Time Out's 50 greatest monster movies: part seven

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Be afraid, be very afraid: this is our number one. But is 'The Fly' even a monster movie - it might be science fiction, romantic tragedy, even melodrama - or does it simply transcend the genre?

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1. The Fly (1987)

Directed by David CronenbergThe dream is over, and the insect is awakeIf the sign of a truly great monster movie is that it provokes broader emotions than mere horror, then ‘The Fly’ is a masterpiece. Our feelings for the tragic Brundlefly run so much deeper than mere disgust or even pity: we admire his scientific genius and his goofy, loquacious charm, sympathise with his romantic uncertainty and tendency for adolescent jealousy, recoil at the grotesque transformation of his body and mind, and finally weep for his hubristic but inevitable destruction.It seems ironic that we’ve chosen ‘The Fly’ to top this list because it is, after all, the most painfully human of all monster movies. The fact that Cronenberg spends the bloodless first half patiently setting up his characters pays phenomenal dividends when the slime starts flowing: we care for these people in a deep, entirely genuine way. It’s a romantic pairing of which Preston Sturges would’ve been proud: flawed, funny, fucked-up and beautifully performed by the then-an-item double act of Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis.the-fly-goldblum.jpgCronenberg’s other great strength is the way he introduces his themes: subtly at first, but with increasing force and ferocity. ‘The Fly’ is a catch-all metaphor: is it about ageing, cancer, Aids, or simply destructive transformation and dark self-discovery? One thing’s for certain: like most of Cronenberg’s films from the period, it’s about flesh: how it defines us and defeats us, how it conspires against the self, the mind, in an ongoing battle for bodily dominance that we are ultimately doomed to lose. These themes are woven beautifully into the narrative, voiced calmly in the early scenes as Brundle and his computer ‘learn about the flesh’ and reaching fever pitch as Brundle finds himself powerless against the increasingly urgent demands of his corrupted and rebellious body. That, ultimately, is the film’s primary lesson: life is a losing game. The flesh will get you in the end. THWatch a behind-the-scenes clip
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31 comments
Leon K
Leon K

No Romero Dawn of the Dead/Night of the Living Dead reference at all ?


Both Alien and The Thing are both far better than The Fly but thats my opinion…



Alex
Alex

I want some of what Josh is smokin

Tacousino
Tacousino

I am truely baffled how Pumpkinhead has not made this list, and other best monster movie lists, that is a great movie with an awesome monster.

casper
casper

alien is the best of them all! how can you say otherwise!!!! it just is, the facehuggers are just the most frightening thing i have ever seen! and then of course the chestburster, i have never seen anything like it:P it is magnificant isn't it!!!

Geoff Sharman
Geoff Sharman

Is this Josh guy serious. Price never directed a film, I agree he is a horror legend, and a name heavily associated with horror. I loved both versions of the fly. It's a great list, a lot of great films missed out, I don't recal seeing dawn of the dead in there, or christine, even they live. This is why I love checking these lists, because I often find a new flick that I haven't seen which was worthy of someones list. There are few on here i will be checking out.

Blair
Blair

The remake of 'The Fly' IS a masterpiece, good choice. It's horrifying and also heart-breaking plus the soundtrack by Howard Shore is perfect.

tom huddleston
tom huddleston

Well, firstly, josh, thanks for being so pleasant. And secondly, Vincent Price never wrote or directed a movie in his life, at least not to my (or the IMDB's) knowledge. So you can understand the confusion. Personally, I think Cronenberg's 'The Fly' is a masterpiece. But that's just my opinion.

Josh
Josh

Vincent Price was a writer director, not a movie. He is the godfather of horror movies and monster movies alike. Your #1 pick of The Fly, is a remake of Mr. Prices original work. And not a good remake at that. Raw Head Rex did a better job (if you don't know that one, this is a failed site and complete waste of time).

tom huddleston
tom huddleston

Hi Josh, I think we made it pretty clear this was Time Out's list of horror movies, that's why it says 'our list' and 'our number 1'. And i don't think I'm aware of a monster movie director called Price. Please enlighten.

