CURSE OF THE FLY(director: Don Sharp; screenwriter: Harry Spalding/from the short story by George Langelaan; cinematographer: Basil Emmott; editor: Robert Winter; music: Bert Shefter; cast: George Baker (Martin Delambre), Carole Grey (Patricia Stanley), Brian Donlevy (Henri Delambre), Jeremy Wilkins (Inspector Ronet), Yvette Rees (Wan), Burt Kwouk (Tai), Michael Graham (Albert Delambre), Charles Carson (Inspector Charas), Burt Kwouk (Tai), Mary Manson (Judith), Rachel Kempson (Madame Fournier); Runtime: 86; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Robert L. Lippert/Jack Parsons; 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment; 1965-UK)
“Never is exciting.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Tasmanian-born B-film director Don Sharp (“Hennessy”/”Kiss of the Vampire”/”The Face of Fu Manchu”) helms the odd third leg in “The Fly” series, after The Fly and Return of the Fly. It’s scripted by Harry Spalding, and is based on George Langelaan’s short story. It’s a modestly produced effort by Robert L. Lippert that has some interesting touches (especially noteworthy is the opening scene) and a nicely created eerie atmosphere, but overall the film is disappointing as it never is exciting—just too much chatter over pseudo-science.
Pat Stanley (Carole Grey), a former concert pianist, smashes a window and in her bra and panties escapes from the Fournier Mental Hospital. Passing nighttime motorist Martin Delambre (George Baker) gives her a lift to Montreal and doesn’t grill her. While he puts her up for a week in his hotel they fall in love and marry, as they agree to keep their secrets to themselves. Back at his isolated Quebec lab headquarters, Martin keeps to himself that his secret is that he’s struck with a strange malady that causes him at times to double over with pain while flashing signs of rapidly aging and that his mad scientist father Henri Delambre (Brian Donlevy), him and his London-based brother Albert (Michael Graham) are the third generation of Delambres involved in teleporting experiments that are unethical and have resulted in a chamber of horror. The mad scientists keep Martin’s pianist first wife Judith and two former lab assistants locked away in the stables after unfortunate results from their teleportation experiments left them disfigured as mutants (part human and part fly). Henri believes he has finally mastered the way to break down solid matter and teleport it elsewhere, and is anxious to use his new equipment before police Inspector Ronet (Jeremy Wilkins), searching for the escaped inmate, gets a search warrant to the premise.
Things go awry when Pat catches on that something fishy is going on here, and Henri in his haste uses the teleporter on himself without first checking if Albert—the only family member who is normal as he did not inherit his grandfather’s ‘curse of the fly’ genes—has hooked up the reintegrating machine part. A distraught Albert has instead smashed the machine, no longer willing to participate in these inhuman experiments. It results in Henri’s atoms scattered like ashes. Pat is set to suffer the same fate, but Martin, who is not as crazy as his dad, rescues her from the machine but in his rescue effort finds himself aging rapidly and he immediately dies. Wouldn’t you know it, Pat is cured of her insanity. It seems Pat suffered from an oppressive parental upbringing and now with no such authority figure around she’s as sane as anyone at Hammer studio.
The film’s funniest line has Brian Donlevy saying “We’re scientists, we have to do things we hate.” It’s quirky moments like that which give it some fun value that make it bearable despite its weak script, lethargic acting and cheap makeup.
REVIEWED ON 2/18/2008 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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