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The Fly / Return of the Fly (double feature)

How long does a housefly live? One movie says a month, the next one says three weeks. Now you can decide for yourself. Arriving on DVD at the same time as David Cronenberg's 1986 The Fly and its non-Cronenberg sequel on a double-feature disc, we also have the original Fly from 1958 and its sequel, Return of the Fly, made the following year (however, it appears that 1965's The Curse of the Fly has been cast to the winds of Time). Both films are in a widescreen format, and the first film enjoys a glorious transfer of its original Deluxe color processing from a print with very little, if any, blemishes. Curiously, the sequel was released in black-and-white, and in general it shows a coarsening of budget, revealing Hollywood's occasional habit of making cut-rate sequels. Both The Fly and its two successors deal with the Delambre family, Montreal-based industrialists who dabble in science. One member of the family who bridges both films is Vincent Price as François Delambre, he of the bright red smoking jacket and painfully fruity line deliveries (if silent movies had a voice, they would sound like Vincent Price). He plays the brother of Andre Delambre (Al, later David, Hedison), the visionary scientist of The Fly who has invented a cumbersome matter-transportation device. Price is then uncle to Philippe (Brett Halsey), the son who, when an adult in Return of the Fly, follows his father's footsteps and tries to perfect the flawed, busted-up transporter. Why anyone would want to create such a device is never adequately explain in any Fly movie. Andre tells his wife that his device will make travel and shipping easier, a rather noble if limp motivation. Andre really is a putterer, a rich kid with time to kill, and somewhat reckless in his experimenting. The Fly, directed by Kurt Neumann (and to which James Clavell contributed), is told mostly in flashback, like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, in which a mystery and some strange behavior is finally explained. As is now well known, Andre experiments on himself and accidentally blends his matter with a housefly. In the impoverished sequel here, the son is inexplicably inspired to explore his father's failed work. But on his team is a trickster, someone out to steal the trasporter's secrets; after Philippe is fly-ified, he exacts revenge on the thief and other people. The first film is a cautionary tale calling for scientific restraint, the second is a revenge and love story with a happy ending, but neither is really all that worth watching, despite the seeming cult that surrounds them. Each is a talky, inert bore, with only the first film's famous fly-eye view of the heroine and the dire last sequence to recommend it. Fox's double-sided, single-layered disc has a nice anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) of both films, with audio for The Fly in discrete Dolby Digital 4.0 and Return of the Fly in DD 2.0 (mono). Extras primarily consist of trailers for these two films and other Fox double-feature discs. Keep-case.
—D.K. Holm

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