I was not pure. The teleporter insists on inner purity; I was not pure. A fly…got into the transmitter pod with me that first time when I was alone. The computer got…confused, there weren’t supposed to be two separate genetic patterns, and it decided to, erm…splice us together. It mated us, me and the fly. We hadn’t even been properly introduced. [Smiles] My…teleporter turned into a gene-splicer. And a very good one. Now I’m not Seth Brundle any more. I’m the offspring of…Brundle and housefly.
Jeff Goldblum. The different stages of Seth Brundle’s gradual transformation into “Brundlefly” in David Cronenberg’s The Fly (1986)
The Academy Award-winning makeup was designed and executed by Chris Walas, Inc. over a period of several months. The final “Brundlefly” creature was designed first, and then the various steps needed to carry protagonist Seth Brundle to that final incarnation were designed afterwards. The transformation was intended to be a metaphor for the aging process. Indeed, Brundle loses hair, teeth and fingernails, and his skin becomes discolored and lumpy. The intention of the filmmakers was to give Brundle a bruised, cancerous and diseased look that gets progressively worse as time goes on.
Various looks were tested for the different stages before the perfected versions seen in the completed film were arrived at. Some early test footage can be seen on the 2005 The Fly: Collector’s Edition DVD, as well as the Blu-ray release.
The transformation was broken up into seven distinct stages, with Jeff Goldblum spending many hours in the makeup chair for Brundle’s later incarnations
- STAGES 1-2: Subtle, rash-like skin discoloration, which leads to facial lesions and sores, with tiny fly hairs dotting Goldblum’s face, as well as the patch of fly hairs growing out of the wound on Brundle’s back.
- STAGES 3 and 4-A: Piecemeal prosthetics covering Goldblum’s face (and later his arms, feet, and torso), wigs with bald spots and crooked, prosthetic teeth (beginning with Stage 4-A).
- STAGE 4-B: Deleted from the film, this variant of Stage 4 was seen only in the “monkey-cat” scene, and required Goldblum to wear the first of two full-body foam latex suits.
- STAGE 5: The second full-body suit, with more exaggerated deformities, and which also required Goldblum to wear distorting contact lenses that made one eye look larger than the other.
- STAGE 6: The final “Brundlefly” creature, depicted by various partial and full-body cable- and rod-controlled puppets.
- STAGE 7: Another puppet that represented the mortally-injured Brundlepod fusion creature seen in the film’s final moments.