The Fly II

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The Fly II
Fly2Poster.JPG
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Chris Walas
Produced by Steven-Charles Jaffe
Mel Brooks (uncredited)
Screenplay by Mick Garris
Jim Wheat
Ken Wheat
Frank Darabont
Based on Characters 
by George Langelaan
Starring Eric Stoltz
Daphne Zuniga
John Getz
Music by Christopher Young
Cinematography Robin Vidgeon
Edited by Sean Barton
Production
  company
Brooksfilms
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s)
  • February 10, 1989 (1989-02-10)
Running time 105 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $38,903,179[1]

The Fly II is a 1989 science fiction horror film starring Eric Stoltz and Daphne Zuniga. It was directed by Chris Walas as a sequel to the 1986 Academy Award-winning film The Fly, itself a remake of the 1958 film of the same name. Stoltz's character in this sequel is the adult son of Seth Brundle, the scientist-turned-'Brundlefly', played by Jeff Goldblum in the 1986 remake. With the exception of stock footage of Goldblum from the first film, John Getz was the only actor to reprise his role.

Plot[edit]

Several months after the events of The Fly, Veronica Quaife is about to deliver the child she had conceived with scientist Seth Brundle. Anton Bartok, owner of Bartok Industries (the company which financed Brundle's teleportation experiments), oversees the labor. Veronica dies from shock after giving birth to a squirming larval sac, which splits open to reveal a seemingly normal baby boy. The orphaned child, named Martin Brundle, is taken into Bartok's care. Bartok is fully aware of the teleportation accident which genetically merged Seth Brundle with a housefly, a condition that Martin has inherited, and he secretly plans to exploit Martin's unique condition.

Martin grows up in a clinical environment, and is constantly subjected to studies and tests by compassionless scientists. His lifespan is quickly accelerated as a result of his mutant genes, but he also possesses a genius-level intellect, incredible reflexes, and no need for sleep. He knows that he is aging faster than a normal human, but he is unaware of his insect heritage, having been told that his father suffered from the same rapid aging disease that Martin himself is afflicted with. As Martin grows, Bartok befriends him, amusing him with magic tricks, and tells him that a "magic word" needs to be a secret word that can never be confided to anyone or else it would spoil the magical effect. When Martin is three years old, he has physically aged into a child of around ten. He frequently sneaks out of his quarters and explores the limited confines of the Bartok complex. One night, he finds a room full of laboratory animals, where he befriends a Golden Retriever. The next night, he sneaks out again to bring the dog some of his dinner, only to find the animal is missing. Searching for the dog, Martin makes his way into an observation booth overlooking Bay 17, which contains Seth Brundle's two surviving Telepods. Bartok's scientists are attempting to replicate Brundle's experiments, and are using the Golden Retriever as a test subject. The teleportation fails, leaving the dog alive but horribly deformed. The mutated animal attacks and maims one of the scientists, and young Martin is horrified by the spectacle.

Two years later, Martin's body has physically matured to that of a twenty-five year old adult, and his intellect has grown perhaps even faster. On his fifth birthday, Bartok presents Martin with a bungalow on the Bartok facility's property, and offers him the chance to perfect his father's Telepods. In the past five years, Bartok and his scientists have not made any progress in getting them to work successfully again after they were damaged on the night Seth Brundle died. Bartok expresses his hope that Martin will be able to finish what his father started, and apologizes for the dog, stating that the animal was quickly put out of its misery after the failed teleportation experiment.

As he begins work on the Telepods, Martin befriends Bartok employee Beth Logan. They grow closer as Martin tries to get the Telepods to function correctly. Eventually, Beth invites Martin to a party at Bartok's specimens division. Breaking away from the party, Martin discovers that Bartok lied to him; the mutated dog has been kept alive as a specimen for the past two years. He runs out of the party and later sneaks down to the animal's holding pen. The deformed dog, in terrible pain, still remembers Martin, who ends its misery by euthanizing it with chloroform. The next day, Bartok asks if Martin is aware of the break-in at the specimen pit. Martin coldly says "No," and Bartok smiles (realizing Martin is lying) as he states that Martin is finally growing up.

Eventually, Martin gets the Telepods to function properly (after realizing that the computer's programming required creative thinking, just as his father had), and he and Beth Logan become lovers. However, he also learns the horrible truth of his father's fate, his own biology, and of a possible cure to his condition. Unfortunately, the cure, which involves swapping out Martin's insect genes for healthy human genes, requires the sacrifice of another human being, who will in turn suffer a grotesque genetic fate. By this time, Martin's dormant insect genes have awakened, and the signs of his transformation into a human-insect hybrid have begun. Martin escapes from Bartok Industries after Bartok reveals his plans—he intends to use Martin's unique biology as the model for a new method of genetic engineering that Bartok believes the Telepods can provide. Although Martin had successfully repaired the Telepods, Bartok is unable to use them, as Martin has installed a password and a booby-trap computer virus, which will erase the Telepods' programming if the wrong "magic word" is entered. Bartok knows Martin had indeed been listening to him when he was a child, and that they will never figure out the password without Martin.

