The Fly also managed to resurrect a kind of b-movie, sci-fi spirit that hadn't been seen in mainstream Hollywood since the 1950s. The film has since earned a place in the pantheon of great sci-fi horror movies.
The film leveraged a little hard science, too. It tells the cautionary tale of Dr. Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum), a brilliant but eccentric scientist who makes a historic breakthrough in the technology of teleportation. Brundle's miraculous “telepods” can instantaneously transport inanimate objects through space. He hopes to teleport people, too, but there are a few — ahem — bugs in the system.
In this week's episode of Bad Science, Seeker's podcast about scientific principles in the movies, host Ethan Edenberg roots around in the darker corners of entomology with comedian Byron Bowers and Doug Yanega, an entomologist with the University of California, Riverside.
Yanega, a veteran researcher who has discovered hundreds of new insect species, shares some genuinely weird trivia on the taxanomical order known as Diptera.
For instance, depending on how you define your terms, flies actually have multiple brains running different body parts and organic functions, Yanega said. These nerve cell systems, called ganglia, can theoretically operate independently of one another, a fact which has a kind of sideways relevance to the plot line of the movie. When Dr. Brundle gets his genetic material mixed up with that of a fly, the metamorphosis he undergoes is gradual and localized. Is this the teleported ganglia at work? As always, with Bad Science, reckless conjecture is encouraged.