Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Only now does it occur to me... THE FLY II

Only now does it occur to me...  that Eric Stolz may have been fired as Marty McFly, but eventually he did get to be "Martin the Fly."  It seems too weirdly specific to be mere coincidence.

By the sound of it, THE FLY II doesn't seem as if it would be a "good movie," and subsequently I'd avoided it for years, assuming the worst.  Now I'm prepared to say, without reservation, that THE FLY II is dad-blammed fantastic and one of the great sci-fi films of the 1980s.

The directorial debut of Chris Walas (one of the FX masters of 80s creature features– from GREMLINS to THE FLY to ENEMY MINE to ARACHNOPHOBIA to NAKED LUNCH), THE FLY II has a tremendous eye for visual detail and some of the finest practical effects I've ever seen.

We have spectacular makeup á la THE FLY and ENEMY MINE,

viscous ALIEN/THE THING-esque cocoon props,
 mind-blowing gore that nearly puts Tom Savini to shame,

and a titular creature whom history may well remember as one of the last great movie monsters before our fun was ruined by CGI.


And since this isn't a full review, I'll share a few random observations:

#1.  There's a nice Cronenberg shoutout when a random Bartok security guard happens to be reading THE SHAPE OF RAGE, the first major scholarly study of the Cronenberg canon.

 #2.  An amusingly acerbic cameo appearance by John Getz ("Stathis," the quasi-villain and Goldblum rival from THE FLY 1).
He's the only FLY 1 cast member to officially return, though we do see Goldblum in some archival footage, a few clips of which were deleted scenes from the prior film.

#3.  A sensitive, pathos-filled lead performance from Eric Stoltz, who probably scored the gig based on his ability to deliver even when covered in makeup (MASK), but who in every sense transcends what you'd expect from a sequel to a remake of a sci-fi B-movie.

#4.  Also, it occurs to me that this may be the greatest accomplishment of Mick Garris, who wrote the story and co-authored the screenplay (with Frank Darabont, Jim Wheat, and Ken Wheat).  Though storywise it's closer to, say, a Spielberg flick rather than a Cronenberg one, it's a helluva lot of fun.  I've been ragging on Mr. Garris a lot lately (i.e., for DESPERATION and QUICKSILVER HIGHWAY), but hey– he brought us the finest CRITTERS sequel and the greatest (and only) sequel to Cronenberg's version of THE FLY.  Thanks, Mick!

–Sean Gill

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