Michael Scott

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The Fly Collection


27893
Movie: :3.5stars:
Video: :4stars:
Audio: :3.5stars:
Extras: :4.5stars:

Final Score: :4stars:


WARNING: THE SCORES ABOVE ARE A COMBINED SCORE FROM ALL 5 FILMS, THE INDIVIDUAL SCORES ARE CONTAINED BELOW IN THE INDIVIDUAL SECTIONS OF THE REVIEW


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Movie

The Fly series has had a rocky road on Blu-ray, with only about half of the series put out on disc up to date, and some of those are ensconced on out of print multi film sets, and other sequels just ignored completely by Fox. To date we’ve had the remake out ever since the format war started, a release of the first 1958 Vincent Price film that started it all by Fox, and then Scream Factory got the rights to the second film which was released in the Vincent Price Collection: Volume 2, which has long been out of print. The third film of the “originals” has never be released abroad or at home, while the sequel to the 1989 remake has only been released in Australia in HD. Well, luckily Scream Factory has scrounged the rights for all 5 films (3 of the 1950s and 60s, and both of the 80s remakes) in one giant set, complete with brand new artwork, a HEFTY chipboard collector’s edition box and tons of extras to boot.

The Fly 1958 :4stars:
Horror films in general, and body horror films in particular always held a rather “squirmy” section of the horror world where it was kind of relegated to the side. Monster movies of the 1950s were certainly common, but human mutation and the like was still considered a bit too uncomfortable for the general public’s taste. Couple that with the rather odd marriage of Hugh Hefner and a horror short story, and you can see why 1958’s The Fly had eyebrows raised from the start. You see, George Langelaan’s short story “The Flywas first introduced in the June 1957 edition of Playboy magazine. Barely was the short story put in publication for the men’s magazine (which was much different than the Playboy of the 1980s and above, as people actually DID read them for the articles) than 20th Century Fox had snapped up the publication rights and greenlit the production for the following year. What we ended up with is a bit of a campy horror film, but a fun one nonetheless as Vincent Price got to croon us with that silken voice of his while hamming it up to level 9.

The film is shrouded in flashbacks, with young Helene Delambre (Patricia Owens) telling her brother in law Francois (Vincent Price) why she killed her scientist husband Andre (David Hedison) and is now on the brink of being committed to an institution. Like the remake, the basic principle of Andre’s work was to create a teleportation device like a Star Trek transporter beam, but he couldn’t get it JUST right. Experimenting with himself he accidentally begins a process of mutation that slowly changes him into a hideous monster, causing his own wife to end his suffering for him.

The Fly is an incredibly detailed method to it’s pacing, but even though it is slow, the movie still manages to pull you in. You don’t even get to the flashbacks for a full 30 minutes with Helene and Francois, and it’s another 30 minutes before the titular fly shows up as well. However, I do appreciate the fact that they used the intimations of the creature as a scare method, vs. just showing it on screen. It makes for a much more terrifying reveal near the end vs. the comical reveal of the fly in the sequel.
.
Return of the Fly :2.5stars:
With The Fly pretty much making money hand over fist for 20th Century Fox, it was pretty obvious that a sequel was definitely going to get made. The thing was, there were more than a good chunk of the original characters dead from the first film, and no seemingly obvious way to put new characters in to recreate Andre’s work. Well, they say time heals all, so the film makers decided to just push the time period forward a few decades and have the little boy in the film end up being the main character some years later. Now a young adult, young Philippe Delambre (Brett Halsey), is eager to restart his father’s work and prove him right. The only one left from the original cast is Vincent Price, who returns as his aging Uncle Francois, in order to warn the boy against what he’s about to do, but we all know how young people listen to their elders!

