“Although I killed my husband, I am not a murderess — I simply carried out his last wish.”
After confessing to crushing her husband in a mechanical press, a distraught woman (Patricia Owens) tells her sympathetic brother-in-law (Vincent Price) and an inquiring detective (Herbert Marshall) the bizarre story of how her scientist-husband (David Hedison) ended up as part-human, part-fly.
Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, this “most enjoyable science fiction film” — based on a “tongue firmly in cheek” script by James Clavell — is “mostly amusing” despite also possessing “one of the greatest moments in horror movies” as “Owens pulls off her husband’s hood and sees his fly head”. He points out that this “scientist-treading-where-man-shouldn’t tread movie” is uniquely “feminist” in that “the emphasis is placed on the wife as she endures tragedy and tries everything in her power to save her [foolhardy] husband”, and in the process “becomes extremely capable”. Price’s role is sympathetic but rather small; this is Owens’ show all the way, and she more than carries it. The movie gets off to a somewhat slow start, with a flashback to the main events of the storyline not occurring for about half-an-hour — but once we’re in, we’re in, both for laughs and shocks; the final few moments are especially intense. The costumes and special effects are quite effective, and the cinematography is nicely done. After viewing this film, you will likely never look at a common housefly (or a spider web) in the same way again.
Note: David Cronenberg remade this film in 1986 with Geena Davis and Jeff Goldblum; it’s listed as an additional “must-see” title in the back of Peary’s book.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Patricia Owens as Helene
- Fine Cinemascope cinematography
- Creepy costumes and special effects
Yes, as an enjoyable classic of the genre.