The Fly (1958)

the fly poster 1958 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 7/10

Smart and unusual story structure, more sci-fi than horror

Cheap sets and costume

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Fly

Studio:  Regal Films/20th Century Fox

Genre(s):  Horor/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/B-Movies

Release Date(s):  August 29, 1958

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

the fly monster 1958

Hey…you’re looking at my head and arm aren’t you…I’m feeling a bit judged

A late night call to police leads to the discovery of a body in a factory press.  Helene (Patricia Owens) reveals the body is that of her husband Andre Delambre (David Hedison) and that she did it at his request.  As the inspector (Herbert Marshall) and her husband’s brother Francois (Vincent Price) investigates the murder, they discover a strange obsession with flies and in particular a fly with a white head and malformed leg.  When Helene decides to tell the police what happened, is there any way she will escape the charge of murder?

Directed by Kurt Neumann, The Fly is a science fiction horror film.  The movie is an adaptation of the story “The Fly” by George Langelaan which was originally published in Playboy (June 1957).  The film received positive reviews and had a strong box office.

the fly monster helene patricia owens david hedison

Hey, honey…I have some bad news for you

When The Fly was released in 1986, I remember being excited to learn that there was an earlier version of the film…but pictures of the monster just did not compare to the horror of Cronenberg’s take on the story.  When I finally saw The Fly, I appreciated it for what it was…a surprisingly strong science-fiction story.

There is very little horror in The Fly.  The film mostly dives into the realm of science fiction with the teleportation pods and Andre’s desire to better society. The “monster” doesn’t end up very monstrous, and where most horror movies would have the Fly carrying off his screaming, beautiful bride, this film just has him wishing for his own death (and getting it).

The structure of the story is also strange in that aspect.  It has Andre killed at the beginning, Helene’s obsession with a fly (for unknown reasons), then Helene telling the police about his transformation and death, and finally Helene trying to prove to police she isn’t crazy by finding the fly.  It is odd that it isn’t more straightforward (for a story like this and when it was made), but I like that it didn’t go for the easy route.  The path is interesting even if modern viewers know where the story is going to end.

the fly ending web spider david hedison

Help me! Help me! Seriously…someone help me…like just pick me out or something.

The Fly itself is pretty ridiculous.  The head is much smaller and more realistic than its sequel.  The claw arm of course always causes problems since it just looks like an extension glove on top of David Hedison’s hand.  The classic final shot of the human headed fly in the web however is quite good and its famous “Help me! Help me!” squeal as the spider is getting closer is also engrained in people who haven’t even seen the film (I just like how long it take Francois and the inspector to “help” Andre by crushing him with a rock…that’s humane).

The Fly is great fun and a perfect example of ’50s sci-fi/horror.  The movie was so popular that a sequel Return of the Fly came out the next year, and a third film was released in the ’60s.  The movie also was completely cemented into cinematic history when David Cronenberg remade the film in 1986 to much acclaim and fanfare…but the original Fly can stand strong.

Related Links:

Return of the Fly (1959)

Curse of the Fly (1965)

The Fly (1986)

The Fly II (1989)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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