Stathis Borans to take her to a clinic so she can get an abortion, but Brundle overhears their discussion while watching them from the rooftop. Brundle then abducts Veronica from the clinic of Dr. Brent Cheevers (a friend of Borans' who has agreed to perform the abortion), and begs her to carry the child to term, since it could potentially be the last remnant of his untainted humanity. Veronica sadly refuses, since she's afraid that the child will be a hideous mutant. The saddened Brundle takes her back to his warehouse.

Meanwhile, Stathis Borans breaks into the lab and comes to Veronica's rescue, but is seriously injured and nearly killed by the almost fully-transformed Brundle, who dissolves Stathis' left hand and right foot with his corrosive vomit-drop enzyme. Stathis is spared from death only by the pleading of Veronica.

Brundle then reveals his desperate, last-ditch plan to Veronica: He will use the three telepods (the third pod being the original prototype) to fuse himself, Veronica, and their unborn child together into one entity, so they can be the "ultimate family", which the desperate Brundle believes will be "more human than I am alone". Veronica frantically resists Brundle's efforts to drag her into Telepod 1 and then accidentally tears off his jaw, triggering his final transformation. His body sheds its outer layer of decaying flesh, revealing the monstrous combination of man and insect that has been growing underneath it. The now-mute "Brundlefly" creature traps Veronica inside Telepod 1, then steps into Telepod 2. However, as the computer's timer counts down to the activation of the fusion sequence, the wounded Borans manages to shoot the power cables connected to Veronica's telepod with his shotgun, severing Telepod 1's connection to the computer and allowing Veronica to escape unharmed. Seeing this, Brundlefly attempts to break out of its own telepod just as the fusion sequence occurs, and is gruesomely fused with chunks of metal and other components from Telepod 2. As the mortally wounded Brundlefly-telepod fusion crawls out of the receiving pod, it silently begs Veronica to end its suffering with Borans' shotgun. A devastated Veronica hesitates for a moment, and then pulls the trigger, mercifully ending the life of her hideously-transformed lover.

Production history

In the early 1980s, co-producer Kip Ohman approached screenwriter Charles Edward Pogue with the idea of remaking the classic science fiction/horror film The Fly. Pogue began by reading George Langelaan's short story and then watching the original film, which he had never seen. Deciding that this was a project he was interested in, he talked with producer Stuart Cornfeld about setting up the production, and Cornfeld very quickly agreed. The duo then pitched the idea to executives at 20th Century Fox and received an enthusiastic response, and Pogue was given money to write a first draft screenplay. He initially wrote an outline similar to that of Langelaan's story, but both he and Cornfeld thought that it would be better to rework the material to focus on a gradual metamorphosis instead of an instantaneous monster. But when executives read the script they were so unimpressed that they immediately withdrew from the project. After some negotiation, Cornfeld orchestrated a deal whereby Fox would agree to distribute the film if he could set up financing through another source.

The new producer in question was none other than Mel Brooks. Brooks and Cornfeld had previously worked together on David Lynch's film The Elephant Man, produced by Brooks' company Brooksfilms. Cornfeld gave the script to Brooks, who liked it but felt that a different writer was needed. Pogue was then removed from the project and Cornfeld hired Walon Green for a rewrite, but it was felt that his draft was not a step in the right direction, so Pogue was then brought back to try and polish up the material. At the same time Brooks and Cornfeld were trying to find a suitable director. Their first choice was David Cronenberg, but he was working on an adaptation of Total Recall for Dino De Laurentiis and was unable to accept. Cornfeld decided on a young British director named Robert Bierman after seeing one of his short films. Bierman was flown to Los Angeles to meet with Pogue, and the film was in the very early stages of preproduction when tragedy struck. Bierman's family had been vacationing in South Africa and his daughter was killed in an accident. Bierman boarded a plane to go to his family, and Brooks and Cornfeld waited for a month before approaching him about resuming work on the picture. Bierman told them that he was unable to start working so soon, and Brooks told him that he would wait three months and contact him again. At the end of the three months Bierman told him that he could not commit to the project. Brooks told him that he had understood and had freed him from his contract.

