There are many people with many problems in the world and those problems stem from very real and serious issues which are not to be trivialised in the slightest.
Some issues can come from the most unlikely sources though and although they may seem insignificant and silly let us not forget that this isn’t a competition and that facing up to something, no matter how daft it may seem, is important.
When I was about 11 years old I was a typical little boy who liked all manner of strange and horrible things. For Christmas I received a video tape of the 1958 version of ‘The Fly’ starring Vincent Price. I had seen it on TV before and quite liked the whole bizarreness of the concept and being a 50s B movie my parents figured it was harmless enough…..except for one thing. The person at the shop had put the tape of David Cronenberg’s 1986 remake of The Fly in the case by mistake. I noticed right away that the tape had an 18 certificate slapped on it while the 1958 video had a 15 rating.
One day myself and my friends, who enjoyed some cheesy horror at that age, decided to watch it and in doing so I had what I consider to be one of the most traumatic film experiences of my life. As you may or may not know director David Cronenberg is famous for his ‘body horror’, depicting the human physical form in some of the most disgusting ways ever seen on film. The Fly was his peak at this and it most certainly was not for a child’s eyes and I have never been so utterly terrified in my life as I was watching that film with it’s slow disintegration of the body and the humanity of a once nice person coupled with all the explicit vomit melt gore and deformity concepts.
I couldn’t sleep right for about a month after watching the film and I remember I even gave the tape away to the friends who watched it with me as they seemed to enjoy it and I certainly didn’t want that thing anywhere near me every again. As fate would have it my friends decided to watch it again when I was over at their house and I had to sit through all the messy gore again which just made me want to puke.
Every since then I’ve had those images in my head and the very words “The Fly” have always made me wince a little and make my heart skip a beat. It’s the only film ever that has actually disturbed me to my core. I’ve never been able to watch the film since then and that was around 1988/89. I attempted to on a few occasions over the years but as soon as it started the bad vibes came back and I had to turn it off. It was silly as I love sci-fi and I’m a big Jeff Goldblum fan but that recurring feeling was just too much and so I just buried it again and got on with life.
Facing The Demon
A few days ago YouTube movie reviewer Jeramy Jahns did a retro review of the film and he gave it very high marks (the highest in fact). This peaked my interest as I do remember the actual film itself being very good but the climax was just too much to take. I made myself a promise that at some point that week that I would sit down and watch The Fly again and face that fear which has been a thorn in my side for nearly 30 years.
The plan was maybe to watch it in the morning one day and I would warm up by watching the old 50s film first which I did and very much enjoyed. The next day I still had some trepidation about watching the ’86 film so I looked at some “making of” documentaries on YouTube as I figured that some behind the scenes stuff might shatter some of the suspension of disbelief which it did to a point.
After watching 2 documentaries I was so in the mood for it that for some reason I just stuck on the film and started to watch it. This was totally unplanned and quite late in the day too but I had started so I thought I may as well continue.
At the back of my mind was always the shitebag back door of “I’ll maybe watch half today and half tomorrow!” but as the film progressed I had a bit of pride kick in and I was absolutely determined to sit through the whole thing at that sitting.
Well I did and the film ended. The gore wasn’t quite as bad as I remembered (it was still absolutely stinking though) but there was no huge waves of absolute nausea and dread this time around and I was a little pleased with myself….but it wasn’t all good.
A few hours after watching the film I noticed that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I still had a really jittery vibe when viewing and it seemed to stay with me. This was the same feeling which I had when I was 11 and the images and thoughts were just projected on to my mind and stayed there. I couldn’t shake it and bedtime was approaching which is when my imagination is at it’s peak. It was fine though and I dropped off to sleep with no problems.
One thing that I’ve noticed even as I sit here this morning typing this after yesterday’s viewing is that something seems to have changed. There is an eerie silence in the air that wasn’t there before and I’m still feeling a little uneasy. I’ve been playing music and letting TV shows run to try and fill it which temporarily works but the moments inbetween keep drifting back to that feeling and that icky silence.
It’s one of these things which will pass but I’m actually surprised at how all this suppressed uneasiness has re-surfaced. In my mind it’s ridiculous as I’m a grown ass man who’s turning 40 in a year’s time yet I recognise these feelings from nearly 30 years ago so well and it must be testament to my own psyche that I’ve buried them all these years.
The film has been a proverbial fly (pardon the pun) in my helmet for the best part of three decades and as issues go I know there will be some reading this and comparing it to real world problems and wondering what kind of fanny would be moaning about this but let’s remember, it’s not the fact that this problem stemmed from a film. Problems can stem from anywhere and once they grow the reason for them gets left behind and it’s the issues that need to be dealt with.
Personal victories are just that. They are personal. Same with personal problems. They don’t affect anyone else and so they may seem insignificant to others. This is one of the reasons why intolerance is so rampant in the world as it’s hard to get a grasp on something if you just haven’t experienced it and so it’s easy to write of as a weakness.
As traumas go, it’s actually a pretty good one and I’m thankful that it was only a film and not real abuse. At the same time that genuine fear and lasting feeling was there and it’s one that has been my dark friend for most of my life, and apparently still is.
Let me just say though that The Fly is a brilliant film with one of the most amazing and brutal character arcs ever seen. The majority of it is goop free and extremely engaging as it leads up to that messy and incredibly tragic climax with the metaphors for disease and age being cleverly woven in to the subtext. The film at one point almost feels like a superhero movie with a slow climb and then a slightly positive turn before one of the most disturbing declines ever seen on film and all in the production should be incredibly proud of what they achieved, not least of all the superb practical effects.
David Cronenberg’s The Fly is a film that everybody should see at least once in their life. It is one of the few films which is genuinely terrifying and while it isn’t actually ‘scary’ it most certainly is incredibly disturbing.
Do yourself a favour though, wait until you are an adult!