Men tampering in God's domain are met with the perils of their own creations… by being spliced into horrific human/insect hybrids in The Fly Collection! Scream Factory pulls together the five-film franchise into one convenient box set. The films range from true genre classics to completely unnecessary to gleefully trashy horror. While not every film in this series is cinematic gold, they're all damned entertaining in their own ways. With solid video and audio presentations and a massive number of new and archival bonus features, if you're a Fly guy you're in for a tasty treat with The Fly Collection. Highly Recommended.
"I'm saying I am an insect who dreamt he was a man and loved it. But now the dream is over... and the insect is awake."
One of the most unlikely of franchises was born from a short story published in the June 1957 issue of Playboy Magazine by author George Langelaan. Less than a year later The Fly (1958) was in theaters. With slight differences to the ending to allow for something a little happier, the film is a near-perfect adaptation hitting major plot points beat for beat. Given some elegant heft by Vincent Price in a supportive role, what could have been an easy B-movie dash off was a box office smash featuring state-of-the-art visual effects including one of the best monster heads ever made.
With The Fly a massive success, it's understandable that 20th Century Fox would want to put a sequel into motion ASAP. Sadly, rather than go big and bold, they went cheap and easy. Forgoing color for black and white and reusing already built sets, The Return of the Fly sees the son of the Fly following in his father's footsteps only to be betrayed by his evil lab partner. With a decent performance from Bret Halsey and a returning Vincent Price, the sequel isn't too bad. It's light on suspense for the first stretch of the film but it picks up its pace nicely. The giant fly head may be a tad silly, but it's still an earnest effort and would fittingly end the franchise for a few years.
Even with a solid "ending," no franchise is ever truly over. Somehow, someway, someone will continue on - if even to piggyback on the namesake. The Curse of the Fly is difficult to even call a sequel to The Fly let alone a continuation of The Return of the Fly. The continuity makes little sense and there isn't actually a "Fly" in the movie. While it apes the horror of teleportation-gone-wrong schtick, there's little related to it beyond mythology building. Part of the franchise but not the same animal. Curse has its moments, but cheap sets and dull pacing keeps it from any forward momentum. Some monsters do appear but it's almost too little too late to completely salvage the show. There's a reason why this film wasn't available on home video in any form until a DVD release in 2007. It's rough. Fun, but not in league with what's come before or since.
Like all larva, a franchise can't stay dormant for long before it needs to emerge into an entirely new beast to survive. Enter Mel Brook's produced The Fly (1986) directed by David Cronenberg and starring Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis. Not content with being a simple retread of the original, Cronenberg and team expanded the story to encompass themes about death and relationships beyond simply being another "science-gone-wrong" parable. It's an often heart-wrenching film of body horror until the film goes full monster movie in one of the most gloriously gory and intense final acts. Over 30 years later this film still resonates and like its franchise progenitor is a genre classic. One of the rare remakes that's truly unique.
As with the original, no Fly is complete without a sequel. Behind-the-scenes production drama kept originality away and 20th Century Fox opted for predictability with The Fly II directed by Chris Walas. It's not that The Fly II is a bad movie, for an 80s horror flick, it's perfectly decent and delivers on the blood and guts by the gallon. It's just that compared to the excellence that is Cronenberg's The Fly - it's more than a little trashy. From the opening larva birth to the incredible face melt - the film is out to be an ooey-gooey creature feature, and to that extent, it succeeds. But in its generic approach, it's predictable and not always memorable while still being entertaining if you're in the mood for some grotesque stuff.
When I was a kid - I believe I was all of five or six-years-old - I was introduced to the original 1958 The Fly. I enjoyed it as it went along, I wasn't bored. The idea of a man hiding under a hood and keeping his arm in his pocket kept my attention. Then that iconic reveal hit and I lost it. To hear my parents tell it I screamed bloody murder before leaping over the couch and hiding. Few things scared me as a kid - that reveal stuck with me. I knew something was coming, but that fly head with those creepy eyes and wiggly mouth digits just terrified me. I still get that tinge of anticipation and dread up my spine in the buildup to that moment.
From there I became a Fly fan. Soon my Dad rented Cronenberg's The Fly and I got to see that at an entirely too young age. So much had already happened that by the time Goldblum's BrundleFly spits on a man's foot dissolving it to the bone, the cat was pretty well out of the bag and my dad just let me go with it. My little eyes saw a lot that day - but had a ton of fun. It wasn't long after that my Dad rented The Fly II and we had a delightful time relishing the explosive parade of blood and guts together. "Your Dad can watch that with you" was a familiar phrase from my Mom growing up. I knew she didn't like horror movies and avoided them, but I think the actual hope was they'd give me nightmares and my Dad would be the one to have to calm me down. That never worked though, it just fueled my love for the science fiction and horror genres.
