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Sunday 26 January 2020

Burl reviews The Fly II! (1989)

Buzz buzz buzz, it’s Burl, here to review a sequel to a remake of a bug picture! Yes, the original 1958 bug picture, The Fly, was in 1986 remade into an excellent movie also called The Fly, which was then sequelized three years later as, quite simply, The Fly II! Now, as you will recall, Jeff Goldblum’s housefly character from the 1986 David Cronenberg film did not make it past the end of that story, so the focus in the sequel is on the dipteran misadventures of his progeny, Martin, played in human form by Eric Stoltz from Some Kind of Wonderful!
The story begins with his birth (and the coincident death of a Geena Davis semi-lookalike), follows him through an incredibly accelerated childhood during which he sucks up information as a fly sucks up sugarwater, and takes up in earnest after his fifth birthday, by which time he sports the blandly handsome face and preternaturally soft voice of Stoltz! His patron all this time is Anton Bartok, head of the Bartok corporation and capable of appearing as an avuncular stepdad to Martin and an obsessive corporatist with a God complex to everyone else!
Bartok is trying to unlock the secret of the telepods and hopes Martin will help him; Martin, meanwhile, is more interested in his budding romance with Daphne Zuniga, whom we know from Last Rites and The Dorm That Dripped Blood! But she takes him to a company cocktail party held in the building, just above a pen wherein a suffering, mutated hulk that was once a loveable Golden Retriever whom Martin loved, crawls around and eats porridge! Ha ha, having a party in this particular location sort of leaves the impression that Bartok Industries is a corporation staffed entirely by sociopaths!
This makes Martin mad, and after an argument with Daphne, a reconciliation, an escape and a visit with John Getz, the antagonist of the Cronenberg picture, now hobbling around and talking grumpy, he becomes a hu-fly and sets about initiating some of the finest major-studio gore scenes of the ‘80s! This helps mitigate the feeling, otherwise, that the movie not only fails to live up to its predecessor, but does so by a considerable margin! The stalking and killing is fine as far as it goes, but the dialogue is really poor, despite, or perhaps because of, the gang of 1980s horror screenwriters (Mick Garris, Critters 2; Ken and Jim Wheat, Lies; and Frank Darabont, The Blob) who pasteboarded together the script! There’s nothing much underneath the story, no feeling of substance to the thing at all!
It's not a total loss: Lee Richardson, from Exorcist III, is solid as the fiendish Bartok, selling both the jolly magic-trickster version he appears to be to young Martin, and the ambition-crazed tyrant he really is! Other decent performers include Frank C. Turner from Malone as the sour-faced doctor, and Garry Chalk from Mr. Patman as the angry and hateful security chief who gets folded in half by Martin! The mutant dog scenes are effectively heart-rending! And further on there’s a face-melting and a head-crushing that are pretty effective in that late-80s way!
So it’s not the worst thing ever made, but it seems to me a regrettable case of opportunity lost! Stoltz was not a bad choice for the lead, as he’s able to project intelligence nearly as well as Jeff Goldblum, and yet the script gave him nothing to work with! It’s a real shame, and I give The Fly II one and a half bowls of porridge for mutants!


  1. Not a patch on the Cronenberg Fly movie, not even as good as Curse of the Fly, but the fate of the villain is one of the most horrible in all of 80s horror movies, and that's saying something.

    1. Too true! One of the old Fly sequels has something similar happen to a bad guy - he gets crossed with a groundhog or something, as I recall! But they never go so far as to show him eating porridge!