David Cronenberg directed The Brood from his own screenplay in 1979, during his self-professed "dark period" following an acrimonious divorce and in the midst of an even nastier custody battle. And it's true, The Brood hardly offers a rose-colored portrayal of marital harmony. While this is Killer Kidz week on Our Daily Trailer, the increasing horror of the film certainly doesn't stem from the wide-eyed, harmless Candy (Cindy Hinds, who later appeared in Cronenberg's The Dead Zone). No, like the woeful children being jerked around in custody battles everywhere, Candy is the luckless pawn in the terrible game played by her parents.
Well, I say her "parents," but as this is a post-divorce tale told from the point of view of the father, only Cindy's mother, Samantha Eggar as Nola Carveth, is to blame. Sweet, innocuous Frank (Art Hindle) spends the movie flailing around, doing his best by Candy but not in a particularly effective way, which may speak to Cronenberg's own feelings of inadequacy during his legal trials. Nola is the Queen Bitch here, and she is queenly indeed. Eggar is gorgeous, seductive, hypnotic as Nola, in turns masterfully, wickedly composed and devastatingly childlike under the controversial therapy of Dr. Raglan (a typically great, bombastic Oliver Reed).
So where do the Killer Kidz come in? A gaggle of little monsters in snowsuits with ancient hands and hideously blank faces begin pummeling to death the adults in Candy's life, and their origin is more dreadful than you could believe. In a reveal I wouldn't dare spoil for newcomers, Cronenberg addresses the cycle of abuse, the way we manifest the wrongs done to us in our past and turn them into weapons for hurting someone else. It's a powerful story, a real one, more terrifying than any dream monster.
Bonus! Listen to Howard Shore's score whenever you want to feel creeped out and desperate.
Second bonus! My dog dressed as one of The Brood for Halloween a few years ago.