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"HEEEELP MEEEE! HEEEEEEEEELP MEEEEEEEEE!"
"Be afraid. Be very afraid."
1. A short story by George Langelaan.
A scientist invents a teleportation device. Unfortunately, when he tests it, a fly is in the chamber with him. The two switch heads and a hand, much to the chagrin of the scientist's wife. Now the family must find the fly that has his head and hand so he can properly switch them back before it's too late...
3. David Cronenberg's re-interpretation of that film in 1986. The premise is similar, but advances in special effects and direction by David Cronenberg make things even stranger. This time, mild-mannered but brilliant quantum physicist Seth Brundle (played by Jeff Goldblum) is on the cusp of perfecting his matter transporter after meeting reporter Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis), the love of his life. The happiness is too good to last, as he was accidentally fused with a common housefly on a molecular-genetic level in a seemingly successful transportation experiment. Rather than creating an immediate monster, Veronica now must cope with the pain of watching her lover literally fall apart on a physical and emotional level, and the awful uncertainty of whether the child inside her was conceived before or after the fateful transportation...
Be sure to have antidepressants next to your box of tissues before you press play on your DVD player: you'll need both when the credits roll. And probably a barf bag for before, but that doesn't matter.
The 1950s version of The Fly provides examples of the following tropes:
- Biological Mashup
- Billing Displacement - Price does not play the mad scientist, though most people think he does.
- Downer Ending / Bittersweet Ending - Andre the scientist is forced to commit suicide because his fly components are degrading his human mind and they can't find the fly with human components. At the climax of the movie, the inspector gives a Mercy Kill to the fly-human just as it is about to be devoured by the spider. However, this convinces him that the scientist's wife is not a murderer and, with Francois the brother-in-law, he is able to concoct a plea-bargain that lets her avoid being hanged or condemned to the insane asylum. At the very end of the movie, the mother and son are moving on from the traumatic loss of the scientist, and it is implied that she is falling in love with Francois, who had always loved her from afar.
- Evil Hand - The fly's appendage that replaces the scientist's hand becomes increasingly rebellious as his intellect frays.
- Expositron 9000: Brundle's computer.
- Lego Genetics - The scientist comes out with a fly head and hand seamlessly attached on his body.
- Science Is Bad
- The Speechless - In the original, the scientist is silenced as soon as he teleports.
- That Poor Cat - The first test is unsuccessful.
- In the original short story (bet you didn't know there was an original short story!), when the scientist, at his wife's urging, goes through the machine a second time in a futile attempt to unscramble things, bits of the cat get mixed in too (though a fly head with a cat nose and ears would've probably seemed more ludicrous than horrible).
The 1986 version of The Fly provides examples of the following tropes:
- Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: Brundle's decision to test the teleporter using himself comes after he's had more than few drinks.
- And I Must Scream - Bartok's karmic end in the second film has him reduced to a hideously deformed mutant crawling around in a pit, pitifully squirming around and barely able to even feed himself.
- Art Major Biology - 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 sizeable proportion of the human body. Probably Artistic License, as otherwise there is no movie.
- Beast and Beauty: Sort of. Seth Fly and Veronica, althought she feels more like compassion, than love, for him.
- Big Bad: Anton Bartok in the sequel.
- Biological Mashup - In addition to the obvious, there's also the monkey-cat in a deleted scene. Averted in the sequel, as Martinfly is far less mashed up than his father.
- Bloodier and Gorier - Flies eat by vomiting acid. David "head explodey" Cronenberg is behind a giant fly movie. Do the math, genius.
- Body Horror - Just about all of the pain and horror that Seth has to endure through his slow and humiliating metamorphosis.
- The dog in the second film, though averted with Martin's transformation, as it took place in a cocoon. Bartok wasn't so lucky...
- Break the Cutie
- Crazy Consumption
- Cursed with Awesome - Even though the transformation makes Seth a diseased mutant, he gains several abilities, such as wallcrawling, corrosive vomit, and superhuman strength.
