Compared to it’s infinitely classier predecessor, 1958’s Return Of The Fly was strange, erratic sequel that took the original concept and transformed it into a wild, flailing creature feature that gave us a energetic serving of bulbous headed fly monsters and guinea pig/human hybrids to go with its plot of espionage and betrayal – however, if you thought that was strange, wait till you see what crawled out of the teleporter in 1965!
Curse Of The Fly – an extremely loose, British lensed continuation of the series – staggered onto the scene like a quaalude addicted lunatic with a plot so bizarre it truly beggars belief. How bizarre is it, you ask – well, for a start it’s a Fly movie that has no fucking flies in it whatsoever, human or otherwise but instead focuses further on the Delambre legacy of dicking around with teleportation despite never learning a single damn lesson no matter how many lumpy mutants they manage to produce.
Canadian scientist Martin Delambre is driving late at night when he spies a woman in her underwear running into the woods and instead of putting her definitively in his rear view mirror, he throws caution to the wind and wades in to help. The scantily clad girl is Patricia Stanley and after Martin takes her the two swiftly fall in love and are married almost instantaneously, but both are carrying rather huge secrets that they each agree to keep from the other because, you know, that’s the backbone of a solid spontaneous marriage…
Patricia was fleeing in her knickers because she had just escaped a mental institution after a particularly bad breakdown, but as big a secret as that is, Martin’s is a fucking whopper; you see him, his father and his whimpering brother have been continuing their grandfather’s research into teleportation and have successfully sending people back an forth between Canada and Britain for a while now. Things haven’t always gone to plan, however. Martin’s grandfather had a rather bad experience getting his molecules fused with a housefly (but got better) and as a result Martin and his father Henri both have recessive fly genes which cause them to age rapidly unless they treat it with a serum; but on top of that, Henri and Martin have been stashing all the poor souls who have been left mutated and insane by their experiments in the stables of their house which include a couple of unfortunate interns and Martin’s previous wife.
As Patricia slowly realises that maybe she should have taken some time to get to know if her beau had a couple of skeletons in the closet (or mutants in the stables), the gas lighting the panicking Delambre’s employ reaches melting point as they become convinced the police are on to their unethical behaviour; who will survive this latest bout of teleportation terror and what will be left of their DNA?
As decidedly odd and malformed as the collection of plasticine-faced ghouls that lurk in the Delambre’s stables, Curse Of The Fly is an odd one and no mistake. Nothing else illustrates this matter more than its cavalier attitude to series continuity as it cherry picks bits from the previous two movies and randomly mashes them together for literally no reason that I can fathom. Apparently now, Andre Delambre was saved from his fly-headed fate, his grown up son (no longer named Phillipe) never had his own bug related face-lift and there’s no mention of Vincent Price’s panic-stricken uncle at all; but to replace this careless reshuffling is the fact that the Delambres are now possibly the most careless scientists in cinema history. I mean, seriously; these guys are fucking idiots nowand for all their grand speeches about the working for the good of mankind they also happen to have a casual attitude about being cartoonishly amoral. Henri doesn’t even give a shit about his own safety let alone anyone elses hence the large radiation burns covering his torso and I won’t even go into the recklessness it takes for Martin to randonly marry a total stranger while his previous spouse, Judith, hangs ten with a serious disfigurement. On top of all this, I haven’t even mentioned Henri’s servants, Tai and Wan, who weirdly hate Patricia on sight and who also think it’s a good idea to let Judith out some nights and let her tinkle the old ivories on the piano for old times sake.
It’s this scatter shot randomness on the part of the script that makes Curse Of The Fly such rabid car crash viewing – virtually no one in the film behaves like a rational human being at any point – and the whole thing plays out like a black and white fever dream that’s been plotted by a nihilistic chimp. It’s an experience loaded with genuinely WTF moments and unintentionally funny happenstances; but it’s also packing some surprisingly modern body horror for a movie released in the mid-sixties with a scene that sees the Delambres try to desperately cover up their mistakes by trying to teleport some of the mutants over to England only to have then turn up fused into a single, twitching mass. Of course, falling in line with all the other insanity that’s been going on, the poor dude at the other end chooses to dash off and grab a goddamn fire axe to dispose of this literal beast with two backs because – well, at this point, why the hell not?
Even the casting results in a fair spot of head scratching with Martin being played by George Baker who went on to be best known for playing Chief Inspector Wexford in The Ruth Rendell Mysteries; but even weirder is how incredibly bad you feel for Burt Kwok as Tai as he has to act opposite a white woman playing the Chinese Wan.
The results, while memorable in the way a fatal accident video on YouTube is memorable, are also as uneven as Steve Buscemi’s dental x-rays and as a successor to a legitimate sci-fi classic, it’s honestly pretty damn dire and the movie collapses under the weight of it’s own lunacy in double-quick time.
Still, it’s not exactly dull and it has the odd strong visual jammed in there for good measure (Patricia’s slow motion bra and panties asylum break may not have anything to do with the rest of the film but it is a genuine, striking image) but this jumbled pile of hysterical randomness that “flies” fast and loose with common sense.