Thursday, March 9, 2017

THE FLY ULTIMATE COLLECTION BLU-RAY (5-DISC SET)

THE FLY ULTIMATE COLLECTION BLU-RAY (5-Disc set) 

Label: Via Vision Entertainment
Region Code: A, B
Duration: 478 Minutes
Rating: Unrated, R
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1), 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Audio: Dolby Digital, DTS-HD MA, Dolby true HD 

Synopsis: Pushing the boundaries of horror from the outset, The Fly franchise successfully combines spine tingling shocks with heart warming romance. It has produced some of the most frightening yet memorable films of all time. Presented in a limited edition boxed set this DVD collection finally brings together the classic ’80s blockbusters with the original films that inspired them in.
This fantastic collectible boxed set includes The Fly (1958), Return Of The Fly (1959), Curse Of The Fly (1965), The Fly – 30th Anniversary Special Edition (1986) and The Fly II – Special Edition (1989).
THE FLY(1958)
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 94 Minutes 
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 4.0 with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1) 
Director: Kurt Neumann 
Cast: David Hedison, Vincent Price, Patricia Owens, Herbert Marshall, Kathleen Freeman, Betty Lou Gerson 

The Fly (1958)is a classic slice of science fiction, and it opens with a vivid and grotesque scene of surprising carnage, with scientist Andre Delambre (David Hedison) being found dead, his head and hand crushed beneath a hydraulic press. His loving wife Helene (Patricia Owens) confesses to the murder and the movie plays out from an earlier point, leading up to the the horrible death. 


Andre had been working on a new technology, a transporter device called the disintegrator-integrator, which could transport matter from one place to another. Things are coming along swimmingly, however, when he tests the device on himself he's unaware that a fly has flown into the teleporter chamber with him, when he reappears on the other side of the room in the other teleport, he has become a hideous half-man/half-fly guy with the head of a fly and an insectoid hand/claw. Andre covers his head in a black cloth to hide his awful visage from his wife, hiding his deformed hand in his jacket pocket, pleading with her to find a white-headed fly, apparently his alternate half, so he can restore himself to normal. She never does find the fly, but when he accidentally reveals his hideous fly head to his wife it is a thing of 50s fright, Patricia Owens's terrified screams are wonderful, enhanced by the fly-eye view of her, I love this sort of gimmicky stuff in these old sci-fi movies.


The design of the clawed hand and fly-face are great, this is the only one of the original three fly films to be in color, and it looks great with the big buy eyes and proboscis, it's a great creature design for time, I still love it. I also love that they keep Andre's fly-face and hand hidden away for more than an hour, it really does build up the suspense, and when it is revealed it is a shocker.  


Neither Francois nor police Inspector Charas (Herbert Marshall) can kind-hearted Helen's story about Andre accidentally turning himself into a human fly, it is not until the very end of the movie, when both witness a human-headed fly with a human arm stuck in a spider's web screaming "Help Me! Help Me!" that they both come around to the horrific truth of the matter.  


The is a movie that creeped me out s a kid watching it on TV, watching it now the movie has a bit more depth than just being creepy, what strikes me is the loving relationship between Andre and his wife, his struggle to hang onto his humanity, it's powerful stuff as he struggles to maintain his sanity, all the while worried he might do harm to his beloved wife. The movie is still campy though, the 50s sci-fi was never too deep, but this one has a bit more than your average 50's atom-aged monster stuff. 


Vincent Price (The Comedy of Terrors) appears as Andre's brother Francois who has to piece together the mystery of what's happened to his ill-fated brother, he does good work here, as does most everyone, this is a top-notch cast and a rather good story, if a bit slow to unfold, but it pays off in spades and holds up really well in my opinion. 4/5


Audio/Video: The Fly (1958) arrives on Blu-ray from Via Vision looking very nice in the original cinemascope (2.35:1) aspect ratio, colors are impressive for a movie of this period. This looks like the same transfer Fox used for their US Blu-ray. Audio is captured with an English DTS-HD Master Audio 4.0 with Optional English Subtitles. Everything is nicely crisp and clean, the  Paul Sawtell score sounds terrific and the screams and sci-fi sounds are fantastic. 


