on 18 March 2014
THE FLY  [Limited Edition Steelbook] [Blu-ray] The Horrific 1958 Masterpiece! The Monster Created By Atoms Gone Wild!
Scientist Andre Delambre becomes obsessed with his latest creation, a matter transporter. He has varying degrees of success with it. He eventually decides to use a human subject, himself, with tragic consequences. During the transference, his atoms become merged with a fly, which was accidentally let into the machine. He winds up with the fly's head and one of its arms and the fly winds up with Andre's head and arm. Eventually, Andre's wife, Helene discovers his secret and must make a decision whether to let him continue to live like that or to do the unthinkable and euthanize him to end his suffering?
Cast: David Hedison, Patricia Owens, Vincent Price, Herbert Marshall, Kathleen Freeman, Betty Lou Gerson, Charles Herbert, Eugene Borden (uncredited), Harry Carter (uncredited), Arthur Dulac (uncredited), Bess Flowers (uncredited), Torben Meyer (uncredited), Franz Roehn (uncredited) and Charles Tannen (uncredited)
Director: Kurt Neumann
Producers: Kurt Neumann and Robert L. Lippert (uncredited)
Screenplay: George Langelaan (story) and James Clavell (writer)
Composer: Paul Sawtell
Cinematography: Karl Struss
Video Resolution: 1080p [Color by Deluxe]
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 [CinemaScope]
Audio: English: 4.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish: 1.0 Dolby Digital, French: 1.0 Dolby Digital and German: 4.0 DTS-HD
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish and German SDH
Running Time: 94 minutes
Region: All Regions
Number of discs: 1
Studio: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Andrew`s Blu-ray Review: Since I was a youngster, 'THE FLY' has remained a long-time favourite, and it wasn't only because Vincent Price starred in it, and definitely at the time I did think him the coolest actor around, and especially the most elegant actor in all of horror genre cinema. Okay, so maybe Vincent Price did have some small part to do with my love for films, but he's not the whole reason since he's only on screen for maybe a third of the running time. The same goes for Herbert Marshall. The two character actors are, of course, wonderful additions to the cast, and Vincent Price's performance here is just prior to his becoming the cherished horror icon he's remembered as today. They bring a level of seriousness and solemnness to a production that would normally pass as B-movie material.
As magnificent as those two gentlemen are, there is something darker and creepier imbuing the narrative, a sinister gothic atmosphere saturated with an inescapable air of apprehension. Audiences are made to constantly feel uneasy, worried, and afraid of something we have little to no information on. Even today, the film still manages to give rise to those same emotions of fearing the unknown, which is why 'THE FLY' continues as a beloved classic of the sci-fi horror subgenre, particularly from the 1950s Atomic-Age era when culture was suspicious of science. This is to the credit of director Kurt Neumann ['She Devil' and 'Kronos'] and screenwriter James Clavell ['The Great Escape'] for adapting George Langelaan's short story, though they significantly changed the über-dark ending.
Watching the film as a youngster and being genuinely disturbed by it is one thing, but it would be years later until I finally understood and could appreciate what makes the experience effective. 'THE FLY' is one of those horror films that hinges on the success of its final reveal, a shocking finish that mixes horror with a subtle trace of sadness. The last few minutes are the ultimate clincher to everything preceding it, and the ride before arriving at it is a splendid build-up of consternation and concern, especially since we already how it ends. The film is as much a twisted gothic mystery tale as anything else, one where we desperately want to know why Helene [Patricia Owens] killed her scientist husband Andre Delambre [David Hedison]. She gruesomely crushed him with a hydraulic press but insists she's not a murderer and behaves oddly in order to hide her motives.
Vincent Price's François Delambre and Herbert Marshall's Inspector Charas are basically us, the audience, trying to piece together what happened. What would drive a happily married couple to murder the other, and why is Helene obsessed with flies, especially a unique one with a white head and arm? The answer to that last question doesn't arrive until the very suspenseful end, the big payoff which has since become a familiar sight in the history of the cinema, making it bit more comical today than the ultimate shocker it once was. Neumann does exceptionally well generating confusion and anticipation in scenes where Helene frantically attempts to capture the fly and the stress bring out a hidden temper towards her son Philippe Delambre [Charles Herbert] and their housemaid Emma [Kathleen Freeman].
On a deeper, more unconscious level, 'THE FLY' speaks to our innate desire for discovery, of taking control of our natural environment, and a pursuit for explaining the unknown. Andre's experiments on the matter transporter he calls the disintegrator-integrator and the dangers he uncovers playing God is an obvious imputation of that sentiment. Yet, there's more to Neumann's film than this and a suggestive commentary on that intrinsic need in all of us to explain our love of horror, the abnormal and the grotesque. Like Helene pulling on her husband's black hood to discover a hideously disfigured man and a repugnancy that's equally fascinating and we are born with a curiosity that compels us even against self-preservation to see what hides beneath the black veil. We secretly want to be horrified and look away, yet we can't seem to help staring at the very thing which disturbs. I love 'The Fly' because it constantly builds towards that final reveal and makes me want to see it for myself. I just wish they would release the black and white follow up "The Return of The Fly" in the Blu-ray format and especially in another Limited Edition SteelBook.
