This month, I continue with the films of Vincent Price and one of this most well-known films. One night, François Delambre (Price) receives a call from his sister-in-law
Helene (Patricia Owens) confessing that she killed her husband Andre (Al Hedison) in a mechanical press. In defense of this supposed murder, Helene tells François and Inspector Charas (Herbert Marshall) the story of Andre’s experiements with teleportation, which goes horribly wrong.
Most people will likely be familiar with 1958’s The Fly, based on a short story by George Langelaan, by either the fact that it was remake in 1986 by David Cronenberg or an infamous moment towards the end of the film, featuring a fly with a human head trapped in a spiderweb screaming “Help Me!” in a very high pitched voice.
While watching The Fly, I found out that it was someone incorrect to call this a Vincent Price film. Price’s character of François is only really there to help set the story in motion in the first act, with him being less prominent during the extended flashback that makes up the bulk of the story. It is here where Andre and Helene take centre stage. Even then, Andre becomes a completely silent character at a certain point, communicating to Helene through typewritten notes.
Having previously only seen David Cronenberg’s remake, I was a bit surprised to see that many of the story beats are the same, except much less grotesque than what Cronenberg did in the remake. Andre’s transformation as a human with a fly head (and arm) is structured as a big reveal in the plot, with Andre spending the bulk of the second half of the film with a black cloth over his head and his arm in his pocket. However, like many of these old horror films, I already knew these reveals ahead of time.
The Fly is the timeless story of science gone wrong and the scientist-turned-monster struggling to keep his humanity. While Cronenberg’s remake 30 years later really drove home the tragic story of this transformation, you still find yourself heavily sympathizing with Andre, even as the fly urges begin to take over.
While I expected the film to feature more Vincent Price, I could still see why The Fly is considered to be a classic.