Return of the Fly (1959)

Return of the Fly (1959)

Blood-curdling giant fly creature runs amuck!!!

Fifteen years after his father conducted a disastrous matter transportation experiment, Philippe Delambre attempts to create a similar device with the help of his assistant Alan Hinds. Alan has other motives and wants to sell the plans to the highest bidder. When Philippe finds out, Alan throws him into the device along with a fly, one of Philippe’s biggest fears after what happened to his father. Philippe rematerializes with the head and claw of a fly whilst the fly comes out with his head and hand. This time the creature has revenge on its mind.

 

Filmed in black and white as opposed to the lavish colour of the original, Return of the Fly is a far cry from the classic science fiction story that came before it. Now a watered-down cheap schlocky B-movie, Return of the Fly attempts more of the same with lesser production values and thus lesser results. We know where the film is heading and we know what is going to happen when human and fly are melded into one so any element of surprise is lost from the onset.

Return of the Fly leaves behind all of the ‘man losing his humanity’ character development of the original. Instead of being character-driven, this sequel opts for the more gratuitous monster-on-the-loose route, utilizing a series of then-grisly moments to lure the audience in and leaning towards cheap thrills instead of intelligent sci-fi.

I suppose you can’t be too hard on something like this. It’s old school. It’s rushed. It’s low budget. It’s the sort of throwaway sequel that the likes of The Sci-Fi Channel make nowadays so nothing much changes over the years. Return of the Fly contains little to get excited about, especially if you’ve seen the original. If you can buy the notion that Philippe shares the same fate as his father, then you’re off to a winner. Let’s face it, it’s a million-to-one accident which happens to the same family within the space of fifteen years – did they not think about making the machine fly-proof? Or did the writers not think about potentially changing the insect to a spider or something? Something to add a bit of originality to the story was needed but the film just rehashes more-or-less the same story as the original without the intelligence and without the drama and human connection. On the positive side, at least sets from the original were re-used and it adds a nice touch of continuity to proceedings. But after the brief nostalgia trip wears thin, the film ups the cheap thrills to compensate. Worst of all is when the police inspector is trapped in the machine with a guinea pig which ends in similar results to that of the fly. The little guinea pig is then squished underneath a big boot with a sickening squelching noise. This also means that the fly is shown a lot more than before, as the rule of sequels dictates.

In a silly move, the film dramatically increases the size of the fly’s head to ludicrous proportions. Explained in the film as a side effect of ‘gigantisim’ the head looks ridiculously over-sized and will cause spontaneous bouts of laughter as opposed to the desired shock-and-horror. The actor inside struggles to remain upright as the weight of the head would topple him if he made any sudden movement. He virtually walks around holding onto this papier-mâché head and desperately tries to act intimidating when there’s no doubt he can’t see what the hell is going on around him!

The short running time also means that the pace is a little too quick and events seem to be rushed and forced through. It’s eager to get to the transformation scenes and neglects to build its players up so that they can be knocked down. There’s little time for character development, a real pity considering Philippe is supposed to be the main focus of the film. How are the audience supposed to care for the character when he is transformed into the fly when we know as much about him as we do Alan and his cronies? Thankfully the thinly-written role suits Brett Halsey well. The hero of the piece can’t really handle the role so adding more depth and character to the part would have made things worse.

Vincent Price has more of a part to play here. No longer a supporting character like he was in the original, his role is fleshed out a little more, no doubt to give the film some credibility on the acting front since Price’s stock was rising considerably at the time. He didn’t do an awful lot in the first one except mope around with his raspy voice and unfortunately he does little more here. It’s hardly a challenging role and there’s no wonder Price was unhappy with the final script. It even lacks a decent finale although it would be near-impossible to top the original’s “help meeeee!” moment, surely one of the most iconic and memorable finales in history.

 

Return of the Fly has it’s moments but they’re too few and far between. Without the heart and soul of the original, this just becomes a generic 50s sci-fi flick with tacky special effects, weak characters and a criminal misuse of Vincent Price. Get out the fly spray because this is one insect you’ll want to eradicate before it has chance to ruin your day.

 

 ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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