From The Vault: The Brood (1979) Ian White August 10, 2012 From The Vault 3529 For anyone who believes that letting your feelings out is a good thingâ€¦ watch â€˜The Broodâ€™ first. When Frank Carveth picks his five year old daughter Candice up from the Somafree Institute for Psychoplasmics, practitioners of a radical new therapy where his estranged wife Nola is undergoing some intensive isolated treatment, he discovers that Candiâ€™s been severely scratched and bitten.Â He confronts Dr. Hal Raglan, the founder of Psychoplasmics and Nolaâ€™s psychiatrist, telling him that heâ€™ll no longer allow Candi to visit her mother. Raglan warns that being separated from Candi could put Nola over the deep end and Frank very quickly discovers that Raglan isnâ€™t exaggerating. Thanks to Raglanâ€™s controversial â€˜Shape of Rageâ€™ therapy, Nola is able to manifest her anger in extremely deadly ways and sheâ€™s got plenty of scores to settle. The idea that negative emotion can create something real and monstrous outside the body isnâ€™t a new one. â€˜Forbidden Planetâ€™ (1956), although a sci-fi reworking of Shakespeareâ€™s â€˜The Tempestâ€™, explored a very similar concept, as did 1976â€™s â€˜Carrieâ€™Â who didnâ€™t create monsters with her mind but who telepathically released her fear and anger to terrifying effect. But director David Cronenberg uses â€˜The Broodâ€™ to explore this notion even further. Cronenberg was going through his own custody battle when he wrote the screenplay for â€˜The Broodâ€™ but – unlike the cheesily sentimental and supposedly more â€˜realâ€™ â€˜Kramer vs. Kramerâ€™ (ironically released the same year) â€“ he uses the horror genre to paint an uncompromising and visceral depiction of what a break-up can really do to a family, and the psychological damage it inflicts upon ourselves and our children. Samantha Eggar gives a complex performance as Nola whose resentments go far deeper than the failure of her marriage, and who is the embodiment of the belief that itâ€™s our parents who really fuck us up. She see-saws between anger and despair, between victim and aggressor, between vulnerable child trapped inside an adult body and then, in a switch, to murderously resentful wronged woman. Her scenes with Raglan are fabulous and painful to watch because theyâ€™re so emotionally true, and her final encounter with her husband â€“ in a tremendously imaginative ticking-bomb moment, when Frank tries to keep her calm while Candi is rescued from the clutches of The Brood â€“ is a phenomenal combination of acting and screenwriting and, in one audacious reveal, a shocking coup-de-grace moment of body horror. Art Hindle is surprisingly sympathetic as her husband Frank, whose mission to uncover what really goes on at Somafree takes him to some unexpected places. Normally a bland one-note actor â€“ the reason he was such a convincing pod-person in Philip Kaufmanâ€™s remake of â€˜Invasion of The Body Snatchersâ€™ (1978) â€“ Hindle is a hero we can empathise with; protective of his daughter, suspicious of Raglanâ€™s motives, watching people die all around him and desperate to discover whatâ€™s happening before itâ€™s too late. But the star of this movie is Oliver Reed who plays Dr. Raglan like a softly spoken Svengali and, with his impressive build, his gently measured voice and unwavering gaze, thereâ€™s no doubt heâ€™s a force to be reckoned with. Reed was a remarkable actor whose activities off-camera sadly overshadowed what a fascinating and charismatic presence he was onscreen. Heâ€™s a complex actor too. Raglan isnâ€™t entirely the bad guy here, heâ€™s a flawed genius who truly believes what heâ€™s doing is right. And, given recent medical evidence that the mind can have a devastating effect on the health of the body coupled with our new age interest in alternative therapies, Psychoplasmics is no longer a science fiction idea. â€˜The Broodâ€™ was made thirty five years ago but if Cronenberg ever published Raglanâ€™s â€˜The Shape of Rageâ€™, it would never be off the bestseller lists. â€˜The Broodâ€™ is a movie that makes us think even as it makes us scared. There are a lot of visual shocks, not least of which when little Candice wanders into the aftermath of The Broodâ€™s attack on her grandmother and The Brood momentarily appears, snarling, wrapping its small bloodied hands around the banisters of the staircase. There is also an exquisite so-ugly-itâ€™s-beautiful moment towards the end of the film (a moment which was originally cut by the BBFC but thankfully now reinstated) where Nola nuzzles a newborn Brood and lovingly licks the afterbirth off its tiny body. Itâ€™s a touching and psychologically revealing few seconds â€“ the tenderness of motherhood, even when mother gives birth to a monster – Â and the earlier, cut versions of the movie were weakened by its excision. Finally though, what makes â€˜The Broodâ€™ one of my favourite movies is its reality. All great horror starts from a place we understand. Weâ€™re scared because we can imagine those terrifying events happening to us. Itâ€™s why Cronenbergâ€™s early fascination with body horror â€“ the two features he made before â€˜The Broodâ€™ were â€˜Shiversâ€™ and â€˜Rabidâ€™ â€“ frightens me most of all. We can run away from a Freddy or a Jason â€“ we probably wonâ€™t survive but at least we can attempt to fight back â€“ but when the enemy is inside us, when our own bodies are working against us or, as in Nolaâ€™s case, creating deadly mutations over which we have no control â€“ thereâ€™s no escape. Thatâ€™s the reason Cronenbergâ€™s work is so special to me, particularly his genius films of the seventies and eighties. Heâ€™s one of the few directors whose ideas alone can keep me awake at night. Weâ€™re all scared to look into the abyss incase we find the worst parts of ourselves looking back, but whereas Nola created The Brood when she released her anger, Cronenberg created a significant and perfectly balanced horror movie when he released his. Watch â€˜The Broodâ€™ and then watch â€˜Kramer versus Kramerâ€™ and decide which is a more honest depiction of a couple trapping their child in the throes of a break-up. I guarantee it wonâ€™t be the one with Meryl Streep in it.