- Doubly so for Martin in the sequel, since his Martinfly form, while inhuman, turns out to be a coherent, seemingly healthy lifeform instead of a diseased, deformed mishmash of genetic goo (possibly due to being born with the fly genes instead of having them abruptly inserted into him as an adult). He's much more werefly/alien lifeform than the diseased corpse-like wreck Seth ended up turning into in the first film.
- Dogged Nice Guy - Seth Brundle
- Doomed Protagonist - One of the most agonizing examples.
- Downer Ending
- Drunk with Power / Sanity Slippage: Seth suffers this. At first.
- Earn Your Happy Ending The sequel, in stark contrast to the first movie.
- Everything's Better with Monkeys - For all this film's darkness and horror, it does have a scene of Jeff Goldblum hugging a baboon.
- And the baboon has a constant erection in the film. Just listen to the film commentary.
- Eye Scream: In The Fly II, Martin pulls out his right eye to reveal an insect eye behind it.
- Fan Disservice - The rough and animalistic sex scenes after Seth combines with the fly.
- Fan Service - Jeff Goldblum appears shirtless. A lot.
- Fate Worse Than Death - Red Shirt security guard Mackenzie has his face and eyes melted by acid and survives by ripping off the affected portions before it can completely eat through his head. However, given he can't see or speak, he would've been better off dying.
- Seth Brundle himself. He'd have been better off if he'd been turned inside out like the baboon.
- Fetus Terrible:
- The three foot long, blood and amniotic fluid covered maggot.
- Martin seems to be this initially, until he turns out to be a (seemingly) normal baby. He becomes a straight example, though, as an adult later.
- Focus Group Ending: The focus groups hated all of the possible endings, which included Veronica ending up with Stathis and the "Butterfly Baby". Instead, the film closed on a weeping Veronica, which was really the proper ending to the film.
- Gone Horribly Wrong - The premise of the entire film.
- The Grotesque - Seth slowly becomes this.
- Half-Human Hybrid - Brundlefly.
- Hollywood Nerd- At the beginning of the movie, Mr. Brundle is quite muscular for a scientist who doesn't get out much. Not that any of the female viewers are complaining, or anything.
- Hot and Cold - Veronica Quaife
- I Cannot Self-Terminate - Seeing the pathetic creature that was once Seth Brundle crawl out of the Telepod, fused with pieces of machinery and in horrifying agony is probably sadder than watching the end of Old Yeller. This can obviously end only one way, and, in one final display of humanity, Brundlefly silently begs a shotgun-armed Veronica to end it's life, and after some painful hesitation, she does.
- Idiot Ball - Which ever way you slice it, going after a deranged half human hybrid that vomits acid and has double the strength of a normal man by yourself is a pretty stupid move. All he needed to do was phone 911 and tell them that a deranged ex-boyfriend abducted his girlfriend from the abortion clinic in a blind rage - the gaping hole in the surgery wall should be fairly adequate proof.
- In Name Only - There's a scientist who gets turned into a fly monster in a teleportation experiment. Other than that, it really has nothing to do with the Vincent Price film and even less to do with Langelaan's story.
- It Got Worse - Did it ever.
- Jerkass - Stathis Borans, Veronica's ex-boyfriend and boss appears to be one at first, but is actually a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
- Karmic Death - Anton Bartok, the Big Bad of the sequel, who let Martin undergo his transformation and finish the teleporter for his own greedy ends, is ultimately fused with Martin's insect genes through the teleporter, turning him to a hideously deformed mutant.
- Lego Genetics - Averted, as the change in DNA affects him slowly as his cells replicate, and his final form isn't anything resembling a properly functioning body.
- Limited Wardrobe - Seth has five identical sets of clothing.
- Love Triangle - The base emotional plot of Veronica choosing either Seth or Stathis as her lover, intensified when she feels the need to comfort the diseased Seth and finding Stathis' emotional side emerging from the conflict. That's probably why they made it an opera.
- Metamorphosis - Essentially how Seth goes through his transformation. In the sequel his son spins a cocoon around himself when he inevitably mutates, sparing the viewers from seeing the gorier parts of his transformation.