While this sequel is tenable to the original only by the slightest of threads (Vincent Price is the only returning actor), it does go full bore ahead into the body horror genre. Instead of dealing with the classic “man trying to play god” motif, the film instead gets more political and more action oriented, even going so far as to showing the fly stumbling around the screen in a rather comical fashion as he’s off to murder people. I’m not sure WHY it doesn’t strike home, but Return of the Fly is a very mediocre sequel to an excellent low budget horror movie, and part of that seems to land heavily on the shoulders of there not being a strong familial connection. The first film relied very heavily on the bond between the family, something which the sequel is notably absent with, even with Uncle Francois coming in to share his wisdom for the short amount of time he’s in the film.

Curse of the Fly :2.5stars:
After the stumbling and failings of Return of the Fly at the box office, it was another 6 years before Jack Parsons and Robert L. Lippert decided to go back to the drawing board for another Fly oriented horror movie. This time they went back to the basics and went back in time to father Henri DeLambre (Brian Donlevy) and his son Martin (George Baker) as the mad scientists. However, due to the heavy criticism of the 2nd movie having no familial ties, they decided to interject a love story between Martin and a mental escapee patient named Patricia (Carole Gray), who escapes from her confines in the opening shots of the film (which was considered very provocative for the day).

While Martin and Patricia seem perfectly fine on the surface, their romance is underpinned by secrets they both keep from the other. Patricia has kept from Martin that she was once a concert pianist, but suffered a mental breakdown and was confined to an institution, which was the same institution that she met Martin after escaping from. Martin, on the other hand, has a bit of a big one hidden. It seems that he and his father have actually created a working teleportation device that can deatomize matter and then re-atomize from Ontario all the way to London, where Martin’s brother resides. As you can guess, the teleportation device is going to get misused and another monstrous fly is created to wreak havoc.

This entry is the least “weak” of the original two sequels. It’s got a noteworthy premise, some cool special effects, but Harry Spalding’s script just feels lackluster in so many ways. Proper characterization is lackluster, and you don’t really see the titular character at all (there’s a subplot with Martin being kept alive by injections after being hybridized by a fly being stuck in the machine, but other than that there’s no massive murderous monster like normal).

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The Fly 1986 :4stars:
It’s VERY hard for a sequel or remake to do as well as the film that started it all, but 1986’s remake of The Fly actually is able to even the playing field and become one of those rare films. The Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis vehicle (the two were quite the screen couple back then) delved back into the real nitty gritty of the concept for the short story, and was helped along by the fact that it was directed by the great David Cronenburg doesn’t hurt one bit.

Taking a clue from the original, we get eccentric scientist Seth Brunle (stepping away from the Delambre family for once), who meets charming journalist Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis) at a party thrown by his financial backer. Seth takes Veronica back to his loft where the two schmooz and get to know each other. There Veronica is fascinated by two “pods” that is in the loft and Seth reveals to her that he has created a teleportation device. So far it’s only been able to transport inanimate objects, and Seth decides to giver her the old tour.

Much to Seth’s horror, Veronica’s journalistic nature comes to the surface and she immediately goes to report on the man’s huge finding, despite the fact that Seth begs her not to due to the fact that the machine is not ready for prime time. However, after a night of drunkenness, Seth decides to actually send HIMSELF through the teleporter, not noticing that a house fly is in the booth with him. After the teleportation Seth feels fantastic, and is certain that the teleporter has filtered out the “impurities” of man. Sending himself through the machine time and time again the young scientist soon begins to change and morph into something that is not entirely human, not entirely fly.

What makes The Fly so incredibly meaty is the fact that Cronenberg revels in the original dilemma of man vs. god. Can a man make something better than God can? And will the results be satisfactory. The horror is very much a cerebral one, that has us more and more terrified of Seth the more he jumps through his machine. The gore and the 1980s penchant for special effects most certainly comes into play in the final act, but the first 2 acts build up with some serious cerebral body horror until the time is right, and the monster is unleashed on the audience.

The Fly II: :3stars:
The Fly II was a hurried production after David Cronenberg’s 1986 hit, and was put out not even 3 years after the remake hit theaters. The strain and the pressure of making a film so fast really shows, as the sequel basically remakes the first (or at leas the remake of the first film), and expands it just a little bit by throwing in some new characters that don’t always make the story better. The film opens up with a prologue where we learn that shortly after the events of The Fly, Veronica gives birth to a baby boy midst a swarm of government scientists. The young child is taken from her mother and confined to a life of living in a government agency, where the scientists study his unique genes after being fathered by a mutant like Seth Brundle.

