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Date: 8/24/03

Subject: Genre

The Fly


The 1986 remake of the classic horror film, "The Fly," utilizes the idea of a man physically and mentally transforming into a fly over
a period of time. This transformation is the result of a scientific experiment gone awry.

In the experiment, Scientist Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) uses teleportation to transport himself from one telepod machine to another.

Teleportation involves disintegrating an object--in this case,
a human--into its molecular components, transporting those components to another point in space, and re-integrating those components to re-create the original object.

In the 1958 version of "The Fly," a scientist accidentally teleports himself with a fly in his telepod. He ends up with the body of a man and the head of a fly.

In the 1986 version of "The Fly," Scientist Seth Brundle accidentally teleports himself with a fly, but he does not immediately take on the physical characteristics of a fly.

Instead, his body transforms into a fly in days or weeks. His human body parts begin to fall off and fly-like parts begin to emerge.

He also begins to move like a fly, walking up walls and across ceilings.

Eventually, he sheds the rest of his human body parts and fully becomes a fly--albeit a 185-pound fly.

A comparison of both film versions of "The Fly" shows how the horror genre has evolved.

The 1958 version focuses on the fact that the protagonist, a scientist, is still psychologically human and is only hampered by an insect-like deformity resulting from his experiment.

The 1986 version of "The Fly" focuses on both the psychological
and physical changes that the protagonist, Seth Brundle, undergoes.

As he changes, he creates more conflict for his lover, Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis), and her ex-boyfriend Stathis Borans (John Getz).

Seth's gradual transformation changes him, as well as Veronica
and Stathis. All three characters are forced to become more psychologically mature to deal with the horror of Seth's metamorphosis.

We can see from the 1986 version of "The Fly" that the horror genre has begun to utilize one of the best elements of the drama genre: character development.

Horror is no longer just for cheap thrills. Now, it's used to show that horrific experiences can help define a character and make that character's actions more understandable to us.

Screenwriters who use the horror genre should treat it with respect. They should avoid cheap thrills and instead think of it as drama that is enhanced with horrific elements. Only then will the horror story be taken seriously. 

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