International Horror Film Review: The Brood (dir by David Cronenberg)


O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all of us command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

Canada!  It always seems like such a nice country until you watch a David Cronenberg film.  Hailing from Toronto, Cronenberg started his film career with two satirical, black-and-white science fiction shorts and then went on to become one of Canada’s best-known filmmakers.  At a time when most people associated Canada with politeness and maple syrup, Cronenberg made visceral and often-disturbing films, ones that often mixed sexuality with graphic body horror.  At a time when the genre was being dominated by Italian filmmakers, Cronenberg brought a uniquely Canadian sensibility to horror.

Take 1979’s The Brood, for instance.

The Brood tells the story of one very doomed marriage.  Frank (Art Hindle) and Nola (Samantha Eggar) Carveth are fighting for custody of their five year-old daughter, Candice (Cindy Hinds).  (Not coincidentally, Cronenberg was going through his own custody battle when he first came up with the idea for The Brood.)  Nola, who has been emotionally scarred by both her alcoholic parents and her troubled marriage to Frank, is a patient at Somafree Institute.  Her psychotherapist, Dr. Hal Raglan (Oliver Reed), practices a technique called “psychoplasmics.”  Though it’s not easy to describe (and, wisely, Cronenberg doesn’t spend too much time trying to justify the science of it), it basically involves channeling anger and suppressed emotions into body modification.  What you or I might consider to be a hive or a welt is what Dr. Raglan would call a major breakthrough.

Frank is skeptical about Dr. Raglan’s theories but he still takes Candice to visit her mom.  However, when Candice returns from one visit bruised and scratched, Frank is convinced that Nola has been abusing her.  Hoping to both win custody of Candice and prove that Dr. Raglan’s methods are dangerous, Frank starts his own investigation into just what exactly has been happening at the Somafree Institute.

That’s when the children start to show up.  The children are small, with pale skin and light hair and oddly featureless faces.  They never smile.  They never speak.  They show up without any warning and violence always seems to follow them.  They attack both Nola’s mother and father.  When Nola suspects that Frank might be having an affair with Candice’s teacher, two of the children suddenly appear in her classroom.  Candice is scared of the children but still seems to have some sort of connection to them…

Even if you didn’t know this was a Cronenberg film, it would take just one look at the snow-covered landscape to identify The Brood as being a Canadian film.  As was often the case with Cronenberg’s early horror films, the imagery is frequently cold and chilly.  However, The Brood is not a cold film.  With its look at dysfunctional families and its emphasis on Frank’s attempts to protect his daughter, The Brood is actually one of Cronenberg’s most emotional films.  It’s a film about not only anger but also how people deal with that anger.  The killer kids are both literally and metaphorically children of rage.

Even by the standards of Cronenberg, things get grotesque.  Fortunately, the film’s talented cast keeps you interested, even when the bloody visuals might make you want to find a nice comedy to watch instead.  Art Hindle and Cindy Hinds are sympathetic as the father and daughter.  Oliver Reed keeps you guessing as to what exactly Dr. Raglan is actually trying to accomplish.  Nicholas Campbell and Robert A. Silverman, two members of the Cronenberg stock company, both make an impression in smallish roles.  And Samantha Eggar totally throws herself into her role, turning Nola into an absolutely terrifying monster.

Though it never quite reaches the flamboyant heights of either Scanners or ShiversThe Brood is still an effective horror film.  As opposed to some of his other films of the period, Cronenberg actually seems to not only care about the characters in the film but it also comfortable with encouraging us to care about them as well.  As a result, The Brood becomes about more than just trying to shock the audience.  The Brood is a film that sticks with you.

The Brood (1979, dir by David Cronenberg DP: Mark Irwin)

Horror Scenes That I Love: Michael Ironside vs Stephen Lack in Scanners


Scanners (1981, dir by David Cronenberg)

Be warned! Today’s scene that I love is a messy one!

Actually, I should call this a scene that we love because TSL founder Arleigh Sandoc is a fan of it too. He shared this scene a few years ago. Unfortunately, the YouTube video that he embedded in the post was later taken down. (Hate it when that happens!) So, I’m happy to share it a second time on behalf of both of us!

