Every Wednesday and Friday
Wait a minute, there is a third movie in the fly series? You’re kidding me right?
Yes and no, you see, Curse of the Fly, while a direct sequel chronologically, is more of a sidequel cinematically… That is to say if you’re coming to this film hoping to see a half man half fly monster, you’re going to be disappointed. If on the other hand, you simply want to spend some more time in the genre – in this world, then you might actually dig this.
That’s the real burden this movie has to bear – it’s the perfect no-win scenario. It wants to capitalize on the name recognition, but does so without carrying any actors over, and gets penalized for being an intelligent progression of the storyline. In Curse of the Fly, the next generation are still trying to make the teleports work. There are some success here, but it’s plagued with sporadic failures… failures that result in horrific mutations. The scientists; brothers and descendants from our original Fly, disagree – one of the brothers wants out to persue his new love… a young woman who recently escaped from an insane asylum. But will she still love him when she discovers the corrals inhabited by the mutated failures of his terrible experiments?
Curse of the Fly is a smart story, and an interesting examination of what makes us human. In that way it fits in perfectly with this series but never quite feels like the sort of movie Return of the Fly was. That causes a problem – because this film can’t stand on its own. It absolutely requires the mythology of the previous movies, while placing a song trail in a very different direction. it’s the sort of movie I could only see myself watching as part of a fly marathon, or perhaps on a late night horror host program.
I don’t have a great deal more to say about curse of the fly, it’s definitely worth a watch but not when you’re going into – this will probably only interest completist’s, and fans of the series itself.
I should really tackle the remakes now shouldn’t I?
Every Wednesday and Friday
So remember how I mentioned that the Fly wasn’t what I expected? It wasn’t a mad scientist turning himself into a monster and rampaging through town?
Yeah. That’s THIS movie instead.
Actually, it seems like this movie is the one that has had more influence, visually anyhow, on the genre. In my last column, I also mentioned a childrens book in my local elementary school with a picture of the Fly in it. that picture used to terrify me and kids would pull that volume out and chase me around with that picture. My memory is admittedly fuzzy, but I’m almost certain that the still was this photograph or one very like it. Almost definitely from the Fly Returns – not from the original.
Given the success of The Fly, I absolutely can’t understand why this sequel was given such a smaller budget – according to IMDB’s estimates, they had about a third of what they made the original for. While there are some sets and props re-used, there’s a great deal here that had to be created from scratch, including a new monster head – one far more horrific than the mask from the first film. Horrifying but clunky. The actor inside obviously couldn’t see out of it and it shows when he dashes away to escape the folks chasing him. To make matters worse, the large head wobbles visibly.
The suit isn’t the only effect to suffer. Last time, I mentioned expecting the fly with the human head to simply be a rubber creature with a man’s head superimposed on it – safe, slightly transparent, but par for the course. While they opted for something far more visceral and horrifying in the original, the superimposed head is exactly what we get here. It’s clearer, but it’s also safer – and perhaps a bit more goofy.
I may be judging the film a bit too harshly though, because standing on it’s own , apart from the criticism of the excellent predecessor, this is a genuinely fun film, with a very standard plot and indulgent thrills. It’s a typical mad scientist story, edged with obsession and betrayal. The fly here (son of the original scientist) is very much a monster, with the animistic side taking over far more quickly than in the previous film. The beast is driven by instinct to avenge its human self, and is far more satisfying as a monster here. The movie isn’t as heavy as it’s predecessor, in fact it’s slightly more direct and camp format as well as the happier ending make it infinitely more re-watchable to me than the original. It’s fun, and a good (if predictable) way to continue the story.
It never hurts to have Vincent Price back as well. He’s the only returning actor, though a lot of the background returns as well. This was filmed on the sets (still standing) from the original – this didn’t surprise me, as I was watching I found myself remarking on how good a job they did replicating the props like the goggles and telepods. Even the lab looked remarkably similar – it should. It’s the same room, shot from a different angle – about forty five degrees to the right. If you look closely, you can spot the doors (which now lead to different places) and the computers in the same places they were. It’s a brilliant bit of simple slight of hand.
I like this series, and was glad to see the sequel. After all, there’s really not too much more mileage they can get out of this franchise…
I was sure I had seen this before. Really. I mean, it’s just one of those things everyone takes for granted. We’ve all see the classic monster films at some time in our lives right?
