The Brood (Blu-ray) (Second Sight)

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The Brood

Second Sight / David Cronenberg / 1979 / Canada

Running Time: 92 minutes

Region Code: Region B

Rating: 18

Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1 (16:9 Anamorphic)

Video: 1080p High Definition

Codec: AVC

Image: Colour

Audio: English LPCM 2.0

Language: English

Subtitles: Optional English SDH

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One of the more controversial and challenging names in contemporary cinema, Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg (a principal originator of what is commonly referred to as the body horror or biological horror genre) has, over the last few decades, firmly established himself as one of the most renowned and celebrated figures in science-fiction-horror cinema, and this early 1979 film, one of his most chilling and disturbing achievements, proves a superb example of his unique and divisive directorial vision with its potent and often grotesque examination of psychological terror and corporeal mutation.

“Frank Carveth is becoming increasingly concerned about his ex-wife Nola’s secretive treatment at the sinister ‘Somafree Institute of Psychoplasmics’ headed by cult figure Dr Raglan. The doctor’s controversial and extreme methods seek to unleash his patients’ rage, often taking on physical manifestations. As Frank delves deeper he is finally led to a horrific and repellent final confrontation.”

Cronenberg’s film may ultimately be somewhat of a slow burner, though with his assured direction and unique innovation at the helm, the pacing never begins to drag or feel too sluggish, and the contrast between the preceding build-up and the film’s notoriously shocking finale proves even more effective an striking.

Intense, chilling atmosphere aside, what truly elevates Cronenberg’s piece above other more standard sci-fi horror films is that the characters are ultimately very well crafted and intelligently thought out, adding to their overall depth, making the helpless characters more relatable, enhancing the credibility and authenticity of the film, and strengthening the audience’s response towards Frank’s intense struggle to both fight for the custody of his daughter and uncover the truth about his mentally disturbed wife’s institutionalisation.

Central performances are thankfully very strong, with Oliver Reed proving convincing and suitably menacing as the sinister, controversial and highly ambitious Psychotherapist Dr. Hal Raglan, and Samantha Eggar and Art Hindle both delivering very strong and authentic performances as the husband and wife team of Nola and Frank Carveth, though there are a few occasions when Hindle appears just slightly too mellow and almost crestfallen, which slightly detract from his performance.

Despite budget restrictions and limited prodcution resources the striking visuals and graphic effects are vivid and incredibly well achieved, again lifting the film above other standard ‘body horror’ films and enhancing the chilling tone of the piece.

The intense atmosphere and absorbing qualities of the film are further enhanced courtesy of the consuming cinematography of Cronenberg regular, Mark Irwin, and the brooding and equally intense string infused debut film score from the now three-time Academy Award-winning Canadian composer, and fellow Cronenberg regular, Howard Shore.

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Aside from some very minor (and barely noticeable) image artefacts, Second Sight’s AVC encoded 1080p High Definition transfer, presented in an aspect ratio of 1.77:1 (in a change from the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1), proves truly superb and this fine blu-ray release wonderfully enhances Cronenberg’s entertaining, if ultimately quite disturbing film.

Colours are generally rich, vibrant and well-saturated, contrast and black levels are strong, levels of definition and sharpness are fairly impressive (though there are a few instances of softness and waxiness), and the transfer displays excellent levels of depth, fluidity and textural detail.

There are a few very minor signs of edge enhancement, but aside from that the image is pretty faultless, with no signs of any age related debris or damage, no significant signs of any DNR or manipulation, no haloing, and a nice layer of authentic film grain.

The lossless English LPCM 2.0 audio track is thankfully very strong, delivering clear, well-modulated dialogue, and a crisp presentation of Howard Shore’s suitably atmospheric, string-heavy score, which really elevates the intense tones of the piece.

Dynamic range is fairly meagre, however, the track sounds beautifully clean and there are no signs of any distortions or hissing.

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Special Features:

Meet The Carveths – Stars Art Hindle & Cindy Hinds interviewed by Fangoria Editor Chris Alexander

Look Of Rage – Interview with Cinematographer Mark Irwin

Producing The Brood – Interview with Producer Pierre David

Character For Cronenberg – Interview with Actor Robert A.Silverman

Cronenberg: The Early Years – Writer/Director David Cronenberg discusses how he broke into filmmaking

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Overall:

David Cronenberg’s often highly disturbing work may not have the overall quality of some of his later and more acclaimed achievements, but nonetheless proves a very effective work of science fiction horror, and the film now appears stronger and more vivid than ever courtesy of Second Sight’s superb new blu-ray release.

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Release Date: 8 July, 2013

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