With no director and an unsatisfying screenplay, production was at a standstill. Cornfeld then heard that Cronenberg was no longer associated with Total Recall and once again approached him with The Fly. Cronenberg agreed to sign on as director if he would be allowed to rewrite the script. His revised draft differed greatly from Pogue's screenplay, though it still retained the basic plot outline and also included the central concept of a genetic mutation. With a script that everyone was now happy with, Cronenberg assembled his usual crew and began the process of casting the picture, ultimately deciding on Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis for the leads. Chris Walas, who had designed the creatures in Gremlins, was hired to handle the film's extensive special effects.

The producers also commissioned Bryan Ferry to record a song for the film for promotional purposes. The resulting track was entitled Help Me. A music video was made for the song, and footage from the film was featured heavily in it. On the DVD's commentary track Cronenberg admitted to liking the song, but felt that it was inappropriate to the film itself. Brooks and Cornfeld originally wanted to play the song over the closing credits, but after Cronenberg screened it for them they agreed with the director that it didn't mesh with the movie. As a result, the song is featured only briefly in the film, in the scene where Brundle challenges Marky in the bar. Help Me quickly disappeared and became extremely rare, as it was not included on the film's soundtrack release. It resurfaced in 1993 on the Roxy Music/Bryan Ferry compact disc Ultimate Collection.

Makeup/creature effects

The Academy Award-winning makeup seen in The Fly was designed and executed by Chris Walas, Inc. over a period of several months. The final "Brundlefly" creature was designed first, and then the various steps needed to carry protagonist Seth Brundle to that final incarnation were designed afterwards. The transformation was intended to be a metaphor for the aging process. Indeed, Brundle loses hair, teeth, and fingernails, and his skin becomes discolored and lumpy. The intention of the filmmakers was to give Brundle a bruised, cancerous, and diseased look that gets progressively worse as time goes on.

Various looks were tested for the different stages before the perfected versions seen in the completed film were arrived at. Some early test footage can be seen on the 2005 The Fly: Collector's Edition DVD.

Early versions of the different makeup stages include:

  • A prototype of Stage 2, featuring more exaggerated facial discoloration, open sores, and peeling skin (test footage of this version can be seen on the Fly CE DVD).
  • The first test version of Stage 4-A, which featured the same face sculpt as the final version of the makeup, but also had an enlarged headpiece underneath Goldblum's wig. The "hernia-bulge" on his side is in a lower position on his torso than the final version, and only Brundle's face and hands are visibly mutated (also, the sticky pads on his palms are of different colors than the metallic-green pads seen in the final film). The rest of Goldblum's body is discolored with body makeup, and there are numerous insect-like hair on his arms and torso. In the final version of the makeup seen in the film, Brundle's entire body is lumpy and deformed (test footage of this version can be seen on the Fly CE DVD).
  • There may also be another version of Stage 4-A (which can be seen in nearly all of the publicity and still photos of that stage). This version appears to have been slightly different arm appliances (with less distorted hands and the lighter-colored palm-pads of the first prototype), and more hair on Brundle's head (which actually seems to coordinate better with Stage 4-B, since Stage 4-B appears to have more hair than the filmed version of Stage 4-A). It is unclear if this really is a prototype, since most photographs of this version indicate that it was filmed on the set. The apparent differences between the "prototype" and the filmed version may be mere optical illusions created by different lighting schemes and film stocks.

The following is a breakdown of each stage of Seth Brundle's horrifying transformation as designed and created by the CWI crew (with behind-the-scenes information presented in italics):