Blu-ray Video Quality – The sci-fi horror classic lands on Blu-ray with a brilliant 1080p encode image. Nicely showcasing the lovely photography of Karl Struss, the picture is beautifully detailed and very well-defined. The fade-in and fade-out edits are understandably soft and blurry, and few sequences are not as distinct with a smidge of noise around the edges. Although inherent to the source, it's apparent enough to be somewhat distracting. The rest of the 2.35:1 image displays a sumptuous array of primaries, animating the screen with life, and warm, energetic pastel hues. Contrast is comfortably bright with crisp, brilliant whites while blacks are rich and true with excellent shadow details. This high-definition transfer is by far the best the film has ever looked.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – In the audio department, the movie makes a scarily terrifying buzz with this excellent 4.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Not sure if the people at 20th Century Fox went to the original four-track magnetic stereo strip for this, but what we have sounds fantastic and remains to faithful to its original design. The surround sounds are largely silent, which is to be expected, as the technology was really only used to widen the front soundstage and an attractive gimmick that complemented the equally wider-than-television image on screen, to attract more audiences to the cinema. The music of Paul Sawtell does the majority of the work by creating a wonderfully engaging sound field, exhibiting sharp, distinct highs along with clean detailed mid ranges. The buzzing of flies is quite amusing as the little bugs fly all across the screen convincingly, from left to right and top to bottom. A bit of bass adds some depth to the score, as well as to the electronic gadgets inside Andre's laboratory every time he turns them on. Vocals are intelligible and move across the channels according the position of the character speaking, which only adds to the wider image effect. Overall, it's a terrifically enjoyable and well-done mix for a great classic.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Audio Commentary: Commentary with actor David Hedison and Film Historian David Del Valle: This is a fantastically charming and often quite funny commentary. David Del Valle is "colourful" bantering (as they say), and quite winningly with David Hedison. David Hedison has some great memories of the shoot, but rather interestingly, but David Hedison talks about wanting to have the transformation take place in phases, somewhat similar to the David Cronenberg remake. Feeling largely like an interview where David Hedison recollects and shares various awesome memories, the chat is insightful, funny and terrifically entertaining.
Special Feature: Biography: Vincent Price: The Versatile Villain  [44:00] This is a typically fine Biography overview of the actor's life and career. An episode from the Biography TV series focused on the life and career of the priceless Vincent Price. Contributors to this TV Special are Richard Kiley (voice), Vincent Price (archive footage), Lucy Chase Williams (Vincent Price's biographer), Victoria Price (Vincent Price's daughter), Norman Lloyd, Hazel Court, Dennis Hopper, Jane Russell, Roger Corman, Roddy McDowall, Lynn Bari (archive footage), Constance Bennett (archive footage), William Castle (archive footage), Carolyn Craig (archive footage), Mark Damon (archive footage), Myrna Fahey (archive footage), Charles Herbert (archive footage), Jennifer Jones (archive footage), Boris Karloff (archive footage), Pamela Lincoln (archive footage), Peter Lorre (archive footage), Herbert Marshall (archive footage), Patricia Owens (archive footage), Gene Tierney (archive footage), Burt Ward (archive footage) and Gregory Peck (archive footage) (uncredited). Directed by Kerry Jensen. Screenplay by Lucy Chase Williams. Produced by CarolAnne Dolan, Kerry Jensen, Kevin Burns, Kim Egan, Lawrence Williams. Michael Cascio and Sophie Livsey. Music by Chris Many and Tom Jenkins.
Special Feature: Fly Trap: Catching a Classic [11:30] David Hedison returns with film historians and others to discuss the film, its origins, production and its lasting legacy on horror cinema. It is a fun little piece concentrating on three "original" Fly films. Its notable how brown and ugly the elements of ‘THE FLY’ appear in this documentary compared to the actual feature presentation on the Blu-ray. It also includes comments from David Hedison, David Del Valle, Screenwriter and Film Historian Steve Haberman, Director and Screenwriter Donald F. Glut, Fangoria Magazine editor Tony Timpone, and actor Brett Halsey. We learn about the source story and its path to the screen, cast and performances, the film’s success and sequels. “Classic” seems too brief and too general. It needs a lot more time to adequately cover all three horror films, so while we get some decent notes, the piece doesn’t tell us much.
Special Feature: Fox Movietone News [00:54] This is a very short piece on the “Out of this World” Premiere of the film ‘THE FLY’ in San Francisco, which featured several "guest monsters," where attendees were greeted by such horror film giants as Dracula, Frankenstein and the Mummy, who were, ironically, monsters associated with Universal Pictures.
Theatrical Trailer [1:59] This is the Original Theatrical Trailer for 'THE FLY.'
Finally, starring the always wonderful Vincent Price and 'THE FLY' is a true sci-fi horror classic that continues to entertain, surprise and shock. Director Kurt Neumann is exceptional at building suspense and a thick air of apprehension in a murder mystery that teases audiences into wanting to see the grotesquely shocking reveal and closes with one last final outrageous clincher. The Blu-ray arrives with a great picture quality and especially in the awesome designed embossed Limited Edition SteelBook and the best the film has ever looked, and an excellent audio presentation. With a small but still enjoyable set of supplements, the overall package makes an awesome addition to the horror collection. ‘ THE FLY’ may in fact strike some as too relentlessly low key to build much horror, and while it's true this isn't an overly bloody or gruesome affair, its mood is palpable and brooding sense of doom it creates, especially as things wend their way toward the devastating climax, is remarkable. This Blu-ray is yet another fantastic presentation of a catalogue title by Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. Again, the reason it has been an all-time favourite of mine, especially the classic scene near the end of the film, where the fly shouts out "Help me! Help me!" is another reason to own this brilliant Blu-ray disc and again it is an honour to add this to my ever increasing Vincent Price Blu-ray Collection. Very Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom