Moments In The Fly Movies That Took Things Too Far

When you think of body horror, "The Fly" is easily a Top 10 contender among the most influential entries. Both the 1958 original and the '86 remake thrilled audiences in very different ways. While the original relied on costuming and admittedly shoddy (by today's standards) visual effects, the remake arrived in a decade famously known for its stomach-turning practical effects. Yet both managed to push the envelope on horror storytelling that often went over the edge, perhaps even taking things way too far.

The first film, directed by Kurt Neumann, was based upon a 1957 short story of the same name. It became a box office success and spawned two sequels, 1959's "Return of the Fly" and "Curse of the Fly" in 1965. Despite a rough road from idea to creation, director David Cronenberg's 1986 remake flipped everything about the original on its head. A sequel, simply titled "The Fly II," followed three years later and didn't quite capture the beautiful tragedy of the previous film.

Across five total films, "The Fly" franchise has become one of the greatest thematic and scare-seeking devices in horror history. This list is a compilation of the moments that stand out as going way too far, either in its animal cruelty or total gross-out sequences. Sit back, and don't lose your lunch. 

Mutilated baboon (The Fly, 1986)

One thing you'll immediately notice if you've ever done a marathon of all five "The Fly" movies is the prevalence of animal cruelty. In the 1986 remake, helmed by David Cronenberg, Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) somehow manages a steady stream of baboons on which to perform his transportation experiments between pods. Organic matter seems harder to transport, so why not test on animals, right?

Seth invites reporter Veronica "Ronnie" Quaife (Geena Davis) to witness an early trial, and it goes far from what he had planned. The experiment is supposed to disintegrate an object or a person's molecules and then reintegrate them. In this case, however, a baboon is rearranged into some sort of mangled monster inside the second pod. Its screeches of sheer agony are enough to run the blood cold. Seth and Ronnie look on in horror.

Human nature is always to be curious, yet it's not a particularly brave act to forge ahead in areas of medicine and science with innocent animals as one's test subjects. Seth is a deeply endearing and charming protagonist, if not fatally flawed with a hunger for recognition. Even before he takes on a full-on fly form, he displays questionable ethics in his research. The baboon never stood a chance.

Bodies exchanged (Curse of the Fly, 1965)

Released in 1965, "Curse of the Fly" attempts a very different kind of story than the series had done up to this point. Director Don Sharp tells the story of Martin Delambre (George Baker) who helps his father Henri (Brian Donlevy) with radical, unprecedented experiments into teleportation. They've seemingly mastered transporting human beings from Quebec all the way to London.

A marvel achievement is quickly undone when Martin falls in love with Patricia (Carole Gray), an escaped mental patient. They marry within a week of meeting, despite them knowing very little about one another. While Patricia has harbored the fact she has been committed to an asylum, Martin has his own skeletons rattling in the closet. One of those secrets lies outside in a stable, where two exchange students have been imprisoned following an experiment gone wrong. They are now horribly disfigured and treated as "the other."

With the police quickly closing in, Martin and Henri transport the two students to London, but it's not smooth sailing. Their bodies fuse together into a pulsing mass of flesh and bone. Martin's brother and colleague Albert (Michael Graham) is aghast and must put them down, grabbing an ax as the camera fades to black. A tragic end to their lives that could have been avoided had Martin and Henri thought better of the situation and not panicked.

Guinea pig pâté (Return of the Fly, 1959)

"Return of the Fly" picks up the story years after the original. Writer-director Edward Bernds focuses on André Delambre's son Philippe (now played by Brett Halsey) and his determination to continue his father's work. Philippe's uncle François (Vincent Price) won't hear of it and refuses to assist in any way. Philippe then turns to his colleague, Alan Hinds (David Frankham), who is more than happy to jump on the opportunity.

Separating itself from the original, the 1959 sequel explores the obsession with the unknown and how a hunger for fame feeds evil itself. When it is revealed Alan is actually a secret spy named Ronald Holmes, an agent confronts him. Ronald overtakes the agent, knocking him out and placing him inside the molecule disintegrator. When the agent reintegrates, he has the hands of a guinea pig — with the guinea pig now possessing human hands.

