The Curse of the Fly

Synopsis: THE DELAMBRE FAMILY CURSE CONTINUES IN THE TERRIFYING THIRD AND FINAL CHAPTER, ‘THE CURSE OF THE FLY’! Filled with “disorienting suspense” (‘Scarlet Street’) and gruesome special effects, it’s a horrific tale of science gone mad!

After escaping from a mental institution, Patricia Stanley (Carole Gray) is rescued by scientist Martin Delambre (George Baker), the grandson of the doomed teleportation experimenter Andre Delambre. The two fall in love and marry, but Patricia quickly realizes her new husband’s science experiments are as horrific as his family’s past. As she investigates further, Patricia learns the unnerving secrets of the Delambre family and has to find a way to escape them before ‘she’ becomes the next human-insect hybrid!

The Curse of the Fly 6.25

eyelights: no man-fly. its continuation of the Delambres’ experiments.
eyesores: no man-fly. its many contrivances.

“Three generations of Delambre have devoted their lives to this work…”

I wish I knew what happened between ‘Return of the Fly‘ and ‘The Curse of the Fly’ (its proper title according to the promotional posters). Though ‘Return of the Fly’ was rushed into production by the studio to capitalize on the original’s massive success, and came out the following year, six years passed between the sequels.

Released in 1965, ‘Curse’ was also produced by 20th Century Fox, but it was made in the United Kingdom by British filmmakers – many of whom were regulars of Hammer Studios. It’s as though someone woke up one day, wanted to make a cheap movie and, looking around for a property, saw ‘The Fly‘ as a viable option.

In fact, ‘The Curse of the Fly’ feels like it was an unrelated script that was molded just enough to fit the franchise. For starters, there isn’t a man-fly anywhere in the picture. Not even a fly. The picture is also more of a Gothic horror picture, something the Brits did so well then, and didn’t have any of the same campy goodness.

It doesn’t even have Vincent Price in it (who was then on contract with American International Pictures).

For this outing, ‘Curse’ follows the descendants of Philippe Delambre (or Delambré, as they’re now called) as they try to fine-tune their teleportation device to travel between cities: Henri (presumably Philippe’s son) and Albert are in London, whereas Martin is near Montréal. They’ve already had some successes teleporting.

And some failures.

This has left Henri with radiation burns to his torso and has afflicted Martin with a condition that ages him rapidly unless he takes injections of some kind. Plus there’s a small stable full of mutants imprisoned on the property – including Martin’s former spouse, Judith. But Henri is convinced that it’s a small price to pay for science.

Tell that to Pat, the woman Martin falls in love with.

Or the police.

‘The Curse of the Fly’ is more concerned with teleportation than in the ethics of scientific research or in the creature itself, both of which were central to the original film’s appeal. Admittedly, the first sequel also jettisoned ethical discourse, but at least it gave audiences more creature action and fixed other nagging bits.

Here, we get neither.

When it begins, one gets the impression that ‘Curse’ is going to be slightly surrealistic, given Pat’s slow-motion escape from a mental facility through an exploding window – and in her sexy underwear, no less. It suggests a dream sequence, though in retrospect is was probably just slowed down to fit the opening credits.

Then one might think that it’s going to be absurdist, or camp, what with Pat being caught running down the road in her underwear by Martin Delambre – and then being offered a hotel room after he buys into her ridiculous alibi. Perhaps ‘Curse’ intended to poke fun at the genre, one hopes. Alas, it’s dead serious about it.

Surrealistic or absurdist would have been perfectly fine.

But the picture drops both instead and serves up a half-baked sci-fi horror number that inarticulately contrives excitement. For instance, Henri suddenly needing to teleport back from London due to a passport issue (!), before Martin can test the equipment. Or Pat exploring the prison cells, though she should know better.

And then there’s the Delambres’ unfathomable servant Wan, who keeps letting Judith out of her cell in the middle of the night – you know, to play the piano. Or who puts a picture of Judith on Pat’s night table while she’s sleeping and then turns the light on. WTF. It’s bad enough that she was white-washed by Yvette Rees, but WTF.

(At least her spouse, Tai, is more appropriately cast by the wonderful Burt Kwouk…)

Who knows what the writers were trying to do, but very little of it is convincing. I mean, why would a mere passport issue force Henri back? Why would everyone be okay with Wan letting Judith out? Why would Martin lie to Pat about this and the picture, allowing Pat to believe that she’s losing her wits? And on and on and on…

What I did find interesting in all of this is that the Delambres come out as unethical @$$holes, a far cry from the well-meaning but accident-prone André and Philippe. Starting with Martin stealing clothes for Pat to wear and then Henri’s complete disregard for his test subjects, it’s soon apparent that these men will stop at nothing.

Sadly, aside for minor comments between them, there isn’t much discussion about ethics.

So ‘The Curse of the Fly’ feels rather empty. And, to boot, it’s poorly cobbled together, relying on strange behaviour to unsettle its audience and crappy mutant make-up to scare it. It’s not at all a bad movie, but it’s also not a so-bad-it’s-good movie. So it’s hardly surprising, then, that there wasn’t another sequel after it.

Despite its caption finale, “It this the end?”, yes, it was.

Nota bene: Science-fiction fans will want to keep an eye out for the scene in which the inspector sees a picture of André Delorme as the man-fly, which is in fact a picture of Philippe as the man-fly, and the scene of the two mutants being teleported to London, which is reminiscent of the teleporter mishap inStar Trek: The Motion Picture‘.

Story: 5.0
Acting: 7.0
Production: 6.5

Chills: 2.0
Violence: 2.0
Gore: 3.0

Date of viewing: July 16, 2017

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