Return of the Fly [DVD]
Director : Edward L. Bernds
Screenplay : Edward L. Bernds (based on a story by George Langelaan)
MPAA Rating : NR
Year of Release : 1959
Stars : Vincent Price (François Delambre), Brett Halsey (Philippe Delambre), John Sutton (Inspector Beecham), David Frankham (Alan Hinds), Dan Seymour (Max Berthold), Danielle De Metz (Cecile Bonnard), Jack Daly (Granville), Janine Grandel (Mme. Bonnard)
Although no one really expected it, The Fly (1958), a thriller in which a scientist accidentally mixes his atoms with those of a housefly, became a significant box office success during its theatrical release despite the already overwhelming number of horror and sci-fi flicks that had stampeded through the box office during the 1950s. So, it came as little surprise that a sequel, Return of the Fly, was churned out the next year.
A better title would have been Son of the Fly, as the sequel focuses on Phillippe, the son of Andre Delambre, the tragic scientist who, in attempting to transfer matter through space in the first film, came out with a giant insect head and arm. Fifteen years have passed, and Phillippe is now an adult (played by Brett Halsey) who, despite knowing the fate that befell his father, cannot stop himself from continuing the old man's work. (As the first film could be read as a fable about the dangers of science tampering with nature, the sequel can be seen as a fable about humans never learning from others' mistakes, no matter how dire the previous consequences.) Despite the pleadings by his uncle, François (Vincent Price, reprising his role from the original), Phillippe pushes forward and rebuilds the teleportation machine.
Sequels always try to be bigger and bolder than the original, and since The Fly was such a strange piece of campy sci-fi, Return of the Fly had its work cut out for it. Despite eschewing the bold color of the original for a stark black-and-white look (for budgetary reasons), Return of the Flymanages to up the ante by removing most of the romantic melodrama that characterized the first film and replacing it with a plot involving criminal intrigue and revenge-inspired murder.
It is no surprise that Phillippe follows in his father's footsteps and ends up getting his atoms mixed up with a fly's, but this time it is because he is forced into the machine by a double-crossing villain. Having Phillippe combined with a fly generates a nice excuse for why the audience should accept the movie's hero seeking revenge by killing those who betrayed him: It was the murderous fly brain that made him do it. The film also ups the freak factor by not only enlarging Phillippe's fly head significantly (it is almost ludicrously bulbous), but also including another man-animal cross, this time a police investigator whose atoms get mixed up with a guinea pig's, resulting in enormous rodent hands and feet. The movie also discards the general restraint of the first film in terms of showing the monstrosity by giving the deformed Phillippe significantly more screen time.
Taking over the reins this time was director Edward L. Bernds, a B-movie veteran who had close to 80 films under his belt, including several Blondie and Dagwood comedies in the '40s, a number of '50s juvenile delinquent pictures, and a handful of sci-fi flicks (his last two films were, suitably, 1962's The Three Stooges Meet Hercules and The Three Stooges in Orbit). Bernds was the perfect choice to helm the sequel since his vast experience churning out product gave him the ability to make something worthwhile out of the film's incredibly short 10-day shoot. Despite this minimal production time, Bernds gives Return of the Fly just the right hysterical pitch to make it a worthy follow-up to the first film. Of course, by most standards Return of the Fly is not a particularly well-made film (Bernds suffers from the same lack of directorial creativity that plagued the original film's director, Kurt Neumann, especially in the lab sequences), but it is still a hard movie to turn off once it gets going.
|Return of the Fly DVD|
|Return of the Fly is available as part of “The Fly Collection” four-disc DVD box set, which also includes The Fly (1958) and The Curse of the Fly (1965).|
|Distributor||20th Century Fox Home Entertainment|
|Release Date||September 11, 2007|
|VIDEO & AUDIO|
|The big news in this new four-disc box set of all three original Fly movies is the improved anamorphic transfer of the original film. Previously available as part of a double-feature DVD released in 2000, the previous transfer of the The Fly was made from a print that suffered a bit of fading, as well as damage to the source print in the form of the blemishes, dirt, and vertical lines. The new anamorphic transfer of The Fly is a solid improvement, with brighter colors, a sharper image, and noticeably less damage and dirt. The bright tones of the DeLuxe color palette really shine, making this box set immediately worth the upgrade for longtime fans of the film. The transfer of Return of the Fly also appears to be new. It looks very good, improving on the original transfer with barely any damage or signs of aging, particularly the removal of speckling the marred the 2000 disc. The contrast is strong and vibrant with good detail, although some of the darkest scenes tend to get a bit muddy. The Curse of the Fly is making its DVD debut here, and it boasts an excellent new transfer that is sharp, crisp, and lacking in any damage. |
The soundtracks for all three films sound slightly dated in their lack of depth, but they have been well-preserved and sound very good for their age. The Dolby Digital 4.0 surround track offered on The Fly is particularly good for four-channel surround, even though most of the surround effects are reserved for the irritating whine that comes up again and again whenever Andre uses the disintegrator/reintegrator. The newly mastered 2.0 surround tracks for Return of the Fly and The Curse of the Fly are also quite good, despite their inherent limitations. All the soundtracks are clean, with no hints of background hiss or popping.
|With the exception of the disc for The Fly, which contains an audio commentary by star David (Al) Hedison and film historian David Del Valle, all the supplements in this box set reside on a fourth disc titled “The Fly Collection Disc of Horrors.” There is a 45-minute episode of A&E's Biography series on Vincent Price, as well as a new 12-minute featurette about the Fly trilogy titled “Flytrap: Catching a Classic.” It includes interviews with actors David Hedison and Brett Halsey, as well as clips from a 1987 video interview with Vincent Price; screenwriter and film historian Steve Haberman (Dracula: Dead and Loving It); writer/director Donald F. Glut (The Mummy's Kiss); Fangoria editor Tony Timpone; and film historian David Del Valle. The other supplements, most of which are stills galleries, are nicely organized according to each film. Supplements for The Fly include the original theatrical trailer, a one-minute Fox Movietone News short about the film's ballyhoo-laden premiere in Hollywood, and stills galleries of the original pressbook, behind-the-scenes photos, and production photos. Return of the Fly has an original theatrical trailer, a 60-second television spot (which also advertises The Alligator People), a gallery of lobby cards and posters, and a photo gallery. Supplements for The Curse of the Fly include an original theatrical trailer, pressbook gallery, lobby card and poster gallery, and a photo gallery. One cool thing that is worth mentioning is the way the pressbook galleries are organized: You can move through each page of the pressbook, and within each page you can highlight certain articles or pictures that take you to a zoomed viewed so you can read the fine print and see the details. Very well done.|
Copyright ©2007 James Kendrick
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