Extras include a fun commentary with Actor David Hedison and historian David Del Valle, I so love Del Valle's commentaries, he adores old school Hollywood and Hedison has some cool recollections of making the movie. Additionally we get a 12-min look back at the original Fly trilogy, an episode of Biography about Price, a brief Fox Movietone News bit about the premiere of the movie and a trailer. 


Special Features:

- Audio Commentary with Actor David Hedison and historian David Del Valle 
- Biography: Vincent Price (44 min) 
- Fly Trap: Catching A Classic (12 min) 
- Fox Movietone News (1 min) 
- Theatrical Trailer (2 min) 



RETURN OF THE FLY (1959)

Rating: Unrated
Duration: 80 Minutes 
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1) 
Director: Edward Bernds
Cast: Vincent Price, Brett Halsey, David Frankham, John Sutton, Dan Seymour, Danielle De Metz 

In the sequel which takes place twenty years after the original, but shot only a year later in reality, we have Andre's now adult son Philippe (Brett Halsey, Fulci's Touch of Death) taking up the experiments of his father with equally disastrous results.  Vincent Price returns as Uncle Francois, who when informed of his nephew's wish to continue the work of his father on the disintegrator-integrator device in the same basement laboratory, tweaking it a bit to be able to "store" objects and animals in some 50s version of the iCloud. 

Philippe partners with a man named Alan Hines (David Frankham) to work with but the guys turns out to be a scumbag looking to steal the device for his own profit, and who uses the device to dispose f bodies, sort of. When a British Agents shows up out of nowhere to confront the industrial spy he knocks him out and throws him in the device, the last thing sent through the transporter was a hamster, and the man comes through the other side with hamster-hands! It is ridiculous stuff, likewise the hamster comes through the other side with human hands, which Hoines crushes with his shoe, wiping up a tiny pool of blood from the floor afterward!  


Eventually Philippe catches on to the wily ways of Hines and confronts him, there's a struggle and Hines knocks him out and places him in the transporter, deliberately placing a fly in there with him, which is just fucking evil, and then we have a very similar scenario playing out as the original film, without the suspense. 


Unlike the original film this was shot in black and white, but also in cinemascope, and it lacks the emotion of the original. What I do love/hate about it at the same time is that it is way more campy. They really go for the gusto with bringing the bulbous fly-headed monster to the big screen in all it's laughable badness, they show it way too much, the original kept you in suspense, this one keeps you in stitches at certain points, the head looks so damn big I wondered if there were outtakes of the actor falling over onset.   


The bleak ending of the original is replaced by something happier, but not nearly as effective. A solidly entertaining sequel of much lesser quality, with the bonus of Vincent Price having a more expanded role over the first. If you love goofy 50s sci-fi this one fits the bill, but it lacks compared to what came before it. 2.5/5 

Audio/Video: The black and white cinemascope (2.35:1) cinematography looks very nice in 1080p HD, grain is nicely managed, a nice sharp image all the way around. Audio on the disc is relegated to a lossy English Dolby Digital 2.0, there are no subtitles. 


There are no extras on this disc, it's a shame they could not get the Audio Commentary with Actor Brett Halsey and Film Historian David Del Valle that appeared on The Vincent Price Collection II from Scream Factory. It's also worth noting that the Region A locked Scream Factory set includes a DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio track.

  Special Features:
- None 



CURSE OF THE FLY (1965) 

Rating: Unrated 
Duration: 86 Minutes 
Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 
Video:1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1) 
Director: Don Sharp 
Cast: Brian Donlevy, George Baker, Carole Gray, Yvette Rees, Burt Kwouk, Michael Graham 

Curse of the Fly (1965) was directed by cult filmmaker Don Sharp who directed the undead biker cult-classic Psychomania (1973), it opens with a surreal slow-motion breaking glass image, as young woman named Patricia Stanley (Carole Gray, Devils of Darkness) escapes from the loony bin in only her underwear. In the dead of night she is almost run over by Martin Delambre (George Baker), who whisks here away and marries her, as you do. 

