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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 July 16, 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, July 16, 2013
David Cronenberg's "The Brood" (1979) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Second Sight Films. The supplemental features on the disc include new video interviews with the Canadian director, producer Pierre David, cinematographer Mark Irwin, and actors Art Hindle, Cindy Hinds, and Robert A. Silverman. In English, with 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 British distributors Second Sight Films.
The release uses a high-definition transfer which appears to have been struck from the same source Australian distributors Umbrella Entertainment had access to when they prepared their Blu-ray release of The Brood. Brightness levels are slightly elevated, but the difference is often quite difficult to spot. However, compression is marginally better on the Australian release. The difference is easy to see in a few sequences where light is restricted - some mild compression artifacts mixed with light noise occasionally pop up, though they never become overly distracting (compare screencapture #18 with screencapture #14 from our review of the Australian release). Detail and clarity are essentially identical. As it was the case with the Australian release, there are no traces of problematic degraining or sharpening corrections. Also, there are no serious stability issues. All in all, even though there is room for improvement, this is certainly a good presentation of The Brood that should please fans of the film who have previously seen it only on DVD. (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 release: English LPCM 2.0. For the record, Second Sight Films have provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature.
The lossless track serves the film very well. There are a number of sequences where Howard Shore's score has a prominent role that sound very good. Admittedly, viewers used to aggressive lossless tracks that typically come on releases of modern blockbusters will not be impressed with the dynamic intensity, but those who understand that the film has a sound design with natural limitations will be pleased with the lossless treatment.
The Brood Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Note: For some reason I could not access the supplemental features through the disc's main menu, but I was able to access them without a problem through the pop-up menu.
The Brood Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
If you are a fan of David Cronenberg's The Brood and reside in a Region-B territory, my advice to you is to consider picking up this new Blu-ray release from British distributors Second Sight Films as well as the Australian release from Umbrella Entertainment. With the two you will have a rather impressive Ultimate Edition of the film. The UK release has some wonderful new supplemental features while the Australian release has a terrific hour-long documentary focusing on the acclaimed Canadian director's body of work. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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The Brood Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Brood Heading to the UK - April 18, 2013
Independent British distributors Second Sight Films have revealed that they are preparing a Blu-ray release of David Cronenberg's The Brood (1979), starring Oliver Reed, Samantha Eggar, and Art Hindle. The release is expected to arrive on the market later this ...
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