Thursday, October 25, 2012
Making Monsters #23: The Fly
Seth's transformation was designed by Chris Walas, who also worked on the original Gremlins and the face-melting climax of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Walas designed Brundle's transformation into Brundlefly (as the character refers to himself) in seven stages. Goldblum worked with prosthetics resembling grotesque lesions and deformities that eventually covered most of his bodies, as well as prosthetic teeth and, towards the end of the film, contact lenses to make his eyes appear larger. He was also required to spew fake vomit to illustrate Brundefly's new digestive habits (Goldblum's embarassed, matter-of-fact delivery of the line "That's disgusting" is one of the movie's few laughs). Through all of this, Goldblum's empathetic performance shines through - it's one of the best examples of an effects artist and actor's work complimenting each other. At the end of the film, as Seth completes his transformation into a six-foot fly, a series of animatronic puppets take over for Goldblum. The greatest compliment I can give Walas' work on the film is that, watching it, you forget that you're not watching Goldblum any more. As Seth wordlessly begs Veronica to put him out of his misery, the effects artists' "performance" is nuanced and completely believable; thanks to their work and Davis' performance (not to mention Howard Shore's brilliant score), it's a heartbreaking ending. Walas won the Oscar for Best Makeup Effects for his work, and he deserved it, but the entire cast and crew is just as instrumental in making this Cronenberg's best movie.