Blu-ray Review: THE FLY COLLECTION

THE FLY (1958) is based on the short story of the same name by George Langelaan. The movie was produced and directed by Kurt Neumann from a screenplay by James Clavell and stars David Hedison, Patricia Owens, Vincent Price and Herbert Marshall. The music was composed by Paul Sawtell.

When scientist Andre Delambre (Al Hedison) tests his matter transporter on himself, an errant housefly makes its way into the transportation chamber, and things go horribly wrong. As a result, Delambre’s head and arm are now that of the insect. Slowly losing himself to the fly, Delambre turns to his wife, Helene (Patricia Owens), for help. But when tragedy strikes, Delambre’s brother (Vincent Price) and Inspector Charas (Herbert Marshall) are forced to pick up the investigation.

The story for this 1958 sci-fi creeper centers around a brilliant scientist and family man whose experiment in teleportation goes horribly wrong when he’s transformed into a half-man / half-fly monster and he slowly loses what’s left of his humanity as the movie plays out. Okay, I really liked the story for this classic that started it all when it comes to these telepods and mixing up different species. It’s not just a monster movie because the story also deals with betrayal. The cast does a good job with their characters with the legendary Vincent Price playing more of a supporting role here. Director Kurt Neumann does a great job telling the story and bringing it to life on screen plus his work is complimented nicely by some impressive cinematography. As far as the special effects go, it’s pretty simply because the transformation only affects the head and arm of the character. The movie is pretty tame and there’s no blood or gore so don’t expect anything like that. I really enjoyed checking out this 50’s classic that was also a first time watch for me.

Run Time: 94 Minutes

Rated: Not Rated

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (2.35:1) Color

Blu-ray Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 4.0 Mono

Subtitles: English

Disc 1 Special Features: The extras include some new audio commentary, a vintage audio commentary track, an actor spotlight, featurette, promo and theatrical trailer.

  • NEW Audio Commentary with author/film historian Steve Haberman and filmmaker/film historian Constantine Nasr
  • Audio Commentary with actor David Hedison and film historian David Del Valle
  • Biography: Vincent Price (44:03)
  • Fly Trap: Catching a Classic (11:30)
  • Fox Movietone News (00:54)
  • Theatrical Trailer (01:59)

RETURN OF THE FLY (1959) was directed by Edward Bernds from a screenplay by Edward Bernds and stars Brett Halsey, Vincent Price, David Frankham, Danielle De Metz and John Sutton. The music was composed by Paul Sawtell and Bert Shefter.

Philippe Delambre (Brett Halsey) has been wrestling with his family legacy for years, knowing that his father perished as a result of his experiments in teleportation. Though warned by his uncle Francois (Vincent Price), Philippe insists on refurbishing his father’s laboratory and continuing his investigations. The idea would be bad enough on its own, but Philippe hires an assistant who calls himself Alan Hinds (David Frankham) but is actually a wanted criminal.

The story for this 1959 sequel centers around the son of the scientist from the first movie who follows in his father’s footsteps and ends up becoming this half-man / half-fly monster. He also ends up being a little smarter than his old man but that doesn’t mean his work doesn’t backfire on him because it does. Vincent Price is the only actor who returns to reprise his character and I think he had just a little more screen time in this followup. The story pretty much follows the same formula as the first movie but it also includes some betrayal plus we get to see a little more what these telepods can do that features some time delay this go around. As far as the special effects go, all of it looks about the same as the first movie, and as cheesy as it is, I guess it looked pretty creepy cool when the movie first released back in the 50’s. I enjoyed this one but it wasn’t as good as its predecessor.

Run Time: 80 Minutes

Rated: Not Rated

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (2.35:1) B&W

Blu-ray Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono

Subtitles: Subtitles

Disc 2 Special Features: The extras include two new audio commentary tracks, a vintage audio commentary track, theatrical trailer, TV spot and still gallery.