The Fly Collection is a great five-film set pulling together the franchise in one big convenient package. Sure there are some franchise low-points, I still don't really get the reason The Curse of the Fly even exists at all, but the films are entertaining. Two of them are genuine science fiction classics that hold up to this day. Whichever version of The Fly you prefer, this set is a cinematic treat.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Scream Factory delivers The Fly Collection to Blu-ray in a five-film set. Each film gets its own Region A locked BD-50 disc. Each disc is housed in its own standard sturdy Blu-ray case supported in a hard cardboard slipcase. Each disc opens to a static/animated main menu with traditional navigation options.
The Fly (1958) arrives with what appears to be an identical 2.35:1 1080p transfer of the 2013 20th Century Fox release - which isn't a bad thing at all. I no longer have that original release, but it's still a robust transfer with fine details, a natural grain presence, big bold primaries with accurate flesh tones. Black levels are on point producing some nice deep inky blacks without crush issues. Obviously a fresh new 4K scan would've been awesome, but this is still a great looking show.
Scream Factory resurrects The Return of the Fly recycling the same excellent black and white 2.35:1 1080p transfer as was previously available for The Vincent Price Collection II set from 2014. Black levels are terrific offering excellent shadow separation throughout the picture. Details remain strong and the image maintains a nice and natural-looking grain presence for a richly film-like presentation. Some extremely slight and hardly noticeable speckling is apparent during the film, otherwise, the image is blemish-free and looks great.
The Curse of the Fly is a bit of a high-definition dud with this 2.35:1 1080p transfer While fine details are apparent throughout, the image has the appearance of a DVD master upscale. Details only really pop and come alive in close up shots while middle and wide shots can be soft and a bit smeary. As such film grain never truly resolves itself and can often appear gloopy. Black levels never quite reach true black but there is enough shadow separation to give the image at least a sense of depth. Frame jitter and speckling are regular companions of this transfer. Overall it's fine, it gets by, but compared to the rest of the package it doesn't sparkle.
The Fly (1986) is given the exact same middling-decent 1.85:1 1080p transfer as 20th Century Fox issued in the way way back of the Blu-ray format in 2007 - which in of itself was an HD master intended for DVD and broadcast. To say this transfer could use an upgrade is a bit of a "no duh" moment. Looking back at 12 years ago this was fine for Blu-ray. It offered improvements over the DVD, black levels were pretty good and there were improved details - but this is hardly demo material today and I hope someday this film is given a proper 4K restoration with all the HDR trimmings.
The Fly II arrives on Blu-ray for the first time in North America with a solid 1.85:1 1080p transfer. Previously only available in Australia, The Fly II benefits from a more recent source scan compared to its predecessor. While not an ideal way to judge, looking at screencaps from the AU release, I would say this is the same transfer as that disc. Details are strong throughout and there is a nice healthy grain structure to the image. Black levels are for the most part on point giving deep inky blacks, although there are a couple of moments where crush seeps in ever so briefly. Colors are bold with rich natural primaries. The only notable age-related issues is some very occasional speckling but that's it.
The Fly (1956) is packed with the same DTS-HD MA 4.0 mix as the previous 20th Century Fox Blu-ray. As with the video, this is also welcome news - no need to alter it or force a surround sound mix in there, this 4.0 mix is practically perfect. The sound effects of the transporter kick with a lot of life and any time a certain pesky insect the mix gives way to an irritating buzz that zips and zags around the soundscape. Dialog is clean and clear throughout. All around this is a great mix.
Return of the Fly lands with the same excellent DTS-HD MA 2.0 and DTS-HD Mono mixes as previously available in The Vincent Price Collection II package. Which again is not a bad thing at all. Dialog is clear throughout and the score is rich and lush while the sound effects are well placed. It naturally doesn't pack the same punch as the 4.0 stereo mix for the original The Fly, but for a production working on the cheap, it works pretty well. No age-related issues with the tracks. Both the Stereo and Mono mixes are excellent so its dealer's choice.
The Curse of the Fly debuts with a decent enough DTS-HD MA Mono track. Dialog clarity is fine and gets the job done. Sound effects and scoring come through nicely enough. The problem is the mix just sounds flat. Even for a mono mix, there's no real sense of dimension. Considering the film's reputation and how it never existed on home video for the better part of 40 years - this isn't terrible. It's not the worst audio track out there, but it's not as dynamic as what's available for the other films in this set.
