If it wasn’t for Vincent Price I don’t know how I would feel about this film. So I guess it’s a good thing he’s in it, because on his virtue alone I really enjoyed this film. Though it’t not what I would consider scary, horror for me has to leave lingering negative emotions for it qualify. Though the horror films of the 50’s tend to have a happy or mostly happy ending at the end of them. That inherently undermines the film that preceded them. The Fly is more of a science fiction film with a strong warning about the dangers of science.
The Fly opens with a night worker find Andre Delambre (David Hedison), murdered by being crushed in a hydraulic press. Andre’s wife, Helene (Patricia Owens) calls her brother-in-law Francois Delambre (Vincent Price) and confesses to the murder. At first Francois thinks she’s joking though the reality sets in after he receives a call from the night worker. Leading him to contact Inspector Charas (Herbert Marshall). The pair go to Helene’s house to learn what happened, but she’s unwilling to provide any sort of motive for the murder. As Francois and Charas are leaving they inspect Andre’s laboratory and find the room and all of the equipment destroyed. Helene’s mental state appears to start to deteriorate, mostly with an obsession with fly’s and finding a white-headed fly in particular. In an attempt to get Helene to talk, Francois lies to her telling her that he has captured the fly. Relived that he knows the truth, Helene tells Francois and Charas what happened. Andre was a brilliant scientist who had cracked teleportation of solid matter. At first inanimate objects, but eventually moving on to living creatures. Like their house cat and a guinea pig, with the cat never reappearing. Eventually Andre tries the machine on his self, but the experiment goes horribly wrong with a fly enters the chamber causing the two’s atoms to mix. Resulting in Andre having the arm and head of a fly. Though unable to speak and hiding his head from his Helene, Andre recruits her in the hunt for the fly as he needs to return himself to normal. Though after days searching without any luck, Andre’s condition worsens as the fly’s instincts start to overcome him. Leading the his asking Helene for her help again…
I only have two issues with this film. The first being the slow pace of the film. Slow paced films are always hard for me and might be a leading reason to why I love Slashers so much. The film starts with a great opener, the grisly discover. But after that the film really slows down. With the focus being more on the emotional state of Helene as she deals with what’s happening around her. Leading to a very reactionary performance.
The other thing is that I wasn’t super excited about what the special effects. Which might have been good for the time, but I have a hard time believing that. The Andre with the fly head and arm are kind of silly looking. Mostly the head, which doesn’t inspire any sense of revulsion or any sort of negative emotion of any kind. I actually let out a small laugh the ridiculousness of it. But I’m callous.
I did like the performances with Price being brilliant as always. There’s a good reason he’s so beloved by horror fans. The other actors are also memorable, Patricia Owens while reactionary is memorable with a scream that stands out. Herbert Marshall is also memorable, but his best isn’t until the end when he confronted by evidence of Helene’s story leading to his sense of the world being shaken. The rest of the cast is OK, nothing terrible, but also nothing that stands out.
Final thoughts, this version of The Fly is considered a 1950’s horror classic and I can’t argue to strongly against it. Beyond Vincent Price’s performance, there’s not a lot worth seeing in this film. The story, while good, moves a near crippling slow pace. Admittedly I’m a much bigger fan of the 1986 remake. 6/10