The Brood (1979)

When I was at UCLA in the mid-90s I saw a double-feature at Melnitz Theater (the Film School’s theater) that really freaked me out. The theme of the double-feature was “Maternal Nightmares,” and the films were Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby (1968) and David Cronenberg’s The Brood (1979). I am thinking about this outing because I recently saw my first film in the theaters in a long while, David Cronenberg’s recent feature Eastern Promises (2007) (in Italian no less—so granted I may have missed a few things), and I was totally let down. Like The History of Violence (2005), I find Cronenberg’s recent films to lack all of the true terror and deeply disturbing horror of his earlier work like Shivers (1975), Rabid (1977), Scanners (1981), VideoDrome (1983) and The Brood, by far his most terrifying. How can you frame anything more terrorizing than homicidal ghoul children? Don’t believe me? Check out the following scene from the film, but just remember that you were warned!

Now that is great horror! Cronenberg’s more “serious reflections” on violence in his last two films have some solid filmic elements, but move far away from what made his films truly visceral and haunting. They are almost comic-book like, doing Tarantino with none of the flare. I agree with my friend Andrea that the state of film is in terrible decline, but this fact “hasn’t created in me any sense of obligation” (to quote Stephen Crane out of turn).

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3 Responses to The Brood (1979)

  1. Teddy Diggs says:

    I never forgave Oliver Reed (well, his character) for killing Nancy in “Oliver!” (1968). That’s bothered me since I was a kid. So it’s kinda nice to see the mutant kids give him his come-uppance. Thanks for the video payback. 🙂

  2. jimgroom says:

    Teddy,
    Thanks for a new movie added to my Netflix queue, I haven’t seen Oliver! yet–but it sounds good.
    It appears I have a fellow horror film fan, for you commented on the Trilogy of Terror and The Brood posts–which makes it official. Looks like I’ll be blogging just for you in the foreseeable future, for I have been thinking a lot about horror films these days for some strange reason. Are you ready? 🙂

  3. Teddy Diggs says:

    (Way-delayed response) The funny thing is that I’ve always considered myself an anti-horror film person. But you’re right that I’m intrigued by your posts on these films. Maybe it’s that old love-hate thing? I admit I was surprised by the number of Stephen King movies in your list that I’ve seen. I like horror movies that are so bad they’re camp, or those that add what I see as humor (e.g., “The Shining”). I don’t like gore — haven’t even been able to talk myself into going to see “Sweeney Todd” (would love to know what you think of that one). So … long way around to say that yep, I’ll be reading any of your posts on the topic. Oh, btw, I doubt you’d like Oliver! — it’s actually a “family-oriented” (aside from that murder scene, of course) musical.

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