Daily Archives: March 21, 2021

Return of the Fly (1959)

*. Huh? The 20th Century Fox logo comes up and it’s . . . in black and white? Hadn’t The Fly been shot in beautiful DeLuxe color? What happened?
*. Money happened. They weren’t going for any kind of an art-house vibe here, rest assured. But at the time shooting in colour was a lot more expensive, and the budget here was about half that of the original so . . .
*. There’s some continuity. Kurt Neumann died shortly after finishing The Fly so Edward Bernds took over directing chores. Vincent Price is back as François Delambre and not looking a day older while little Philippe Delambre (Brett Halsey) is all grown up. The chalkboard in the lab still has André’s last message to his wife on it, which I thought a nice touch.
*. But the lab has moved. For some reason the original lab, which was in the basement of André’s house, is now said to be located at the foundry. Why did they move it? Especially since now Philippe has to build his own lab . . . in the basement of his house (that is, the same house the lab was originally located in). Why did they move the lab out of the basement just so that they could move it back?
*. I mentioned in my notes on The Fly how it benefited from a tight script. The script here, despite the film being 15 minutes shorter, is not as tight. In fact, it’s bizarre in its complexity, including a reporter introduced in the opening scene who is never heard from again, a love interest for Philippe who only opens her mouth to scream on a couple of occasions, a cop (or something) who is turned into a guinea pig hybrid, a heel who is looking to steal Philippe’s invention and sell it to the highest bidder, and his fence, who is a peculiar guy running a funeral home as a front for some business we’re told nothing about.
*. The set-up will have been familiar to any horror movie fan at the time. Basically Philippe is the son of Frankenstein, driven to follow in his father’s footsteps and even discovering a book with all his notes which might as well have been titled How I Did It. Also like father like son is the transformation, which gives Philippe the head, arm, and (this time) the leg of a fly. The heel turns on him and stuffs him in the disintegrator cabinet. Why? I couldn’t figure this part out. Or why he stuck the cop in the device. To kill them? Hardly. It would have been easier just to shoot them. So just to mess them up? I didn’t get it.
*. They do their best to ratchet up the grotesquerie. The guinea pig man is kind of freaky. The fly man is bigger, with a much bigger head, though for some reason his clothes still fit. Unlike the original Fly this one gets to go around killing people though. Not because he’s bad but because they deserve it.
*. The best you can say is that it’s better than average for ’50s monster flicks, but that’s not saying much. It can’t hold a candle to the first movie. Despite being shorter it’s duller in every frame. Where the end of the original still has the power to shock, the ending here has the white-headed fly captured and Philippe (and the fly!) successfully reintegrated. No spoiler alert for that. It’s rotten enough already.