Still, I knew I hadn’t seen the Fly on the big screen and the chance to go to a Vincent Price movie in is an instant affirmative. So I packed up my car and headed out to the capitol for thier “Reel Science” (complete with an expert on flies giving a talk at the end of the flick) screening of the Fly.
My first inkling that I may not have actually seen this before was the color credits. Surely this film isn’t in color? I was confused. Every still, photo, screen grab…any material at all that I’d ever seen regarding this film was in glorious black and white. Indeed, that picture book the image of the fly in it- the one that had scared me so as a child…that was in black and white. So what gives? The Capitol wouldn’t DARE commit the most heinous of crimes – screening a colorized print of a black and white movie…would they?
Or wait…could this actually be in color? I mean, the blood dripping down from that hydraulic press sure looks cherry red – if this was a conversion, I’d expect it to look black with a red tinge on the outside….
Oh my God. I’ve never actually seen this before have I? This is going to be incredible. It’s one of my favorite things, catching films in the theater that I was too young to actually go to when it first came out, and I was going to be fortunate enough to see the Fly for the first time the way it was meant to be.
The Fly is nothing like the movie I expected it to be. It’s a slow burn, with a healthy dose of crime procedural in it, told mostly in flashback. There were a LOT of times when I though I was watching CSI:Fly rather than a horror movie.
Still, for all of the focus on the mystery of the accident rather than the monster, the movie maintains a tense atmosphere throughout. The search for the escaped experiment, the shrouded scientist, cloaked in shadows in the basement laboratory keeps you on the edge of your seat wondering if he’ll be able to make things right by the end. This is not a campy horror romp with a mad scientist turning himself into a monster and then rampaging through the town. In a lot of ways, this is really a character study. It’s a Shakespearian tragedy (You know, if Shakespeare had written about man-flies. Don’t judge too quickly there either. Shakespeare wrote some pretty gnarly things… This totally isn’t out of the question!).
Then there’s that scene.
You know which one I’m talking about. The fly with a man’s head, caught in a spider web. It’s been parodied to death. Everyone has seen someone do that imitaition of the tiny voice screaming “Help me! Help meeeee!” Familiarity breeds contempt. This is just a cheesy scare right?
Not even a little. This scene is horrifying. It’s not a semi-transparent head superimposed on a rubber flu body. The head thrusts out of the flys body as if it’s molting. Tendrils and strands cling to the chin and the spider as it slowly approaches is hideous. The close up, projected on that thirty foot tall screen as the helpless man head looks on terrified and despondent…it’s an image that stays with you. It’s one of the most terrible things I’ve ever seen in film.
The Fly is a brilliant movie, and I can’t even imagine what those early audiences, unmarred by the gore and violence of the slashers to come thought of this. It’s dramatic and suspenseful and caps off with some real horror.
And now I want more. Time to finally pull “Return of the Fly” off my shelf…but that’s a story for another time…
Every Wednesday and Friday
Every Wednesday and Friday
There’s a great story somewhere in the middle of this mess. I really like the concept of this Texas cop escorting the gangster, getting held over in Malta and then having to basically turn the country on its ear to make things right that. It’s a brilliant conceit considering that Graydon was filming in Malta for financial reasons, building a story around this very concept It just feels brilliant that he uses the setting of the country beautifully, and quite frankly the chase scenes? These are perfect – boat chases instead of car chases… It’s a wonderfully clever way of adjusting to your circumstances, and quite frankly more exciting.
Boy, does Graydon love Joe Don Baker. I’ve never understood Baker, I’ve never quite got how this man became a star. He’s ruthlessly savaged on MST3K on a regular basis, and rightly so. He’s not your typical image of a leading man, and it particularly shows in this film. Indeed, the opening sequences include a moment with Clark himself playing Baker’s superior and reminding him that he looks a little out of shape and reviews are coming up. The costume is a little over the top as well – watching this I almost wonder if Graydon Clark was trying to create a parody of a Texas Lawman, but from hearing him speak and reading his book – I don’t think that’s the case so I really don’t get this garish choice in wardrobe. Maybe it’s the time period, perhaps you could get away with this nonsense little bit more easily in the 80s but I really don’t know. It’s odd to the point of being distracting sometimes.
The film is well paced and still fun, but honestly, you’re probably better off watching the MST3K version of this if you can find it. I’m honestly not sure that it passes the watch test otherwise. Of Clark’s films, it’s certainly not even close to being one of my favourites.
