The Fly

By AL J. Vermette


On a cold October morning, Dr Andre Delambre stands before his greatest
creation.  A human teleaport device like nothing the world has ever seen.  If this
human test is successful, it will be the greatest invention the world has ever
known.  With the excitement of a child, he steps into the teleport chamber and
turns around facing the outside in looking over his lab.  All his life he has
dreamed of this moment when he would be the first man to transport himself
from one location to another within a moment of time.  For now, he would only
beam from one chamber to the other, a mere few feet apart, but if this test
proves successful, the idea of transporting from one pod to another miles away
or more will one day replace conventional travel as we know it.

He pulls the door to the chamber closed and readies himself inside for a flight
like no other.  The chamber pod itself is only a few feet wide…..It’s small, just
enough room for himself had he been alone.  For unknown to this brilliant man
something other than himself has entered the chamber.  It’s small, completely
undetectable and will change the course of his experiment in ways of
nightmarish proportions.  There behind him on the back wall of the pod is a
simple little house fly.  A creature of little importance until it hits the switch
powering the great machine.

A light in the chamber flashes, he can feel a tingle throughout his soul as his
very essence is drawn into the machine.  But just before his body dissolves the
sight of the little creature passing his face comes into view.  For a fleeting
moment he thinks nothing of it until dreadful thoughts enter his mind just as he
and the fly vanish from within the chamber.  In an instant, he and the little
creature are gone, drawn into the machines network of possessing and turned
into gigabits.  A moment later a flash hits the other pod across the room and a
lone figure appears within its in closure.

As the door opens something emerges from the compartment.  It is either man
or beast but something of true horror.  Within the chamber of the machine, the
DNA of the two beings were split and reassembled as one.  The doctor knows
something is wrong, he can feel his body different, his eye sight keener and is
hearing stronger.  Then he can feel something wrong with his hand, a simple
gaze downward feels odd, his head feels strange, not his own.  As his right hand
comes into view something of horror is witnessed.  He cries out in terror but only
a shriek, a beastly squeal comes from his mouth.  A turn into a nearby mirror
revealed the dismay of truth.  The once good doctor was now a creature with
the head and hand of that of a fly.

Nearly a decade before the term “Beam me up Scotty” was made so famously
by the TV series “Star Trek” and the Captain of the USS Enterprise, the idea of
a man being turned into energy beamed across a distance and then
reassembled again as a whole human being was first dreamed up in the movie
“The Fly.”  The story of a man of science wished to create a great machine that
could transport people from one place to another within an instant by turning
their bodies into whole energy beam them on a highway of light to another
accepting pod and then return them whole again.  Sounds great don’t it, no
more cars, trains or air flight, leave one location and boom in less than a
moment you are somewhere else…..maybe even in a another country.  For Dr
Delambre, this would have been his greatest creation, the very thing to get his
name in recorded history.  That was until on his trip through the looking glass
and he was not alone.  A little house fly was in the chamber with him and as
their DNA mixed Dr Delambre was turned into a living nightmare.  Half man, half
FLY!

This nightmarish story was the creation of British author George Langelaan,
who wrote his short story “The Fly” in 1957.  At the time, the thought of a
machine that could transport people from one place to another was completely
unheard of.  This is a full 7 years before the pilot “The Cage”, the very first “Star
Trek” Episode was produced in 1964 when we saw Captain Pike and crew beam
down for the very first time from The Enterprise to the surface of a planet.  This
idea would carry on into the series starting in 1966 but George Langelaan had
the idea first and saw the wonders if its use, as well as the horror it could create
when breaking down a man’s molecules sending them off on a beam of light and
making him whole again on the other end.  For Dr Delambre his dream of one
day changing travel forever only became a nothing but nightmare.

This one horror/ science fiction stories was brought to the screen a year later in
1958 with the movie “The Fly” staring horror legend Vincent Price and David
Hedison billed in this movie as Al Hedison.  Hedison best known for his role as
Captain Crane in the 1960's TV series “Voyage To The Bottom of The Sea”
played both the doctor and his monster creation The Fly.  In the movie, the
doctor, after stepping out of his telepod discovers the truth that he now has the
head and right arm of a fly.  More disturbing and creepy is that the creature his
DNA mixed with now had the head of a human on the body of a common house
fly.  This is so noted in a scene where this human headed fly is crying for help
when it is caught in a spider’s web as the deadly creature bares down upon it.

What sets this horror movie apart from any other horror movie before or after is
that the film along with the short story it spawned from gives it horror not from
what the monster does (such as kill people like other creatures) but the horror
of what this poor, poor man had become.  In fact, this film and its 1986 remake
are the only monster/ horror movies ever made where the terrible monster kills
no one.  Like I said, the horror comes from becoming the creature as with many
transformations from man to beast such as The Wolfman or Mr. Hyde, this
creature attacks no one, hurts no one and only harms himself in the end.  It’s a
very different approach to a horror story and a very good one at that, not all
monsters are evil or have to kill for it to be called a horror movie.

After the release of “The Fly”, a sequel was shot and released in 1959 as
“Return of The Fly” and a follow up in 1965 called “Curse of The Fly.”  In
“Return of The Fly”, the story picks up a few years later after the events of the
doctors death, that his son now grown picks up where dad left off.  Sadly it
happens again and he too, like his father becomes a man/ fly hybrid.  Unlike the
preceding film, the fly’s son does kill but only the evil people to done him wrong
and made him into the monster that is becomes.

In the 1958 movie, the poor doctor was turned instantly into a human fly
creature, however in the 1986 remake directed by David Cronenberg, the
transformation from man to beast was a slow one over time building the horror
as the good doctor slowly turns into a monster fly.  Actor Jeff Goldbloum, a man
in the brink of the greatest discovery is altered by his transporter merging his
DNA with a fly.  Unlike the original film, he is not turned instantly into a
nightmarish creature but steps out of the transporter chamber as himself.  He
feels fine, in fact he feels better than as he discovers that he has a heightened
state of strength and displays that in a very painful arm wrestle on a man in a
bar.  Slowly he finds himself changing into something other than human when
his teeth start falling out, strange hairs start to glow and soon he is walking up
the walls.  By the films end, he is transformed into a giant fly monster and begs
his girlfriend Geena Davis to end his pain by use of a shotgun.

Like the classic 1958 film, the man/ fly does not kill anyone only here he does
bust that guys arm in the bar and he melts his girlfriend’s boss’ hand and leg
with toxic venom discharge from his fly mouth when he discovers what was really
going on in that lab.  Having a revolting hideous creature not killing anyone is
what sets this film and its pioneering original apart from all other monsters and
shows that being the monster is a horror of into itself.

The Fly remake was followed a few years later in 1989 with “The Fly Two,” here
again the son of the doctor is forced into recreating his father’s mishap and he
too begins to turn into a human fly.  In this movie, the son was conceived after
his father was changed and so his DNA was already marked with the soul of the
little creature when he was born.  Raised in a government lab, he is the subject
of men who only wish to have him build his father’s transport pods and wait for
the fly within to surface.  Like with the “Return of The Fly”, the son after
becoming the creature attacks and kills his captives as he tries to free himself
from his fly curse.  Unlike his father’s ill fate, the son is able to use the
transporter to turn himself back into a human again and the film ends on a less
sad note.

From a short story on to 5 motion pictures, The Fly has made its mark upon the
horror world.  From an attempt at changing the world as we know it to becoming
a dreadful creature, ones doctor’s dream soon became his worst nightmare.
Creature Feature
The Fly