David Cronenberg is obviously a directing genius, but I don’t think I was able to fully appreciate him until my mid-twenties. I wasn’t even born yet when he was coming out with The Brood, Scanners, or Videodrome, but I definitely enjoyed watching them as a child, in horror and delight. His films are complex and ragingly original, a fact that I was unaware of at the tender age of 12. My love for his older films has been rejuvenated, and though I still can’t manage to understand all of his multifaceted intellect, I revel in it just the same.
The Fly was one of my favorite films as a kid, a fact that I now realize to be pretty darn strange- but to each, their own. Having watched this recently and reading an awesome interview with David Cronenberg in a back issue of Rue Morgue, I decided to delve further. I watched The Brood, for the first time I’m embarrassed to say, just a week ago. It’s not even a week later and I am watching it again. Some older horror movies we love, even if they aren’t that good, because they remind us of our childhood. But this one is different. Despite this film being made 20 years ago, the shock factor is still as strong as the day it came out. I am a new found fan of The Brood and I am loving it!
Frank is separated from his wife Nola, who is currently at a facility for intense psychotherapy with Dr. Raglan. Their young daughter, Candy, splits her time between the two parents. Frank begins to question Dr. Raglan’s ethics when he notices bruising on Candy, believing Nola to be unstable and dangerous. Dr. Raglan is experimenting with a new type of psychotherapy called Pschoplasmis – a treatment that involves Dr. Raglan acting as a crucial member to his patients, (i.e. their mother, father, husband, wife, and so forth) to create breakthroughs in past momentous or tragic events, bringing unresolved issues to the surface for exposure.
Nola’s mother and father are both brutally killed by nasty mutant midget people. At first glance, I thought this was going to be very similar to the 1973 film, Don’t Look Now, which also has a midget killer in a red coat. But this is not the case. An autopsy shows one of these little creatures to be a deformed child with a lack of sexual organs and no belly button. No belly button means this thing was never born, well at least not in the conventional sense that human beings are born. This knowledge prompts Frank to probe deeper into the unconventional methods of Dr. Raglan, believing there to be some link to these tragic deaths.
If you haven’t seen this film, bear with it. It does start out a little slow and doesn’t traditionally seem like a horror movie. But just give it time because the last 30 minutes are intensely brilliant. As a viewer, connections between these two plots seem illogical, but just trust Cronenberg’s mastermind process. You will be pleasantly horrified! The scene where Nola is licking a new-born bloodied infant is one of the foulest and disturbing scenes I have ever seen! There is a reason why David Cronenberg is called the King of Venereal Horror; and this is it.
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