Curse of the Fly is interesting with how it mixes together a ton of different plot threads that don’t have much connection to each other. First off, it’s called Curse of the Fly but there is almost nothing to do with the actual Fly movie. The enemies don’t even look like Flies. You have the main heroine who has escaped from an insane asylum but she doesn’t seem crazy at all. Is this place actually a criminal organization? Then you have the actual mansion of criminals performing human experiments. It does make for an interesting combo even if it’s really mixed up the whole time.
The film starts with Patricia escaping from the Asylum and meeting up with a passing driver named Martin. Martin figures she can use some help since she seems distressed and takes her over to a hotel. She has a mysterious past that she won’t talk about and Martin doesn’t want to dig his own skeletons out of the closet so he asks if she wants to be married. She agrees and they head over to his place. He’s fairly well off but nobody in the house seems happy to see Patricia. Has she just stepped into a more dangerous situation than she had expected?
Now the opening scene of the movie definitely does drag considerably. It’s a long montage of Patricia running away from the house which just seems to be there for fanservice. The whole prologue of her getting married to Martin is also more low key as you’re just waiting for the characters to get to the house. Will Martin’s allegiance be to his father and the experiments or to his new wife? Unfortunately it’s the former and he really puts her in a ton of danger. There is so much happening it’s hard to even put the review in order but lets take it piece by piece.
The secret Martin is hiding is that he and his father are still conducting human experiments including teleportation and a drug that will allow Martin to stay human. See if he doesn’t have the serum in time then he starts turning into a Fly. I guess you can say that’s the true connection to the Fly film but even this isn’t really treated like a big deal half the time. It only happens maybe 2-3 times in the film.
Now this wouldn’t be all that bad on its face. If anything there would be no reason to keep it a secret. Well, maybe the Fly part but not the experiments. Where things really go wrong is when we find out that they are also running experiments on humans and keeping them locked up in cages. Among them is Martin’s real wife. So…the guy is married and yet he went on to marry someone else? That’s an instant game over for Martin. Not only is this a rebound but hiding the fact that he is actually married is a huge deal.
Martin’s definitely the antagonist around here. Even when Patricia nearly gets attacked by these creatures the guy doesn’t do much. In fact he does worse than nothing since he tries to convince her that she is crazy. Keep in mind that at this point he knows she is from the asylum so he is intentionally using that as leverage to try and make her doubt herself. It’s a pretty low blow.
Now, it should not have worked though. It’s always annoying when someone sees something and just gets talked out of it. At least Patricia has more of an excuse than most characters because of the asylum background but her self doubt should not have been enough to overwhelm her own senses. She saw everything clear as crystal. That should have been the end of it, she forces Martin to come clean and now they’re on even ground. It’s too bad that didn’t quite work out.
Also, we do have a brief subplot where the inspector from the Asylum is coming around to try and figure out what’s going around. He talks to a colleague who knew Martin from a while back. They try to make some headway on this case but as you can probably guess they don’t really do anything until the climax. I did like the inspector’s confidence though. Initially Martin refuses to see him but the guy calls his bluff with a warrant and gets in. Martin doesn’t want the press around due to his shady experiments and the institution doesn’t want them either so both of their goals align in that respect.
Not to worry, we’ve got more plots around. So Martin’s brother Albert who was also in on the experiments a while back but he did the smart thing and ran out of there. He completely got out of the business but where he made the mistake is when he decides to come back and help out after getting some pressure on him from the father. He absolutely should have stayed far away and that would have really ended up helping him a lot. Going back to the scene of the crime could only end badly.
You also have the rest of the staff doing their best to mess with Patricia the whole time. She probably wouldn’t have caught on so fast if the maid wasn’t letting the old wife run around the house or putting pictures of her by Patricia’s bed to mess with her. There’s a lot of mind games going around and it’s clear that the main staff wanted Patricia out of there. Ironically they’re the ones who bolt out of there pretty quickly.
Patricia is one of the more reasonable characters compared to these guys. At the same time, it shows why you shouldn’t marry someone you’ve only known super briefly because it’s not going to end well. Since she had her own secrets she was more open to letting Martin keep his, but that definitely didn’t go over very well. I’d say she should have bolted the moment she saw the inhuman monster running around the place.
Martin’s father is much more open about being a villain and that’s why he beats Martin. The guy puts science above everything including other lives. He’s very up front about this and is always giving lectures to the other characters with how many risks they take. He reminds me of Lou Chaney with how he sounds and talks as well. The guy’s just very charismatic. Not charismatic enough where he should have been able to convince everyone to go along with his crazy schemes though so Albert and Martin are not off the hook. They’re all mass murderers at the end of the day.
The writing is pretty solid though. It’s got that old Universal type writing style where the characters are all sophisticated and talk like mad scientists. The creature designs are fairly memorable. Really this film should have just not called itself anything having to do with the Fly and I think it would have gone over a lot better. Even with Martin becoming a fly for some reason, there isn’t enough of a connection for this to really make any sense. The movie’s only a little over an hour so it was really cramming a lot of content into it.
That said, it’s for that reason that the film stays interesting I suppose so I can’t dock too many points from it. The characters aren’t too smart but I wouldn’t say that’s a writing thing though and just the characters meant to be that way. Like when the maid antagonizes one of the villains. Doing so can only end one way so you’d think it would be better not to say anything….but I guess that’s how it goes. The film ends on a bang and so by the end you feel like you really had a complete adventure here.
Overall, Curse of the Fly does hold up pretty well as a suspense film. There’s a lot of dramatic music throughout which holds up pretty well. The core story may be basic but it’s pretty engaging at the same time. The body count is surprisingly high for an old film and it really shows how crazy some people will get while still thinking they’re on the right side. Meanwhile, the idea of switching around who the main antagonist may be is something that wasn’t used a whole lot back in the day so that’s different. Initially you think Patricia may be suspicious since she refuses to talk about why she is at the Asylum (We never find out why even as the film ends) and she had to break out which is a red flag since she doesn’t quite tell Martin about this. Yet when she enters the house we find out that Martin is the real villain here. (even if the film doesn’t always treat him like the antagonist) If you’re looking for an old school thriller to check out, this is a good one to pick up and you don’t even need to bother checking out the first film since they really aren’t connected.