Return of the Fly (1959) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Return of the Fly (1959) Review

Horrorific content by TE Simmons on February 17th, 2022 | Movie Review | Vincent Price, Mutant, Classic Sci-Fi

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It’s about a return to the horrors of intermixing man and bug. 

Return of the Fly was directed by Edward Bernds (The Bowery Boys Meet the Monsters and Dig that Uranium) and stars Brett Halsey (Demonia and Cat in the Brain), David Frankman (Master of the World and Tales of Terror), and Vincent Price (Madhouse, Theatre of Blood, and The Abominable Dr. Phibes).

Should André Delambre’s disintegrator-reintegrator be rebuilt?

Return of the Fly Review

The Fly – inspired by a story from Playboy and released one year before its sequel – framed a predictable tale of the mad scientist bent on perfecting an invention. A series of unintended consequences follow, including, ultimately, the destruction of the inventor himself. 

Return of the Fly would have been better named Son of the Fly. It is concerned with the mad scientist’s son taking up his late father’s task, in spite of the insistent remonstrances of Uncle François (played by Vincent Price). The outcome is the same as in the first film: One full-sized man with the head of a fly and one fly-sized fly with the tiny head of a man, squeaking for help. 

Don’t bother to ask how that happened. David Cronenberg’s 1986 remake crafted a more feasible plot in which a fly accidentally entered the chamber with the man. Computers only do what they’re told. Since the computer was programmed to scatter and then reassemble the DNA inside the chamber into a single life form, that’s precisely what it does. Hence: a fly-man. 

But Cronenberg’s script omitted the horror of two beings: one who is not fully a man, the other who is not fully a fly. It lost the revulsion of the original and this sequel. There’s something uniquely unsettling about two half-men (or half-flies, if you prefer). 

Which is the man, which is the monster? Or are they both men and monsters?

Return of the Fly delivers crisp black and white cinematography as well as some surprises. André’s handsome son, Philippe insists that renewing his father’s scientific pursuits will not cause him to repeat his father’s carelessness. The viewer may be doubtful, but Philippe – it turns out – is right. He never loses sight of safety protocols in the lab. 

Instead, the fly in the ointment is Philippe’s scientific partner, Alan Hinds. He is insectoid in his meanness and expertly played by David Frankman (whose voice you might recognize as Sergeant Tibbs’ from One Hundred and One Dalmations). Hinds is a spy, on the run from the British SIS, wanted for murder, and scheming with the corrupt local coroner to sell Philippe’s invention to a cadre of international cartels. 

Worth Watching?

Yes, this is one film that should not be on a no-fly list.

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