Film (1989). Brooksfilms/Twentieth Century Fox. Directed by Chris Walas. Written by Mick Garris, Jim Wheat, Ken Wheat, Frank Darabont, based on a story by Garris. Cast includes Lee Richardson, Eric Stoltz and Daphne Zuniga. 104 minutes. Colour.
This is a genuine sequel to the 1986 remake of The Fly, not just a lame excuse for more horrific "fly" effects. Chris Walas, the skilled technician who created those effects for the earlier film, here made his directorial debut, and surprised many by doing so assured a job of it. Seth Brundle's girlfriend, made pregnant by him in the previous film, dies after giving birth to a "monster"; beneath the larva-like casing is an apparently normal baby. At age 5, however, the child has a near-adult appearance and superintelligence. His adoptive father, head of Bartok Industries, is secretly determined to exploit both Brundle's son and his Matter-Transmission device, realizing that the genetic melding the device allows gives him a handle for controlling "the form and function of all life". The subtext is more reassuring than in Cronenberg's earlier film, and The Fly II becomes a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, with a crude but satisfying comeuppance for Bartok at the end. Though Cronenberg is the one popularly supposed to show disgust for the flesh, it is Walas whose more conventional affection for normality has the effect of reducing the son's metamorphosis to a mere occasion for horror. This deeply conservative film is less subtle than its predecessor, though it has interesting Freudian reverberations, and many people will prefer Walas's emphasis on the corruption of an external agency (Industry) to Cronenberg's emphasis on the tragic divisions of the Self. [PN]
see also: Cinema; Monster Movies.
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