The Brood

Good Lord! I think I need to shower after watching this movie. It is not for the faint of heart. This movie is disgusting, violent, and horrifying. It is also riveting and absolutely one of the better horror films I’ve seen.

The Brood is a 1979 film written and directed by David Cronenberg. It follows a man named Frank Carveth, played by Art Hindle, as he struggles raising his daughter while his wife is at a secluded psychotherapy retreat run by the nefarious Dr. Hal Raglan, played by Oliver Reed. Frank’s family has been falling apart and his wife Nola, played by Samantha Eggar left him to live at this compound in order to undergo Dr. Raglan’s experimental psychological treatments. Raglan calls it Psychoplasmics. It involves the body manifesting negative emotions in a physical form. In the arresting opening scene Dr. Raglan performs psychoplasmics on a patient working through trauma related to his father. Dr. Raglan charges the patient to show what his father’s abuse did to him. He removes his robe to show physical sores all over his body. Apparently Nola was able to take this approach much much further than that.

Walking into this film, I knew very little beyond that premise, but seriously nothing could have prepared me for what I ended up seeing in this movie. The final moments especially are so beyond the pale that I covered my eyes. I never cover my eyes. This movie is unreal in how for it is willing and able to go.

A few key elements stand out. The performance by Oliver Reed. He is imposing and domineering without ever losing his charisma and magnetism. He delivers a fantastic performance especially in the scenes in which he and various patience are performing psychoplasmics. His huge eyes study and take everything in, and he’s able to shift so subtly beyond beats that he becomes a whole new person without ever seeming to change.

The makeup and effects are so disgusting here. The blood looks more real than most movie blood. The makeup looks completely convincing. The final scene contains the most disgusting thing I’ve seen maybe ever and it is so disgusting because it looks so real. (That said, there is a fake baby used at one point in the movie that is clearly a rubber baby, but it doesn’t really detract from everything else going on makeup-wise.)

The best part about the movie is its themes. This is a movie that grosses you out, but also has something to say. It explores ideas of mental illness and the rejection of psychology. It looks at motherhood and what it means to be a mother. It looks at trauma and how childhood trauma can damage someone for the rest of their lives. It has a lot on its mind beyond being horrifying.

I just watched the movie, and I still can’t believe it’s real. I don’t know what was in the water back in the late 70’s early 80’s, but they had some crazy horror movies back then. It is my cup of tea, but I don’t know if I liked this movie or not. I loved the filmmaking. I loved the themes and the performances. It had a very strong effect on me, but man I am so unsettled and disturbed that I can’t say I like this movie. It’s a strange experience. I’ve never really felt this way about a movie before. Should you see it? Yeah. I think it’s a great movie and unlike anything you’ve probably seen. Although if you are squeamish in anyway prepare to cover your eyes. For the films quality and craft I give it and A-

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