31 Days of Halloween 2015: Day 17 – The Brood A great horror movie makes more of an impression on the psyche than any other kind of film. Hell, even a bad horror flick can scar you for life. There’s a phrase that every seasoned horror fan loves to hear: “Have you ever seen . . . ?” For the next 31 days, John E. Meredith will unearth some of his personal favorites that fell through the cracks, that are not so obvious, the kind that might even sneak up on you while you’re trying to sleep. The Brood 1979, Canada. Written and directed by David Cronenberg. Starring Oliver Reed, Samantha Eggar, Art Hindle, Cindy Hinds. If all of your lifelong anger were to suddenly take on a physical form, who or what would be the first recipients of your children of rage? When he released THE BROOD upon the world in 1979, David Cronenberg referred to it as his version of KRAMER VS. KRAMER, the courtroom custody drama that swept the Academy Awards that same year. The storyline arose from his own experiences with his recent divorce and attempts to gain custody of his child. The script had already been written for what would become his next movie, SCANNERS, but this was the film Cronenberg admitted to himself he needed to make next. Seen in this light, it’s almost touching to see a man working out his frustrations through his work. Of course, that man is one that would give cinema several of its most unforgettable images of horror. Two men engaging in a psychic showdown until the one guy’s head explodes like a meat-filled pumpkin. Parasitic slugs entering body cavities and turning people into rutting sex maniacs. Jeff Goldblum dropping body parts all over his apartment on the way to becoming a fly. A man reaching into a very vaginal opening in his stomach in order to pull out a gun. But here in THE BROOD, thanks to one man’s marital hell, we’ve got those creepy troll-child things, silently following a little girl into her kindergarten classroom and beating the teacher to death in front of a roomful of five year olds. Frank (Art Hindle) and his wife Nola (Samantha Eggar) have split up. We don’t really know why, other than he’s a bit high-strung and she’s in some kind of self-imposed therapy where she sits around making wide-eyed crazy looks all day. But they both want custody of their young daughter Candice (Cindy Hinds). Frank is concerned about the treatment his estranged wife is getting at the Somafree Institute of Psychoplasmics and what that treatment means for his daughter. Hal Raglan (Oliver Reed) is the unorthodox doc behind psychoplasmics, which is somewhat vaguely explained but seems to revolve around repressed anger and other intense emotions becoming physically manifested. A kind of mad scientist in self-help clothes, Raglan stimulates this growth through repeated role-playing, urging his patients to ‘go all the way through it’. His techniques are controversial, even among the patients who have finished going all the way through it. All of this inner turmoil has become strange spots, glands and growths on the patients’ bodies. We begin to wonder how Nola’s anger is manifesting when it’s revealed that she was abused by her alcoholic mother as a child, while her equally alcoholic father did nothing to protect her. Oh, and hey, it looks like Grandma is babysitting tonight. The first time we see one of the little creeps, it’s not much more than a fleeting glimpse. A hooded midget, maybe, some kind of gnome. Scurrying about the cabinets, like it’s still not sure what it’s supposed to be doing. But when it sees the source of its inborn rage, it doesn’t hesitate to leap on top of her and bludgeon her to death. The second one is not as hesitant to kill. When it tries for a bonus victim with Frank, however, it ends up on the coroner’s slab. An autopsy reveals a bunch of bizarre anatomical anomalies, such as the absence of a navel, sexual organs, or teeth. And really, even with it stretched out like a harmless specimen in the morgue, the damn thing is just plain creepy. For years after seeing this movie, I had to avert my eyes when passing the playground, in fear that I might look over and see a couple of these freaky little bastards going up, down, up, down on the see-saw. When Raglan discovers that his therapy is yielding, shall we say . . . unusual results, he seems to make an attempt at redemption. He sends all of the other patients home, closing Somafree down. One of these damaged and discarded patients bitterly informs Frank, “Dr. Raglan wants to be alone with your wife!” Frank races to the clinic in hopes that his missing daughter is there too. She is, of course, but in the company of about ten of these nasty creatures. Realizing that they are too dangerous to keep, Raglan tries to slip into their quarters and rescue Candice. All that Frank has to do is keep Nola calm. Maybe, just maybe, that will keep the brood at bay. See larger image The Brood [Blu-ray] A disturbed woman is receiving a radical form of psychotherapy at a remote, mysterious institute. Meanwhile, her five-year-old daughter, under the care of her estranged husband, is being terrorized by a group of demonic beings. How these two story lines connect is the shocking and grotesque secret of this bloody tale of monstrous parenthood from David Cronenberg (Scanners), starring Oliver Reed (Women in Love) and Samantha Eggar (The Collector). With its combination of psychological and body horror, The Brood laid the groundwork for many of the director’s films to come, but it stands on its own as a personal, singularly scary vision. DIRECTOR-APPROVED BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES • New, restored 2K digital transfer, supervised by director David Cronenberg, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack • New documentary about the making of the film and Cronenberg’s early work, featuring actor Samantha Eggar, producer Pierre David, cinematographer Mark Irwin, assistant director John Board, and special makeup effects artists Rick Baker (Videodrome) and Joe Blasco (Shivers and Rabid) • New, restored 2K digital transfer of Crimes of the Future, a 1970 feature by Cronenberg, supervised by the director, plus a 2011 interview in which the director discusses his early films with Fangoria editor Chris Alexander • Interview from 2013 with actors Art Hindle and Cindy Hinds • Appearance by actor Oliver Reed on The Merv Griffin Show from 1980 • Trailer and radio spot • PLUS: An essay by critic Carrie Rickey New From: $22.97 USD In Stock Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... 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