The Brood

BLU-RAY REVIEW: The Brood (1979)

By Nick Durham

The Brood

When it comes to body horror, no one does it like David Cronenberg. From Shivers to Rabid to Videodrome, Cronenberg's early work could fuck with your head and make your stomach churn like no other director in the horror business. One film that often falls by the wayside, at least when it comes to casual fans of his work, is his 1979 film, The Brood. Originally reviled by critics upon its initial release, The Brood is now often recognized as an oft-maligned classic of the director's filmography. I don't know if I'd really call it a classic, but that's where we are.

Anyway, the story of The Brood revolves around a man named Frank (Art Hindle) investigating the strange therapy techniques of psychologist Hal Raglan (Oliver Reed), and the effects they are having on Frank's institutionalized wife Nola (Samantha Eggar). Nola had a very traumatic upbringing, and Frank worries for the future of their young daughter Candice (Cindy Hinds). Eventually people linked to Nola begin being attacked by groups of seemingly deformed children, all the while Frank gets closer to learning the truth of the effects that Raglan's methods have had on his wife.

While The Brood may sound like a science gone mad-style of film, it really isn't at its heart. Like many of Cronenberg's other works from this era, this film focuses on the impact of the psychological torment that one can withstand before it starts manifesting itself in a physical nature, i.e. what we all know as the body horror sub-genre. Like I said before, nobody can do body horror like Cronenberg could. We get a nasty end result to everything to, with a shocker of a reveal at the film's climax to boot.

Now while The Brood is well shot, very well acted, and manages to leave a bit of a lasting impression, it just doesn't have that gut-wrenching impact that Cronenberg's more well-known works manage to have. That and the fact that somehow, some way, I just have a harder time believing a story about the physical manifestations of someone's psychological rage wreaking havoc than I do a vagina-looking VCR undulating from someone's chest cavity. I don't know, call me weird I guess. No matter what, The Brood has never really hit me in the way that Shivers, Rabid, Videodrome, The Fly, or even Naked Lunch could do to me.

Criterion's Blu-ray release is wonderful, as to be expected. The film's picture and sound are phenomenal, undoubtedly the best I've seen and heard it ever. There's a new documentary about the making of the film as well as delving into Cronenberg's early work, plus a 2011 interview with Cronenberg and Fangoria's Chris Alexander. Cronenberg's 1970 film Crimes of the Future is included here as well, which is also remastered for Blu-ray capabilities. There's also an appearance of Oliver Reed on The Merv Griffin Show. I will not comment on the state of his sobriety during this appearance.

So yeah, I've never been much of a fan of The Brood to say it lightly. It's not a terrible film, not one damn bit, but I find it hard to classify it as iconic as a majority of Cronenberg's filmography is. Like I said before, maybe it's just me, but it's never effected me like it has so many others. Either way, if you're a fan of this film, pick up this Blu-ray for the features alone.

Rating: 3/5

 

Posted by Alan Smithee

Leave a Reply