Directed by Kurt Neumann, and based on author George Langelaan’s 1957 short story, the original version of The Fly was a great drive-in-movie product, a product of its humble time that features some dated yet still effective creature makeup and an overall lightness.
David Cronenberg’s 1986 remake, however, took things in quite the different direction. The film indulges in its fair share of grotesque body horror, but more importantly in characterization, with Jeff Goldblum making of his Seth Brundle a surprisingly affecting, relatable man. Instead of featuring his head on a fly’s body (as they did in the original 1958 film), Cronenberg focuses on Brundle’s human transformation into a fly, which culminates with him being put out of his misery by way of a shotgun blast from Geena Davis.
Well it looks like there was another reboot of this story that almost happened but sadly never did. Director Todd Lincoln recently spoke with Collider about a number of topics (including his recent V/H/S: Viral segment Gorgeous Vortex). The conversation ultimately shifted to The Fly remake he was once attached to write and direct.
My work on the reimagining of The Fly was so long ago. I had fun developing it at Fox Searchlight. The execs there were really cool. I’m a huge fan of all five ‘Fly’ films. Especially the original ‘The Fly’ (1958) and the lesser-known third film, ‘Curse Of The Fly’ (1965).
My version was way outside the box conceptually and visually. Not at all what people would be expecting. It was a strange mix of influences such as Val Lewton, Neal Stephenson, Alan Pakula, Todd Haynes, Chris Cunningham, Michael Crichton, various Horror Manga and a touch of something you might find in ‘The Animatrix’.
I also brought on top bioengineers and entomologists as consultants. We took it deadly seriously and got so into it that we were damn close to turning someone into a fly ourselves.
The film would have been done almost entirely with practical effects.
My story had very little in common with Kurt Neumann’s original ‘The Fly’ or David Cronenberg’s remake. Both of those are classics so there’s no point in touching them. You have to go a completely new direction while still making it feel like a ‘Fly’ story at its core and respecting the history of the franchise. Who becomes a fly… how they become a fly…. and what happens… was all completely different in my take.
Ultimately, I don’t think it was the right time for it to be made. The script was not all the way there and audiences were not ready for where we were headed. I would approach it differently now. And while I’d certainly be open to revisiting ‘The Fly’ someday, I’d also love to see Fox let Cronenberg make the sequel that he scripted. If you love movies, why would you not green light that?
His list of inspirations is fascinating, and it’s really cool to see that he planned to hire bioengineers and entomologists. After seeing what he did with Vortex, you can only wonder what kind of weird modern version of The Fly would have transformed on screen. Missed opportunity? Absolutely!