The guinea pig squeals for help, and it's just heartbreaking. A heart cold as ice, Ronald squashes the furry creature underneath his shiny dress shoe. The camera quickly cuts away, giving the viewer time to process and recover. It's brutally unnecessary. Long live the guinea pig.

The dog monster (The Fly II, 1989)

Animal torture reaches a new horrifying level in 1989's "The Fly II." While jumping off from the previous film, it borrows elements from "Return of the Fly" (1959) and "Curse of the Fly" (1965) to mold the tale into something unique. The film itself doesn't quite stand on its own as subversive, but it does strike a nerve.

Seth Brundle's son Martin (Eric Stoltz) lives a fraught life as a test subject inside the Bartok Complex. There, he undergoes serum injections to heal his recessive fly gene, which causes his body to accelerate at a frightening speed. He befriends a dog as a way to cope with his less-than-ideal life. They truly become the best of friends. But an experiment mounted by a group of scientists fails to properly transport the dog and causes it to become maimed and disfigured during the reintegration process.

The dog's yelps are heartbreaking, and the scientists refuse to do anything to alleviate its suffering. Martin later discovers what they have done and is forced to put the dog out of its misery, using a chemical-soaked rag to put it down. As its eyes fade, Martin's face distorts, and tears stream down his face. What a moment that makes you hate the human race.

Just a little puke (The Fly, 1986)

Chris Walas knocks the special effects out of the park in "The Fly." Where the 1958 original relied on costuming to present the human-fly hybrid, the 1986 film uses top-notch practical makeup effects and gadgets to take the mutant creature to the next level with great, nauseating results.

As Seth Brundle transforms into a fly, he takes on many of the attributes of the winged insect, and that includes how a fly eats. Seth must regurgitate digestive juices (yes, you read that correctly) and slather his food in the nasty goo to dissolve his meals into smaller bites so his stomach can actually process them. In one scene, he involuntarily regurgitates into his hand and onto a donut, much to Ronnie's surprise and revulsion. "Oh, that's disgusting," Seth quips.

The audience can stomach most of Seth's transformation, but regurgitation is where the line is unmistakably drawn. Akin to watching someone puke their guts out when they're sick, it's just gross.

Ghost cat (The Fly, 1958)

Kurt Neumann's original film came decades before the special makeup effects boom of 1980s horrors. That doesn't mean the 1958 story didn't offer plenty of frights, though. Especially for the era, the mutation of a man into a giant fly was surely ghastly, to say the least. One of the most terrifying moments, however, actually involves an animal.

With Quebec-based scientist André Delambre (David Hedison) deep in research with his particle disintegrator, he gets the bright idea to level up from inorganic matter (such as a dish and a newspaper) to organic matter. He places the family cat Dandelo in the contraption. The poor thing disintegrates as it should but doesn't reintegrate in the second glass machine. Its whimpering, disembodied meows can be heard echoing around the laboratory. To make matters worse, André shrugs it off and doesn't tell his wife until things go completely off the rails later on in the film.

The plus side is the feline friend isn't mutilated into a half-cat, half-slimy creature. Dandelo, wherever you are, may you enjoy eating lots of catnip and chasing mice in a meadow. You deserved better.

Larva baby (The Fly, 1986)

Nobody asked for it (and hopefully never wanted it), but the 1986 remake gave fans a larva baby. It's within Ronnie's dream, but it still counts among the grossest on-screen moments ever. Soon after hooking up with Seth, unaware that he is now half-fly, Ronnie learns that she is pregnant with his child.

During a midnight reverie, her biggest concern with the pregnancy manifests as her worst nightmare: giving birth to an oversized larva-baby. The viewer is none the wiser that what they're beholding is a dream. Ronnie goes into labor and is wheeled off to the delivery room, where she gives birth to a squirming, football-sized larva sack. It's as frightening and disgusting an image as you might expect. Ronnie can only do one thing, though, and that's scream her lungs out.