Martin and Beth flee and go on the run. They visit Veronica Quaife's old confidant, Stathis Borans, who is now a reclusive, embittered drunk as a result of Veronica's death. Borans confirms for Martin that the Telepods are his only chance for a cure. Martin and Beth borrow Borans' Jeep and check into a motel, but Martin's physical and emotional changes become too much for Beth to handle, and she surrenders them both to Bartok in desperation. Before Martin becomes fully enveloped within a cocoon, Bartok tries to get him to reveal the password, but Martin refuses. As Martin enters the final stages of his transformation, Beth is brought to Bay 17, where Bartok interrogates her about the "magic word." Meanwhile, the fully transformed "Martinfly" emerges from his cocoon and ruthlessly stalks and kills the scientists and security guards who try to subdue him, as well as taking revenge on his betrayers, as he seeks a healthy human donor to swap genes with. Despite the brutal methods he uses to eliminate the security team dispatched to recapture him, a trace of Martin's former humanity remains, as demonstrated by his refusal to harm a rottweiler that was sent to sniff him out.

After arriving in Bay 17, Martinfly grabs Bartok, types in the password "DAD", and forces himself and Bartok into Telepod 1, gesturing for Beth to activate the gene-swapping sequence. Despite Bartok's pleas for mercy, Beth activates the sequence, and when the two are reintegrated in the receiving pod, Martin is restored to a fully human form, the fly genes now removed from his body, while Bartok suffers the fate of becoming a freakish monster. Ironically, the mutated Bartok is placed in the same specimen pit he had kept the mutated dog, where he is now forced to live as a subject of scientific curiosity.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

On the DVD commentary track, the film's director, Chris Walas, states his belief that screenwriter Frank Darabont wrote Bartok to represent the worst aspects of corporate America.

Makeup/creature effects[edit]

As with the first film, special makeup and creature effects were provided by Chris Walas, Inc. As opposed to Seth Brundle's diseased deterioration into "Brundlefly", in The Fly II, Martin's metamorphosis is much more of a natural evolution (as a result of the fact that Martin was already born with human-insect hybrid genes instead of being accidentally fused with a fly the way his father was).

Here is a breakdown of Martin Brundle's transformation into the creature dubbed "Martinfly" by the CWI crew (behind-the-scenes information is in italics).

  • STAGE 1 (on view in the scenes where Martin confronts Dr. Shepard and then attempts to telephone Beth Logan): Martin's face is slightly discolored, and he's looking haggard. Worse, a bizarre cavity in his left arm has appeared, and sticky, web-like threads are being excreted from it. Eric Stoltz's face was subtly discolored with makeup, and a gelatin makeup appliance was affixed to his left arm. The webbing coming out of Martin's arm was made from Halloween-style decorative spider-webbing.
  • STAGE 1-A (on view when Martin views the various Bartok surveillance tapes, and when he subsequently escapes from the Bartok complex): Martin is looking even more haggard, and the skin beneath his eyes is puffy. This is an accentuated version of the Stage 1 makeup, with gelatin eyebags added under Stoltz's eyes.
  • STAGE 2 (on view when Martin talks to Beth inside her houseboat, as well as in the deleted "Stopping for Food" scene which can be seen on the 2005 The Fly II: Collector's Edition DVD): Martin's bone structure has started to shift, and his face is rapidly becoming deformed. Gelatin appliances were added to Stoltz's face to give the impression that Martin's brow and cheekbones were becoming distorted.
  • STAGE 3 (on view when Martin and Beth visit Stathis Borans, as well as when they arrive at the motel): Martin's entire head is deformed, his hairline is receding, and his voice is deepening. Also, the stringy white webbing is being excreted from his face now. Gelatin makeup appliances were added to Stoltz's entire head, and his voice was artificially lowered in post-production.
  • STAGE 4 (on view inside the motel, and when Bartok arrives to retrieve Martin): Martin (his voice now even deeper) has begun to instinctively pull the webbing out of his own body and wrap it around himself. As it hardens, the webbing begins to form a cocoon. At this point, Martin's legs have been enveloped by said cocoon. Now that Martin is no longer wearing clothes, a hideous assortment of lumps and bumps can be seen on his discolored body, his face and head are even more distorted, and his teeth and ears are receding. Some of his fingers are webbed together with flaps of skin, and claws are growing on his knuckles. Martin removes his human right eye in this stage to reveal an orange insect eye behind it. The most complex makeup, this stage took some 12 hours to apply to Eric Stoltz, and he was required to remain immobile on the motel couch (with his legs inside the partial cocoon) all that time, as well as during the additional hours of filming that immediately followed. Body makeup and gelatin bumps were added to Stoltz's arms and torso, in addition to the makeup appliances covering his face and head.