- The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body - Arguably implied by Brundle gradually losing his mind as he turns into a fly.
- Nerds Are Sexy - For the first half-hour of this movie, Jeff Goldblum is your boyfriend.
- Non-Malicious Monster: Seth Fly doesn't attack and/or kill if he's not threated or if he really has to.
- Though this wasn't true in the original screenplay, which had him vomiting on a homeless woman and preparing to eat her before he realized what he was doing.
- Noodle Incident: Seth discovers he can't eat solid food "the hard and painful way." We're never told exactly what happened.
- One-Sided Arm Wrestling - Seth tears open a man's arm doing this.
- Painful Transformation - A rare, slow and gradual example. Two, if you count the sequel.
- Seth's metamorphosis into Brundlefly is a extended, humiliating process where he degenerates from a healthy and muscular man into a diseased Biological Mashup, rotting his flesh to the point that his extremities fall off (including his teeth, his fingernails, his fingers, his penis...), until his whole formerly-human skin sheds completely and he is ultimately reduced to a voiceless insectoid beast.
- In the sequel, Martin's transformation is more natural as a deliberate counterpoint to Seth's. His body literally undergoes the life cycle of an insect - his rapidly growing human form is functionally a larvae, his deforming body the instar, he develops a cocoon/Pupa, and he emerges a powerful Insect/Man hybrid. The Martinfly creature is very strong, very fast, and very deadly... the opposite of his father.
- Pet the Dog - The mutated protagonist of the sequel literally pets a dog in the middle of his murderous rampage through the facility.
- Phlegmings - Brundlefly excretes a sticky white liquid constantly, which he uses to dissolve and digest his food.
- Recycled Title
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge - Martinfly goes on an epic one through Bartok Industries in the second movie.
- Schroedingers Butterfly - Far into his physical transformation Seth starts to think that he had always been an insect, and only imagined that he was a human being. Only in his mind though.
Seth: I'm saying I'm an insect who dreamt he was a man, and loved it. But now the dream is over... and the insect is awake.
- Shirtless Scene
- Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Trailer - To avoid giving people the wrong idea, executive producer Mel Brooks (Yes, that Mel Brooks) tried to keep his name away from the film.
- Split Personality Takeover - Seth's mind also gradually changed into that of a brutal insect. Near the final stages of his transformation, Seth goes so far as to warn Veronica that it is starting to affect his mind, and he fears he will hurt her if she stays.
- Stages of Monster Grief - Seth goes through all of them in his one-month transformation.
- Star-Making Role for Jeff Goldblum
- So much so that Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert actually said he was snubbed an Oscar nomination for Best Actor because of the Academy's refusal to consider horror when working out candidates. It truly is one of Goldblum's most riveting performances.
- Sweet Tooth - Flies love sugar.
- Tele Frag - What Seth considered to be his life's work turned out to be his demise.
- Teleporter Accident - The test animals (and even a steak) came out the worse for wear.
- That Poor Monkeycat - Apparently the scene was so disturbing it had to be removed from the film's final cut.
- The first baboon doesn't fare too well, either.
- Tortured Abomination: The monster (Seth Brundle post - Tele Frag) is confronted by a shotgun - wielding Veronica Quaife, and grabs the business end of the shotgun and places it against its head. Tear Jerker moment, indeed.
- Tragic Monster
- Vomit Discretion Shot - Very much averted, especially in the final scenes. Although we never get to see the externally digested food getting reabsorbed. Instead we get to see Stathis looking horrified.
- An unfilmed scene had Seth eating a bag lady, starting by melting her face.
- Which you get to see happen to a security guard in living color]] in the Sequel! Enjoy!
- An unfilmed scene had Seth eating a bag lady, starting by melting her face.
- What Could Have Been - 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.
- The Woobie: Seth Brundle. Especially in his second stage of mutation - Veronica is compelled to embrace him even with corrosive vomit covering his clothes.
- Younger Than They Look - Martin Brundle in The Fly II, who ages to Mr. Fanservice level in about six years.