Oh THE BROOD, how I love thee. Is there any better horror film for Mother’s Day than THE BROOD? Is there any better horror film for any day than THE BROOD? From Kindertrauma’s inception, we’ve always felt a keen bond with this CRONENBERG masterpiece. Here is a film that deals with two of our favorite pet themes, “Tykes in Trouble” and “Kids Who Kill” (albeit mutant kids) and although we’ve mentioned it in numerous posts, we’ve yet to really stop and give it the proper attention it deserves. Why? Because I have been way too scared to. THE BROOD, like much of CRONENBERG’s work, is just so damn interesting on so many levels that it has always attracted absolutely fascinating discussions from minds much sharper than my own. How could little old me objectively examine something so grand when my gut instinct is to just bow down and kiss its feet? I guess I’m just going to have to man up because we need a proper THE BROOD post up in here and it’s not going to write itself. So here goes kids, I’m throwing my propeller beanie into the ring…
ART HINDLE plays Frank Carveth a guy with many an issue, the least of which is the fact that he seems to own only one pair of corduroys. Frank discovers wounds on his young daughter Candace’s back and suspects that they came courtesy of his strange, estranged and partially deranged ginger-ex Nola (perfectly cast hand grenade in a housecoat SAMANTHA EGGAR.) At the time Nola is undergoing unconventional therapy in a safe trap house called the Somafree Clinic, and any question as to whether this treatment will be beneficial is answered by the fact that Nola’s Doctor, Hal Raglan, is portrayed by a tightly coiled ham sandwich named OLIVER REED. We follow Frank as he learns that there is a hideous side effect to Raglan’s cutting edge work. Raglan’s patients’ pain, once drudged to the surface, manifest into physical form. In Nola’s case, troll like beast children are spawned and are set out into the world to express her rage mostly by smashing people on her shit-list in the face with blunt objects.
It might all sound a tad silly, but in CRONENBERG’s hands (or should I say through his mind?) it ends up saying more about the human condition (and family dysfunction in particular) than all the hand wringing dramas you can think of combined. Inspired by CRONENBERG’s own strenuous divorce, there is real venomous acrimony here. Some (including the director himself) claim THE BROOD is his answer to KRAMER VS. KRAMER, and if it is, than his “answer” is a smack of a wooden meat mallet to each Kramer’s skull with perhaps an extra little whack for the Mrs. As worthy as THE BROOD’s concepts about how the mind affects the body are, the larger truth unearthed involves how abuse lingers from generation to generation in a family like an unshakable hereditary disease. Now that I think about it, maybe both ideas are as compatible as broken vases and black eyes.
A funny thing happened on the way to the forum. While doing a little background reading on THE BROOD (yes, I was wearing bifocals) I came across, I’m sure a very well meaning person, who was outraged by a particular scene in the film. In the scene (which was built to disturb and therefore must be considered successful) a woman is savagely (and some say hilariously) bludgeoned to death in front of a group of young school children. The disgruntled viewer was upset that such a scene would ever be filmed with children present. I personally assume that precautions were taken like, I don’t know, telling the kids that they were filming a movie or perhaps editing things in such a way, but something about this person’s indignant tone stuck in my craw. It seems to me that a lot of adults spend a lot of time worrying about what children witness on television or in movies (as well they should), but not so much time worrying about what behavior they witness in their own homes. This might sound off topic, but I think that it is partially what THE BROOD is about, the lingering effects of witnessing domestic abuse (physical, verbal and psychological) and the curse of absorbing your elders’ insecurities and prejudices (not to mention, rage). Violence on the T.V. is scary (check out this site called kindertrauma…) but sometimes mom and dad and grandma and grandpa leave real lasting wounds that you can’t simply turn off with the flick of a switch.
Was that a soapbox I just stepped off of? I apologize, but as I said I cannot even pretend to critique THE BROOD; the movie is just too damn awesome and over my head. In order to leave on a positive note though, I will add this, the score, (the first of many done for CRONENBERG by HOWARD SHORE) is so incredibly perfect that it makes you want to slap someone.