DirectorKurt Neumann/Edward Bernds/Don Sharp/David Croneberg/Chris Walas
Release Date(s)1958/1959/1965/1986/1989 (December 10, 2019)
Studio(s)20th Century Fox (Shout!/Scream Factory)
- Film/Program Grade: See Below
- Video Grade: See Below
- Audio Grade: See Below
- Extras Grade: A
- Overall Grade: A-
The Fly franchise began in 1958 with the release of the original film, which was successful enough to spawn two sequels, a remake, and a sequel to that remake. The original story first appeared in the June 1957 issue of Playboy magazine and was immediately snapped up by 20th Century Fox for development. The series gave Vincent Price further horror exposure, and later gave David Cronenberg his biggest mainstream success. Although additional sequels and remakes have been bandied about over the years, the franchise lies dormant today, but remains well-remembered by many monster movie fans and genre fans the world over. Scream Factory gathers together all five films together for the first time on Blu-ray with The Fly Collection.
DISC ONE: THE FLY (1958)
Hélène (Patricia Owens), the young wife of respected scientist André Delambre (Al Hedison), confesses to the murder of her husband after the police and André’s brother François (Vincent Price) find him crushed in a hydraulic press. The reasons why are baffling to François as he understood them to be a happy family with their son Philippe (Charles Herbert). Hélène also seems to have an odd fascination with flies, particularly one with a white head on it. Believing that there’s more to the story, François insists that Hélène tell him and police inspector Charas (Herbert Marshall) what really happened. Her tale of a science experiment gone wrong is eventually proven to be true when François and Charas witness the horrifying results firsthand.
Scream Factory’s Blu-ray of The Fly features the same presentation as the previous release from 20th Century Fox (previously reviewed by Adam Jahnke). Shot in Cinemascope, it’s a vibrant presentation with color that leaps off the screen. Detail is high and blacks are deep, though the master is beginning to show its age in the era of fresh 2K and 4K transfers. Other than that, nothing else is amiss as everything appears bright and clear with no major issues.
The audio is presented in English 4.0 DTS-HD with optional subtitles in English SDH. This original sound mix offers plenty of immersive activity, from the annoying buzz of a fly traveling from speaker to speaker to the thunderous effects of the transporter in progress. Dialogue exchanges are clear and discernable while the score is given a boost and mixes into the track well without any distortion issues.
The following extras are also included:
- Audio Commentary with Actor David Hedison and Film Historian David Del Valle
- Audio Commentary with Author Steve Haberman and Film Historian Constantine Nasr
- Biography: Vincent Price (SD – 44:03)
- Fly Trap: Catching a Classic (SD – 11:30)
- Fox Movietone News Clip (SD – 0:54)
- Theatrical Trailer (SD – 1:59)
The audio commentary with David Hedison and David Del Valle, as well as the Biography TV special and Fly Trap featurette, are all vintage materials from previous releases that are well-worth diving into. So too is the new audio commentary track from Steve Haberman and Constantine Nasr, who provide an abundance of illuminating information about the film and those who were involved with it in a fun and easygoing manner, which is their usual style.
THE FLY (1958) (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): A-/A-/A-
DISC TWO: RETURN OF THE FLY (1959)
Shot and released quickly after the success of the first film, Return of the Fly sees a continuation of the story many years later. Now an adult, Philippe (Brett Halsey) is finally told the tragic details of what became of his father André by François (Vincent Price). Determined to pick up where his father left off against the stern advice of his uncle, Philippe soon finds himself victim of the same fate when his sketchy lab assistant Ronald (David Frankham) reveals himself to be a criminal who aims to double cross Philippe and steal the transporter plans for profit.
The presentation of Return of the Fly comes from the same source used for The Vincent Price Collection Volume II Blu-ray set (also reviewed by Adam Jahnke). Though the previous film was shot in color, the sequel is given low grade, black-and-white treatment, but still presented in CinemaScope. It’s a fairly strong image with good delineation and satisfactory contrast. Damage is minimal while grayscale is ideal. In other words, there’s nothing out of the ordinary on display.
The audio is presented in English 2.0 mono DTS-HD with optional subtitles in English SDH. This track offers a nice mono experience with a bit more aural push than usual. Dialogue exchanges are clean and clear and the film’s score has a healthy amount of fidelity to it. Sound effects are a tad thinner by comparison, but the overall track is clean and free of any issues otherwise.
