And now the lovely people at Arrow have released a remastered version of the film on Blu-Ray, complete with a nice little selection of extras ... so let's dive in! But be warned, on this occasion I do give away the ending ... so if you've not seen it and intend to, then stop reading now.
The film itself looks lovely. There is some black speckling around the opening title cards, but I suspect that this is on the original prints too, and would perhaps take too much to remove digitally. But aside from this, the print looks clean and is very watchable. The film itself is actually a little pedestrian to be honest, but it has a seventies charm about it. It's interesting to note that it was released the same year as another favourite film, Dario Argent's Suspiria as both films seem slightly ahead of their time. Cronenberg always comes up with the goods, and here it is former porn actress Marilyn Chambers who astonishes as Rose, a biker-chick girl who gets into a nasty motorcycle accident outside a place called the Keloid Clinic near Montreal (after Doctor Keloid, and not after the keloid as a type of scar tissue - though the medical meaning of the word is obviously deliberate in the context of the film). Rose is taken into the Clinic and given emergency treatment and plastic surgery to repair damage to her breasts and hpper body - flesh is removed from her thighs and treated to transform it into generic tissue which can then take on the attributes of wherever it is used on the body.
As a cycle, it's quite neat, as the ending removes the source of infection, and, presumably, all the other crazies will be hunted down and killed, and the problem is resolved. But for Rose, as an innocent and helpless victim, it's bleak and unremitting. She has been turned into a quasi-vampire by doctors, and can't help her hunger for blood - when she tries to resist it, and even to eat normal food, her body can't process it and she's sick and vomiting, or writhing on the floor clutching her stomach in intense pain. She HAS to feed to survive, but that feeding spreads the madness. She even tries feeding from a cow, but this too fails - she can take only human blood.
Also on the disk among the extras is an episode of The Directors series which focusses on Cronenberg, covering off all his films, and revealing that, in actuality, The Fly is his most commercially successful film to date. It also reveals that Cronenberg has had to withdraw from projects because of studio interference, and that he feels he has to remain true to his own visions in his filmmaking, and, to be honest, this is why his oevre is so intense and personal, and has resulted in works as diverse and surreal as Shivers, The Brood, Scanners and eXistenZ, not to mention Crash and Naked Lunch.
The film was released in a dual formal Blu-Ray and DVD format by Arrow on February 16th 2015.
All in all, it's a great little package, showcasing a good slice of early eighties horror from a director who always makes films which are thoughtful and entertaining, never forgetting that at the heart of any good horror story, there is a personal viewpoint.