The Fly is a nearly perfect horror film—it has tight writing, excellent performances, visceral practical effects, and well-developed themes about the horrors of deteriorative genetic inheritance. It was a breakout performance for Jeff Goldblum and, before that one episode of Rick & Morty, the most likely reason the average moviegoer would know the name “Cronenberg.”
But what many don’t know is how pivotal the film is in Cronenberg’s body of work—re-examining some of the themes of his earlier film The Brood and serving as a turning point for how his movies depicted women.
Filming in Doubles
Cronenberg is what you might call a semi-auteur. While happy to collaborate with and adapt materials by others, there’s an easily traceable set of fixations across his body of work that seem to draw him to certain stories—masculinity, fear of penetration and body horror, humans conforming to artificial roles, the cycle of influence between self and media, and the limits of consent.
Cronenberg has touched on these ideas in nearly every film he’s made. Most interestingly, he’ll often re-examine ideas from his early films in more developed ways later on—Videodrome (1983) and eXistenZ (1999) both explore the influence of the then-controversial medium of videogames and how it affects human interactions; Scanners(1981) and Dead Ringers (1988) both feature gynecological themes and obsessively bound siblings; Rabid (1977) and Crash (1996) proceed from the world-shaking effects of a vehicle accident; and Eastern Promises (2007) re-explores the issue of culture clash stumbled through in M. Butterfly (1993).