The Best Body Horror Movie That I’ll Never Watch Again
For Decider, Tyler Coates wrote about watching David Cronenberg’s version of The Fly for the very first time. I’m jealous!! I would love to watch The Fly for the first time, if only because I both loved that movie and know I will never, ever, ever watch it again.
There’s something particularly apt about watching David Cronenberg‘s The Fly, a now-classic reimagining of the tame 1958 sci-fi film starring Vincent Price (amped up for the more daring ’80s as a psychosexual body-horror romp), on a day when you feel like your own body — and the outside elements — is betraying you with a seasonal cold. As I popped store-brand cold medication, worried about how much acetaminophen my liver could take, and a variety of fluids dripped out of my face and only made me want to rip off my own head, which felt as if someone had opened it and dumped a can of garbage inside, I couldn’t help but feel a bit resentful of Seth Brundle (played by Jeff Goldblum) as he made the transformation into a giant insect. He, of course, turned into a disgusting and monstrous being — looking exactly as I felt. But at least he could walk on the ceiling and his vomit had the power to liquidate the body parts of his enemies. Meanwhile, I could barely sit up straight. It didn’t seem fair!
A few years ago I wrote about a David Cronenberg exhibition in Toronto, and I got way too deep into my research process: at first it was all fun and games, watching Videodrome late on a Friday night with some friends, feeling a lot of complicated emotions about Debbie Harry’s face. I sat down with The Brood on a very grey weekend afternoon and felt a lot of complicated emotions about female rage. But then my deadline started creeping up and I panicked, watching every Cronenberg movie I could find in one long fourteen-hour stretch. It was…intense. I went to a birthday party that night and people were like, “Are you ok?” And I responded, with complete honesty, “No.”
The Fly is not necessarily the saddest Cronenberg movie — that’s Dead Ringers, perhaps my favorite Cronenberg film and definitely his most disturbing — but The Fly is, I think, simultaneously his most disgusting and his most romantic film, in the most tragic sense of the idea of “romance.” I totally hear Coates when he calls bullshit on the hot journalist character falling for the hot scientist character — the trope of the lady writer who just can’t contain herself around the subject of her latest piece is banal as shit — but I also really liked the love story between Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis! I felt like I understood why they were so into each other (besides how hot they both are, although that was definitely a huge part of it) and I felt, too, how devastating it was when Seth Brundle devolves into a living heap of putrid goo…plus, his body falls apart. Ha ha, see what I did there?! No, the gore is really next level, and I can barely bring myself to look at the gifs Coates has embedded here, but I am slightly more inclined to re-watch Goldblum detach his ear or spew poisonous vomit than I would be to hear him say, again, “I’m an insect who dreamt he was a man and loved it. But now the dream is over… and the insect is awake.” He doesn’t just lose his body when he turns into a half-man, half-fly. He loses his humanity. God, it’s so sad. I cried a lot when I watched it. But that was probably the residual trauma of watching so much body horror in such a short amount of time. I’m still going to avoid it, just to be extra safe.
Which viscerally disgusting movies about the abjective nature of Humanity are you avoiding? Tell me!!