July 11, 2008

INTERVIEW - The Fly Himself Returns to the Scene of My Childhood Nightmares

When I was about six I used to wait all week for the dead-spots in Sunday afternoon programming when old monster movies would show up on television. Usually it was something like Godzilla vs. King Kong, but sometimes seriously scary stuff like The Creature From the Black Lagoon would show up there, and I'd be transfixed.

The first movie I remember seeing that really scared me to death was 1958's The Fly. The long build-up to revealing what was under that cloth, the scabrous black fly-parts, the gut-churning moment when the tiny fly-man was put out of his misery. I think even a child-- and perhaps especially a child-- can relate to the concept of making a huge mess of things and trying desperately to fix it before anyone finds out. The Fly whispered to me that there were some disasters that even adults couldn't cope with, webs that one could never escape from once he or she became trapped. This was my first taste of outright horror, and I've never forgotten it.

Unexpectedly getting to speak to the star of that film, David Hedison, aroused many feelings. I'd recently re-watched the film and discovered that it was even darker than I'd remembered-- and holds up remarkably well. It sounds corny, but my inner six-year-old was soothed to hear Hedison talk so fondly and so reverently about a wonderful time in his life. It's been 50 years since he laid his head and arm under that hydraulic press, but you wouldn't know it from his voice. I found him to be a wonderfully insightful and sympathetic person; when I mentioned my childhood experience with The Fly, he commented, "You were six years old, I think we should have given you a happy ending." Apparently, it's never too late.

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