The Friday before last I attended a showing of The Fly and was knowingly indoctrinated into The Cult of Horror, a group of people whose prime goal is to come together for frights and fun. Bryce Hanson and David Day are the two hosts who make up Horror Movie Talk, a podcast centered around horror cinema. They have put together a night of terror at the Kiggins Theatre in Vancouver Washington. Over the last couple of months, they have hosted The Exorcist, The Burbs, and now The Fly. It was a great way to spend my Friday out with my fiance, and I encourage others to do the same. At this event fans of the podcast, and the film being shown, can come together, eat popcorn (and strawberry Charleston Chews), and interact in a horror-loving community.
Outside of the beautiful Kiggins Theatre, a town crier shouted to the streets encouraging passers-by to come in and enjoy the film. My fiance had given me a look of uncertainty, but I assured her we were going to have a great time. We approached the front of the theatre and I became even more excited. There's a booth, and a large neon sign, just like in the movies. I am used to Century 16s and Regal Cinemas, but this... why this was going to be an experience all its own.
The Kiggins opened its doors for the first time in April of 1936, during the great depression, just like many other cinemas. At the time people needed entertainment to keep their minds from spiraling down the financial worry hole.
"It was a depression but the theatre was an escape." Matilda Baran, a Vancouver resident, recalls the opening night warmly.
Throughout WWII the Kiggins was closed, and then shortly after became a church, where it suffered from a fire, but luckily the fireproof cement kept the building standing. In 2006 Bill Leigh, the former owner purchased the theatre and was able to acquire backers to help him remodel the theatre to its former glory. In 2012 the Kiggins was bought by the current owner Dan Wyatt, and that same year it was added to the National Registry of Historic Places.
Once we were inside the theatre I was taken aback, once again, there are beautifully painted decorations along the theatre walls, and in the hallway is an antique projector. Curtains flank the screen itself, and the chairs are embroidered. Venues like these carry a lot of history and feelings. Visiting these types of places reminds me of a time when the internet hadn't convoluted society so much. I was grounded.
You can find the Horror Movie Talk guys on most social media and podcast platforms. I suggest giving their Hereditary episode a listen before the Kiggins showing this month. Hereditary was a big influence on Bryce to start podcasting with his buddy David. I was able to sit down with Bryce and discuss his podcast, the impact of Hereditary, and his take on The Fly.
"I took David and another friend to it (I.e. Hereditary) and we ended up talking about it for about an hour after the show, and then I realized, well this is it!" (...) "That movie was kind of the origin of the podcast."
Hereditary will show on the 24th of June at 9:30 pm, doors open at 9 pm, at the Kiggins Theatre. Bring your best cultist garb, and I encourage you to bring friends and family, what fun is joining a cult alone?
The guys behind HMT are sure to incorporate their fans into their content by sharing their calls on air in a segment they like to call "Horror Movie Talk Whores". And before you get triggered, just know that this podcast is sleaves up and hands dirty. They are not for the faint-hearted, and neither are the films they discuss. Horror films have always been a commentary on societal fears, and HMT uses that to their advantage. The hosts lighten these horror films' stomach-turning, vomit-inducing imagery by joking and having fun with such serious material. There have been more than a handful of times that I have howled with laughter while I was driving, only to get home and throw that very film on.
This is what Bryce had to say when discussing some of his controversial statements during The Sadness episode. "I had a little moment of putting my philosopher thought experiment hat on. I touched some of these third-rail topics." (...) "The [frequent] listeners know that we're pretty apolitical. We're touching on political ideas, but in the end, we're not pushing an agenda."
When it comes to horror cinema and the effects it has on society, no one can say that it hasn't built its own culture, community, and camaraderie. Horror Movie Talk is a great place to find some fun entertainment for any horror fan. Join the Facebook group, make some friends, and be a part of this community. Not to mention HMT allows their Patreon members to interact with the pod by voting on the next film they will record an episode for. I pushed for Wolf of Snow Hollow one month its another great episode to give a listen. If you're a fan of slashers, hauntings, found-footage, or pretentious horror films, they cover it all.
The Fly (1986)
In the '80s there were two very noteworthy films being re-adapted and/ or remade for the mainstream. One of these films was The Thing which was based on the film The Thing From Another World from 1951, and the other is The Fly based on the film of the same name from 1958.
The overarching plot of The Fly is a science experiment that has gone awry, which begins a sequence of body degenerative scenes. Geena Davis and Jeff Goldblum knock their roles out of the park, and just when it can't get worse a baby is introduced into the fray. The premise is simple, the execution is elegant, and the ending is robust. Gun blast, roll credits.
Bryce had caught snippets of The Fly as a child but came to appreciate the film with age. "When you watch, like, a show or a movie from childhood, and then you watch it as an adult, it's kind of a crap shoot on whether it'll hold up." (..) "The idea of body degeneration and disease is a lot more on the forefront of my mind."
Both of these films have left a huge impact on the history of horror cinema. These films are similar in so many ways save for commercial success, The Thing had underperformed at the box office. Both films have practical effects that will make your stomach turn, both films play into hysteria, and dysmorphia, yet one is the clear winner at the box office. Why is that?
David Cronenberg was in his forties when starting to readapt The Fly. Some of the body dysmorphia was obviously on his mind. He had, behind him at this point, films such as Scanners, Videodrome, and The Deadzone. Cronenberg was far from his peak, but that doesn't mean he didn't have a transformation of his own with this film. I don't personally have much knowledge of Cronenberg's work, but after witnessing The Fly I feel a deep dive on the horizon.
Bryce pointed out that The Fly is a timely film. We're talking about abortion, aids, and even gun control. There's a scene where Geena Davis is shown to have a misogynistic conversation with her boss, and she gets the upper hand on him. Inside the Kiggins, the crowd gave a round of applause and some viewers cheered. All of these concerns remain relevant today, and it seems to me that The Thing is just as much of an equivalent in this regard. Both films were remade during an era of uncertainty surrounding AIDS, and as different as Covid is, there's still mistrust and a divide among the people.
Another point of contention between The Thing and The Fly is the demand for a remake/ reboot. The Thing had a prequel made in 2011 that was met with fairly poor reviews, and that seems to be due to the lack of practical effects. The Fly II seems to have also lacked many of the qualities of its predecessor. I like the idea of someone like Ti West approaching The Fly for a new generation of moviegoers. With his experience behind the camera in films like V/H/S and X, I think he can bring an amount of body horror to the table that would best suit this film.
"When you're talking about a special effects-driven movie from the 80's it's a much more impressive thing back then vs now, where we can just make anything look like anything and disobey the laws of physics." (...) "The most creative products come out of limitations." Said Bryce.
I agree with Bryce when it comes to effects and their reflection of the film. Ti West is a director that takes that into account and pushes practicality as much as he can. Ultimately The Thing experienced a lul. ET came out the same year and people wanted to love aliens, not fear them. The Thing is a masterpiece of its own, and if it would have been released at a different time it would have excelled, The Fly proves this.
The Fly was amazing to watch in a crowd of cinephiles, and fellow cultists. We laughed, we gasped, and we longed for Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis. I don't know if I would have enjoyed such a film from my couch, but the overall experience made The Fly a movie I'll never forget. Not to mention that Bryce and David encouraged the crowd to express their discomfort and joy. I walked out of the Theatre warm from the delicious house red ale, and turned to my Fiance and asked, "Was it as bad as you thought?"
"No." She replied. "But we don't actually have to get hoods, do we?"