*. When is a Fly movie not a Fly movie? The Fly II (1989) didn’t have much to do with a fly getting into one of the transporter pods but simply had the fly DNA passed down to Martin Brundle by way of a genetic inheritance from his dad. So it was a Fly movie of the second generation. Curse of the Fly, however, being the third and final instalment of the original run, goes even further afield. As far as I could tell there weren’t any flies in it at all, or even any reference to them. The earlier movies are sort of shoehorned into the mix, in a very awkward fashion, because we’re dealing with the son and two grandsons of the original scientist, working on the same technology. Except the son in this case isn’t Phillipe Delambre (the little boy in the first film) but rather someone named Henri. And I think the events of Return of the Fly are skipped over completely.
*. The transporter technology has been improving, so that now instead of just beaming across a room you can instantly zap yourself from London to Montreal. Alas, there are still some kinks in the system, as people who go through the process suffer from melting skin and accelerated aging. But nobody turns into a fly.
*. Henri Delambre is just a run-of-the-mill mad scientist. The hero of the story is his son Martin, played by George Baker. In the intro Marin picks up a girl named Patricia (Carole Gray) who is running away (in her underwear, for no apparent reason) from an asylum. The two fall in love, rapidly, and decide to get married. “But you don’t know anything about me,” she says. “You don’t know anything about me either,” he replies, “and I don’t need to know.” So it’s set.
*. They should have spent some more time finding out. At the family manor house the Delambres are keeping a stable full of their failed experiments, including a former wife of Martin’s named Judith (don’t worry, they got a “Mexican divorce”). And Martin is starting to suffer the effects of transportation sickness himself. Meanwhile, Patricia was only locked away in the asylum because she had a breakdown when her mom died. So I guess that makes them kind of even. Then, as the experiments continue and the police search for Patricia the failed experiments start getting restless, leading to some frightening confrontations between Patricia and the first Mrs. Rochester (who only looks like she has a bit of plaster stuck on one side of her face).
*. Also present in the house are an Asian couple who serves as housekeepers. He is Tai, played by Burk Kwouk (the Pink Panther’s Cato). She is Wan, played by Welsh actress Yvette Reese in some unconvincing Oriental make-up. Together they are Tai and Wan. I think that was meant as a joke.
*. If all this sounds terribly overwritten, that’s because it is. It made me think of all the Hammer stuff that was coming out in the ’60s. It looks like a Hammer film too, which probably shouldn’t surprise us given that it was directed by Don Sharp, who was doing a lot of work for Hammer at the time. It was shot at Shepperton Studios and financed in part by the Eady Levy, a tax on box office intended to support British filmmaking. Not a good look for government funding of the arts.
*. I’ve had some fun cracking wise on this one, but the fact is it’s no fun at all. It’s dreadful. The way the Delambres treat the victims of their experiments is disconcertingly cruel, but the two sons don’t seem to object to it much. They only want to “get on with” their lives and stop spending so much time in the lab.
*. You might get your hopes up when you see the opening shot of the window exploding and the glass flying toward the camera. I take it the window was actually above the camera and the glass was just falling down. It looks neat. But from that opening shot it’s all downhill until the final credits, which ask “Is this the end?” Thankfully it was, at least for another twenty years. Then David Cronenberg came along.
Are you going to be reviewing the other Fly movies you mention here?
Oops. somehow completely skipped over the Return of the Fly somehow. I guess that answers that question!
Yep. The Cronenberg film and its sequel are up next.
So what is the curse of the fly? I get that there’s no flies here, but is the curse that his family will go on doing half-baked experiements?
I think that’s about right. The titles for these movies were all pretty generic. The second one should have been Son of the Fly, since the original fly never “returns.” The Fly II should have been Son of the Fly as well, and that’s the title the director wanted, but they wanted to clearly mark it as a sequel to Cronenberg’s movie.
What about I Believe I Can Fly by R Kelly, how does that song reflect the franchise?
I’m imagining you must have a drawerful of some truly terrible mix tapes somewhere.
I’ll make one for you! Learning to Fly by Tom Petty?
I only like the early stuff.
Sounds even more bonkers than the first one.
It’s very silly. If you’re a fan of the Hammer stuff from this period you might find it interesting. But I take it you’re not going to go near it anyway . . .
No, though in the absence of actual flies this one sounds more doable than the first!