From David Cronenberg’s Scanners, here is the video of a scene that we love, the final battle between Stephen Lack an Michael Ironside….

Oh my God! It’s age restricted! Well, that’s probably for the best because these guy like set each other on fire and rip their skin off their flesh. I mean, it’s intense but it’s brilliant and it perfectly captures just how powerful the Scanners really are! It’s also a perfect visual representation of the extreme body horror that has always been a Cronenberg trademark. So, click on the video below and go watch it on YouTube if you’re old enough.

4 Shots From 4 David Cronenberg Films


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

Since today is Canadian Thanksgiving, it seems like the perfect day to pay tribute to one of the great Canadian horror directors!  It’s time for….

4 Shots From 4 David Cronenberg Films

Videodrome (1983, dir by David Cronenberg, DP: Mark Irwin)

The Dead Zone (1983, dir by David Cronenberg, DP: Mark Irwin)

The Fly (1986, dir by David Cronenberg, DP: Mark Irwin)

Dead Ringers (1988, dir by David Cronenberg, DP: Peter Suschitzky)

Horror On TV: Friday the 13th: The Series 1.12 “Faith Healer” (dir by David Cronenberg)


Tonight’s episode of Friday the 13th is all about fake faith healers but, even more importantly, it was directd by none other than David Cronenberg!

Be sure to keep an eye out for Robert Silverman, a Cronenberg regular who had important roles in The Brood and Scanners and who has appeared in a host of other Cronenberg films over the years.  He also appeared in Prom Night, playing the creepy janitor who is briefly used as a red herring before the identity of the real murdere is revealed.

This episode originally aired on February 13th, 1988.  (Originally, I got excited when I saw that date but, checking with a calendar, I saw that this show aired on a Saturday the 13th and not an actual Friday the 13th.)  Unfortunately, due to budget cuts after the show’s first season, Cronenberg would be Friday the 13th‘s last celebrity director.

(Cronenberg would, however, go on to appear in Jason X.)

4 Shots From 4 Films: Special David Cronenberg Edition


4 (or more) Shots From 4 (or more) Films is just what it says it is, 4 (or more) shots from 4 (or more) of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 (or more) Shots From 4 (or more) Films lets the visuals do the talking.

Today, the Shattered Lens wishes a happy birthday to one of the best and most influential directors of all time, Canada’s own David Cronenberg!  It’s time for….

4 Shots From 4 David Cronenberg Films

The Brood (1979, dir by David Cronenberg DP: Mark Irwin)

The Dead Zone (1983, dir. by David Cronenberg, DP: Mark Irwin)

The Fly (1986, dir. by David Cronenberg, DP: Mark Irwin)

Naked Lunch (1991, dir by David Cronenberg, DP:Peter Suschitzky)

4 Shots From 4 David Cronenberg Films: Scanners, The Dead Zone, The Fly, Naked Lunch


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

This October, we’ve been using 4 Shots From 4 Films to pay tribute to some of our favorite horror directors!  Today, in honor of Canadian Thanksgiving, we recognize the talents of the one and only David Cronenberg!

4 Shots From 4 Films

Scanners (1981, dir by David Cronenberg)

The Dead Zone (1983, dir. by David Cronenberg)

The Fly (1986, dir. by David Cronenberg)

Naked Lunch (1991, dir by David Cronenberg)

4 Shots From 4 Films: Special David Cronenberg Edition


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

Today, we wish a happy birthday to one of the greatest Canadian filmmakers of all time, David Cronenberg!  Cronenberg is not only one of the best directors to come out of Canada but he’s also a favorite of those of us here at the Shattered Lens as well.  Just check out Arleigh’s review of Eastern Promises, for example.

In honor of a great artists’s birthday, here are….

4 Shots From 4 David Cronenberg Films

The Brood (1979, dir by David Cronenberg)

Scanners (1981, dir by David Cronenberg)

Videodrome (1983, dir by David Cronenberg)

existenz (1999, dir by David Cronenberg)

Rabid (1977) – (dir. by David Cronenberg)


Great films are loved by all, read Gary’s take on Rabid before starting this one.