Ronnie quickly wakes up in a cold sweat. The clarity of reality doesn't hide the fact that she could very well give birth to a larva-baby. Is that how it works when a human woman sleeps with a half-man, half-fly? Who knows, but it's pure nightmare fuel.

Justice served hot (The Fly II, 1989)

As detailed above, Martin's furry companion didn't deserve such a grim fate. The villainous doctors followed orders handed down from Anton Bartok (Lee Richardson), the owner of Bartok Industries, which funded Seth Bundle's initial experiments. "The Fly II" does deliver on much-deserved justice in the third act, however, so the viewer is left feeling somewhat vindicated.

In the action-packed finale, Martin encases himself inside a cocoon and later emerges to take revenge upon Bartok. He forces the industry giant to reveal the password unlocking the telepods and then drags him inside. Colleague Beth Logan (Daphne Zuniga) begins the gene-swapping process, and Martin resurfaces fully human again. Bartok, on the other hand, has morphed into a disfigured mutant and is missing half of his face. You can even see his jaw twitching deep within his skull. It's a chilling and disturbing image.

A deformed Bartok crawls to a food dish, mirroring the sad state Martin's dog was found earlier in the film. Despite how grotesque he looks, the moment is a pure triumph. You can't help but cheer for his comeuppance.

Crushed to death (The Fly, 1958)

"The Fly" relays the story of André Delambre through an entire flashback sequence. His wife and now widow, Hélène (Patricia Owens), is found in absolute hysterics and confesses to his murder. The crime scene is a gruesome one, as André's body has been mutilated in a hydraulic press not once but twice. Director Kurt Neumann suggests what may have occurred initially, but reveals all in the last 15 minutes.

After transporting himself through the disintegrator-integrator, André soon learns that a fly had become trapped inside with him. Their atoms have now fused together, with half his molecules now residing in a white fly. In his desperation, he pleads with Hélène to capture the insect, or else he must die. Hélène then enlists their son to capture the white-headed fly, but he fails. In the end, André embraces his deadly fate.

Hélène reluctantly agrees to press the big red button on the hydraulic press, and it doesn't work entirely the first time. She is forced to press it again. Imagining being crushed to death, much less as a half-fly human being, is downright haunting.

Seth's descent (The Fly, 1986)

To reiterate, special makeup effects artist Chris Walas pushes the boundaries until they snap and ooze all sorts of fluids. "The Fly" is nothing if not deliciously gross. Once Seth Brundle has accidentally fused his genetic material with a fly, his body undergoes a deterioration process that is guaranteed to make you gag.

Seth's fingernails begin to peel off, exposing tender layers of skin underneath. His hair grows dry and wispy, frazzled in a way that mirrors that of a fly's. His skin also grows coarse with pulsing pimples sprouting up on his face. As he proceeds to pop them, puss splatters across the mirror. Seth even has trouble keeping his human teeth inside his mouth and ears intact on the side of his head. It's just an icky mess.

In total shock, Ronnie gives Seth a big ole hug right on the side of his now missing ear, replaced with a golf ball hole discharging more puss. These moments still force the audience to want a nice, long, scorching-hot shower afterward.

Larva baby redux (The Fly II, 1989)

"The Fly II" doesn't often work as a film itself, but it does further push the boundaries on what audiences should be seeing on-screen. There are several moments that feel more like repackaged greatest hits of the entire franchise, including the reuse of a larva-baby in the opening sequence. Ronnie Quaife, this time played by Saffron Henderson, gives birth to an actual larva sack.

Her worst nightmare has become a reality. The sack squishes, squirms, and writhes around. The doctors are appropriately disturbed, as some creature does appear to be very much alive. When a doctor opens up the bloody vessel, they discover a very real and seemingly healthy baby boy. Anton Bartok adopts the infant child and places him under strict observation for the rest of his life. The image of a human baby popping out of a larva sack sets the tone for a film that goes further over the line than any previous film. It's a nightmare you won't soon forget.