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A man's wife is under the care of an eccentric and unconventional psychologist who uses innovative and theatrical techniques to breach the psychological blocks in his patients. When their daughter comes back from a visit with her mother and is covered with bruises and welts, the father attempts to bar his wife from seeing the daughter but faces resistance from the secretive psychologist. Meanwhile, the wife's mother and father are attacked by strangely deformed children, and the man begins to suspect a connection with the psychologist's methods....
For more about The Brood and the The Brood Blu-ray release, see the The Brood Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on April 13, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Director: David Cronenberg
Writer: David Cronenberg
Starring: Oliver Reed, Samantha Eggar, Art Hindle, Nicholas Campbell
» See full cast & crew
The Brood Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, April 13, 2013
David Cronenberg's "The Brood" (1979) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Australian distributors Umbrella Entertainment. The supplemental features on the disc include an original trailer for the film and the documentary "The Directors: The Films of David Cronenberg". In English, without optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
Oliver Reed is Dr. Hal Raglan, an ambitious scientist who has developed a groundbreaking new technique called phsychoplasmics which allows him to heal patients with serious emotional disorders. The technique also allows Dr. Raglan to establish direct contact with his patients' minds and partially manipulate the way they think. This way he can direct how their bodies respond to his therapy.
Dr. Raglan's most important patient is Nola Carveth (Samantha Eggar, The Exterminator), whose emotions can be so powerful that occasionally she can completely override the new technique. While attempting to pinpoint the origin of their strength, Dr. Raglan discovers that they could have a devastating effect on other human beings. Nola's anger outbursts, in particular, are so powerful that they could also temporarily transform her into an entirely different person.
Concerned that Dr. Raglan might be seriously hurting his wife, Frank Carveth (Art Hindle, Invasion of the Body Snatchers) meets some of his patients. As he begins learning more about phsychoplasmics, his wife's family is attacked and their daughter's schoolteacher killed.
The Brood has the two key ingredients that make David Cronenberg's films worth seeing terrific atmosphere and creepiness. The subject it tackles is also approached with a familiar degree of seriousness that gives plenty of credibility to the horror. The result is a film that is genuinely unsettling and the same time seriously thought-provoking.
The film is slow but not tiresome. As Frank gathers information about Dr. Raglan's technique, Cronenberg gradually alters the entire identity of the film - the thriller elements are slowly replaced with horror elements and the main characters undergo profound transformations. By the time Frank visits Dr. Raglan's clinic, the focus of attention is effectively shifted elsewhere.
Long before the final credits appear the viewer knows exactly how Cronenberg feels about psychotherapy, but the film never switches into a preachy mode. Instead, Cronenberg bombards the viewer with all sorts of different ideas and observations that force him to ponder why things have gotten so ugly.
Despite the limited resources some of the visuals are quite incredible. The graphic sequence at end, for instance, is still mighty impressive. In fact, it single-handedly elevates the film to an entirely different level. Hitchcock's very best films have such powerful sequences that are always vividly remembered when the director's legacy is discussed.
The acting is very good. Reed is very convincing as the slightly mad scientist whose passion for knowledge has unleashed an evil force. Eggar is also fantastic. Hindle's performance is somewhat subdued but he is also believable as the looking for logical answers husband and father. The weak link here is the child actress Cindy Hinds, who often looks unusually cold.
The Brood was lensed by cinematographer Mark Irwin, who after The Brood also collaborated with Cronenberg on Scanners (1981), Videodrome (1983), The Dead Zone (1983), and The Fly (1986).
The film's intense soundtrack was created by multiple Oscar-winning composer Howard Shore (The Silence of the Lambs, Sliver, Crash).
Note: In 1981, The Brood won the Prize of the International Critics' Jury (Special Mention) at Sitges - Catalonian International Film Festival.
The Brood Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, David Cronenberg's The Brood arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Australian distributors Umbrella Entertainment.
Excluding some extremely light compression artifacts that are extremely difficult to spot during normal playback (see screencapture #12), the high-definition transfer is indeed quite wonderful. Most close-ups boast very pleasing depth (see screencapture #3) while the panoramic shots impress with excellent fluidity (see screencapture #9). More importantly, however, there are no traces of excessive degraining corrections. Edge-enhancement is also not a serious issue of concern. Color reproduction is convincing - there is a good range of rich but natural blues, greens, brown, grays, and blacks. Banding and aliasing do not plague the high-definition transfer. Also, there is no shimmer around the edges. Large debris, cuts, damage marks, or warps are also nowhere to be seen. Viewed on a large screen, the image also never breaks down. All in all, I think that this release is as satisfying as Criterion's release of the Canadian director's equally atmospheric film Videodrome. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray release. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
The Brood Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one standard audio track on this Blu-ray disc: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. For the record, Umbrella Entertainment have not provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature.
The lossless track is very good. Dynamic movement is modest, but the sound is very crisp and completely free of background hiss. Howard Shore's score is very intense and effectively enhances a number of the film's key sequences. The strings, in particular, always shine in the right places. The dialog is crisp, stable, and always easy to follow.
The Brood Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Brood Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Parts of David Cronenberg's The Brood may look a bit dated, but the film is still very effective. In fact, I like it a lot more than some of the Canadian auteur's more recent films. Umbrella Entertainment's presentation of the film is very good. The terrific documentary from Scanners is also included here. Don't hesitate to order this release, folks. It's worth every penny. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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