Franchise Review: The Fly II

The almost-human son of “Brundlefly” searches for a cure to his mutated genes while being monitored by a nefarious corporation that wishes to continue his father’s experiments.

After the huge success of “The Fly” remake it was inevitable that a sequel would be made,

Unfortunately Director David Cronenberg didn’t return for this sequel, the problem they faced now was how do you carry on a films story when the guy who helped make the classic doesn’t return. It’s something we see quite often, the classic cashing in on past success with a smaller budget.

Fans know that this film has a reputation, and it isn’t exactly a good one, and whilst I understand all that I also think it doesn’t deserve it either. Don’t get me wrong, I know this isn’t exactly a great film, but I think the cast and crew deserve credit for their attempt to try and make this cash in entertaining.

They all knew they were never going to better their predecessor but they still gave everything to try and give us an enjoyable sequel, that hard work shows on screen and for that I applaud them. The big problem was that they were fighting a battle they couldn’t win, not with the unfair hand they were dealt.

The story for this sequel does well to try and carry on the story from the previous film and I actually quite enjoyed the plot but it feels more like a made-for-television movie than a studio film but it does feature some amazing make up and practical effects on show that help keep you interested.

“The Fly II” gets a rough ride, it’s a decent enough feature but in all honesty it just doesn’t come close to Cronenberg’s classic.

Miscellaneous facts about the film:

Chris Walas wanted Geena Davis to reprise her role as Veronica Quaife for the birth scene at the beginning of the film. Geena Davis declined, because she had found the maggot-baby dream sequence in the original film emotionally upsetting and was replaced by Saffron Henderson.

The first videotape of Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) (where he theorizes that the teleporter improved him) is actually part of a deleted scene from The Fly (1986). The scene was slightly edited for this film, and Veronica’s (Geena Davis) voice was dubbed over by Saffron Henderson (who plays Veronica at the beginning of The Fly II (1989)).

The Telepod props from The Fly (1986) were destroyed after filming was completed and had to be rebuilt.

Keanu Reeves turned down the role of Martin Brundle.

John Getz (Stathis Borans) is the only actor reprising a role from the The Fly (1986).

The green flashes of light between each credit in the title sequence were actually borrowed from an alternate, unused title sequence for The Fly (1986).

David Cronenberg, who directed the predecessor, disliked the film.

In at least one draft of the script, Martin was going to see yet another videotape of Seth Brundle (this time nearing the end of his transformation), in which Seth talks about his “cure”. This would have required brand-new footage of Jeff Goldblum in makeup from the previous film, and the concept was subsequently dropped from the script.

The movie was originally given an X rating by the MPAA because of the graphic scene where Hargis’ head is crushed underneath an elevator. Director Chris Walas appealed the decision, and the MPAA gave the film an R rating without any edits to the scene.

In some US states, theaters playing The Fly II (1989) had a nurse on hand for the audience’s reactions to its content.

The book next to the sleeping technician in the control room at the beginning of the film is “The Shape of Rage”, an anthology of writings about the films of David Cronenberg, who directed this film’s predecessor.

The role of Martin Brundle was written for Eric Stoltz to play. He originally declined the role because he didn’t like the script. When the script was rewritten, he accepted the part.

A scene was taken out of the film which reveals the reason why Bartok and his scientists can’t get the Telepods to work is because Stathis took the operating disc from the Telepods and all the research on it to ensure the Telepods couldn’t cause any more damage than they already had.

An unusual teaser trailer was made for the film that consisted of no footage, just the readout of a heart monitor with a woman, presumably Veronica Quaife, screaming about an unseen, painful birth. Kirstie Alley provided the voice of the woman.

Mel Brooks suggested to Chris Walas that Daphne Zuniga play Beth Logan, after Zuniga starred as Princess Vespa in Brook’s “Star Wars” spoof Spaceballs (1987).

The Fly II (1989) was originally going to be filmed in Toronto, where The Fly (1986) was filmed, but they had no stage big enough for the sets and the only set big enough was Bridge Studios in Vancouver.

Director Chris Walas also did the special effects and puppet work on Gremlins (1984). He turned down the offer to return for Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990) to direct this film.

