It's no big surprise to learn that David Cronenberg wrote The Brood during a particularly bitter custody battle. The plot deals with a level-headed dad (played by Art Hindle, who you may recognize from the first Brix Pick Movie recommendation ever, Black Christmas) with great hair, a great winter jacket and Ted Bundy type looks who unwittingly battles the rage incarnate of his crazy ex-wife, a woman who seems wants nothing more than to make him suffer and take his young daughter away.
Like most Cronenberg films, real life pain and suffering, like the bitterness and hatred that can accompany a messy divorce, or the paranoia that can sometimes come with single parenthood, manifest in the stuff of nightmares. You've come to expect some gross out stuff from the Canadian, and he doesn't disappoint in The Brood. Initial audiences flipped out during one scene in particular that involves blood and tongue-grooming.
But the underlying horror is far more effective than simple shock value; it's deeply chilling movie because it takes something generally wholesome and comforting, family, and turns it on its ear. Violence isn't caused by some random psychopath but by mothers, children, doctors and even your own body. It's a great, discomforting movie of, but it does lag in between moments of complete visual terror.
Manly Oliver Reed is lion-like as an experimental psychiatrist who practices (the very Cronenberg sounding) “Psycho Plasmics” in a remote, very 70's, all wood and angles retreat and actress Samantha Eggar plays the crazy woman quite well. Even minor characters, like a neurotic former patient who has complaints (and a huge lymphomic neck) against the doctor is played wonderfully, with real humanity, by Croneberg regular Robert A Silverman.
While The Brood never reaches the peaks of the director's 1983 masterpiece, Videodrome, it's a quieter movie punctuated by extremely effective jolts of violence and tension.