They're Waiting... For You!
Year of Release: 1979
Genre: Horror/Science Fiction
Running Time: 92 minutes (1:32)
Director: David Cronenberg
Oliver Reed ... Dr. Hal Raglan
Samantha Eggar ... Nola Carveth
Art Hindle ... Frank Carveth
Henry Beckman ... Barton Kelly
Nuala Fitzgerald ... Juliana Kelly
Cindy Hinds ... Candice Carveth
Susan Hogan ... Ruth Mayer
Gary McKeehan ... Mike Trellan
Michael Magee ... Inspector
Felix Silla ... Creature
John Ferguson ... Creature
Behind the walls of his secluded Somafree Institute, Dr. Hal Raglan (Oliver Reed) experiments with "Psychoplasmics," a controversial therapy designed to help release pent-up emotions in his patients. He keeps his star patient Nola (Samantha Eggar) in isolation, but as she vents her fury during their sessions, brutal murders befall the people she's angry with outside the institute. What is the connection between Raglan's methods and these monstrous killings? The answer will unleash a whole new breed of terror!
The Brood is a movie that teaches us that if we would all just bottle our rage and keep the cork on it, the world would not only be a much better place, but a much safer place. Letting out one's rage is not only obnoxious to all the onlookers who couldn't give a shit if you stuffed them with two pounds of laxatives, but it can also be seriously detrimental to people's health. Because, even though you may not give a damn that somebody's gone crackers on account of you leaving the cap off of the toothpaste for the 764th time, the angry, creep faced dwarves they spawn intend to eat your face just the same. And losing one's face causes a whole series of problems when trying to function in a society. Just look what happened to Mel Gibson after it became known that he had no face. Sure, it took awhile to come to fruition, but he's in Charlie Sheen territory at this point. So, case in point, having no face will lead you down a dark path, maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but some day. So, equally important to holding our tempers in check, is to try to be as courteous as possible as we move though life. Angering others may result in the loss of your face, but releasing that anger may result in an even worse fate. Reason being, every time you pop your top, you've got a new face eating mutant midget to support. Ever try to find a day care center that'll look after your face eating mutant baby? It's rough. Not only that, but to get angry enough to cause the face eating mutant baby to go eat some faces to keep it's belly full, you must produce another in the process. So, as you can see, it's a vicious cycle, whether they're your face eating mutant babies, or someone else's, they really complicate matters, and it's best if we all just take a deep breath, think of a babbling brook, and do what we have to do to prevent as many creepy face eating mutant babies from coming into this world as possible. Use protection, buy a stress ball.
So here's the deal. The Brood is actually a really interesting and enjoyable movie. It starts out a lot slower than most movies do. Particularly horror movies. Sci Fi and Action too, but horror movies almost always have an opening sequence that we're dropped into with no clue. In this sequence there's usually some typical daily activity or otherwise normal series of events happening, and then, very abruptly, something icky, or lacking that, confusing happens. Then we roll the opening credits. That's how it's supposed to work. Not here though, it's kinda dry for awhile with character development and plot development. The character development is pretty dull, because almost all the characters are rather uninteresting. ALMOST, all the characters. The plot development is very necessary, because it's pretty screwed up stuff. Screwed up, interesting, unusual stuff. The central characters are Dad, portrayed by the guy that played Officer Jarvis in Porky's. Mom, who's locked up in the Booby Hatch. And Carol Anne as the daughter. She's the one in the TV. Least it looks like she should be. And the psychiatrist, who's injecting kooks with a serum that gives em cancer and roid rage. The rest are strictly body count fodder. So Officer Jarvis is trying to cope with life as a single parent and coming to grips with the fact that he stuck it in the crazy. But that's not too draining because Jarvis doesn't seem to have a day job or any hobbies or... really anything else in his life, so he's got plenty of time to think about what he did, and how drunk he must have been at the time.
