The 1986 remake of “The Fly” is about a scientist (Jeff Goldblum) who is in the middle of perfecting a teleportation pod. When a fly gets trapped in a pod with him, the machine innocently splices them together. Goldblum spends the bulk of the film watching his body slowly transform into a monstrous fly-human hybrid. Pieces drop off his body and his skin warps, he spits out teeth, he loses an ear. His emotional journey is complex, as his horror quickly turns to fascination. He begins making records and videos of his transformation and deterioration.
This scientific fascination stems from Cronenberg’s own interests in regards to human bodies, and would still be true 36 years later with “Crimes of the Future.” In the Time Out interview, Cronenberg even suggested something that would be joked about, in dialogue, in “Crimes”:
“It’s a fascination with the human body. But it’s also a willingness to look at what’s there without flinching, and to say: ‘This is what we’re made of, as disgusting as it might seem at times.’ Because I’m really saying that the inside of the human body must have a completely different aesthetic. I could conceive of a beauty contest where people would unzip themselves and show you the best spleen and the best-looking viscera.”
Viggo Mortensen’s “Crimes” character makes cracks about an “inner beauty pageant.” Cronenberg has been flip, casual, and fascinated with human biology for decades. To him, it’s not necessarily horrific. It’s just life. It also stems from a rather personal experience he had with bodily deterioration.