Years later, Martin Brundle (Eric Stolz) finds out that his life has been a bit of a lie. He’s always wondered why he’s forced to live in a government building his whole life, but he soon learns the truth when he stumbles upon the fact that he U.S. government is secretly running teleportation experiments there. Experiments that were a creation of his father Seth some years back. After working on the same project that his father worked upon, Martin stumbles into cute lab tech Beth Logan (Daphne Zuniga, most famous for being the Princess in Spaceballs) and the two start dating. As fate would have it, Martin’s days are numbered, and soon the fly genes within him are going to cause massive mutations, forcing the mild mannered man into the body and psyche of a monstrosity.




Not Rated by the MPAA (The Fly 1958, Return of the Fly, Curse of the Fly / Rated R by the MPAA (The Fly 1986, The Fly II)




Video: :4stars:
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The Fly 1958 :4.5stars:
The 1958 film seems to be sporting the same transfer as the 2013 Fox disc is, and just re-encoded on their end. End result is still quite excellent, as this and the 2013 disc are stunning transfers for a 1950s classic like this one. Details are stunning, with razor sharp close ups, and the far away shots being only MILDLY soft (1950s movies have a tendency of looking soft in the background in my experience). Colors are a slight bit orange, otherwise skin tones are intact, and black levels maintain a strong inkyness. Faces show off the most intimate details, with the lines and creases on Vincent Price’s face contrasting with the smooth clean lines of his suit. There’s a few speckles and a few moments where clarity isn’t razor sharp, with most of them dealing with the monster himself coming out on screen.

Return of the Fly :4stars:
Since Return of the Fly was released a few years back on the now out of print Vincent Price Collection: Volume 2, it’s pretty much guaranteed to be a carbon copy of that disc. Still a good thing, as Scream Factory’s 2.35:1 AVC encode for the black and white film is pretty good if I do say so myself. The print used is nicely detailed, with strong clarity and good contrast levels. The blacks and grays are more than detailed to the eye with the only problematic scenes being when they show the monster on screen for those few minutes. It’s a bit goofy to our eyes today, and the blending of optics and practical effects looks a bit hinky.

Curse of the Fly :3.5stars:
The 2.0 Mono track for the third film is very stable, but with just a few minor problems plaguing it. The score is intelligible and clear for the run time, and vocals are general good with strong presence in the front of the room. The only problem comes from some mild analog hiss and the tendency for the vocals to rasp and scratch just a bit, especially near the end of each word. It’s certainly quite listenable and generally GOOD, just with a few weird issues that keep it from being excellent.


The Fly :3stars:
Unfortunately for us this seems to be the same middling 1.85:1 framed image that we saw from the 2007 Fox disc. This master was a much older HD master, and definitely one geared for the days of 720p TVs and television broadcasting. The films is soft, a bit overly processed, and not nearly as sharp as a modern one. Colors are bit ruddy and rusty, with moments of deep blue and green grading. The grain is scrubbed free for the most part, and while it looks generally OK, modern transfers have certainly passed it by and left his one in the dust.


The Fly II :3.5stars:
Like the 1986 film, I’m guessing that we’re dealing with an older master for The Fly II. By my guess this is the same master as the one used for the Australian release (not a scientific method by any means, but comparing the disc to online screenshots of the Aussie release seems to give us identical results by my eyes). There’s some smudges, some softness, and grain isn’t always perfect, but colors are rich and vibrant and the black levels are deep and inky.








Audio: :3.5stars:
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The Fly 1958 :4.5stars:
The 4.0 DTS-HD MA track seems to be struck from the identical master as the 2013 Fox disc is, just with an ever so slightly decreased bitrate for the mix. The bitrate decrease doesn’t seem to affect the overall mix at all, though, as the tracks are pretty much identical to my ears. The secondary language tracks are dropped from this disc (as is the case with many Scream Factory re-releases), but it does cram on a whole lot more audio extras, just as a brand new commentary track to enjoy. Vocals are crisp and clean, and the minimalist score is without any major hisses, crackles or pops to mar the experience.