Originally, writer Mick Garris’s script was about Veronica being convinced not to abort her baby by a religious cult who would keep and raise Martin after he was born. The rapidly aging Martin is joined by a group of kids with their own unique abilities or deformities and Martin could discover he could communicate with insects and would lead the kids to escape the cult and live in the outskirts of L.A.. This premise was abandoned for being too strange and family friendly. Another draft included Bartok scientists using cloning technology to resurrect Seth Brundle, still stuck as BrundleFly at first, and would discover that his son Martin (who was originally meant to be a child/teenager throughout the film) could communicate with him. Chris Walas disliked this version of the story as he thought it was too odd of a premise to the point where it came off like a family-friendly horror film about a boy and his bug monster. He even threatened to walk off the project if the script wasn’t changed, so the Fox executives relented and hired Frank Darabont to overhaul the script.

Eric Stoltz very much got into character and wanted to be called by his character’s name and and had his character’s name written on the back of his chair.

20th Century Fox’s decision to make Anton Bartok the film’s antagonist was influenced by Alien (1979) and its sequel Aliens (1986), in which the evil Weyland-Yutani company is the real villain. Anton Bartok and his company Bartok Industries supplied Seth Brundle with the parts which Brundle used to construct the Telepods.

Saffron Henderson was chosen to play Veronica Quaife at the beginning of the movie due to her resemblance to Geena Davis.

Garry Chalk (Scorby) was a comedian and locals among the crew who knew him were concerned about his playing a serious role. Chris Walas, however, had no idea of Chalk’s comedy background and thought he played the role perfectly. Chalk would later find acclaim for his serious, and occasionally comedic, performances as the voice of Optimus Prime and Optimus Primal in various Transformers cartoons.

The film originally included a scene of young Martin coming across a freezer full of failed animal experiments similar to the dog, but this was cut for pacing reasons.

Production designer Michael S. Bolton made a cameo in a scene that was filmed, but deleted. Beth stops at a snack bar on the way to Stathis’s house. As Beth orders a burger and two big Pepsis, kids in a car parked next to Beth’s car begin hassling Martin. Martin pops his head out and vomits on the car window frightening the children. Beth races back to the car. Martin’s vomit has melted the car window. Beth gets in the car and drives way. The children’s father comes out of the snack bar with burgers and Pepsis, which he angrily chucks on the ground when he sees Martin’s vomit on the car.

Daphne Zuniga said she took the role of Beth Logan because she was attracted to the character’s strength and her emotional commitment to her relationship with Martin Brundle.

John Getz agreed to return as Stathis Borans, but wanted to go somewhere with the character and came up with the idea of Stathis telling Martin not to sit in a chair.

Stuart Cornfeld, the producer of The Fly (1986), didn’t return to produce the sequel, due to a commitment on another production. Steven-Charles Jaffe took over as producer, after receiving a phone-call from Cornfeld, asking if he would be interested in producing the sequel. Jaffe agreed after being asked if he liked The Fly (1986) and he said that he loved it.

Steven-Charles Jaffe and Chris Walas were unsure about Daphne Zuniga in the role of Beth Logan, because they had not seen any of her work. When the actress came in and read the part, Jaffe and Walas thought she was fantastic and she was cast.

When she was interviewed about the film, Daphne Zuniga said that Beth Logan gets stronger by what happens in the movie and changes by the end of the movie. Beth’s character arc is similar to Sarah Connor’s in The Terminator (1984). Linda Hamilton, who played Sarah Connor, was David Cronenberg’s first choice to play Veronica Quaife in The Fly (1986), but Geena Davis was cast.

Vincent D’Onofrio was the first choice for the role of Martin Brundle and was nearly cast for the part but his screen tests didn’t go well. He was born the same year that Return of the Fly (1959) was released and he has the same first name as Vincent Price who appeared in The Fly (1958). He ended up playing a villainous bug named Edgar in Men in Black (1997).

The sound effect of baby Martin crying in the opening scene was borrowed from Tin Toy (1988), one of the first animated shorts made by Pixar.

On a couple of occasions “Scorby” (Garry Chalk) addresses “Martin Brundle” (Eric Stoltz) as “Marty”. Stoltz had started filming Back to the Future (1985) as Marty McFly before being replaced by Michael J. Fox. So Stoltz was first Marty MC Fly, then he was Marty THE fly.

Martin Brundle, due to his inherited mutant genes, ages a lot faster. In real life, there is a rare genetic disorder called Werner Syndrome, which is unusual accelerated aging (progeria).