The following extras are also included:
- Audio Commentary with Actors David Frankham and Jonathan David Dixon
- Audio Commentary with Author/Film Historian Tom Weaver and Actor Recreations of Cast and Crew Members
- Audio Commentary with Actor Brett Halsey and Film Historian David Del Valle
- Theatrical Trailer (SD – 1:38)
- Return of the Fly and The Alligator People TV Spot (SD – 1:03)
- Still Gallery (HD – 23 in all – 1:51)
The previous extras include the Brett Halsey and David Del Valle audio commentary, as well as the trailer, TV spot, and still gallery. The new audio commentaries offer additional insight into the making of the film, though the Tom Weaver commentary leans more toward the historical side of things with a slight bit of critique thrown in as well, as his commentaries often do.
RETURN OF THE FLY (1959) (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): C+/B+/B
DISC 3: CURSE OF THE FLY (1965)
Helmed by Don Sharp (who would go on to direct Rasputin the Mad Monk and Psychomania, among other films), Curse of the Fly steps away slightly from previous films’ events. In it, Martin (George Baker), the grandson of Philippe, meets the beautiful Patricia (Carole Gray), a mysterious woman with a few secrets. Martin, who has secrets of his own, falls in love with Patricia and marries her. The two of them make their way to Martin’s home where his father Henri (Brian Donlevy) and brother Albert (Michael Graham) are waiting for him. The three have been carrying out secret transportation experiments, but Martin and Albert no longer want to be involved. As Carol’s past continues to catch up with her as the police are hot on her trail, revelations about the family’s work are soon revealed, having the most dire of consequences.
The master used for Curse of the Fly appears to be from a much older transfer, likely one that was carried out for its original DVD release in 2007. It’s soft with jitter and occasional damage, mostly limited to mild scratches and speckling. Detail isn’t all that impressive, but grain is surprisingly solid. The black-and-white images offer decent clarity and everything looks much better in motion, but the film is in urgent need of a fresh scan of the original elements.
The audio is included in English 2.0 mono DTS-HD with optional subtitles in English SDH. It’s a fairly flat track overall, though dialogue exchanges have plenty of clarity. Sound effects are a bit thin, as is the film’s score. Leftover hiss and crackle also occasionally crop up from time to time.
The following extras are also included:
- Audio Commentary with Authors and Film Historian Steve Haberman and Filmmaker and Film Historian Constantine Nasr
- Mary Manson Remembers Curse of the Fly (HD – 7:38)
- Renee Glynée Remembers Curse of the Fly (HD – 5:22)
- Theatrical Trailer (SD – 1:05)
- Double Feature TV Spot with Devils of Darkness (SD – 1:03)
- Still Gallery (HD – 27 in all – 2:04)
Vintage extras include the trailer, TV spot, and still gallery. The new audio commentary, again with Steve Haberman and Constantine Nasr, is another winner as the two defend the film, claiming it to be much better than most perceive it to be. The two new interviews with Mary Manson, who kept track of continuity, and Renee Glynée, who portrays Judith, offer their first-hand accounts of the film’s production.
CURSE OF THE FLY (1965) (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B-/C+/B-
DISC FOUR: THE FLY (1986)
David Cronenberg (Videodrome, A History of Violence) was later brought on to remake The Fly, and the eventual film was released in 1986 to great success. In it, Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) is a lonely scientist with a secret invention: telepods, which can transport matter from one to the other. Documenting his progress is his lover and journalist Ronnie (Geena Davis), who witnesses Seth experimenting on living creatures. Convinced that teleportation can also be achieved with humans, Seth secretly transports himself, unaware that a fly is in the pod with him. He emerges stronger and more virile than before, but begins to deteriorate both physically and mentally, slowly transforming into a human and fly hybrid. Ronnie is soon in immediate danger as Seth becomes the violent and impulse-driven Brundlefly, a shadow of his former self.
The presentation of David Cronenberg’s The Fly comes from the same master used for its original Blu-ray release in 2007. While that release certainly improved upon its DVD counterpart, it by no means holds up in the era of fresh 4K transfers. Grain is not that prevalent, giving the image a flat appearance, while black levels are uneven and overall brightness is lacking. The color palette is fine, though it doesn’t pop like it should. It’s a clean image with only minor speckling and scratches throughout, but looks a tad too dark and dull on the whole. It’s fine for what it is and gets the job done, but a full restoration of the film is sorely needed.
The audio is included in English 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD with optional subtitles in English SDH. While the option of having a stereo experience more akin to the film’s original release is certainly appreciated, the 5.1 track is slightly more robust. Both tracks feature clear and precise dialogue, but the 5.1 has slightly more edge to it due to the aural push in Howard Shore’s score and the sound effects. Neither option is perfect, but having a choice is welcome.
