61Days of Halloween: The Fly (1958)


For an introduction to the concept of 61 Days of Halloween, as well as a list of previously featured films, please go here.

The Fly (1958)

If you’re like me (and in this regard, you just might be) you’re likely to have seen the 1986 version of The Fly first. With that being the case, it’s likely you think there’s nothing that compare with it. Superficially speaking you’d be right, however, both films have separate and equally valid aims with their versions of the story. Aside from a modernized filmmaking approach, Cronenberg’s The Fly is seeking a more realistic handling of the tale. The 1958 version is working in the highly-stylized 1950s horror/sci-fi milieu.

What’s more is that that version of the tale tells its story in a different way, backtracking and retracing the events that have come to pass and ultimately trying to prove the highly improbable tale. However, with all the affectation of 1950s horror/sci-fi the film is tremendously and not without its chill-inducing moments.

The use of Cinemascope and the vivid color photography is used to great effect in this film. Not to mention the sound design which takes the buzzing of a common housefly and turns it into something even more terrible than it normally is.

A fact I was unprepared for was the covert Canadian-set nature of this tale. While this achieved through the occasional use of French words, surnames, and not much in the way of accents (in a very Old Hollywood way) it does add an additional texture to the film.

Then, of course, there is the incomparable Vincent Price. While not the eponymous character in this film he plays, due in part to the structure, a central figure in the tale. As per usual, he is marvelous adding a seriously needed dose of gravitas to a tale with a preposterous concept.

And therein lies the genius of the film. For it does commit to its concept and delivers many spine-chilling moments, and though different in tenor, is a classic in its own right.