Thinking about it made me do it, I suppose. Watch The Fly, that is. This is a movie I grew up knowing about. I knew the basic plot but somehow was never in the right place at the right time to see it. Until now. For a movie from 1958 it remains strangely affecting. I was wondering whether religion would enter into it, and indeed, in a moment drawn from Frankenstein, André Delambre expresses that he knows what it feels like to be God. No thunder to drown it out this time. A short while later his wife Hélène asks him what he’s doing as he is relaxing in the back yard. He says he’s looking at the sky, or maybe looking at God. In the light of other mad scientist movies this is a somewhat self-aware moment.
The Fly is one of those movies that had great influence on popular culture. Although critics at the time thought of it as a gross-out (they obviously had no idea what David Cronenberg would do!) it nevertheless managed to find its way into dialogue with other movies. The correlation to Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’s Mike Teevee’s scene is remarkably close. (Adult’s who’ve read Roald Dahl and who’ve paid attention to the movie know that this is kid-friendly horror.) I’m also pretty sure some of the writers from The X-Files knew The Fly as well. The Fly, coming during the atomic age, is clearly a warning about using technology that we don’t understand. Although the movie made a great return on investment for the time, the message still hasn’t been received.
In many ways The Fly set Vincent Price’s trajectory toward being a horror star. After all, just two years earlier he’d been in The Ten Commandments. Isn’t he another connection between religion and horror? Although not the lead in The Fly, as André’s brother François, Price has the most philosophical line: “The search for the truth is the most important work in the whole world and the most dangerous.” Like the warning about technology, this is a bit of information that might have usefully been heeded. The political events of 2016 to 2020 demonstrated just how important the search for truth is (and demonstrated religion and horror). Even with a partial fly brain, André Delambre destroys his notes after making Hélène promise never to reveal what happened. The truth gets out, of course, leading to the observation behind many mad scientists’ ravings: what is really being sought is the rush of knowing what it feels like to be God.