Josh
Josh

Okay, I have got to say that I was EXTREMELY let down by the #1 pick. Cronenburg did a horrid job trying to bring a MASTERPIECE to a new generation of horror movie. And this list in general is far too subjective. Not a single Price movie? He is by the far the master of the horror trade. He is noted by nearly all critics as being one of the worlds greatest directors of horror cinema. When doing a list like this, just say: "We made this list because we think these movies are cool.". Don't attempt to pawn your oddly non-horror movie criteria and pass it as an objective criticism.

Paul
Paul

I note one missing movie with a great Ferrari loving monster: "Hidden"

Chris
Chris

Agree with OGZ Dog Soldiers was wicked scary but we all know Alien should have been number one i mean 4 movies (only the first two were much good) plus two other movies were they have fisty cuff with another monster that should have been higher (no 2). But over all a good list

duck trapper
duck trapper

As has been mentioned, it all depends on how you define a monster movie. If you mean a movie with monsters in it, then you might have given more representation to the immortal Ray Harryhausen. I have to agree, also, that The Fly, while a very good film, does not belong at the top spot.

andy
andy

Good list but jaws is the best without a doubt.

ralph
ralph

The FLY???? Over all a good list. One of the two biggest problems with this kind project is 1... like you pointed out "what is a monster?" and 2... We all have different likes and opinions. So were is "The Thing from another world", it sure beats the "The Thing". Still, very intertaining, so thanks.

Linda
Linda

Eh, I think Alien should be #1 -- and how about Human Centipede? I would also rate Cloverfield higher. And did I miss The Host, or even Monsters, those delightfully leggy, light-bright octopoids? Yes, the rest of the movie sucked, but the monsters were pretty cool.

alvin
alvin

Yea its all a great list. However there is few movies missing. I can't remember all of them, like Reign of Fire one of the best dragon movies.

Michael James
Michael James

Bride Of Frankenstein, The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari, Shivers? Also why do you have that rather less chilling photo from one of the Godzilla films from the 1960's and not the original 1954 version? The Fly is not that good. Not compared to Alien, Jaws, King Kong or Frankenstein all of which are masterpieces. Huge admirer of Cronenberg that I am, I do not agree with your top choice.

Mark Reed
Mark Reed

What happened to Lord Of The Rings Trilogy? It had countless monsters like Orks, Uruk-Hai, and not to mention the Balrog!!!

fred
fred

PS..thanks for not putting us through the rigors of "registration" before being allowed to comment.

fred
fred

"Our feelings for the tragic Brundlefly..." I think you must mean YOUR feelings. To give this movie the number 1 spot is, I think, proof positive that you need to rethink your qualifications for this kind of work. While your language skills are not in doubt, good prose alone does not guarantee a good grasp of the qualities that make a movie a classic. You certainly picked some good ones and you might consider reshuffling the order they appear in. "The Fly"..my god (lower case G intentional)

vik chav
vik chav

the built up was okay but the climax really pays off and we already know what the ppl carry home...THE FLY is THE FILM...nice work guys...keep those 'lists' coming

OGZ
OGZ

How about Dog Soliders??? (TO review even gave it 5 *s) Nosferatu??, Shaun of the Dead (is a Zombie technically a monster though?), Dawn of the Dead, Rosemary's Baby etc.

Malcolm
Malcolm

Great list spoilt by the denouement, a real let down putting that at number one. Two omissions i would include, the Brotherhood of the Wolf, and John Carpenter's In the Mouth of Madness, arguably his most original, and best film? The monsters are mostly only hinted at, but it's the atmosphere of creeping menace seen from the eyes of the cynical protagonist, as he watches with disbelief as the human race degenerates first into homicidal madness and then worse.

Ben Sutton
Ben Sutton

brilliantly written list with an agreeable climax

Richard Freeman
Richard Freeman

What! This garbage made number one? Its badly filmed, has poor effects, a lousey script and its about one millionth as good as the orgional with Vincent Price.

Irf
Irf

The things you said about THE FLY were beautifully put. Good writing mate.

s ford
s ford

Great list. No Nosferatu though? Nevermind, cracking list. A lot of films I've never heard of. Will check them out. If you the Time Out writers do get a chance to read this comment, would it be possible to mention the films that missed the list? Thanks in advance.



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