What a strange film. I don’t have a whole lot to say about it, save that I enjoyed what I saw.Rabid-1977-movie-Chambers-cronenberg-3

I accidentally stumbled on to Rabid. I woke up with the tv on late at night to some guy trying to console a nearly nude and upset patient in her bed.

“Wait a minute….” I say, rubbing my eyes and trying to wake up fully. “Okay, this isn’t Lifeforce. What is this?” My hands start looking for the remote, but by the time I’m able to grab it, the guy howls in pain. Blood starts running down his side while in the patients arms.

“What the what? Hell am I watching?” My hands search for the remote.

I bring up the info on the film and sigh with a smile…”Oh. Cronenberg. I should have known.”

I jumped to the In Demand station and watched it from start to finish. I was always under the impression that Scanners was David Cronenberg’s first film, so Rabid was a nice surprise. I also learned that Ivan Reitman was a producer both for this and some of Cronenberg’s earlier works, much like Mel Brooks was for The Fly. My mind is blown. What is with comedy makers turned Horror Producers?

When Rose (Marilyn Chambers) suffers major injuries in a motorcycle accident, a local medical center takes her in and performs some strange new surgery on her. She’s kept for some time, while her boyfriend Hart (Frank Moore) is sent home. It’s during her stay that the madness starts. As she recovers, Rose finds she has a craving for blood, Leave it to Cronenberg to find the strangest way to do it. Rabid is the kind of film that teaches horror fans. Watching it, I was able to see how it was the source for films like James Gunn’s Slither, Tobe Hooper’s Lifeforce, George Romero’s The Crazies and Hal Barwood’s Warning Sign. Anyone watching Rabid would get an idea of where Slither could have gotten the stinger from, which is interesting to see.

Those bitten by Rose begin to suffer from an advanced case of rabies, and this spreads like wildfire. It happens to be one of the best elements of the film. The terror in Rabid comes from both Rose as a carrier, who is compelled to find someone to drink from/infect and her victims, who are left foaming and violent.  Bart spends the bulk of the film trying to track down Rose and piece together what’s occurring while facing some guilt. Not a terrible thing, given the entire situation and the fact that it was his motorcycle they crashed.  As the story progresses, the danger escalates for everyone involved. By the second half of the film, the city is almost under Martial Law as they try to contain the virus. As a result, the pacing for Rabid is even for a film from the 70s. It doesn’t feel like it drags on at all.

From an acting standpoint, everyone’s parts were okay. Chambers’ Rose is a mixture of innocence, quiet sexuality and a little ruthlessness. I particularly liked Joe Silver (Shivers, another early Cronenberg film) as the investor who watches the hospital kind of unravel. Frank Moore (who reminds me a lot of Christopher Walken) has this tortured soul quality to him that I enjoyed.

The effects and makeup work were great. There’s quite a bit of blood and foamy mouths, of course it’s what anyone would expect from Cronenberg. The blood doesn’t look entirely real, but considering that this was about 40 years ago, it seems to hold up okay.

Overall, Rabid is a great late night movie worth catching if you can. At the time of this writing, the film is available on Amazon Prime.

 

 

4 Shots From 4 Holiday Classics: The Godfather, Rabid, Lethal Weapon, Eyes Wide Shut


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

Merry Christmas!

‘Tis the season for….

4 Shots From 4 Holiday Classics

The Godfather (1972, dir by Francis Ford Coppola)

Rabid (1977, dir by David Cronenberg)

Lethal Weapon (1987, dir by Richard Donner)

Eyes Wide Shut (1999, dir by Stanley Kubrick)

 

4 Shots From 4 Films: Chopping Mall, Demons 2, The Fly, The Hitcher


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

This October, we’re using 4 Shots From 4 Films to look at some of the best years that horror has to offer!

4 Shots From 4 1986 Horror Films

Chopping Mall (1986, dir by Jim Wynorski)

Demons 2 (1986, dir by Lamberto Bava)

The Fly (1986, dir. by David Cronenberg)

The Hitcher (1986, dir by Robert Harmon)