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"Go through it... Go all the way through it... All the way to the end..."
There are certain pairings that you know are going to result in something horrifying: Takashi Miike taking on romantic comedy. Stephen King making a domestic drama. Quentin Tarantino writing a crime caper. And in this case: David Cronenberg discussing alternative psychotherapy.
The Brood (1979) is a Canadian Horror Film written and directed by David Cronenberg (often considered to be his first really good movie), centering around a psychotherapist, Dr. Hal Raglan (Oliver Reed), who has created a technique called psychoplasmics. By encouraging his patients to "go all the way through it", he is able to induce radical physical changes. A man verbally abused by his father develops welts all over his body. Another man's self-loathing induces lymphatic cancer. And a psychotic woman named Nola Carveth (Samantha Eggar) parthenogenetically gives birth to strange mutant children who act out her negative emotions. Then the therapist starts bringing all these negative emotions to the surface, and the children start killing anyone she sees as a personal enemy...
Cronenberg has condemned the censorship of the climactic scene, "trimmed" in the United Kingdom, in which Eggar's character gives birth to one of the monsters and starts tenderly licking it clean. "I had a long and loving close-up of Samantha licking the foetus... when the censors, those animals, cut it out, the result was that a lot of people thought she was eating her baby. That's much worse than I was suggesting."
In 2005, the full uncut version was made available on UK DVD.
A remake is in the works, to be directed by Breck Eisner.
The Brood contains examples of:
- Adult Fear / Creator Breakdown: Cronenberg wrote this movie during painful divorce and the resultant custody battle over their daughter, and it shows.
- Bertha in The Attic: Suggested as a possible explanation for the first broodling found.
- Big Bad: Nola.
- Body Horror: Cronenberg is the king of this trope.
- Canada, Eh?: The movie makes no attempt to hide the fact that it's filmed and set in Toronto.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Jan Hartog, the guy with lymph cancer.
- Also Mike, the man who wants you to "be my daddy."
- Creepy Child / Enfante Terrible: The mutant children.
- Double Standard: Make a movie about a mother trying to save her child from an abusive father and that's a-okay (if, perhaps, a bit Lifetime). Make a movie about a father trying to save his child from an abusive mother and people call you a misogynist.
- Fan Disservice (Film): Nola's external uterus, which she is quite willing to show off.
- Genre Busting: A cross between the Gothic horror of the 1800s and the immediate, gory horror of the 1970s.
- The Heartless: Nola literally gives birth to her inner demons.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Robert Silverman does quite a few films with Cronenberg.
- Homage: Hartog is probably named after the vampire hunter from the Hammer Horror picture The Vampire Lovers.
- Mad Love / Manufacturing Victims: Not as in erotic or romantic love, but Mike, one of Raglan's patients, becomes addicted to the treatment when Raglan plays a surrogate of his father who gives Mike all the love his real father didn't give him. He constantly looks for someone to "be my daddy" when Raglan throws every patient of the institute out when he's dealing with Nola's ultimate breakdown. He even says that no one can play his daddy like Dr. Raglan, giving it a very creepy and disturbing pseudo-incestuous vibe.
- Redemption Equals Death: Raglan
- Self-Made Orphan: Indirectly, Nola
- This Trope Is Bleep: As indicated above, the censors' trimming of Nola's birthing scene made a sequence of her licking her hate-baby clean look more like she was eating it
- "Well Done, Son" Guy: Mike, of the skin welts.
- Your Mind Makes It Real: The whole point of Raglan's therapy. He would make mental illnesses into physical ones, which he would then cure.