  • STAGE 1 (on view in the scene where Veronica discovers the small insect-like hair on Brundle's back): Brundle's face is discolored, and it looks as though he has a bad allergic rash. Small insect-like hair are growing out of the scratches on his back (an injury sustained prior to Brundle's fateful teleportation when he accidentally rolled onto a stray circuit board). Actor Jeff Goldblum's face was painted with dabs of blue, red, green, yellow, and purple makeup. The fly-like hairs growing from the scratches on Brundle's back were made from monofilament fishing wire that was trimmed, tapered, and tinted black.
  • STAGE 2 (on view from the scene where the manic Brundle storms the city's streets and then enters the bar until the point where he discovers the truth about his fusion with the fly by checking his computer's records): It looks as though Brundle has a bad case of acne, as his face is full of what appear to be pimples, warts and bumps (and more lesions appear on his face as time goes on). There are also some small fly-like hair growing out of various areas of his face. Many more such hairs are growing out of the scratches on his back. Brundle's entire body is becoming subtly discolored, and his fingers are swollen, blotchy, and have loose nails. Plastic warts and pimples were applied to Goldblum's face. He wore foam-rubber fingertips for the nail-pulling scene.
  • STAGE 3 (on view in the scene where Veronica visits Brundle after his one-month period of isolation): Brundle's face is lumpy and discolored. His hair is thinning (with visible bald spots) and he has no eyebrows. He must now walk with the aid of a pair of canes (as a result of the changes to the internal structure of his body) and vomits digestive enzymes on his food in order to dissolve it. His right ear falls off in this stage. Goldblum wore a full face/neck foam-rubber appliance with wig. The "vomit drop" was made from eggs, honey, and milk.
  • STAGE 4-A (on view in the scene where Brundle demonstrates his wall-crawling and "vomit-drop" abilities to Veronica): Brundle has lost all of his fingernails and toenails, as well as both ears. More of his hair has fallen out, and his teeth are crooked (with receding gums). His face and arms are lumpy and deformed, and coarse insect-like hair are popping up all over his body. A hernia-like bulge has developed on the lower left side of his torso. Sticky, cushion-like pads have appeared on Brundle's hands and feet, giving him the ability to cling to walls. The index and middle fingers of his right hand are webbed together with a flap of flesh, and are starting to fuse together. Some of the toes on Brundle's feet are clustering and fusing together. Brundle's inner structure has changed enough so that he no longer needs to walk with the aid of canes, and his natural posture is now hunched-over and inhuman. He has also begun to exhibit nervous and jerky fly-like twitches and tics. Goldblum wore foam rubber appliances on his head, neck, arms, feet, and abdomen. Various pieces of foam were put under his clothes to suggest a misshapen form underneath. He also wore another wig with sparse hair, and custom-made dentures to show Brundle's crooked teeth.
  • STAGE 4-B (not seen in the final cut of the film; appears only in the deleted "Monkey-Cat"/insect leg-amputation sequence that can be seen on the 2005 Fly Collector's Edition DVD): Essentially the same as Stage 4-A, but now Brundle is completely naked. He has lost his genitals, his buttocks have fused together, and his hips have become enlarged. The hernia-like bulge on his side is very noticeable now, and eventually bursts open to reveal a small, fly-like appendage that is messily amputated by the horrified Brundle. This stage used the same sculpting for the face and arms as the Stage 4-A makeup appliances did, but since the scene revealed the entirety of Brundle's deformed body, Goldblum was required to wear the first of two full-body, foam-rubber bodysuits designed for the film.
  • STAGE 5 (on view from the point where Brundle loses his teeth up until the moment when his jaw is ripped off): Brundle is nearing the end of his metamorphosis. His hair is almost entirely gone, and his head has become swollen and misshapen, with his face becoming even more deformed with each passing day. The right eyelid is puffed up and the left eye is enlarged. The index and middle fingers on Brundle's right hand have fused together, and the pinky fingers of both hands are "dead" and vestigial. The middle finger of the left hand has swollen grotesquely. Brundle loses a number of teeth in this stage, and the open wound on his torso (from the deleted "Monkey-Cat" sequence) is clearly visible. Later on, Veronica Quaife accidentally tears Brundle's jaw off, beginning STAGE 6. Goldblum wore a second full-body suit similar to the one seen in Stage 4-B, but this version featured more exaggerated deformities. Goldblum also wore special dentures with missing teeth and custom-made contact lenses that made one eye appear bigger than the other. The most complete makeup job in the film, this stage took nearly six hours to apply to the actor. The shots of Brundle's jaw flexing in a non-human way so as to vomit corrosive enzymes on Stathis Borans, as well as the shots of Brundle's jaw being ripped off, were accomplished with mechanized, full-bust puppet replicas of the character. In a shot deleted from the film, Brundle ejects an eight-inch proboscis to suck up the remains of Borans' foot, a sequence that also used a mechanized bust. This was the last stage of Brundlefly's transformation to involve actor Jeff Goldblum.
  • STAGE 6 (seen when Brundlefly tosses Veronica into Telepod 1 and then steps into Telepod 2): Brundle's dead and decaying outer layer of skin falls off to reveal his final incarnation, the entity previously dubbed "Brundlefly" by the diseased scientist. This grotesque, human-insect hybrid creature has a misshapen head with antennae, insect eyes with enlarged eyelids, and a proboscis. The torso is somewhat segmented, like an insect's, and the hips are enlarged and deformed. The right leg reverses its joint to become reverse-bending and Brundle's dead human foot is shaken loose. The creature's new, hoof-like foot ends in a pair of insect claws. The left leg is vaguely humanoid, but there is an extra joint beneath the knee, and the foot consists of three large, deformed toes that are tipped by insect claws. The left arm is humanoid, and terminates in a deformed, human-type hand with stubby, vestigial fingers. The right arm features a distorted and elongated hand that has two long, tubular fingers (which are also tipped with insect claws), and a small, fly-like leg (similar to the leg that burst out of Brundle's left side in the deleted "Monkey-Cat" scene) can be seen on the right side of the creature's torso. This ultimate fusion of man and insect was brought to life through the use of various cable-controlled and rod-operated puppets.
  • "STAGE" 7 (seen in The Fly's final moments, after Brundlefly is merged with a section of Telepod 2): After its failure attempt to reclaim some semblance of humanity by merging with Veronica Quaife, Brundlefly is accidentally fused with a large chunk of its own sending telepod. The resulting fusion of man, insect, and machine crawls out of the receiving pod, mortally wounded and in terrible agony. In a last gesture of humanity, the thing that was once Seth Brundle silently begs Veronica to end its life, and she does. This final incarnation of Seth Brundle, technically not a part of his metamorphosis into Brundlefly, was dubbed the "Brundlething" or "Brundlebooth" by the film's crew (and is also called "BrundlePod" by some fans). The pathetic creature was created as a rod puppet with cable-controlled facial features.