Unfortunately, he keeps getting distracted when everyone he seems to be even remotely fond of keeps getting brutalized by creepy little blonde twerps with claws and obscured, yet clearly malformed faces. But one of the little twerps goes gimpy and starts reaching for it's Life Alert necklace because it's fallen in the bathroom and can't get up. It's unable to push the button in time and Jarvis hauls the little creep off for an alien autopsy sequence in a photo processing laboratory. The film processor examines the creepy twerp and determines that not only is it god awful ugly, but it has no belly button. So our first impression is that the little twerps are simply the offspring of Barbara Eden and there's really nothing to get alarmed about. But then they kidnap Carol Anne from school and give the teacher a lesson in Brutality 101. So when Jarvis can't find Carol Anne he goes looking for the psychiatrist and figures out that the kids are the spawn of his loony wife's temper tantrums. He's still not sure how, but the psychiatrist has a PHD so he takes his word for it and goes to make nice with the wife so she'll stop spawning the little face eaters. He temporarily succeeds, and the wife raises her shirt and we think we're gonna get to see something fun, but that sneaky director pulls the ole switcheroo on us an it turns out what she intended to show Jarvis is her collection of bowling ball sized tumors. Then she goes White Fang on one of the tumors and tears a newborn creep out of the tumor an starts giving it a tongue bath. Meanwhile the psychiatrist is upstairs in the cellar where the creepy twerps live, trying to sneak by an entire room full of rabid Teletubbies and get Carol Anne out of there before the mom goes ape shit. It is at this point that she realizes he's faking it and the other creeps maul the psychiatrist. The creeps make like Wal Mart shoppers who think the psychiatrist has the last 32" Plasma TV on Black Friday and... well lets not spoil the ending.
The movie does suspense extremely well, and there are a few contributing factors as to why the movie feels suspenseful, where most movies try and fail. First and foremost, the child monsters are great. The extremely rapid movements they execute during the first attack sequence are very unnerving. They're so quick that you know, if they want to get the character on screen, they're going to, and there's nothing that character can do about it. Additionally, their appearance is genuinely creepy. You never really get a close enough view of them to see exactly what you look like, but you can see exaggerated features on their faces, and you can tell that things are simply not how they should be. And that's the case throughout the entire movie, if you don't pause the movie, you never get a lengthy, close up look at them. And that can be a bad thing, if you don't get to see enough, there's a fine line where, if you can't see anything, the effect is lost. And if you see too much, it loses it's mystique. Cronenberg shows just enough of them that you're not sure what they are, but you know they're nasty little ugmos. This is a technique that's particularly beneficial to a movie if the make up effects are not good. It turns what might otherwise be a deal breaker into masterful suspense. Which is not to say that these are bad make up effects, honestly I have no idea if they're good or not, because you never get a good look at them. For that reason, it's trivial information anyway. The musical scores also match up nicely with what's happening in the scenes during which they play, and that's almost as important as what we're seeing, because if the music doesn't seem to fit, things get comedic really quickly. A good one two punch.
Overall I'd say this movie is extremely under rated. It has a good rating on the IMDB and from what I can see has many positive reviews posted online, but you really don't hear anybody talk much about this movie. You never see it on top 10 lists or even top 20 lists, and while I don't believe I'd put it on a top 20 list either, I'm really surprised that more people don't. Fans of psychological horror should really enjoy this movie. Same deal with fans of suspense thrillers, although when you start talking about suspense thrillers in general, they seldom have the kind of blood or violence this movie has. It's really very original in concept, at least in my horror viewing experience. I'm sure there probably are some older movies that have explored the notion of psychological emotions becoming a physical force in some capacity, although I doubt there are many movies that predate it that personify that force in the form of rabid creepy blonde midgets. The kids in Village of the Damned don't count, they were neither rabid nor malformed. It's different, that's for sure. And that would be the selling point upon which I recommend it most highly. If you're looking for something different, this is one to check out. From what I've seen David Cronenberg does not disappoint in the horror genre. They don't call him the "Baron of Blood" because he's a compulsive plasma donor.