Return of the Fly :4stars:
The 2.0 Mono track is surprisingly punchy and robust for a Mono mix, and is rather sharp and clear. There’s some very mild analog hiss in the background if you know what to listen to, but the effects are minimal. Voices are crisp and cleanly replicated up in the front of the room, and the score comes through with an even sound. Nothing’s imbalanced, and the mix itself will please just about everyone as long as you remember that this was designed with a mono mix in mind and isn’t going to be a surround sound dream.

Curse of the Fly :3.5stars:
This scan of The Black Cat most definitely is from one of Universal’s older transfers, complete with the DNR and general filtering of the transfer that was common 10 years ago or so. There’s a very soft and grain free look here, with slightly waxy faces and the loss of detail that comes with this type of transfer. Now this is nowhere near The Jerk level of awfulness, as the filtering is fairly minimal in comparison, but it IS noticeable when you’re expecting a crisp and grain filled 1940s film. Fine detail is moderate, but never great, and the grain levels are way too smooth for my tastes. The rest of the film’s colors (or really black and white colors) and contrast are more than acceptable though, and help balance out the filtered look.

The Fly :3stars:
The same thing can be said of the 5.1 DTS-HD MA track, in that it seems to be the exact clone of the 2007 Fox disc’s mixing, just with the nice addition of a 2.0 DTS-HD MA losseless track instead of the lossy dolby digital 2.0 track we had back then. The movie itself is not very bouncy and exciting to begin with, being a very forward heavy mix that relies a ton on the mains and center channel to get 90% of the audio across. There’s some mild ambient noises that bleed through in the rears every once in a while, and a few thumpy moments with the bass, but his is still the same reserved and quiet track we’ve known for the last 12 years.


The Fly II :3.5stars:
The 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD MA tracks for The Fly II are both very solid, but I give the tip of my hat to the 5.1 mix due to the extra exciting and loud insanity that this the gore fueled 3rd act of the film. The rest of the mix is quite front heavy, with the typical dramatic elements at the forefront and dialog exchanges to keep it busy. However, when we move into the final act things pick up a bit more, and by the time the insanity of the gory last ends the surrounds and LFE channel have had ample opportunity to come out and play.








Extras: :4.5stars:
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The Fly 1958
• NEW Audio Commentary with author/film historian Steve Haberman & filmmaker/historian Constantine Nasr
• Audio Commentary with actor David Hedison and film historian David Del Valle
• Biography: Vincent Price
• Fly Trap: Catching a Classic
• Fox Movietone News
• Theatrical Trailer

Return of the Fly
• NEW Audio Commentary with actor David Frankham
• NEW Audio Commentary with author/film historian Tom Weaver
• Audio Commentary with actor Brett Halsey and film historian David Del Valle
• Theatrical Trailer
• TV Spot
• Still Gallery

Curse of the Fly
• NEW Audio Commentary with author/film historian Steve Haberman and filmmaker/historian Constantine Nasr
• NEW interview with actress Mary Manson
• NEW interview with continuity Renee Glynee
• Theatrical Trailer
• TV Spot
• Still Gallery

The Fly 1986
• NEW Audio Commentary with author/film historian William Beard
• NEW The Meshuggener Scientist – an interview with executive producer Mel Brooks
• NEW Beauty and the Beast – an interview with producer Stuart
• NEW A Tragic Opera – an interview with composer Howard Shore
• NEW David's Eyes – an interview with cinematographer Mark Irwin
• NEW interview with casting director Deirdre Bowen
• Audio Commentary with director David Cronenberg
• Fear of the Flesh: The Making of THE FLY – covering all 3 stages of the production – Larva, Pupa and Metamorphosis
• The Brundle Museum of Natural History with Chris Walas and Bob Burns
• Deleted Scenes with Storyboard and Script versions
• Extended Scenes
• Alternate Ending
• Test Footage (Main Titles, Lighting and Makeup Effects)
• Vintage featurette/Profile on David Cronenberg
• Still Galleries (Publicity, Behind-The-Scenes, Concept Art and Visual Effects)
• Theatrical Trailers
• TV Spots
• George Langelaan's short story
• Charles Edward Pouge's Original Screenplay
• David Cronenberg's Screenplay Rewrite
• Magazine articles with photos and video
• Trivia Track
• Two Easter Eggs

