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• Promo Materials and Trailers
RUNNING TIME: 105 Minutes
• Two Documentaries
• Deleted SCene and Alternate Ending
• Commentary by Chris Walas and Bob Burns
• Storyboard to Film Comparisons
• Promo Materials and Trailers
Here’s the easy way to do this review: print out my take on The Fly and hold it up to a mirror. I’m talking only about the film itself, mind you, since this two-disc release is almost as good as that for Cronenberg’s film. More flicks with great head-crushing sequences should get this treatment.
Here at CHUD we like to bitch and moan about poorly advised films, ill-conceived sequels and plain old crappy flicks. This is all of the above. But like all Bad Movies By Good People™ The Fly II has more than a few redeeming characteristics. When it gets moving the gore is great, and it’s got one of genre’s unsung over the top turns by John Getz, the only man with the guts to come back for seconds. You just have to wade through some boring coming of age drama and fake horror to get to it.
After the success of his first film, WOPR became impossible to work with.
Eric Stoltz is Martin Brundle, the five-year old son of Seth and Roni, The Fly‘s lovely couple. That’s right — five years old. See, lil’ Brundle’s aging aggressively because he’s got dad’s superfly genes. If had superfly genes and ended up in a regular old genre movie instead of blaxploitation I’d be pissed, but that’s just me.
Or maybe it’s not, because Marty is pretty pissed, too. That might just be because he’s spent his life cooped up in a scientific facility where a patronizing cock of a director (Dr. Bartok, played to the hilt by Lee Richardson) pretends to be the caring father while videotaping his ersatz son’s first masturbation.
Eric’s rampage through the Ikea showroom became legendary.
Having recently lost her gig as a Jennifer Connelly stand-in, Daphne Zuniga shows up to play Beth Logan, a low-level tech who catches Brundle’s eye and unzips his fly. For God’s sake, the guy is five years old! Where’s the MPAA when we need them? So, as long as he looks 22, the whole statutory rape thing is moot? Members of the CHUD staff could learn a lot from this movie.
It’s easy to envision the angsty faux family drama that follows, so let’s get to the good stuff. The movie is directed by Chris Walas, the effects guy behind Cronenberg’s film, and here he gets a chance to do plenty of stuff that time and money prevented last time. Among them is a great full-body fly and a few great rounds of makeup on Stoltz.
It takes far too long for The Fly II to realize that it’s just a big makeup movie, but once that happens it’s dumb gold, or at least bronze. There’s the full-facial meltdown and a head-crushing scene that people from neighboring states might drive in to catch. It’s good stuff; the last half hour is exactly the sort of gory breakdown that people probably expected from the first film.
Most of the first hour is spent creating reprehensible characters that we just want to kill, and the last chunk of film delivers them all in body bags. And the finale is something that should really go down as more pessimistic than any major studio has allowed since. The last shot is the sort of sick reversal of fortune you’d expect to see in a more arty genre flick and while the moment is jarring, it’s not at all unwelcome.
That’s right, asshole, I am your only hope. Now get me another drink. And a real beard.
Even in the generally slow first hour there’s a bright spot courtesy of John Getz. He wears a terrible fake beard and gets to play drunk through his one scene; it’s the sort of stuff every actor must dream of and fear at the same time. With guidance by the all-too predictable script by committee (Mick Garris has story credit while Jim Wheat, Ken Wheat and a not-yet Shawshanked Frank Darabont are also credited) Walas doesn’t show much of a flair for behavior, but he obviously knows when to step aside and let an actor run. Here Getz grabs the reigns, flips the bird and steals three of the best minutes of this movie.
6.5 out of 10
I don’t know why there are so few late ’80s early ’90s movies that are really, truly crisp. This is one of the many that looks much older than it really is; that said, the disc is as sharp as the film is going to get without a high-def transfer and presentation. The screaming skull looks freakin’ great, and even shadowy scenes are nicely balanced.
8 out of 10
Like the image, this is pure middle of the road stuff. There’s really nothing remarkable to hear in the film. Christopher Young’s music is typically pretty subtle (or at least mixed low) and in general nothing stands out to catch the ear. But the mix here doesn’t sound artificial or as if anything is being unfairly emphasized, which works for me.
7 out of 10
Ok, this is hardly the packed release that The Fly got, but it’s pretty good anyhow. Sadly there are only two deleted scenes (one classic and one awful) which is sort of ironic since for years The Fly II was the best official source of deleted material for Cronenberg’s film. (Some of Goldblum’s cutting room floor footage fills out the exposition.)
What we do get are three featurettes, one of which shows the enthusiastic effects team in action. I always love seeing candid video footage that some intern shot on a ten-pound Panasonic video camera back in the day, and there’s a bunch of that here. The film’s trailers make an appearance, and there are some raw storyboards and a trio of storyboard to film comparisons. Those always leave me cold, but for those who like to know what was drawn versus what was shot, the opening sequence and Bartok’s fate are presented for your pleasure.
Then there are two documentaries, each respectable in its own right, but neither one as good as the comprehensive pile of film on The Fly‘s SE.
Transformations: Looking Back at The Fly II is a trimmed down version of that huge documentary. It’s the same sort of complete history from script and casting to post-production, only without all the detail. It’s not, after all, covering a Cronenberg movie. The one-hour running time can also be credited to the fact that the reams of film clips that filled out The Fly‘s doc are nowhere to be found.
Beaker didn’t like this ‘being human’ shit at all. He wanted out.
The upshot of this doc is that I found myself really liking Chris Walas. He’s not afraid to be candid about his work here as a director for hire, and as a guy who didn’t really know how to handle actors. He airs some regrets, which is always admirable in the chest-puffing Hollywood machine, and makes it clear that he has few illusions about his first film as director.
His commentary largely serves the same purpose, and turned into a track that I enjoyed far more than I would have expected to. The commentary is also made great by the presence of super prop collector Bob Burns. He and Walas obviously get along and their conversation is great fun.
The Fly Papers, on the other hand, seems like something Fox had lying around that could be included to make this set look as densely packed as that for Cronenberg’s film. Over the course of an hour, Leonard Nimoy narrates tales of the original ’50s version and sequels, revealing all sort of detail about those movies. The doc touches on Cronenberg’s film as well, then finally gets to The Fly II about ten minutes before the credits roll. The best part is when Nimoy says that over the next decade the popularity of sci-fi would continue to grow, while the title screen from Zardoz pops up in the background. Delusions of grandeur!
While trying to replicate dad’s technology, Brundle investigated the poltergeist method of teleportation.
And one more word about commentaries — thorough readers of the site know that Nick was part of a fan community commentary that was dropped from the package. It came up in a recent Steady Leak, and I’ll echo everything Nick said there. It was occasionally funny (thanks to Nunziata and a far too quiet Mr. Beaks) but generally too scholarly and reliant on the IMDB.
8.5 out of 10
I like this image as much as that for The Fly. Catch me at the right moment and I even like it more. Given this movie’s scientific pretentions and setting, the close-up shot of the fly is perfect, and the black and red lends it that blatantly creepy tone that all lousy gore flicks should use for promotion.
Overall: 8 out of 10