Monday, August 15, 2011

Being Very Afraid

Twenty–five years ago, Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis probably weren't very well known — at least, not as well known as they are now.

I had seen both of them in movies prior to that time but rarely in major roles.

Goldblum was one of those guys who had been around for years but, until very recently, most of his parts in movies had been brief. Davis, on the other hand, had only been in a handful of movies before she made "The Fly," but she had the good fortune to appear in 1982's "Tootsie" and to be featured somewhat prominently in 1985's "Fletch" and "Transylvania 6–5000."

I guess you could say that, for the most part, Davis made up in quality what she lacked in quantity. That doesn't mean Goldblum wasn't in some good movies. He just didn't have many high–profile roles.

As I understand it, it was partly because of Goldblum, who co–starred with her in "Transylvania 6–5000," that she landed the role in the remake of "The Fly" — which made its debut on this date in 1986, and, in truth, it was a remake mostly in name, but it was not exactly a complete "re–imagining" of the story like "Planet of the Apes" 15 years later — but I have no source for that.

Whatever the facts may be, both Goldblum and Davis went on to bigger and better projects in the years ahead. They even got married the next year, but they split up a few years after that.

They remain friends, though, and speak highly of each other's work.

They worked well together 25 years ago, well enough to be cast in another movie a couple of years later, "Earth Girls Are Easy."

"The Fly" was made nearly 30 years after the original, and the story was revised to make it more contemporary, but the basic idea was the same. A scientist, played by Goldblum, was experimenting with teleportation, the concept of breaking down the molecular structure of something to transport it from one location to another, where it would be re–assembled.

His work had been wildly successful with inanimate objects but dramatically unsuccessful with living creatures. Emboldened by an affair with a journalist (Davis), he decided to experiment on himself — and was successful — but, in the course of his experiments, his molecular structure merged with that of a fly.

The scientist began to become less human and more fly as the fly's genes overwhelmed his own, thus laying the foundation for some really messy special effects.

At one point, Goldblum (Seth Brundle in the movie) told Davis, "My teeth have begun to fall out. The medicine cabinet is now the Brundle Museum of Natural History."

Goldblum (who had had some noteworthy performances in "The Big Chill" and "The Right Stuff" a few years earlier) was praised for his portrayal of the scientist. Davis was praised, too, although not as extensively — and she did get to utter the line from the movie that achieved a certain iconic status, at least for awhile:
"Be afraid — be very afraid."

You can even see it in the attached movie trailer — trust me, though, it is more effective in the context of the story.

It is a great cautionary line that is sure to surface when Halloween is just around the bend — or whenever one wishes to focus on a dire fact or forecast.

There are lesser known but equally important words and lines in the movie.
  • "Brundlefly."

    That was the result of the merging of Goldblum's genes with the fly's.

  • "I'm an insect who dreamt he was a man and loved it," Goldblum says. "But now the dream is over ... and the insect is awake."

    Nice euphemistic language, don't you think?

  • When asked if he is a bodybuilder, Goldblum replies, "Yeah, I build bodies. I take them apart and put them back together again," a nice allusion to his teleportation experiments.
If you're looking for a chill for this Halloween, you could do worse than the remake of "The Fly."