Welcome to Script to Pieces! This is a new feature here at Wicked Horror where we will be looking at the best, most interesting and most unbelievable horror movies that never happened. Sometimes these will be productions that never came together at all, other times they will original incarnations that were completely different from what we wound up with. Each should be fascinating in its own way, because the stories of movies that never see the light of day can sometimes be even more interesting than those that do.
David Cronenberg’s The Fly was a remake that surprised everyone. Horror remakes didn’t have a great track record at that point, keeping in mind that Carpenter’s The Thing opened to extremely negative reviews. The most highly regarded remake at this point was 1978’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
Cronenberg’s The Fly is a total reworking of the original’s premise, and I think that is its greatest strength. It’s a film for a decade which was terrified by the onset of the AIDS virus. This time, the transformation is slow and treated very much like a degenerative disease. The director has acknowledged the parallels with AIDS, but claims aging and death as the two highest inspirations for his approach to the material.
While the sequel took the story in an interesting direction and certainly has its merits, most fans were unanimous in thinking that it failed to live up to the first. Apparently some stars of the original were disappointed, as well.
Geena Davis had been totally open to returning in the sequel, but pulled out when she discovered that her character was killed in the opening scene. She was replaced with actress Saffron Henderson for the intense childbirth scene at the beginning of the film.
After the release of Fly II, both Davis and the producers at Fox and Brooksfilm were left unsatisfied. It wasn’t exactly the movie they had wanted, it didn’t do the business they wanted and certainly didn’t see the same kind of critical acclaim. This led Davis to want to do a second sequel that she felt would make up for Fly II’s mistakes and be something worthy of the original.
I’ve heard but can’t substantiate that Davis wrote the original treatment for Flies herself. From the best available information, Flies as it was going to happen, was to focus on Veronica giving birth to twin boys—picking up right after the original and totally ignoring the sequel—who start out normally and then begin their respective transformations at the onset of puberty.
The title, however, dates all the way back to Tim Lucas, who originally pitched Flies as a sequel to the 1986 film, not as the third. His story would have been very different, revealing that the telepods could actually be repurposed to function as cloning devices, which is where the Flies title would be relevant. Geena Davis would again have a leading role in this one, with Jeff Goldblum surprisingly returning as Seth Brundle in a voiceover role as it is revealed that during the final teleportation, Brundle’s consciousness became trapped inside his computer.
Bartok Industries is using Brundle’s trapped mind to create all sorts of nefarious things and he wants Veronica’s help so he can complete the cloning process and be returned to his original body.
This was not the direction they elected to go in with the sequel, obviously, although Lucas claims a few of his ideas did make it into The Fly II.
Credited Fly II writer Mick Garris certainly knows a few things about what Flies would have been, though, as he discussed recently on the Shock Waves podcast. “They were going to do Flies the same way they did Aliens, but I remember they announced Flies. And Geena Davis was going to produce it.” He also claims that scripts were written, but that he didn’t see any of them.
That would seem to confirm reports that the Davis-produced Flies was being developed in the 1990s as a directing vehicle for her then-husband Renny Harlin. No stranger to the horror film world with the likes of A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 and Prison, Harlin was at the height of his success during the mid-90s so the two of them together would have definitely given this sequel the star power it needed. The script which was presumably based on Davis’s treatment as we understand, was written by Scarecrows and Tron Legacy writer Richard Jeffries.
Sadly, we never got to see Flies in any incarnation, but after years of silence, an even more shocking prospect came to light: In the late 2000s, David Cronenberg announced his own plan to do a follow-up to The Fly. Just coming off of a few Oscar nominations at the time, Cronenberg—long thought to have left the genre behind—revealed that he was meeting with Fox about going back to explore his most famous work of body horror.
Originally touted as a remake, Cronenberg explained that the film would be much more of a spiritual sequel that would feature none of the original characters but would simply update the technology and themes for the modern world. Not much is known about what the exact plot would have been, but Cronenberg did write a sequel himself, one which was sadly rejected by the studio.
2015 did give us a continuation of The Fly franchise in the form of the IDW comic book miniseries The Fly: Outbreak. Instead of being based on any of these unmade sequel ideas, the comic took the surprising direction of picking up directly after The Fly II and carrying on that story and its characters.