The Fly (1986)
Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, John Getz.
Written by Charles Edward Pogue & David Cronenberg.
Directed by David Cronenberg.
Teleportation. It’s what scientist Seth Brundle (Goldblum) believes will change the course of mankind. And he’s probably right. But before he can unleash the technology onto the world – being unsatisfied with teleporting inanimate objects – he decides to zap himself through his teleportation “pods” in his funky downtown warehouse and inadvertently traps a common house fly inside during the process. Having recombined his molecular structure with that of the fly, he begins a slow metamorphosis into a hideous hybrid – all to the horror of a young writer (Davis) who has been detailing the experiments. At times a black comedy, it is doubtful that an actor other than Jeff Goldblum could have inhabited the character of “Brundlefly” so completely and elevated The Fly to the heights at which it resides (though he is given excellent support from the memorably sleazy John Getz). Director David Cronenberg’s claustrophobic updating of the 1958 film of the same name features the kind of raw, tactile gore that 80s horror was all about, creating an unnerving experience. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Kurtwood Smith, Ronny Cox, Miguel Ferrer & Dan O’Herlihy.
Written by Edward Neumeier & Michael Miner.
Directed by Paul Verhoeven.
In Detroit in the not too distant future (which, in 1987, would mean about now), things suck. The city is overflowing with crime and corruption, but Omni Consumer Products believe they have the answer to cleaning up the streets. His name is Robocop, a former police officer named Murphy who was viciously gunned down by some nasty thugs, pronounced dead and then reassembled as a robotic crime-fighting force. But there’s a bit of Murphy left inside the organic and metallic frame of this lumbering protector, and that remnant of his former life wants to deal out some bloody justice to the bastards who slew him. In the beginning, the studios apparently (and understandably) baulked at giving the green light to a project called Robocop. But to their surprise, the film was a hit. Combining a sardonic wit with some bad-ass 80s violence, Robocop managed to overcome its seemingly inane title and produce the kind of adolescent fun that many teenage boys and young men crave. Full of colourful performances and a genuine self-assessing humour, Robocop epitomises all that is worthy about escapist entertainment. And I’d buy that for a dollar!
The Shining (1980)
Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd & Scatman Crothers.
Written & Stanley Kubrick & Diane Johnson.
Directed by Stanley Kubrick.
The Overlook Hotel is no place to spend a winter. Jack Torrance (Nicholson) is unfortunately not aware of the imposing doom of the isolated resort, and accepts a job as winter caretaker believing the solitude will help him finish that novel he’s been meaning to write. Accompanying Jack is his wife Wendy (Duvall) and their young son Danny (Lloyd) who exhibits a psychic ability known as “shining”. As the ghostly inhabitants of the hotel begin to reveal themselves to Danny and his father, it becomes clear that Jack is required as a permanent resident of the hotel – the entry pass being the murder of his wife and son. Stanley Kubrick’s film cannot hold a candle to the Stephen King novel on which it is based yet it exists as a separate entity in its own right. Ignoring entire tracts of the novel, Kubrick instead focussed on imagery and his typical theme of dehumanisation. Garnering a fanatical cult status and featuring one of the most incredible locations ever put to film, The Shining is often ambiguous and confusing, but at the same time, a visual treat whose imagery has never been equalled.