Flying Away

Vincent Price is the lone actor coming back to their Fly role in this sequel. Price spends most of Return of the Fly away from the camera or injured in bed, playing up the horror with lines like, “What if he has the murderous brain of the fly?” odd since flies aren’t known for their murder, and The Fly never killed anyone.

Return of the Fly is more standard sci-fi horror, following a mainline sequel pattern established by Universal’s Monster romps. Rather than a uniquely textured allegory as in The Fly, the chills here come when Andre Delambre’s mutated son, Phillipe (Brett Halsey), escapes to take revenge on the selfish scientist who turned him into the insect.

Glimpses of something greater jump from this script. Phillipe stands by his father’s experiments and need to recreate them; science must always seek the “greater truth,” he says, even with the cost. That’s a connection to the nuclear theme poking from The Fly. Notably, it’s not the tinkering that causes disaster here, rather the selfish personal gain sought by Alan Hinds (David Frankham). Return of the Fly doesn’t demean science, rather those seeking to profit from it. Later, Price questions whether destroying what science created amounts to murder – Phillipe may still hold humanity under those bug eyes.

Return of the Fly is more concerned with… the fly

It’s interesting, but thin, all of it. Return of the Fly is more concerned with… the fly. The creature mask receives a dramatic boost in scale (the machine now causes gigantism), and poor Phillipe looks like a bobblehead rather than a monster. A few scuffles with victims look more like struggles with the oversized mask. A detective helps the mutant Delambre down some steps, and that’s likely more for the actor’s safety than a character moment. It certainly looks as such.

Writer/director Edward Bernds handled a few sci-fi stories. Mostly, his resume featured Three Stooges and Bowery Boys shorts, an odd choice to handle Return of the Fly in that context. Compared to Bernds other genre work (the dismal Valley of the Dragons and Queen of Outer Space), this is the winner in that lot.

Son of the Fly likely seemed too passe a title by 1959, although Return of the Fly copies the Universal Frankenstein formula; that series had Son of Frankenstein. There was Son of Kong too. Later, Son of Godzilla and Son of the Blob. The children kept coming and ruining it for the rest of us. Or in this case, just followed trends set by the popular kids.

Video

A beautiful Cinemascope image rolls across the screen, showing minimal dust and no damage. Preservation/restoration went well.

Return of the Fly doesn’t carry the look of a recent scan. That’s evident by the slightest harshness, with edges too firm, producing mild ringing at the worst. Grain is barely impacted. It’s intact, pure, and rich in film-like aesthetics.

Other than crush in first act (with Price and Halsey riding in a car, both in black suits) contrast excels with wide, perfect gray scale. Brightness peaks when transporting matter, which creates a nuclear-like flash. Return of the Fly delves into noir lighting and those shadows look splendid.

In close, fidelity shows. Facial texture survives through the decades. The Fly head has tiny hairs, easily visible in this transfer. Exteriors look great and richly defined.

Audio

Although a touch coarse with treble, Scream Factory’s DTS-HD stereo (and optional mono) track handles this material with care. Dialog sharpens and a moody score delivers premium lows. It’s often loud too, especially when experiments start, sending out crackling static with a piercing quality.

Extras

The case only lists two commentaries. However, there are three. Clicking extras brings up trailers and stills, so head into the audio menu to find a track from one of the best in this genre, Tom Weaver (the unlisted commentary). Actor David Frankham goes solo, with Brett Halsey joined by historian David Del Valle on the third.

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Return of the Fly
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
3

Movie

Return of the Fly follows a pedestrian path for such monster movie sequels, and merely glances some greater thematic weight.

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