The following extras are also included:
- Audio Commentary with Director David Cronenberg
- Audio Commentary with Author William Beard
- The Meshuggener Scientist: Executive Producer Mel Brooks on The Fly (HD – 13:26)
- Beauty and the Beast: Producer Stuart Cornfeld on The Fly (HD – 22:49)
- Casting Director Deirdre Bowen on The Fly (HD – 14:37)
- David’s Eyes: Mark Irwin on The Fly (HD – 25:24)
- A Tragic Opera: Composer Howard Shore on The Fly (HD – 9:16)
- Fear of the Flesh: The Making of The Fly: Larva (SD – 19:55)
- Fear of the Flesh: The Making of The Fly: Pupa (SD – 1:22:32)
- Fear of the Flesh: The Making of The Fly: Metamorphosis (SD – 33:39)
- Additional Making Of Interviews (SD – 26:45)
- The Brundle Museum of Natural History (SD – 11:51)
- Deleted Scenes: Second Interview (SD – 1:44)
- Deleted Scenes: Monkey-Cat (SD – 6:59)
- Deleted Scenes: Brundlefly vs. Bag Lady (Script Only)
- Deleted Scenes: Butterfly Baby/Alternate Ending (SD – 2:27)
- Extended Scenes: Reconciliation (SD – 2:05)
- Extended Scenes: The Poetry of the Steak (SD – 3:46)
- Film Tests: Opening Title Treatments (SD – 1:52)
- Film Tests: Pod Lighting and Effects (SD – 2:02)
- Film Tests: Brundlefly Makeup (SD – 2:13)
- Film Tests: Exploding Space Bug (SD – 0:50)
- Film Tests: Cronenfly (SD – 0:52)
- Written Works: George Langelaan’s Original Short Story (SD – 79 stills in all)
- Written Works: Charles Edward Pogue’s Original Screenplay (SD – 350 stills in all)
- Written Works: David Cronenberg Rewrite (SD – 250 stills in all)
- Written Works: Cineflex Article – The Fly Papers (SD – 169 stills in all)
- Written Works: American Cinematographer Article – New Buzz on an Old Theme (SD – 52 stills in all)
- Written Works: American Cinematographer Article – More About The Fly (SD – 49 stills in all)
- Promotional Materials: TV Spot #1 (SD – 0:32)
- Promotional Materials: TV Spot #2 (SD – 0:32)
- Promotional Materials: TV Spot #3 (SD – 0:32)
- Promotional Materials: Teaser (SD – 1:27)
- Promotional Materials: Trailer (SD – 1:59)
- Promotional Materials: The Fly (1958) Trailer (SD – 2:00)
- Promotional Materials: The Fly II Teaser (SD – 0:44)
- Promotional Materials: The Fly II Trailer (SD – 1:11)
- Promotional Materials: Return of The Fly (1959) Teaser (SD – 1:37)
- Promotional Materials: 1986 Electronic Press Kit (SD – 6:58)
- Promotional Materials: David Cronenberg Profile (SD – 4:21)
- Still Galleries: One Sheet and Lobby Cards (SD – 17 in all)
- Still Galleries: Publicity (SD – 44 in all)
- Still Galleries: Behind the Scenes (SD – 129 in all)
- Still Galleries: Concept Art (SD – 113 in all)
- Still Galleries: Effects – Monkey-Cat (SD – 40 in all)
- Still Galleries: Effects – Space Bug (SD – 30 in all)
- Still Galleries: Effects – Arm Wrestling (SD – 21 in all)
- Still Galleries: Effects – Makeup (SD – 59 in all)
- Trivia Track
- Easter Egg (Interview Outtake with Jeff Goldblum) (SD – 4:11)
It’s safe to say that The Fly (1986) and The Fly II have enormously satisfying extras packages, diving deep into the making of these films and providing a wealth of bonus material. All of the vintage extras carried over from The Fly’s previous releases are included (all of it well worth digging into), while Scream Factory adds a few new interviews with executive producer Mel Brooks, producer Stuart Cornfeld, casting director Deirdre Bowen, director of photography Mark Irwin, and composer Howard Shore. The Mel Brooks interview is interesting as he tended to keep himself hidden on the non-comedy projects he produced in his career, so hearing from him about the film is fascinating. It’s worth nothing that the Monkey-Cat deleted scene also contains the option of viewing the storyboard and the script, while the Extended Scenes features an optional “Cut Indicator,” which is a border around moments that were excised. The Easter egg can be found by clicking right when Promotional Materials is selected. The camcorder footage Easter egg from the 20th Century Fox 2-Disc Collector’s Edition DVD release appears to be missing in action, as are the Interview Soundbites from a few overseas DVD releases.
