It's nice when a horror film takes a turn for the sweet and sentimental, and this happens more often than you think. Take "The Fly" for example; an absurd, slightly dated horror-tragedy that pulls no punches and takes no prisoners. It's an admirable film, in spite of its flaws (and it has several), and most horror fans should see it. Some of the horror is less effective than it wants to be, but there are still moments of honest, genuine fear. This is real horror film; it's not faking it or trying too hard to the point of failure. Do I like it in a sneaky sort of way? Yes, I suppose I do. Not everyone will be charmed, but it's still better than nothing.
The film cleverly balances horror and drama; both surrounding the basic premise of the film: the possibility of a man-fly. There were aspects to this premise that I absolutely adored and thought were charming, but sometimes, there were moments where the thing tends to feel like more of a mess, albeit a beautiful one. There is beauty to be found here, if you can get into the concept (or genre, whichever you prefer) to begin with.
A housewife and her family are living a happy life. We first see the lady of the house as she is being questioned by the authorities. Why, you ask? Because they just searched her house and found her husband dead in the basement; his skull crushed by a hydraulic press. The wife claims that she did this to her mate, and after debating and refusing to tell her tale, she decides to go on and explain herself. As it turns out, her husband was a devoted scientist. And his madness began with a discovery.
The husband/scientist begins with transportation. It is successful, although he is a bit of a perfectionist, and wants the conversion from one chamber to another to be absolutely flawless. One day, he tries it on a human being, himself, to be precise. A fly got in by accident, and gave some of its physical, mental, and internal features to the man; giving him a fly's head, one of the fly's arms, and some of its basic sensibilities. He begins to feel his humanity drifting away, slowly and slowly, as time passes.
The story is meant to be some sort of tragedy, and thanks to the filmmaking and acting talents on display, I have few problems with the execution. The film itself is straight-forward in it's telling, which is admirable, although don't go expecting something incredibly complex. Go and watch this film expecting intelligent science-fiction, often times taut horror, and a surprisingly human story element.
Now, David Croneneberg remade this film in the 80's. His version is superior to this one, if you ask me. And if you ask me, "Why?" then I'll be glad to explain myself. Cronenberg is a master of body horror, no? So he has a grasp on this material, and he also knows how to express emotion and horror in equal amounts. While this "The Fly" is still damn good, his version reached me on an emotional level and left me thinking. I won't say that "The Fly" is a forgettable experiment of filmmaking, because I do like it, and I was entertained by it, but if you want the best version of this concept: visit the Cronenberg joint. However, this still counts as a recommendation. This version has its pleasures, one of them being Vincent Price as a calm and collected "uncle" figure. He's always worth your while.