Monday, 29 February 2016

Return of the Fly (1958)

The return!! even though there is no real reason for why or how the humanoid fly hybrid could return, unless done deliberately. Why? because the original fly hybrid was a horrible accident, human error, and the chances of another fly just happening to zip into a teleportation cabinet again are surely very slim. None the less here we are again with good old Vincent Price in the same role from the previous movie as Francois Delambre, the brother of the late Andre Delambre, and uncle of our new protagonist, Philippe Delambre, Andre's son (seen as a young boy in the original movie).

The story follows on from the first movie with Andre's son, Philippe, deciding to take up his fathers old work and carry on developing the teleportation device from where it was last left off. Francois is not happy about this decision but eventually, after some wrangling, agrees to help Philippe in funding the work. All is trundling along fine, but alas all is not rosy behind the scenes. Philippe's best mate and work associate actually turns out to be an industrial spy after the teleportation secrets which he can then sell off. At first his snooping around goes unnoticed, but in time he is found out resulting in fisticuffs, equipment damage and of course...the fly hybrid monster. Yep there appears to be lots of fly's in this particular area of Montreal. Naturally the humanoid fly hybrid goes off on a rampage after the man that messed with his atoms, whilst Francois must go after the fly with a human head so that the process can be reversed. Will they manage it this time? The basic story outline is the same, the only real main advancement in this film is the fact that the Delambre's have developed the teleporter to be able to store objects within subspace in atom/molecule form, until they are ready to bring them back (generally small animals).

Its amusing how this movie seems to have given many future horror thrillers the same general theme. The old plot line of the father character working on something sinister, getting killed by said sinister project, and then having the son carry on that work in the sequel whilst having an abject fear of the projects contents. In the original movie Andre is partly transformed into a fly and eventually killed, his work almost tainted by a curse of...the common housefly. Now in this sequel his son carries on his work, but he also has a tremendous fear of flies, even thought in the first movie he didn't really see what happened to his father, and having a fear of flies is pretty stupid. So the plot is pretty thin and in need of a hot action injection, this is brought in by the caddish Ronald Holmes (David Frankham), a very dapper British industrial spy who is not afraid to kill to get his hands on the teleportation plans. Now this guy is a real rotter of epic proportions plus a real joy to watch as he charms and slimes his way into the Delambre's home. He's trying to sell the device plans to a stereotypical, fat Al Capone-esque type chap (Max), who will then in turn sell it on to outside interests. Both of these two are totally cheesy cliches in every way possible but are there purely to move the plot along, its just fun to watch these guys and how bloody obvious they are, its like watching a children's panto and wanting to shout out...he's behind you!

Once again Price kinda plays second fiddle to the proceedings although having more of a main role than in the first movie. This time he is more involved with the experiments and the finale, yet the main focus is solely on the young Philippe played by Brett Halsey. I was actually impressed with Halsey as he does convey a good range of emotions without hamming it up, I admit I fully expected a second rate actor with no real skills, merely hired because of his looks (it being a lesser, cheaper sequel to a much bigger movie). But lets be honest here, its was all about Frankham and his dastardly spy, yes that's right, he even outdid Price with his debonair scoundrel. The fact that Holmes is the one who purposely sends Philippe through the teleporter, purposely putting a fly inside with him, makes him even more of a dirty, rotten (sadistic?) recreant, but that's why he is so gloriously fun to watch.

Again I wasn't expecting much in the form of continuity but again I was pleasantly surprised. The basement lab set is actually the same set used from the original movie which is a real plus point allowing the viewer to slip back into the story with ease. On the effects side of things its another mixed bag really, with the sets being the same, that meant everything was visually spot on such as props, gadgets, lighting, camera angles etc...but for some unknown reason they utterly fudged up the fly head. Sure it looks good, it looks like a giant fly head with big emotionless eyes, coarse black hairs and antennae, but it was huge! Now when I say huge I mean ridiculously over-sized, to the point that it almost looked like a mistake or outright joke. Its comical to watch Halsey (or whoever) walk and run around with this big fat fly head on his shoulders, clearly way too big for his body, the movie completely loses any suspense or thrills. On the other hand (no pun intended), when Holmes thwarts an enemy agent (a goodie Brit agent trying to apprehend Holmes for previous crimes) and sticks him into the teleporter, when the guy is brought back he has the hands and feet of a guinea pig that had been previously stored in subspace by Philippe as a test run. Even though these guinea pig paws are clearly rubber gloves, it is a well created, eerie bit of makeup, especially with the petrified expression left on the dead agents face. In turn we also see a goofy yet acceptable guinea pig with human hands, and later on a fly with Philippe's human head (both superimposed I think).

As I've already said, the plot is generally the same as before, but it unfortunately degenerates into a generic monster movie towards the finale. Somehow Philippe the fly mutant manages to find Max and kill him despite the fact that Philippe didn't even know anything of Max, what he looked like, where to find him etc...Also Max never actually did anything to Philippe, he was just buying information off this Holmes guy, it was Holmes that betrayed him so badly, but Philippe kills Holmes too naturally so its all good. Price is clearly having fun with the project judging by his facial expressions throughout, naturally nothing in the film is even remotely scary and the plot is stretched to the limit. Yet its still a relatively enjoyable B-movie mainly for the odd performances and (in my opinion) the continuity. Its also filmed in black and white (unlike the first movie) which I also think looks much better and adds to the atmosphere, whilst hiding dodgy effects, which is always handy.