It’s that time of year again. That time when Wizard World sets up in Cleveland and I look for an alternative. Last year I ended up finding another convention to go to – and I enjoyed Great Lakes so much that I returned this year as well, however they didn’t co-incide with Wizard World Cleveland this time so I needed to find something else to do.
Before I found Great Lakes Comic Con last year I had considered protesting Wizard World Cleveland by hitting all the local comic shops and spending some cash there. It still seemed like a good idea and so I set aside some oney – the equivilent to what I would usually spend at a Comic Con, hopped in my car and headed out on my “I-refuse-to-go-to-Wizard-World” tour. #NotAtWizardWorld #ShopSmall
First stop is Keith’s comics in Elyria!
Address: 394 Broad St, Elyria, OH 44035
Phone: (440) 323-2000
This place of been here forever, and was one of the comic shops to rise during the boom of the 90s. The owner Brian is always involved in free, comic book day and the superhero events in the Elyria Square. Grabbing some Superman for me, and Supergirl for Maddie here.
Next we turn around and hit the freeway to pop over to my “home shop”…..
Comics Are Go
I first discovered comics are go when it was still Astound comics and located in WestLake… Amy and I were on our anniversary and going to dinner at the restaurant next door to the shop.
It’s been my preferred comic shop for at least a decade, and I always feel bad that I don’t spend more money there!
These days, it’s on by my friend Eric who are used to play hero clix with, and I know I’m never getting out of there without a long chat with the guys there!
They just filled up the dollar bins with a bunch of silver age books…And OMG, I think that’s the first hulk I ever bought when I was a child!
Okay, admittedly I’m stretching my definition by including recess here – but back when this shop first started it was reality recess, and they did include comic books. It used to be a small lot in the mall, and would frequently move location – technically it was a temporary set up to get a better rate. These days they’ve long outgrown that small space, taking up entire corner of the shopping complex outside great Northern mall – a sprawling space with every game you can possibly imagine.
Carol and John’s
I always refer to Carol and Johns as sort of the center of Cleveland comic book culture – with big events like their free comic book Day party and Christmas celebrations, not to mention their involvement with pop! The comic culture club, and their general investment in the Cleveland community… With all of this, I always seem to find myself coming back here – it’s been made easier than last few years since I now work close by and they can almost always be relied to have the most recent stuff from a month or so back still in stock. It’s one of the biggest shops in the area, and certainly the nicest… Definitely enough of an impact that wizard world noticed them and did some cross promotion with them.
And did I mention that everything is on sale? (I’m catching up on my suicide squad ) They’re having their own event… Winston world- Winston himself, is celebrating by taking a nap. Too much catnip on Saint Patrick’s Day…
B and L Cards, comics and nostalga
B and L reminds me a lot of the way, bookshops were just before the boom… Dark and dusty, with Sun stained posters littering the front window… It’s not necessarily a bad thing either. This used to be one of my regular stops on free comic book day, in till the comic shop hopping got to be a little too much for me… Owner Larry, had a small part 10 years ago in the independent movie Hero Tomorrow made by The creator of Apama; Clevelands own Superhero. They usually have a big bin of fifty cent comics by the register which is where I make a beeline for right away every time. Today it was front loaded with a bunch of Archies, but there was some marvelous silver age stuff towards the back – I’m particularly excited about that Flash and Thor stuff.
My next stop wasn’t far, and I forgot about the 25 cent bins here! You know what? I don’t know why, but it’s been years since I’ve been in the store. I’ve never understood how Northcoast Nostalga and B and L comics survive being literally right down the street from each other, but somehow they make it work. North coast Nostalgia seems like the exact opposite of B and L, brightly lit with discount boxes everywhere, shirts and statues – I get a very colourful and homey feeling walking into this place. I’m trying to spend about the same amount of money at every place, but as far as individual issues go… I probably loaded up with more comics here then anywhere else I’ve stopped!
My next stop was actually my third in the Parma area. I’m going to genuinely miss York comics… The owner is retiring so it’s not something to be sad about, but this was always a place I could count on getting the hard to get free comic book day books… I love that they did a food drive as part of their FCBD celebration( they’d hand everybody a bag full of the standard books, but if you wanted the slightly more rare ones… You had to bring in canned food) I remember one day I stood in line with two bags of food because the kids have decided not to come with me at the last minute. The guy behind me didn’t realize that this was how York was operating and the book he really wanted was one of the ones not included in the standard set… I was able to give him one of my spare bags of food so he can get the mouse guard hardcover he really wanted! There are always interesting things to be found here – this is the store where Maddie first discovered Star Sapphire and absolutely fell in love with the character… I’m glad I managed to slip in here at least one more time before they closed.