  • NEW Audio Commentary with actor David Frankham
  • NEW Audio Commentary with author/film historian Tom Weaver
  • Audio Commentary with actor Brett Halsey and film historian David Del Valle
  • Theatrical Trailer (01:38)
  • TV Spot (01:03)
  • Still Gallery (01:51)

THE CURSE OF THE FLY (1965) was directed by Don Sharp from a screenplay by Harry Spalding and stars Carole Gray, George Baker, Brian Donlevy, Yvette Rees, Burt Kwouk, Michael Graham and Mary Manson. The music was composed by Bert Shefter.

Scantily clad Patricia Stanley (Carole Gray) breaks out of a mental hospital and is picked up by passing motorist Martin Delambre (George Baker). The two do not reveal much about themselves to each other, but nevertheless decide to get married. At the Delambre family mansion, Patricia meets Martin’s father, Henri (Brian Donlevy), an eccentric scientist. Snooping about the grounds, she discovers evidence of the family’s strange experiments in teleportation and the grisly results thereof.

The story for this 1965 third and final entry in The Fly franchise centers around a mentally disturbed young woman who ends up marrying a wealthy man. She’s looking for a way to escape her past life and she thinks he’s the safety net that she desperately needs. The thing is, he and his father have been experimenting on humans and the end results have all been horrifying disfigurations. The young woman finds herself trapped in a nightmare that ultimately backfires on her new husband and his twisted family. Okay, this was the weakest entry in the trilogy for a number of reasons. The story was lame and only referenced a few characters from the other movies so the only thing it really had in common were the telepods. There isn’t even a fly in this one! As far as the special effects go, it also looked pretty cheap. It’s obvious this was a cash grab by the studio and the end result ended up being a mediocre watch at best.

Run Time: 86 Minutes

Rated: Not Rated

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (2.35:1) B&W

Blu-ray Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono

Subtitles: English

Disc 3 Special Features: The extras include some audio commentary, two new interviews, theatrical trailer, TV spot and a still gallery.

  • NEW Audio Commentary with author/film historian Steve Haberman and filmmaker/film historian Constantine Nasr
  • NEW interview with actress Mary Manson (07:38)
  • NEW interview with continuity Renee Glynee (05:22)
  • Theatrical Trailer (01:05)
  • TV Spot (01:03)
  • Still Gallery (02:04)

THE FLY (1986) was directed by David Cronenberg from a screenplay he co-wrote with Charles Edward Pogue and stars Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis and John Getz. The music was composed by Howard Shore.

When scientist Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) completes his teleportation device, he decides to test its abilities on himself. Unbeknownst to him, a housefly slips in during the process, leading to a merger of man and insect. Initially, Brundle appears to have undergone a successful teleportation, but the fly’s cells begin to take over his body. As he becomes increasingly fly-like, Brundle’s girlfriend (Geena Davis) is horrified as the person she once loved deteriorates into a monster.

The story for this 1986 reimagining centers around another brilliant scientist who’s experimenting with teleportation. He meets a beautiful journalist and ends up showing her his amazing creation and the two form a close relationship that turns into a romance. There’s also a jealous ex-boyfriend who plays an important part to the story. The scientist works tirelessly until he thinks he has perfected teleportation but when he decides to use himself as his latest guinea pig it all backfires when a simple house fly enters the pod with him. The experiment on himself slowly changes him into an unrecognizable monster. This metamorphosis ultimately turns this romance into a terrifying nightmare for the scientist and his girlfriend. In my opinion this version of The Fly is a great example of the perfect sci-fi horror classic because it’s a flawless watch. The story is superior to its predecessor and I thought the cast did a great job with their characters. I also don’t think this movie would’ve been the classic it turned out to be if David Cronenberg hadn’t directed it. He simply nails it on all levels and his work is complimented by some fantastic special effects by Chris Walas who would go on to direct the sequel.

