Scientist Andre Delambre becomes obsessed with his latest creation, a matter transporter. He has varying degrees of success with it. He eventually decides to use a human subject, himself, with tragic consequences. During the transferance, his atoms become merged with a fly, which was accidentally let into the machine. He winds up with the fly's head and one of it's arms and the fly winds up with Andre's head and arm. Eventually, Andre's wife, Helene discovers his secret and must make a decision whether to let him continue to live like that or to do the unthinkable and euthanize him to end his suffering.
Directed by: Kurt Neumann
. Starring: David Hedison
, Patricia Owens
, Vincent Price
, Herbert Marshall
, Kathleen Freeman
, Betty Lou Gerson
, Charles Herbert
, Eugene Borden
, Harry Carter
, Arthur Dulac
, Bess Flowers
, Torben Meyer
, Franz Roehn
. Music by: Paul Sawtell
This is one of those movies that most any fan of the horror genre has some acquaintance with, even if they have never seen the movie. The final shot in this movie is so legendary that it has been shown repeatedly in horror movie countdowns and anthologies and imitated in pop culture. As time travels on, though, and the younger generations get further removed from this decade, I find that a lot of my horror fan brethren have never seen the original, other than that final shot, or are much more familiar with Cronenberg's remake (which is also excellent), but this is shame because this movie is a gem that needs to be seen and appreciated.
The movie starts off at the finale, with our "hero" being killed by his wife. The police start investigating what could cause this housewife to snap and murder her husband and, so, the majority of the movie plays in flashback as the events leading up to this death are revealed. This opening kill scene is very notable for the amount of bright red blood that is poured all over the press in which our hero dies. The film is a contemporary of the beginning of Hammer horror and much like those movies would have shocked audiences at the time. Horror films were just starting to be created in color, really, and no one showed this amount of blood. Yes, it seems tame compared to what we see on crime TV nowadays, but it was an important step in horror evolution to show gore like this.
It seems our scientist hero has developed a way to teleport matter. One of the things that stands out so much is how likable that scientist is in this movie. Most of the mad scientists in horror history were unstable, or just plain maniacal, but David Hedison, as our hero, is "nice guy" who may not spend as much time with his family as he should, but it's clear he's devoted to them. His wife is, for most intents, the "main character" of the movie and it is through her eyes that the viewer sees the events unfold. Patricia Owens plays this character with a great amount of talent. She is loving and devoted when needed, but plays concerned, to stressed out and finally a woman on the verge of collapse, until she must carry out her husband's final wishes, leading to another shade of emotion where we get to see her emotional detachment (which may or may not be a ploy).
The other great actor in this movie is, of course, Vincent Price. He plays the scientist's brother, secretly in love with his sister- in-law, but a man who loves his family. It's a refreshing role for Price as he does not play the hammy villain in this one, but rather the "straight man" trying to put together the pieces of the scientific mystery.
Back to our experiments, which are bound to go wrong. Surely any fan of pop culture knows the twist, in which our hero's particles are mixed with those of a house fly, causing a monstrous mutation. At first, we see only the scientist shrouded in hood to keep his secret hidden, but slowly the director reveals more of the mutation, until a stunning reveal shot, complete with "fly's eye" camera shot. I can't imagine to know what this shot would have been to a 50s audience, but it still stands up today and is one of the best moments in the film.
From here, the movie revolves around finding the fly that caused this mess so they can attempt to undo the accident, until we finally get to the tragedy that begins the movie. This movie should never lose its' place in history and should be required viewing for anyone claiming to be a student of horror history.
Review by TheRedDeath30 from the Internet Movie Database.