The Fly (1986) regurgitates what sounds like the exact same DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix from the 2007 disc while upgrading the 2.0 stereo mix. The sound mix was never very action-heavy for this film, so I can forgive the lack of dynamic placement, but at the same time, I wish this mix had been tinkered with a bit more to open it up some more. As much of the film is dialog-driven, it skirts by fine with some slight background effects to fill out the surrounds. The Howard Shore score still sounds amazing. While not as open as the 5.1 mix, the newer DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo mix is pretty great stuff. It's not one I would pick over the default 5.1 track, but it's pretty good.
The Fly II is given a DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix and a DTS-HD MA 2.0 track - both are great and both get the job done well enough - but I tip towards the 5.1 track simply because the last act becomes an action-packed gore-fueled cacophony. Most of the film is similar to its predecessor focusing mostly on dialog with only intermittent bursts of activity. The Christopher Young score is great material and really livens up the soundscape. Surrounds are active in subtle ways, when Martin is in his confines they're pretty quiet but offer up some extra spacing to the mix. Again that last act, when MartinFly rampages it's great squishy stuff! That head squish is a particular highlight!
Once again Scream Factory goes above and beyond to not only gather up as much archival bonus material as they can but get some new stuff for good measure. Between all of the audio commentary tracks and new interviews, there is a ton of material that's well worth the hours of time it'll take you to pick through all of it. To that point, it's still funny to me that The Fly II has the most bonus features material.
The Fly 1958
Audio Commentary with David Hedison and David Del Valle
NEW Audio Commentary with Steve Haberman and Constantine Nasr
Vincent Price Biography (SD 44:03)
Fly Trap: Catching a Classic (SD 11:30)
FOX Movietone News (SD 00:54)
Return of The Fly
NEW Audio Commentary with David Frankham
NEW Audio Commentary with Tom Weaver
Audio Commentary with Brett Halsey and David Del Valle
The Curse of The Fly
NEW Audio Commentary with Steve Haberman and Constantine Nasr
Mary Manson Interview (HD 7:38)
Renée Glynne Interview (HD 5:22)
The Fly 1986
Audio Commentary with Director David Cronenberg
NEW Audio Commentary with author William Beard
NEW The Meshuggener Scientist (HD 13:26) Interview with Mel Brooks
NEW Beauty and the Beast (HD 22:49) Interview with Stuart Cornfeld
NEW Interview with Casting Director Deirdre Bowen (HD 14:37)
NEW David's Eyes (HD 25:24) Interview with Mark Irwin
NEW A Tragic Opera (HD 9:16) Interview with composer Howard Shore
Fear of the Flesh - The Making of The Fly (SD 2:16:02)
The Brundle Museum of Natural History (SD 11:52)
The Fly II
Audio Commentary with director Chris Walas and Bob Burns
NEW Interview with Stuart Cornfeld (HD 8:12)
NEW Interview with Screenwriter Mick Garris (HD 14:06)
NEW Interview with Screenwriter Ken Wheat (HD 22:13)
NEW Interview with Cinematographer Robin Vidgeon (HD 15:20)
Interview with Composter Christopher Young (HD 18:34)
Interview with S/FX Artist Tom Sullivan (HD 17:45)
Interview with Director Chris Walas (SD 1:20:19)
Interview with Producer Steven-Charles Jaffe (SD 35:16)
Transformations - Looking Back at The Fly II (SD 48:31)
The Fly Papers (SD 57:38)
Film Production Journal (SD 18:04)
Composer's Master Class (SD 12:42)
Storyboard to Film Comparison (SD 6:59)
Original EPK (SD 5:10)
Extended EPK with Chris Walas (SD 2:41)
Extended EPK with Eric Stoltz (SD 3:35)
Extended EPK with Daphne Zuniga (SD 3:31)
Deleted Scene (SD 1:28)
Alternate Ending (SD 1:10)
The Fly Collection brings together 30 years of franchise history into one conveniently packed box set. What started as a simple sci-fi short story in a men's magazine burst into a five-film series. While not every film of the series is a winner, there is terrific entertainment value here. Even the franchise low point The Curse of The Fly is a fun hokey monster flick of science-gone-wrong. The original The Fly and its remake are true genre classics playing with modernized themes about the perils of scientific discovery. The Return of the Fly is a decent sequel if made on the cheap and rushed through playing on similar tricks as the original to draw an audience. The Fly II plays predictably safe with the plot but goes full out with gore and creature effects for a highly entertaining if trashy sequel.
Scream Factory's The Fly Collection is a dynamic set giving each film the best possible A/V presentation that has been made available to date. Sadly that does mean David Cronenberg's 1986 remake lacks a long overdue upgrade. On the bright side, lovers of bonus features will have a field day with what's been made available. There are hours upon hours of newly produced and archival bonus features to pick through. The new audio commentaries are well worth it. If you're a fan of the franchise, this is a great set that nicely pulls everything together in a nice neat package. Highly Recommended.