This entry takes place a few years after the second sequel but somehow we're dealing with two different generations of Delambre, a father Henri (Brian Donlevy, The Quatermass Xperiment) and his two son are developing their own transporter device, which they've had some success with, but with a few side effects.

Henri and his son Albert (Michael Graham)are in London, while Martin resides in Quebec, Canada. They each have teleportation pods from which they can transmit matter, Henri transported himself to London from Quebec but was burned badly, meanwhile Martin suffers from a weird skin disorder and is prone spells premature aging which are only prevented by a serum he injects, his affliction is supposedly a caused by inheriting his grandfather's (Philippe, from Curse of the Fly) recessive human-fly DNA. 

Henri returns to Quebec and tries to run off his son's new bride, but she's not going anywhere, but then she discovers that Martin keeps deformed mutants locked away in a barn, victims of early attempts at teleporting people, including his former wife! 

This one falls far from the original films, more of a weird mad scientist melodrama with some really awful make-up effects for the mutants, who look like the actors have had lumps of clay slapped onto their faces with a stocking pulled over it. It's not all awful though in terms of make-up effects, there is a scene wherein Henri and Martin transport two of the mutants together to London through the teleporter and they arrive on the other side as one writhing mass of flesh, looking like something from The Thing in the process of mid-transformation. 


There are a lot of good ideas floating around here, including some nice atmospheric touches from director Don Sharp, but the execution and story are awful. Worse than even perhaps the mutant make-up is that of the the housemaid Wan (Yvette Rees) a white woman playing an Asian with some seriously bad eye make-up. I found the third and final film on the original trilogy to be pretty bad, my favorite part was the nightmarish opening title sequence with Patricia escaping the loony bin, it promised me something strange and different, well, it was different, it was strange, but it was not good. The movie doesn't feel like a Fly entry, sure we have the transporter device stuff, but at no point do we get any fly-action! 2/5

Audio/Video: The black and white cinemascope cinematography looks very nice in 1080p HD, grain is nicely managed, a nice sharp image all the way around with good contrast. The disc includes a English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track, there are no subtitles. 

Special Features: 

- None 


THE FLY (1986)

Rating: R
Duration: 95 Minutes 
Audio: English DTS-HD 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital 2.0  with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Director: David Cronenberg 
Cast: Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, John Getz, Joy Boushel, Les Carlson, David Cronenberg 

Nearly 30 years after the original film director David Cronenberg (Shivers) brought us a remake of the source material, in a decade ripe with cool remakes that surpassed the originals, these include The Blob (1988) and The Thing (1982). Here we have Jeff Goldblum (from another great remake, Invasion of the Body Snatchers) starring as Seth Brundle, an aloof but genius scientist who meets science journalist Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis, Beetlejuice) at an industry party hosted by his financiers Bartok Industries. He invites her back to his lab/apartment where he shows her what he calls his "telepods", the now familiar device that transports matter from one pod to another. The two strike up a romance and Veronica begins to document his progress working on the groundbreaking device, which is not yet perfected. 

The telepods can only transport inanimate objects, when he attempts to transport a live animal, a baboon, it goes awry, the animal is literally turned inside out in grisly fashion. He continues to work, and inspired by a steak dinner he perfects it, and successfully transports another baboon from one pod to the other without incident. However, when seth becomes jealous that Veronica might be rekindling a romance with her editor and former boyfriend Stathis (John Getz, Blood Simple) he gets drunk and sends himself through the telepod, unaware that a fly has made it's way inside the telepod with him, and when he is disintegrated and reintegrated the telepod computer includes the fly's DNA into the matrix.

What ensues is a period of increased physical prowess, Seth feels renewed, invigorated and unstoppable, attributing it to the telepod experience, not yet realizing that there is now fly DNA inside his body, slowly transforming him into a human-fly hybrid. 