Critical response

Upon its release, The Fly was praised for being more emotionally involved and genuinely poignant in comparison to Cronenberg's previous films. Halliwell's Film Guide commented that while the film was "deliberately gruesome...with much unpleasant detail" it was also "carried along by a certain style". Jeff Goldblum's tour-de-force performance was applauded as well, and many believe it to be his finest performance to this day. Goldblum was thought by many to be a certainty for an Academy Award nomination, and when he was not nominated, many prominent film critics, Roger Ebert in particular, stated that he had been cheated.

Film critic Gene Siskel named The Fly as the tenth best film of 1986. In 1989, Premiere and American Film magazines both conducted independent polls of American film critics, directors, and other such groups to determine the best films of the 1980s, and The Fly appeared on both lists.

The film was also widely thought to be an allegory of the AIDS epidemic, although Cronenberg denies this and states that the subtext/metaphor of the film is the natural process of aging and death. He states that "we've all got the disease, the disease of being finite." This, when coupled with the tragic love-story of the plot (harking back to stories such as The Hunchback of Notre Dame) makes The Fly an all-too human film, albeit filled with Cronenberg's familiar obsessions and gruesome attention to detail. The spectacular "Brundlefly" makeup effects were given a 1986 Academy Award, the film's sole nomination.

In 2005, Time magazine film critics Richard Corliss and Richard Schickel included The Fly in their list of the All-TIME 100 Greatest Movies.

In 2008, the American Film Institute distributed ballots to 1,500 directors, critics, and other people associated with the film industry in order to determine the top ten American films in ten different genre categories. Cronenberg's version of The Fly was nominated under the "Science Fiction" category, although it did not make the top ten.

The film's tagline, "Be afraid... Be very afraid", was voted the greatest of all time by Empire magazine.

Sequel

The sequel is The Fly II (1989). There has been some discussion as to whether the sequel really counts as a part of Cronenberg's Fly universe. Cronenberg feels that the stories in his films have definitive beginnings and endings, and he has never considered making a sequel to one of his own films, although others have made sequels to Cronenberg films, including Scanners (1981).

The Fly — The Opera

On the opera The Fly by Howard Shore to a libretto by David Henry Hwang premiered at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris with Cronenberg as director and Plácido Domingo conducting. The US premiere was at the Los Angeles Opera.