Run Time: 95 Minutes

Rated: R

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.85:1) Color

Blu-ray Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0

Subtitles: English

Disc 4 Special Features: The extras include some new audio commentary, new interviews with some of the crew, a vintage audio commentary track, making of featurettes, deleted / extended scenes, test footage, a director spotlight, still galleries, trailers, TV spots, original short story, screenplay, rewrite and a watch along trivia track.

  • NEW Audio Commentary with author/film historian William Beard
  • NEW The Meshuggener Scientist – an interview with executive producer Mel Brooks (13:26)
  • NEW Beauty and the Beast – an interview with producer Stuart Cornfeld (22:49)
  • NEW A Tragic Opera – an interview with composer Howard Shore (09:16)
  • NEW David’s Eyes – an interview with cinematographer Mark Irwin (25:24)
  • NEW interview with casting director Deirdre Bowen (14:37)
  • Audio Commentary with director David Cronenberg
  • Fear of the Flesh: The Making of THE FLY– covering all 3 stages of the production – Larva, Pupa and Metamorphosis (2:22:06) – Additonal making of interviews (26:45)
  • The Brundle Museum of Natural History with Chris Walas and Bob Burns (11:51)
  • Deleted Scenes with Storyboard and Script versions
  1. Second Interview (01:44)
  2. Monkey – Cat (06:59)
  3. Brundlefly vs Bag Lady (Script Only)
  4. Butterfly Baby / Alternate Ending (02:27)
  • Extended Scenes
  1. Reconciliation (02:05)
  2. The Poetry of the Steak (03:46)
  • Test Footage (Main Titles, Lighting and Makeup Effects) (01:52)
  • Vintage featurette (06:58)
  • Profile on David Cronenberg (04:21)
  • Still Galleries – One Sheet and Lobby Cards (00:16), Publicity (00:43), Behind-The-Scenes (02:08), Concept Art (01:52) and Visual Effects.
  • Theatrical Trailers
  1. The Fly Teaser (01:27)
  2. The Fly Trailer (01:59)
  3. The Fly 1958 Trailer (02:00)
  4. The Fly II Teaser (00:44)
  5. The Fly II Trailer (01:11)
  6. Return of the Fly 1959 Trailer (01:37)
  • TV Spots
  1. TV Spot #1 (00:32)
  2. TV Spot #2 (00:32)
  3. TV Spot #3 (00:32)
  • George Langelaan’s original short story (01:19)
  • Charles Edward Pouge’s Original Screenplay (05:50)
  • David Cronenberg’s Screenplay Rewrite (04:10)
  • Trivia Track – With this feature activated, trivia will appear at various points during the film

THE FLY II (1989) was directed by Chris Walas from a screenplay by Mick Garris, Ken and Jim Wheats and Frank Darabont and stars Eric Stoltz, Daphne Zuniga, Lee Richardson, Harley Cross and John Getz. The music was composed by Christopher Young.

Anton Bartok (Lee Richardson), the CEO of a research laboratory, acts as the self-appointed guardian of orphan Martin Brundle, whose father had been a researcher at the lab. Though Martin is scarcely five, he has the appearance of a 20-year-old (Eric Stoltz) because of mutant insectoid genes in his system. Martin grows up confined to the laboratory, unaware of his true nature, with only pretty scientist Beth Logan (Daphne Zuniga) to call a friend. Soon, the fly within begins to emerge.

The story for this 1989 sequel centers around the son of the scientist and journalist from the first movie. He’s taken care of by a sinister executive who plays the role of a father figure until his ulterior motives are exposed. The son discovers that his fate could be similar to his biological father with monstrous results. He befriends by a co-worker and the two of them strike up a romance in the process. They try to run away from the sinister executive and his evil goons but have to find a way to fight back against them. Thankfully, his fate isn’t the same as his father because he’s able to take the experiment with the telepods to the next level and use them to free himself from the family curse and get revenge on the man who betrayed him. After watching some of the interviews I found out this movie was a troubled production but I have to admit that I still really enjoyed it. I’d also like to have seen what could’ve been! Chris Walas, the special effects mastermind from The Fly, steps up to the plate to direct this sequel and I thought he did a great job with it. I also thought the cast did a really good job with their characters. This movie actually features a lot more special effects than its predecessor that includes a lot of blood and gore. I really liked the design of the creature here plus we get to see full body shots of it in motion. This is something we didn’t get in the first movie. All in all, The Fly II is a fantastic sequel to the 1986 classic.

