Brood (1979) – By Danny Runion

 Psychotherapy ensues. The patient is looking the doctor in the eye as they role play. Doctor Raglan insults and browbeats the patient until he rips his shirt off and has numerous burns over his stomach and back. A group leaves impressed by Raglan’s demonstration. Frank picks up his daughter, Candy. They leave the clinic where Frank’s wife Nola is staying. At home, Frank discovers that Candy has a number of cuts and bites on Candy’s back.

Later, Frank sees Doctor Raglan and demands to see his wife. The good father is sure that Nola has abused and beaten Candy during her weekend visit and won’t bring Candy back again. Raglan claims that if Candy isn’t there for the weekend visits he’ll insure that Frank will lose custody. Doctor Raglan has another session with Nola.

Frank discusses the problem with his attorney who warns him not to go against Doctor Raglan. Frank decides to get witnesses to impeach Raglan’s credibility or to prove the guy’s a complete fraud. He visits Nola’s mother and leaves Candy there to spend the night.

Back at the clinic, Nola has another session. Raglan assumes the identity of Candy. Nola starts ranting about her mother. Raglan wants her to go all the way as creepy music starts.

Candy and Grandmother Julia look at old pictures. Something breaks out of a cabinet. Julia hears the noise in the kitchen and goes to investigate. A Killer Rage Midget strikes her repeatedly while Candy is in the living room. When the little girl goes to check on her grandmother, the Killer Rage Midget runs away. At Frank’s construction site, he gets a call how the police discovered Julia’s body and Candy asleep upstairs. The police psychiatrist questions Candy. The police ask Frank about Julia’s ex-husband. Frank talks with the police shrink who is sure Candy saw something but is blocking the memory.

Apparently, Nola is terrified that Frank thinks she’ll turn into her mother. Roleplaying, Raglan assumes the role of Daddy. Nola is sure that Frank is against her. As the role playing continues, Nola rants show her father didn’t try to stop her mother from beating her.

Frank meets with Jan, one of the disgruntled patients. Apparently, Frank and Jan’s lawyers know each other. Jan is suing Raglan for physiological damage. The therapy caused lymphoma which is killing him. Jan is just suing Raglan to generate bad publicity. Frank leaves and is getting suitably disturbed.

Frank picks Candy up at the school. He talks with Candy’s teacher, Ruth, about Candy when Barton calls. The obvious drunk Barton couldn’t talk to Nola and will head back to the clinic. Frank decides to go with him. Ruth stays to keep an eye on Candy. Killer Rage Midget is stalking Barton as Frank heads to pick him up. Barton has tried to distill liquor in his stomach is at least 4 sheets to the wind by this point. The Killer Rage Midget strikes as pseudo-Psycho music ensues. Frank heads in the house and is jumped by the Killer Rage Midget.

At Police Headquarters, the cops think Julia had a deformed child that got out of the attic. Frank is talking with the doctor performing the autopsy. The Killer Rage Midget has no retinas, can’t talk, no teeth but has beak like gums, no sexual organs, no belly button. It isn’t born like humans are.

Candy goes to school. A couple of kids in snow suits grab hammers. They’re KILLER RAGE MIDGETS and attack Ruth. One kid goes for help and brings Frank who finds Ruth has been beaten to death and that Candy is gone. Frank and the cops look for Candy. Elsewhere, Candy and the KILER RAGE MIDGETS are walking down the road.

Frank learns that Dr. Raglan is working with kids in a shed that Nola cares for. Frank heads to the clinic. At the clinic, Frank finds Dr. Raglan demanding to know where Candy is and reveals that Ruth is dead. Raglan warns that they’ll kill Frank if he interferes. Dr. Raglan admits that Nola is the mother of the KILLER RAGE MIDGETS. Her rage created them and went after her parents. However, Nola doesn’t realize she is subconsciously controlling them. Raglan wants Frank to try to calm Nola down. When the Brood is calm, he’ll get Candy out.

Frank talks with Nola. Understanding conversation ensues. As Raglan skulks up through the shed, Nola has been through a number of strange things. Frank wants to be part of her new life. Then, a KILLER RAGE MIDGET crawls out of NOLA!!!