The Fly II
• NEW Fly in the Ointment – an interview with producer Stuart Cornfeld
• NEW Original Visions – an interview with screenwriter Mick Garris
• NEW Version 2.0 – an interview with screenwriter Ken Wheat
• NEW Big and Gothic – an interview with composer Christopher Young
• NEW Pretty Fly for A Fly Guy – an interview with special effects artist Tom Sullivan
• NEW interview with cinematographer Robin Vidgeon
• Interview with director Chris Walas
• Interview with producer Steven-Charles Jaffe
• Audio Commentary with director Chris Walas and film historian Bob Burns
• Transformations: Looking Back at The Fly II
• The Fly Papers: The Buzz on Hollywood's Scariest Insect
• Video Production Journal – a behind-the-scenes look at the special effects
• Composer's Master Class: Christopher Young
• Storyboard to Film Comparisons with optional commentary by director Chris Walas
• Vintage Featurette
• Extended Press Kit Interviews with Eric Stoltz, Daphne Zuniga and Chris Walas
• Alternate Ending
• Deleted Scene
• Teaser Trailer
• Theatrical Trailer
• Still Gallery
• Storyboard Gallery








Final Score: :3.5stars:


It’s been strange that The Fly films have been slowly dribbled out over the years, with us able to get the 1986 remake since the beginning of the format war, followed by Fox putting out the 1958 original some years later, and the sequel to the original being tucked away in The Vincent Price Collection: Volume 2 (which is sadly now out of print). While I’ve been able to import the sequel to the Jeff Goldblum remake, this is the first time that not only are all 5 films found together, but the only way that we have seen Curse of the Fly and The Fly II in any domestic Blu-ray release. The addition of a bunch of new extras and some solid mastering of the original films makes this the defacto boxset to get if you’re a fan of The Fly movies. Each disc is given it’s own amaray case and artwork, while the whole 5 disc set is enclosed in a really gorgeous chipboard box to hold them. All in all, I’m very pleased with this set and even though I owned 3 of the films, this was the perfect way to get all of them together, and easily the cheapest and most feature rich. Definitely recommend.


Technical Specifications:

Starring: Vincent Price, Jeff Goldblum, David Hedison, Patricia Owens, Geena Davis, Eric Stoltz, Brian Donlevy, Daphne Zuniga
Directed by: Kurt Neumann / Edward Bends / Don Sharp / David Cronenberg / Chris Walaas
Written by: James Clavell, George Langelaan / Edwards Bends, George Langelaan / Harry Spalding / David Cronenberg, Charles Edward Pogue / Frank Darabont, Jim Wheat, Ken Wheat, Mick Garris
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 AVC (The Fly 1958, Return of the Fly, Curse of the Fly) / 1.85;1 AVC (The Fly, The Fly II)
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 4.1 (The Fly 1958), English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono (Return of the Fly, Curse of the Fly, English DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 (The Fly 1986, The Fly II)
Subtitles:
English SDH, English, Korean (The Fly, The Fly II), Cantonese (The Fly, The Fly II)
Studio: Scream Factory
Rated: NR (The Fly 1958, Return of the Fly, Curse of the Fly / R (The Fly, The Fly II)
Runtime
: 94 Minutes / 80 Minutes / 86 Minutes / 96 Minutes / 105 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: December 17, 2019

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Recommendation: Worth Getting


 
Last edited:

tripplej

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Thanks for the review. I watched most of them long time ago and kind of forgot about them now.. Will revisit them.. :)
 
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