The Fly II (1989)
The Fly II (1989)

Genre: Sci-Fi Horror Running Time: 1 hr. 45 min.

Release Date: February 10th, 1989 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Chris Walas Actors: Eric Stoltz, Daphne Zuniga, Lee Richardson, John Getz, Frank Turner, Ann Marie Lee, Gary Chalk, Saffron Henderson, Harley Cross

 


 

A

t Bartok Industries, a woman is about to give birth, restrained in something of a scientific laboratory, complete with observation windows from where the cold bigwig himself, Anton Bartok (Lee Richardson), can watch with morbid curiosity. The mother dies, but the baby is saved – after being cut from a cocoon-like sac, which oozes conspicuously milky fluids. Though he’s not to be considered a lab animal, the boy, Martin, grows up in seclusion (a Zone 3 project), studied by a wealth of scientists, who perform nonstop tests on the rapidly-growing child.

Callous Dr. Jainway (Ann Marie Lee) heads the studies, aided by the severe Dr. Norman Shepard (Frank Turner), observing that the youth never sleeps, has a photographic memory, and excels at puzzles and every other analysis of his intelligence. He’s also suffering from the same disease as his father, the brilliant Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum’s character from the previous film), which is so unique and mysterious that it’s named Brundle’s Accelerated Growth Syndrome. It’s not long before his handlers can no longer contain him; the preteen sneaks into Zone 4, where Bartok’s people continue to work on Seth’s teleportation pods, which horrifically mutilate a golden retriever during a failed trial. At the age of 5, Martin Brundle (Eric Stoltz) appears as a teenager, and is finally granted some privacy; he’s moved into a sharply furnished apartment (still under surveillance, however) and offered a job … to pick up where his father left off, perfecting the most important invention in the history of mankind.

The first notable element of “The Fly II” is its preoccupation with goopy, slimy, grotesque special effects. Rather than focusing on David Cronenberg’s combination of scientific quandaries, sympathetic human interactions, and tragic yet graphic horrors, this sequel quickly dives into the mucilaginous nightmares. It’s not terribly interested in believable personas, though it does introduce a romance, this time with graveyard-shift employee Beth Logan (Daphne Zuniga), who is instantly drawn to the anomaly (an infant with the body of a young adult and the brain of a genius). Martin’s a bit shy, but with his abnormalities he should probably be utterly incapable of any type of standard intercommunication.

Unfortunately, Geena Davis wasn’t signed to reprise her role – even though (or perhaps because) her character’s participation was reduced to a mere cameo. At least Goldblum gets a second or two of screentime, thanks to archival footage. It’s a sensible decision to have the story follow the continued exploits of the Brundle family, as Seth’s bloodline is inextricably linked to mutated fly DNA. But, his son becomes something of a duplicate test subject, upon which overly familiar genetic metamorphoses begin to take place. Even the romance shares obvious similarities. Amusingly, the filmmakers did sign John Getz again, though his appearance is confined to a single scene.

The repetition may be uninspired, but as Martin’s chromosomal malfunctions accelerate, his face turns sticky and emaciated, leading to some spectacularly yucky makeup effects. Once again, the repugnance is grand – and a wholly cinematic setup for monster-movie scares. “The Fly II” contains several surprising sequences of gore, particularly as it shifts from a science-run-amok concept to a hunt-and-contain-an-alien-creature one. It’s not based around intellectual thrills, but it’s nevertheless effective as a schlocky bit of sci-fi/horror fun (the kind in which needles break off in veins, faces dissolve in highly corrosive vomit, oversized cable-controlled/rod-operated appendages tromp through scenery, squadrons of nameless troops succumb to a strangely reptilian hellion, and a most fitting yet appalling comeuppance is exacted).

– Mike Massie

  • 7/10