Goldblum is at his best here, hands down this is finest performance to date, coming before he became the neurotic science guy we came to know him for in the movies Jurassic Park and Independence Day, a nuanced performance, one that really expounds on the struggle between one's humanity and monster he's becoming, which is what I loved so about the original film. Geena Davis as the love interest is also fantastic, at the time the two actors were a real-life couple, and it shows in the on-screen chemistry. 

Cronenberg was already known for his love of body-horror, even before this, and for a few years after still, his love for clinical weirdness is perfectly suited for the science fiction horror material, helped in large part from the creative special effects work from Chris Walas (Gremlins), who really brings home the transformation process here. which was like nothing we'd ever seen before in a Fly film, the gooey ickiness of it is fantastic, we get gooey fingernail-trauma, a nightmare maggot-birthing scene, corrosive fly-vomit, bones breaking through skin, teeth falling out... there's plenty here to make you squirm.  One of the the things I have always loved about the film was the iconic design of the telepods, which avid motorcyclist Cronenberg modeled after Ducati motorcycle cylinder heads - they just look so damn cool.

The film did big business at the box office, and with good reason, it has some fantastic human drama, a love story that didn't suck the life out of it, Brundle losing his humanity, the grotesque body horror stuff - and it all comes together so wonderfully onscreen. 5/5

Audio/Video: This looks like the same HD master we saw from 20th Century Fox years ago, the same issues apply, it's a bit soft, a lack of depth and clarity, but not bad, just not awesome. This is a movie overdue for a new 4K transfer. Audio on the disc includes choice of English DTS-HD 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1, and Dolby Digital 2.0  with Optional English Subtitles. The surrounds don't get a whole lot of action on this one, some of the telepod action and the Howard shore score bleed into them, but this is a primarily front centric experience.   

Via Vision carry-over all the extras from the 20th Century Fox Blu-ray, which wa stacked, so we get the 103-min making of doc, 12-min with special effects makeup designer Chris Walas, 21-min of cool deleted scenes and extended scenes, some early film tests, TV spots and a 6-min vintage EPK featurette,  

Special Features: 

- Fear The Flesh: The Making of the Fly (103 min) 
- The Brundle Museum of Natural History” (12 min) 
- Trivia Pop-Ups 
- 4 Deleted Scenes (11 min) 
- 2 Extended Scenes (you can use the optional “red box” around the parts that were excised): (6 min) 
- Film Tests (Visual Effects) (8 min) 
- TV Spots (10 min) 
- EPK (6 min) 



THE FLY II (1989)

Rating: R
Duration: 105 Minutes
Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1  
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Director: Chris Walas 
Cast: Eric Stoltz, Daphne Zuniga, John Getz, Lee Richardson, Frank C. Turner, Ann Marie Lee 

Of course, with the success of Cronenberg's The Fly (1986) there would have to be a sequel, but we had to wait for three years to get, was it worth the wait? Cronenberg wanted nothing to do with a sequel, so special makeup effects creator Chris Walas was tasked with helming the sequel, which opens on a scene featuring the only returning cast member from the previous movie, John Getz (Blood Simple) Stathis, at the Bartok research facility. You might remember that Bartok was the company financing Brundle's research in the last film, it was only mentioned, but in this movie Bartok is a major evil entity. Stathis is there witnessing the birth of Veronica and Seth's baby, she having chosen to carry it to term, and apparently to have it delivered at the Bartok labs. The scene is a nice call back to the maggot-birth nightmare from the first film. Veronica dies during childbirth and the mutant is born in a disgusting chrysalis which hatches, inside is a seemingly normal human child, just a nicely gooey birthing scene. 

Due to chromosomal anomalies the child, Martin (Eric Stoltz, Pulp Fiction), grows and ages at an accelerated rate, maturing into a twenty-something young man in just two years time, with a genius level intellect, thus far showing no signs of mutating into a human fly, but you know that will change soon enough. 

