The Fly Collection: (The Fly / Return Of The Fly / The Curse Of The Fly)
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Disc 1: THE FLY 1958 Disc 2: THE RETURN OF THE FLY 1959 Disc 3: THE CURSE OF THE FLY 1965 Disc 4: BONUS DISC
A bonafide must-have for classic science fiction fans, The Fly Collection brings together the original 1958 chiller with Return of the Fly and Curse of the Fly, its 1959 and 1965 sequels, respectively, and treats fans to a wealth of terrific supplemental features and improved image quality. Kurt Neumann's The Fly has lost little of its punch in the 50 years since its release; though it lacks the visceral shock of David Cronenberg's 1986 remake, James Clavell's script expands upon the original source material by author George Langelaan with a maturity and depth that was rarely seen in movie science fiction from the period, and the performances by Vincent Price, Herbert Marshall, and David Hedison (billed as Al Hedison) as the ill-fated scientist whose experiments with matter transferal leave him with the human-sized head of a fly (one of the indelible images of '50s sci-fi) are tightly reined and believable. Quickly generated to cash in on The Fly's box office windfall, Return of the Fly is decidedly less solid than its predecessor--it's a basic retread of the original, with Brett Halsey as Hedison's son making the same mistake as his father--but as pure B-movie entertainment, it delivers the goods, and the returning Vincent Price lends his usual air of credibility. The final entry in the Fly franchise, the little-seen Curse of the Fly, makes its U.S. DVD debut with this set; it's pulpy fun at best, but genre veteran Don (Hammer's Kiss of the Vampire) Sharp brings some surprising moments of surrealism to the proceedings, most notably in the hallucinatory opening sequence (Carole Gray flees the grounds of a dark estate clad only in her white undergarments) and its parade of horrific failed genetic experiments.
The Fly Collection offers all three films in single discs (each featuring reproductions of the films' original poster art), as well as a fourth disc, The Disc of Horrors, which provides a barrage of related extras. Image-wise, the look of the films is top-notch; The Fly is a marked improvement over the 2000 DVD release, with the rich DeLuxe colors and vivid detail of the original CinemaScope presentation receiving a marvelous showcase. Even the lesser quality of Return and Curse's black-and-white lensing looks crisp and largely spot-free. Sound is also superior (Fly is Dolby Digital 4.0, and Return and Curse have Dolby Digital monaural and Dolby Digital Stereo options), and Hedison is featured in a commentary on Fly that's filled with production reminiscences. The Disc of Horrors is the real treat in the set; not only is Price's 1997 profile from A&E's Biography series included, but there's also Fly Trap: Catching a Classic, a solid overview of all three films featuring Hedison and Halsey, as well as film historians David Del Valle and Donald F. Glut, among others (some of the pertinent details are also covered in the set's insert booklet). Theatrical trailers for each film (and TV spots for Return and Curse), reproductions of the original pressbooks (which can be viewed in detail), domestic and international lobby cards, promotional photos (the best of which is a shot of Hedison in full fly makeup listening patiently to co-star Patricia Owens), and a 1958 newsreel that covered the first Fly's premiere in San Francisco. -Paul Gaita
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THE FLY was based on a well-received story written by George Langelaan for Playboy Magazine, and was brought to the screen by Twentieth Century Fox in 1958. Lushly filmed in CinemaScope and Deluxe Colour, it provided audiences with a far more sleek and stylish horror movie than they would be used to seeing. It's topline stars Vincent Price and Herbert Marshall, two of the leading character actors of their generation, added another layer of prestige to the production.
The story is told in flashback. The beautiful Helene Delambre (Patricia Owens) is charged with the gruesome murder of her husband Andre (David 'Al' Hedison) after his crushed body is discovered in the Delambre factory. Helene insists that Andre told her to kill him, following an experiment that went disastrously wrong, involving the cross-fire of atoms belonging to Andre and a common house-fly. Andre's brother Francois (Vincent Price) and Inspector Charas (Herbert Marshall) remain unconvinced--until a fly with Andre's head is seen trapped in a spiderweb... Co-starring Kathleen Freeman and little Charles Herbert ("Houseboat", "13 Ghosts"), THE FLY is still one of the most unsettling and intense horror movies from the 1950s. The disc also includes a bonus audio commentary track with the 'Fly' himself, David Hedison.
In THE RETURN OF THE FLY, filmed the following year, we get a good sense of continuity with Vincent Price reprising his role of Francois Delambre. The story opens several years after the events of "The Fly". Following the death of Helene, Andre's now-grown son Philippe (Brett Halsey) is determined to continue his father's work, much to the horror of Francois. But Philippe's honest and honourable intentions are destroyed by his devious assistant (David Frankham) who turns Philippe into another hideous fly-creature. Can Francois save him from the same fate that Andre suffered? RETURN OF THE FLY also co-stars Danielle de Metz (best-remembered as the Italian tourguide in "Gidget Goes to Rome") and John Sutton.
Things get a lot more gruesome and darker in THE CURSE OF THE FLY, filmed in 1965. Andre Delambre's grandson Martin (George Baker) wants to carry on the family legacy, but the arrival of his lovely new wife Pat (Carole Gray), who escaped from a psychiatric hospital, complicates everything. In the gloomy Delambre mansion, the deformed victims of "failed experiments" lurk, including Martin's former wife Judith (Mary Manson), and it's only a matter of time before Pat discovers the whole sickening truth...
Filmed on location in England (hence it's British stars George Baker and Carole Gray), CURSE OF THE FLY also features Brian Donlevy, Rachel Kempson, and Michael Graham. Burt Kwouk and Yvette Rees ("Witchcraft") are the Delambre's Asian house-servants, with the laughable names of Tai and Wan. CURSE OF THE FLY was originally released in a theatrical double bill with "Devils of Darkness", another British horror title co-starring Carole Gray.
The bonus fourth disc, entitled "Disc of Horrors", includes a brief ten-minute featurette which touches on all three movies. The 50-minute Biography episode for Vincent Price ("The Versatile Villain") provides an absorbing portrait of a man whose interests and talents ran in many directions. There are also selective photo galleries for each of the three "Fly" movies. The four discs are housed in individual slimline cases, packed together in an attractive slipcover which displays key artwork from all three movies. Each disc is single-layered; the movies themselves are in their correct 2:35:1 widescreen aspect ratio, enhanced for 16:9 displays.
This bargain-priced collectors' set is a must for all fans of classic horror.
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I bought the stand-alone FLY Blu-Ray, and substituted IT for the FLY,
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