Trivia

Production details

  • The film was originally a project for Tim Burton to direct.
  • 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 should not be a giant fly (a common misconception about the film), but rather a literal fusion of a man and an insect that embodies elements of both.
  • Cronenberg was intrigued when he first read Charles Edward Pogue's screenplay (Pogue was the film's initial writer), but agreed to sign on as director only if he would be allowed to rewrite the script. Producer Stuart Cornfeld revealed on the Collector's Edition DVD that prior to Cronenberg's involvement Walon Green attempted to rewrite Pogue's script, but that his adaptation proved unsatisfactory.
  • A popular misconception about the film is that it embraces the notion that "there were some things man was not meant to know", as many "mad scientist" films did. However, David Cronenberg has stated that the movie instead chronicles an early experiment-gone-wrong of a revolutionary new technology, much as early experiments with radiation led scientists to suffer from radiation poisioning. Such mistakes did not prevent others from continuing the research, and, in the film, Brundle does not try to destroy his teleporter because he failed to notice the fly's presence inside the telepod with him (unlike Andre Delambre in the original film, who felt that his teleporter was too dangerous to exist, and destroyed it as a result).
  • In the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, the review of The Fly incorrectly lists Rob Bottin (Robocop, The Thing, Total Recall) as the creator of the makeup effects. In actuality, Chris Walas produced and supervised the makeup design, and his name is listed in the sidebar with the Oscars it won.
  • The narration and background music for the film's trailer would be re-used (with slight additions to the narration) three years later for the trailer for the movie Braindead in 1989, the same year that saw the release of The Fly II.
  • This film was #33 on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments.
  • Robert Bierman, the original director, claimed on the special edition DVD that he has still not seen the film even to this day. He claims this is because he had such a clear idea of what his film was going to be that he is afraid seeing Cronenberg's version would dilute that, and also because he feels it would be too painful for him to sit through the film after the tragedy he experienced during pre-production.

Literary and cinematic relationships

  • Aside from the basic story premise of the film, the one and only nod to the 1958 film is Seth Brundle's plaintive, "Help me... Please, please help me!" - a reference to the famous ending of the original film, in which a tiny Andre Delambre (David Hedison), with the body of a fly but the head and arm of a human, is entrapped on a web, "Help meeeee! Heeeeeeelp meeeeeeeee!" as a spider menacingly approaches.
  • Besides obvious allusions to Kafka's novella The Metamorphosis, Seth's claim that he was "an insect who dreamed he was a man and loved it, but now the dream is over and the insect is awake" is a reference to passage from the ancient Chinese philosophical text known as Zhuangzi:
    Once Chuang Chou dreamt he was a butterfly, a butterfly flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn't know he was Chuang Chou. Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakable Chuang Chou. But he didn't know if he was Chuang Chou who had dreamt he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he was Chuang Chou. Between Chuang Chou and a butterfly, there must be some distinction! This is called the Transformation of Things. (2, tr. Burton Watson 1968:49)
  • Seth asks after his first teleportation, "Is it live, or is it Memorex?", quoting the popular ad campaign for the cassette manufacturer.
  • The melancholy Seth sings the opening lines of "There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly": I know an old lady who swallowed a fly... perhaps she'll die.
  • This film is the origin of the commonly used phrase "Be afraid. Be very afraid" (allegedly, the dialogue was suggested by producer Mel Brooks). (See below) This was used as the primary tagline for the film as well as, "Something went wrong in the lab today... something very wrong".