Stolz' character lives at the research center as a sort of live-in experiment, there he befriends a young woman named Beth (Daphne Zuniga, The Dorm That Dripped Blood), and a romance develops between the two, however, Martin becomes suspicious of the researchers when he discovers a pet dog from his childhood, which was supposedly killed in a telepod experiment,  is actually alive, a deformed freak, kept hidden away in the basement. Martin discovers the true fate of his father, which he was lied to about, and that Bartok intends to use the telepods to create an army of human-fly soldier hybrids. Feeling betrayed he breaks out of the facility with Beth, but soon after begins to mutate like his father, his body seemingly disaster grating while in the process of evolving into the fly. 

Together the two track down Stathis Borans who fills them in on the details about the fate of Martin's mother and father, and soon after begins to form a chrysalis, readying himself for the step in his evolution, into MartinFly, which is when the real carnage begins!

The movie has very little of the heart and soul of the Cronenberg film, but I don't think this sequel is as awful as it is said to be. Sure, it's a silly 80s sequel, but it's a fun science fiction horror flick with some wonderfully gooey gore and violence, including a Martin fly-vomiting on the face of a security officer, screaming in pain he peels of his face, good stuff. Just on a purely practical gore and creature design level this is fun stuff with plenty of action, and stupidity aplenty. Zuniga and Stoltz do just fine, both are likable, the characters don't call for a load of range but they get the job done. The two main baddies this time around are corporate baddie Antoc Bartok (Lee Richardson, Exorcist III) and mean-spirited security guard Scorby (prolific TV actor Garry Chalk, who always seems to play cops and military guys), both get their proper comeuppance, with Scorby being bent over backwards and Bartok becoming one of the disgusting telepod victims, all good stuff.  

So, yeah it's a steep step down in quality from the first movie, it lacks the soul that Goldblum and Davis brought to it, but just watched as a cheesy and icky special effects driven film this is not too bad at all. 

Audio/Video: The Fly II looks good in 1080p HD, I think it is crisper ans more detailed that the transfer for the Fly (1986) with some modest depth to the image. Grain can be a bit chunky, but overall this is a nice HD upgrade. Audio on the disc  comes by way of a full-sounding English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track, the surround has some good atmospheric use of the surrounds. 

Via Vision carry-over all the extras from the Collector's Edition Blu-ray beginning with the Audio Commentary by director Chris Walas and film historian Bob Burns. We also get the 58-minute The Fly Papers: The Buzz on Hollywood’s Scariest Insect doc, narrated by the late Leonard Nimoy, a 48-min making of doc specific to The Fly II, deleted scene and alternate ending, production journal, interview with composer Christopher Young, storyboard comparison, and photo galleries. 

Special Features: 
- Audio commentary by director Chris Walas and film historian/archivist Bob Burns
- Deleted scene (1 min)
- Alternate “houseboat” ending (1 min)
- Theatrical Trailers (2 min) 
- The Fly Papers: The Buzz on Hollywood’s Scariest Insect” documentary of all “The Fly” films (58 min)
- “Transformations: Looking Back at The Fly II” (48 min) 
- “CWI Video Production Journal” (18 min)
- “Composer’s Master Class: Christopher Young” (13 min)
- “Original Theatrical EPK” (5 min)
“Storyboard to Film” -comparisons of 3 scenes (with optional audio commentary by director Chris Walas)(7 min) 
- Still Photo Galleries: Art Gallery (3 min), Production Gallery (3 min), Storyboards (2 min) 

The five-disc set from Via Vision collects all five of the Fly films in one nice set, all the films arrive on their own discs, housed in a 5-disc blue keepcase. The release comes with a slipcover featuring the same cover art as the keepcase, the back of which lists some of the special features, but not all. Advertised as Region B locked I can confirm that the discs are Region A enabled and played without issue on  both my Region A and region-free Blu-ray players, so buy with confidence if you're a North American buyer. I love having all five of the Fly films on one inclusive set with loads of extras. To my knowledge this is the only release to gather all five Fly movies on one Blu-ray set, if you're a fan of The Fly series this is essential stuff. 4/5  

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