At BotCon 2001, Garry Chalk said the scene where Scorby’s back was broken took 3 hours to film. The scene takes up less than 10 seconds of on screen time.

The weapons Scorby and Bartok shoot Martin with are a Heckler & Koch HK9A3 and a Desert Eagle VII.

Sam Raimi was the original choice to direct, due to the success of his horror flick Evil Dead II (1987). Raimi and his brother Ted Raimi also wrote a treatment for the film which was rejected for being too wacky.

The word Beth types on the computer keyboard when Beth’s cactus gets messed up in the Telepod demonstration is the word “fail”.

Martin Brundle is born seven months after Vernoica Quaife killed Seth Brundle.

Mel Brooks produced the film but went uncredited as he did for the first film. He came up with the now infamous scene of a guard’s face being melted off by fly vomit.

According to director Chris Walas the film was a huge hit in Germany, so much so that the owner of a German theater chain sent him a letter of thanks, saying that the film saved his struggling theater chain.

In the deleted bonus scene where Eric Stoltz vomits on the car full of boys teasing him outside the burger joint, you can recognize a younger and uncredited Haley Joel Osmet who would later star in The Sixth Sense.

At 105 minutes, this is the longest Fly movie in the series.

The infamous scene where Hargis’ head is crushed by the elevator was not in the script. The elevator was not meant to be seen at all and was simply built to transport heavy props and was originally going to be hidden, but upon seeing it, director Chris Walas instantly came up with the idea of a guard’s head being crushed by it.
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There had been a change in management at Fox between The Fly (1986) and this sequel, and the new head of Fox hadn’t even seen the previous film. Director Chris Walas claims that they wanted the film to explore themes of defying destiny and what it means to be a son, but the Fox executives ordered them to ditch the existential themes and make the film a standard, gory movie that teens could enjoy on their date. Mel Brooks would later remark that he had never seen so much studio interference on a movie before.

Composer Christopher Young was hired by director Chris Walas on the grounds that Young wouldn’t simply rehash the first film’s score by Howard Shore. On the DVD documentary, Walas claims that the music that plays when young Martin is crawling through the vents would later be commonly used as a temporary track in workprint versions of other films.

Josh Brolin revealed in an interview that he blew his audition for Martin Brundle by “over-committing” to the role. Doing the metamorphosis, convulsing on the ground and foaming at the mouth, trying to put himself in the agony Martin might be going through. The filmmakers thanked him and told him it was great. When he got home he had a message from agent. When he called him back, his agent asked him “What the f*** did you do in there?” Then telling Josh he obviously didn’t win the role.

In all four “Fly” movies (1958, 1959, 1986, & 1989), the lab is accessed by a large sliding metal door. Delambre’s lab in the fifties films, Seth Brundle’s loft apartment and lab in 1986, and Martin Brundle’s BartokCorp lab in 1989. Presumably, David Cronenberg decided to keep the motif as a nod to the original film and it is repeated in this sequel.

The blue logo within the bartok name in the beginning of the film shares a close resemblance to the Minolta camera company logo.

The mutated Bartok monster was played by Mark Walas, brother of director Chris Walas.

An alternate ending had been filmed but deleted which Beth joins Martin outside the boathouse with a plate of food and sits next to Martin and asks how he feels, which he replies he is feeling a lot of better and a fly lands on the plate of food. This deleted ending was added at the studio’s insistence to let the audience know Martin had won his happy ending, but director Chris Walas and the crew hated this tacked on scene and were happy when test audiences also despised it, so the Fox executives agreed to drop it from the film.

When young Martin is shown playing with Dr. Shepard, he pulls on his tie. This foreshadows the end when Martin becomes “Martinfly” and kills Shepard by strangling him by his tie.

The film bares a couple similarities with Return of the Fly (1959). Ronnie Quaife dies. Martin discovers the truth about Seth and that he got fused with a fly in a Telepod experiment and Stathis revealing to Martin that Ronnie helped Seth die by shooting him in the head with a shotgun. Bartok convinces Martin to continue working on the Telepods. Unlike Seth, Martin’s transformation is no accident and Martin undergoes a natural transformation which Bartok wants to happen. Martin is restored to normal when Beth activates the gene swap program which Martin’s mutant DNA is transferred to Bartok. The film with a close-up shot of a fly.

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