Popular culture

  • A very similar situation is parodied in Johnny Bravo
  • Much of the concept of the 1988 episode "Enter The Fly" in the 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon is based on The Fly. Baxter Stockman and a fly mix their DNA together.
  • The last portion of Day of the Tentacle shows the three player characters to try to travel in time simultaneously. Dr. Ed warns them 'Didn't you see The Fly?'. Indeed the characters arrive in a single combined body. However, much later, it is revealed that all three aren't mutated, as they first thought, but that they just have been entangled in one's clothes.
  • The Invader Zim episode "Bolognius Maximus" pays tribute to several scenes from The Fly. On the DVD commentary for the episode the creator of the show, Jhonen Vasquez, said it was supposed to be like The Fly, only stupid. In the episode, Dib accidentally mixes his DNA with that of bologna and is slowly transforming into a piece of lunch meat. The episode included the scene where he asks the computer if he has absorbed the bologna with the computer returning the response, "Subject is bologna." A quote from the film is also used in Johnny the Homicidal Maniac issue #4, both comic and TV show having been created by the same person.
  • The SpongeBob SquarePants episode "SquidBob TentaclePants" takes its premise from The Fly (albeit the original more than the remake).
  • In the episode of The Venture Bros., "Powerless in the Face of Death", after a teleportation goes wrong, Brock suggests putting all of Dr. Venture back in the teleporter and Dr. Venture states "like in that Jeff Goldblum movie".
  • The Fly was parodied on the animated TV show The Simpsons. The Treehouse of Horror halloween episode from Season 9 had a segment entitled Fly vs. Fly, in which Bart walks into a matter transporter while carrying a fly, thinking he would turn into a Superfly. Instead, the result is actually that of the original 1958 film, except that Bart and the fly are later returned to normal after Lisa pushes them both into the teleporters once again and reverses the original process.
  • In a side story at the end of Volume 8 of the manga series Great Teacher Onizuka, a magic-obsessed student named Ruruka Hikita is scared into thinking Onizuka is an insect when a love charm backfires, resulting in an intimate yet purely accidental encounter with the reputedly hormonal teacher. She then fears that Onizuka will impregnate her and referencing the movie, will "give birth to the next generation."
  • In the Pokémon Red/Green/Blue games and their subsequent Fire Red/Leaf Green remakes, the player has to retrieve tickets to board a cruise ship from a house/laboratory on a cape owned by a character named Bill. When the player enters Bill's house, he/she (depending on the player's initial selection) ends up conversing with a Pokémon that actually happens to be Bill. Bill then explains that he was transformed into the "Pokémon" - its species is vague in R/G/B, but is shown to be a Clefairy in FR/LG - thanks to a malfunction in a teleportation device similar to the telepod used in The Fly, which merged him with the Pokémon that accidentally stepped inside with him. Thankfully, it is an easy matter to reverse the process and attain the tickets by having Bill step back into the device and re-activating it from Bill's computer. It can be assumed that the original Pokémon has also been successfully separated and is stored in the opposite teleporter.
  • In issue #70 of Transformers (vol. 1) by Marvel Comics, Ratchet and Megatron become merged in subspace. The issue is an obvious reference to The Fly, even ending with the Ratchet/Megatron fusion silently asking Optimus Prime to end its life with a rifle blast to the face.
  • The Big Bad Beetleborgs episode "Buggin' Out" is a satire of The Fly, with Flabber trying out a teleportation device and gradually evolving into the insect monster that ended up in with him.
  • In the Green Arrow storyline Quiver by filmmaker Kevin Smith, Green Arrow, after being teleported for the first time, protests that it is too dangerous a process: "Don't you watch science fiction? I don't want to end up like no Brundlefly!"
  • In Beetlejuice (1988), one scene depicts the title character dragging a housefly into his lair as screams of "Help me! Help me! Help meeeee!" are heard, an obvious reference to the 1958 version of The Fly. Beetlejuice also stars Geena Davis, who played Veronica Quaife in the 1986 version of The Fly.
  • In the Absolutely Fabulous episode "New Best Friend", Saffron catches Edina examining a housefly on the kitchen window, only to exclaim "it's been ten years since you saw that film, and Jeff Goldblum is now full-sized, wingless and living happily ever after in L.A."
  • In the Family Guy episode "8 Simple Rules for Buying my Teenage Daughter" (2005), Stewie tests a teleportation device and, before transporting, sees that he left his teddy bear Rupert in the chamber with him, and when he is reintegrated in the other chamber, emerges a deformed combination of human and teddy bear, a reference to The Fly (1986).
  • In the episode "Honey, I Shrunk the Crew" from Tripping the Rift, upon finding out that when they expand to normal size they will be genetically fused with what impedes them from expanding, Gus says "It's a good thing we aren't inside a fly or we would be looking like Jeff Goldblum. Ohhh the horror."
  • In Tomb Raider III, angered by the genetic research, Lara makes the comment "I just met a man who may as well be Brundlefly!".
  • In the single "Gin Soaked Boy" The Divine Comedy frontman Neil Hannon sings "I'm Jeff Goldblum in The Fly."
  • The computer game Little Big Adventure features a location named Brundle Island where the teleportation center is built, and clones are dispatched via telepods.
  • On the BBC children's show Sorry, I've Got No Head, there is a sketch where a schoolboy is teleported to school. Unfortunately a fly gets in, and he becomes a giant fly with school uniform on.
  • In the Season 3 premire of TV show Heroes, Mohinder Suresh portrayed by Sendhil Ramamurthy injects himself with a serum to give ordinary people powers, which results in him gaining superhuman agility, strength, speed, and endurance. His overall appearance and that he is mutating (as well as the scene where he displays his abilities to Maya) is a homage to the Fly.

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