Run Time: 104 Minutes

Rated: R

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (2.35:1) Color

Blu-ray Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Subtitles: English

Disc 5 Special Features: The extras include new interviews with some of the crew, vintage interviews with some of the cast and crew, making of featurettes, a vintage audio commentary track, a video production journal, a composer spotlight, storyboard comparisons, an alternate ending, deleted scene, teaser, theatrical trailer, a still gallery and storyboard gallery.

  • NEW Fly in the Ointment – an interview with producer Stuart Cornfeld (08:12)
  • NEW Original Visions – an interview with screenwriter Mick Garris (14:06)
  • NEW Version 2.0 – an interview with screenwriter Ken Wheat (22:13)
  • NEW Big and Gothic – an interview with composer Christopher Young (18:34)
  • NEW Pretty Fly for A Fly Guy – an interview with special effects artist Tom Sullivan (17:45)
  • NEW interview with cinematographer Robin Vidgeon (15:20)
  • Interview with director Chris Walas (1:20:19)
  • Interview with producer Steven-Charles Jaffe (35:16)
  • Audio Commentary with director Chris Walas and film historian Bob Burns
  • Transformations: Looking Back at The Fly II (48:31)
  • The Fly Papers: The Buzz on Hollywood’s Scariest Insect (57:38)
  • Video Production Journal – a behind-the-scenes look at the special effects (18:04)
  • Composer’s Master Class: Christopher Young (12:42)
  • Storyboard to Film Comparisons with optional commentary by director Chris Walas (06:59)
  • Vintage Featurette (05:10)
  • Extended Press Kit Interviews with Eric Stoltz (03:35), Daphne Zuniga (03:31) and Chris Walas (02:41)
  • Alternate Ending (01:10)
  • Deleted Scene (01:28)
  • Teaser Trailer (00:43)
  • Theatrical Trailer (01:11)
  • Still Gallery (07:15)
  • Storyboard Gallery (04:51)

The packaging comes with a thick slipcase that houses five individual plastic keepcases inside for each movie. The front of the slipcase features the fantastic new artwork you see up top and the back includes more artwork. The front of each Blu-ray keepcase features its own classic artwork and the back includes movie details, some images and list of special features. Each reverse sleeve features an image from the movie. All five of the Blu-ray discs also feature some artwork that matches the front cover of each keepcase. Inserting each disc, the menu screens were simple and easy to navigate. The picture and sound quality for this high-definition release were crisp and clear. I didn’t have any issues with the video and audio.

Bottom line is, I had a blast watching The Fly Collection that includes all five films (the original trilogy, the 80’s remake and its sequel) that Scream Factory has assembled for this amazing home video release. This is also the Blu-ray debut for the two black and white sequels The Return of the Fly and The Curse of the Fly in North America. The original trilogy had previously been released together in its own set as well as the two 80’s movies but this is the first time these five movies have been released together in one grand collection. The stories all center around these telepods and the human / fly metamorphosis that takes place. All of these monster movies are fun watches in their own rights but I’m partial to the original 1958 classic and the two movies from the 80’s. Especially the two movies from the 80’s! The first movie is on color, the next two are in black and white, and the last two are in color. I thought the video and audio quality for each movie was about as good as it gets. Scream Factory has delivered the ultimate edition here in this extremely nice Blu-ray set that includes hours of fantastic extras. The Fly Collection will be available on a 5-Disc Blu-ray Set on December 10th and is a must have for fans of these classic movies.

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