Raglan is trying to find Candy, while Nola seems to be enjoying some placenta chili. Frank is suitably disturbed. Nola is getting mad at Frank. The Brood awakens. Raglan sends Candy to Frank. The good doctor starts shooting at the KILLER RAGE MIDGETS. However, too many of them overpower and kill him. Nola starts ranting about how she’d kill Candy before letting Frank have her. The KILLER RAGE MIDGETS notice Candy who escapes the room. Frank tries forcing Nola to realize the KILLER RAGE MIDGETS do what she want. Frank strangles her which stops the KILLER RAGE MIDGETS. He leaves with Candy.

Note: I’m not sure if the Nola’s children of rage are supposed to be midgets or dwarves. Though with all the fantasy stuff lately, dwarves have had enough publicity. So midgets got the break to be called the children of rage.

Some people have a reputation that precedes them. David Cronenberg is one of them. Normally, he is known as being twisted or sick monkey. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Most of his movies seem to be tied together with medical horror, disease/sex or mind/body. Think about the maggot birth in the Fly or Jeff Goldblum’s slow transformation and loss of humanity to something else. I’m sure that Crash, eXistenZ, Dead Ringers, and most of his others movies would fit into that category.

I’m not really a Cronenberg fan. Dead Zone is one of the better Stephen King adaptations. The Fly, I had to watch at some point. Even with everything going for it, I’m still partial to the original because it has Vincent Price. Well, Scanners has one of the true great moments in gore with the exploding head. It isn’t hard to find an animated gif of that scene. I haven’t gotten around to watching History of Violence.

Cronenberg wrote the Brood going through a rough divorce and custody battle at the time. Do you think he managed to purge any demons with this movie? His soon-to-be ex-wife couldn’t be too happy with such a video letter coming out at the time. You get the feeling that Cronenberg didn’t have much sympathy for Nola’s character. The end has her husband strangling her to save the daughter. I hate to think Cronenberg intended that as some sort of message to his ex-wife.

Samantha Eggar comes across as very unsympathetic which is nice way to put it. Uber-beeeeyotchhhhhhhhh is less polite way. Almost every scene with her is her in therapy and screaming. Near the end, Nola starts ranting about making sure that her daughter, Candy, won’t be alive to live with Frank. That rouses the KILLER RAGE MIDGETS to chase after Candy. I get the feeling Cronenberg was determined to make sure that the sympathy of the audiences always fell on her husband.

The scientist tampering in domains they have no right to explore are required to die by the hands of their creation. How many times has Frankenstein been killed by the hands of his monster? Every scientist that creates some monster must be killed for all the suffering they cause. The entire Wages of Science is death corollary. Psychoplasmics isn’t quite mind over matter. Somehow, negative emotions can be used to physically scar the body. That doesn’t sound like something anyone would want to do. Take you depression away and leave you with skin tumors or continually giving birth to creepy KILLER RAGE MIDGETS and placenta chili.

The first attack was very reminiscent of the shower scene from Psycho especially the music. Granted, the Killer Midget attack was more violent. The blood was shown to spatter on the floor far more tamely than say Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste which reveled in its excess. Still, grunting killer midgets do seem freaky which is almost a byword for Cronenberg.

For the most part, Frank comes across as fairly sympathetic well except for doing everything but just flat out asking Candy’s teacher, Ruth, out on a date. We don’t really known how much he had to endure his wife’s breakdown. If she was acting half as deranged as in her role play sessions before being committed, Frank does seem more understandable. Still, a guy virtually hitting on his daughter’s teacher while his wife is undergoing mental therapy and daughter has witnessed at least one brutal murder does have very bad feel about it.

This movie has a lot more depth than what Leonard Maltin’s movie guide describes it as something to the effect of Samantha Eggar eats her own afterbirth and killer midgets club grandparents to death. Film school students can throw large words about how movies are profound, artistic, etc. Not being a film critic, I’ll leave the deeper meanings to those qualified like Joe Bob Briggs and stick to the horror aspects.


Rogue Reviewers Roundtable Topic: Masters of Horror

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