Ground Zero Comics
Address: 15139 Pearl Rd, Strongsville, OH 44136
I have fond memories of discovering this place back in the summer of 96, when I was home from College and just kicking around that evening – it was surprisingly late but the place is still open… I grabbed some Ambush bug and discovered they weren’t officially open, but was invited to join the party going on. I headed to the back where Monty Python and the holy grail was running. I hung out, we played games, somebody brought out a guitar and I strummed a few songs. Some drunk douche bags crossed the street and got into the parking lot, trying to make trouble and start a fight. A battleaxe was pulled down from the wall in the comic shop as we walked out. The drunk guys spied the ancient weapon and decided discretion was the better part of valor, beating a hasty retreat. It was a great night.
I ended up missing a couple shops on this tour though, I really feel bad about skipping Strongsville Hobby – that’s my friend Jerry’s store. Jerry also heads up the charity group Heroes United, where I do a lot of events. The comics component to the store is relatively new, just in the past year and a half or so so I keep forgetting about it. I’ll make sure to include them the next time I do this though!
I don’t think I’ve got this many current comics in a long time… I took the opportunity to catch up on things like super sons and Suicide Squad and couldn’t resist that Aqua man with superman on the cover! But it’s this silver age stuff that I kept running across in dump bins that really excites me – especially weird stuff like These RadioShack comics. I got the Wonder Woman one as well, and I want more
I was asked by a friend who I respect, why this had to necessarily be a “Protest”. And while a tour like this can be fun in of itself (some friends and I were talking about doing something similar to this in the summer),the impetus behind it honestly was my own little bit of personal activism – that is to put my money where my mouth is.
That may require a bit of explanation.
I find that large shows like Wizard World crush smaller ones out of existence and cause a sort of inflation that is perfectly acceptible in thier own micro economy. The problem is , that inflation spreads to other shows that can’t adequately support it but feel compelled to try – bringing in bigger name guests to compete with WW, and those guests have already marked up their pricing to meet the demand there, but that’s pricing that takes away from the vendors at those smaller shows. This is not a knee-jerk reaction from me against the “big con” by the way, Not every large show is the exploitative cash grab that WW feels like. Indiana Comic Con for instance is an equally big event, with far more heart – once they figure out how to run it smoothly, it’s going to be a powerhouse. One friend also pointed out Colossalcon – a show that I don’t have a lot of interest in attending, but don’t bear any ill will towards. It’s local, and fan driven and just what a convention should be. WW (and one or two others) in particular draws my disdain; I have very specific issues with the way WW is run and it’s effects I see on the community and/or convention scene. It’s one of a few shows that have drastically changed the convention scene over the last decade into something that resemble far more of a cash grab rather than a celebration of fandom (and I do not understand why people don’t realize the degree to which they are being gouged). I look at the cost of setting up at one of these and find it’s not particularity beneficial toward local vendors, and doesn’t benefit the local economy the way a smaller one does. This isn’t like say, Cinema Wasteland, a locally run and based con where they invite say, eight Hollywood guests, then fill the room with another twenty or thirty local vendors. That ratio works. It benefits the local community and economy. Something like WW has that ratio upside down with a handful of local vendors, while largely populating the con with carpetbaggers who suck the cash from the local economy and ride off to the next stop. Looking at the attendance, and the lineups – I assure you, this con isn’t bringing in tourist dollars.
All of this is why I stand by my belief that it does more harm than good. This is why I won’t attend Wizard World – not even if you gave me tickets (My wife actually tried to win some for me and I recoiled in horror! I’ve never been so glad to lose in my life!)
Still, a good point was made that Several very good friends of mine are set up there promoting their livelihoods as writers and artists. This is how they make a living, appearing at cons. I know for a fact that at least three of the shop owners I visited were either attended as visitors, not to mention dozens of my friends. And that presents a conundrum. How do I make my public objection the con without making them feel like I’m attacking them? How do I make this a positive thing, rather than just an online kevtching session?
Ultimately, I chose a little bit of personal activism. Instead of complaing about this all day and attacking the thing I hate, I choose to support the thing I love. I think that’s a positive and appropriate response.
I hope the rest of you go and do the same.