The Brood (1979)

David Cronenberg appears on the list of 101 Horror Movies with this disturbing little film which he wrote and directed. There are a lot of familiar Cronenbery traits including the concept of body horror, and a score by talented Canadian composer Howard Shore (The Lord of the Rings).

Art Hindle plays Frank Carveth, a father who is worried that his daughter Candace (Cindy Hinds) may be being abused by her mother Nola (Samantha Eggar) while she is under the care of Doctor Hal Raglan (Oliver Reed).

Raglan is fascinated by the concept of psychoplasmics, which sees his subjects expressing their rage causing physiological changes in their bodies. He presents himself to his subjects as their father, their mother, their child, their lover, anything that will allow him to push them further, asking them questions, pushing, probing driving them through their rage, and eventually causing changes in their bodies. Troubling, life-threatening changes.

In Nola’s case, she has created a brood of ‘creatures’ that help her carry out her darker feelings while Raglan pushes her through her therapy.

These things assault and kill Nola’s mother, her father even one of Candace’s teachers that Nola believes is having an affair with Frank.

When the brood, at Nola’s unconscious bidding seizes Candace from her classroom, Frank has to go out to the secluded institute and try and save his daughter.

Frank confronts Nola, while Raglan attempts to rescue Candace from the brood, sacrificing himself to save her her murderous siblings.

It is during his confrontation with Nola that we see the precursor of all the body horror Cronenberg would visit upon us in the years to follow.

Little pustules on Nola’s body, are growing, filling with fluid, and life, connected to her body are disgusting polyps all filled with the Brood. Her rage is creating more and more members for her terrifying family.

The Brood is a dark film, the beatings and murders conducted by these little creatures are brutal, and so much more disturbing because they seem to be children, deformed and vicious, but still children.

Hindle’s Frank is pushed right to the breaking point, doing everything he can to save his daughter, and in the end, the cost is incredibly high, and the final shot of the episode leaves you wondering if it was all for naught.

Set to the stirring strings of Shore’s score, Cronenberg sets the stage for many of his later films, but Nola’s reveal is gonna stay with me for awhile. And I think that is one of the best things about his films, long after the credits roll, there are moments, images, and ideas that stay with you for a long time after.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Dave Enkosky says:

    This movie has probably my favorite “Oh my God, that did not just happen” moment.

    1. TD Rideout says:

      Yeah, I was a little stunned when we got to the climax, and there’s the body horror moment… Ick!

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