THE FLY (1986) (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): A-/C+/B-
DISC 5: THE FLY II (1989)
Three years later, Chris Walas, who created the previous film’s amazing prosthetic makeup effects, returned to direct the gorier and not as well received sequel The Fly II. The son of Seth Brundle, Martin (Eric Stoltz), is a young but accelerated genius, living under the watchful eye of Anton Bartok (Lee Richardson), the head of Bartok Industries that unknowingly funded Seth’s experiments. Martin carries the recessive fly genes of his father and they are beginning to come out as he matures. Meeting and falling in love with an employee at Bartok Industries, Beth (Daphne Zuniga), Martin learns that his father’s telepods still exist and that they may hold the key to ridding him of these genes, depending upon the lengths he will go to make it happen.
Compared to its predecessor, The Fly II fares much better in high definition. Though it too is sourced from an older transfer of the film, it appears slightly more nuanced and organic by comparison. Grain levels are evident, giving it a bit of depth, while fine detail is boosted as well. Blacks are slightly crushed but the color palette is a bit more varied and eye-catching. It’s also a stable transfer with only minor speckling leftover. It too could use a fresh scan, but this dated master has much more life to it than what was initially expected of it.
The audio is included in English 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD with optional subtitles in English SDH. The 5.1 offers a decent surround experience with occasional atmospherics, and enhances both music and sound effects. The 2.0 track is the more naturally-sounding option, but both tracks deliver good dialogue exchanges without ever sounding distorted. They’re also clean and free of any significant leftover damage.
The following extras are also included:
- Audio Commentary with Director Chris Walas and Film Historian Bob Burns
- Fly in the Ointment: Executive Producer Stuart Cornfeld on The Fly II (HD – 8:12)
- Original Visions: Co-Screenwriter Mick Garris on The Fly II (HD – 14:06)
- Version 2.0: Co-Screenwriter Ken Wheat on The Fly II (HD – 22:13)
- Robin Vidgeon Remembers The Fly II (HD – 15:20)
- Big and Gothic, Composer Christopher Young on The Fly II (HD – 18:34)
- Pretty Fly for a Fly Guy: Special Effects Artist Tom Sullivan on The Fly II (HD – 17:45)
- Interview with Director Chris Walas (SD – 1:20:09)
- Interview with Producer Steven-Charles Jaffe (SD – 35:16)
- Transformations: Looking Back at The Fly II (SD – 48:31)
- The Fly Papers: The Buzz on Hollywood’s Scariest Insect (SD – 57:38)
- C.W.I. Video Production Journal (SD – 18:04)
- Composer’s Master Class: Christopher Young (SD – 12:42)
- Storyboard to Film Comparisons with Optional Commentary by Director Chris Walas (SD – 6:59)
- Original Electronic Press Kit (SD – 5:10)
- Extended EPK Interview with Director Chris Walas (SD – 2:41)
- Extended EPK Interview with Actor Eric Stoltz (SD – 3:35)
- Extended EPK Interview with Actress Daphne Zuniga (SD – 3:31)
- Deleted Scene (HD – 1:28)
- Alternate Ending (HD – 1:10)
- Teaser Trailer (SD – 0:43)
- Theatrical Trailer (SD – 1:11)
- Still Gallery (HD – 96 in all – 7:15)
- Storyboard Gallery (HD – 64 in all – 8:12)
The Fly II was given the 2-Disc Collector’s Edition treatment by 20th Century Fox way back in 2005, but never given a Blu-ray release. Scream Factory rectifies that, carrying over all of the previous extras included in that set, as well as new interviews with executive producer Stuart Cornfeld, co-screenwriter Mick Garris, co-screenwriter Ken Wheat, director of photography Robin Vidgeon, composer Christopher Young, and special Effects artist Tom Sullivan. Like the extras for The Fly, all of it is quite encompassing and goes over the making of the film in extensive detail. It’s a thoroughly entertaining set of bonus materials.
THE FLY II (1989) (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B-/B/B
Each film comes in a separate Blu-ray case with the original theatrical artwork and all of the cases are housed within attractive cardboard slipcase packaging with new artwork. It’s a rather handsome looking package.
With sporadic home video releases over the years, The Fly series has never really had the full, deluxe home video treatment, and Scream Factory’s The Fly Collecton is the best that it’s had thus far. Buzzing with five films and a boatload of valuable and insightful extras, this one’s a definite winner. Highly recommended!
– Tim Salmons