It’s easy to be non­plussed by a propo­si­tion like Return Of The Fly.  It’s a sequel as remake, with all the hit ele­ments of the orig­i­nal repeat­ed on a slashed bud­get with only one star — Vincent Price — return­ing.  The seri­ous sci-fi buffs tend to sniff at it because it was direct­ed by Edward Bernds, a jour­ney­man who direct­ed Three Stooges films and the camp clas­sic Queen Of Outer Space.  This bag­gage aside, the film is a solid lit­tle pot­boil­er and offers view­ers a nos­tal­gic glimpse back at what it was like when major stu­dios would crank out their own sec­ond-half-of-a-dou­ble-bill quick­ies.RetFly-pos

Return Of The Fly begins with a funer­al: not for the hero of the last film but for his wife, who died young from the strain of the last film’s events. Francois Delambre (Price) looks on mourn­ful­ly as Philippe (Brett Halsey), the son of the deceased, vows to resume work on his father’s long-aban­doned tele­por­ta­tion device.  Francois reluc­tant­ly agrees to assist once it is obvi­ous that Philippe won’t be deterred.  Things seems to go well until a secret­ly crim­i­nal col­league (David Frankham) plots to steal the plans.  This kick­starts a chain of nasty events that result in anoth­er half-man, half-fly muta­tion as Philippe strug­gles to RetFly-01save his nephew from obliv­ion.

Simply put, Return Of The Fly is the essence of a pro­gram­mer:  Bernds, who also wrote the script, duti­ful­ly repeats both the plot struc­ture of The Fly and a lot of the key high­lights.  To his cred­it, he does not waste time (the film is a tight 80 min­utes) and adds a lit­tle unex­pect­ed spice by weav­ing in a crime/sabotage sub­plot that has some fun gang­ster-flick over­tones.  Brydon Baker’s crisp Cinemascope pho­tog­ra­phy adds a lit­tle extra pro­duc­tion val­ue to the mix to make up for RetFly-02the recy­cled sets and stu­dio back­lot loca­tions and the blood-and-thun­der musi­cal score seals the film’s late-‘50s sci-fi/horror vibe.

Best of all, Price does a nice job keep­ing the film aloft.  Halsey makes for a solid pro­tag­o­nist but it is Price who not only con­nects the film to its pre­de­ces­sor but uses his for­mi­da­ble dra­mat­ic chops to add some much-need­ed grav­i­tas to the pro­ceed­ings.  Bernds wise­ly allows him to take cen­ter stage in the film’s third act and Price’s pro­fes­sion­al work gives the finale a nice lift.

In short, Return Of The Fly is the kind of recy­cling-based sequel it is often accused of being — but it gets the job done with eco­nom­i­cal skill and con­fi­dence, throw­ing in a solid Vincent Price per­for­mance as a bonus.  It’s the kind of com­pe­tent lit­tle quick­ie that major stu­dios just don’t make any­more — and any­one fond of stu­dio-spon­sored b-movies will find it to be decent fun-on-a-bud­get.