Soon, Martin is fully enveloped by the cocoon (which begins as slightly transparent, with the next stage becoming opaque and iridescent). The scene featuring Bartok talking to the cocooned Martin involved a Martin rod puppet—transformed from the waist-down—being operated inside a transparent composite cocoon that was filled with water.

After a brief gestation period, the final "Martinfly" creature is revealed when it bursts out of the cocoon and goes on a rampage around the Bartok complex. The iridescent creature has four arms (the top pair featuring two large, clawed digits, and the other pair having four webbed digits), two digitigrade legs, and its green body is covered with insect hairs. Martinfly is also tall and slender, with a segmented torso. Its head has piercing, orange insect eyes (with pupils), distorted nostrils, and two flexible mandibles with sharp teeth covering a mouth full of even more teeth. The interior of the creature's mouth contains a pseudo-proboscis, which can spray corrosive enzymes at high velocity. Whereas the Brundlefly creature in the first film was deformed and sickly-looking, Martinfly possesses better symmetry and is very strong, very fast, and very deadly. The final Martinfly creature was created as a series of cable-controlled and rod-operated puppets.

Reception[edit]

The Fly II fared well in the box office making $20,021,322 at the US box office and a further $18,881,857 worldwide, but reviews were negative. Many believe that Walas (who was the special effects engineer for the Oscar-winning make-up and creature effects in the first film) set out to repeat the success of the original by relying more on heavy gore and violence than on plot and atmosphere. However, it is appreciated by many fans of the horror genre for its great visual impact. Walas has stated that the film was designed to be much more of a traditional (albeit gory) monster movie than Cronenberg's horror/tragic love film.

The scene of a character's head being crushed by an elevator aroused some controversy with the MPAA: they originally gave the film an "X" rating due to its graphic nature.[citation needed] Ultimately Chris Walas was able to gain a more audience friendly "R" rating after reediting the sequence. The VHS and DVD versions retain the full scene.

The film received a certain amount of backlash regarding the 'mutant' dog, in particular, the scene where Martin mercifully euthanizes the dog, which is hideously deformed and kept in a large observation room. Many viewers were disturbed by the dog's appearance and sad fate as mentioned by Chris Walas in the documentary for the Special Edition DVD. He said the audience would feel more sympathy for a mutated animal than a human.

Production notes[edit]

The following are events related to film production:

  • An early treatment for a sequel to The Fly, written by Tim Lucas, involved Veronica Quaife dealing with the evils of the Bartok company. Seth Brundle's consciousness had somehow survived within the Telepod computer, and the Bartok scientists had enslaved him and were using him to develop the system for cloning purposes. Brundle becomes able to communicate with Veronica through the computer, and he eventually takes control of the Bartok complex's security systems to gruesomely attack the villains. Eventually, Veronica frees Brundle by conspiring with him to reintegrate a non-contaminated version of his original body. David Cronenberg endorsed this concept at the time. Geena Davis was open to doing a sequel (and only pulled out of Fly II because her character was to be killed in the opening scene), while Goldblum was not (although he was okay with a cameo), and this treatment reflects that. However, a later treatment written by Jim and Ken Wheat was used as the basis for the final script, written by Frank Darabont. Mick Garris also wrote a treatment, with elements incorporated into the final film.
  • The first videotape of Seth Brundle is actually part of a deleted scene from the first film (with Geena Davis' dialogue redubbed by Saffron Henderson, who played Veronica Quaife at the beginning of the sequel).
  • The film contains a subtle reference to David Cronenberg, writer-director of the previous film. In an early scene where Martin sneaks out of his room to explore the Bartok Industries facility, a guard is seen asleep at his post, and resting on the desk in front of him is a copy of The Shape of Rage, a book which discusses the films of David Cronenberg (and the book's cover features a photo of Cronenberg himself).
  • The script for The Fly II explained that Stathis Borans lived in such a fancy home because he had taken hush money from Bartok (and had been told that Brundle's baby died in childbirth along with Veronica), but this was never mentioned on-screen. In an early treatment for The Fly II, it was revealed that the Telepods were not working because Stathis had taken the computer's information storage discs (which contained the Telepods' programming) before Bartok took possession of the pods. However, this detail was dropped from the final film, and it is left unclear as to why the Telepods suddenly aren't working at the beginning of the sequel.
  • Chris Walas mentioned on the DVD documentary that he was very displeased with the marketing of the film as he warned them not to use the "Like Father, Like Son" tagline as it sounded too "corny." The marketing executives still went ahead with the tagline. Producer Steven Charles-Jaffe says that he hates the marketing process as it could kill a movie with too much hype.

References[edit]

External links[edit]