Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Brood (1979)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Brood (1979, Canada)

In writer/director David Cronenberg's Canadian 'body horror' film - a repellent, repulsive, yet truly fascinating movie that was taglined: "The Ultimate Experience of Inner Terror." In the film, Cronenberg provided commentary on radical therapeutic solutions of the time period, including one termed psychoplasmics; some felt he went too far and the film's climactic scene suffered from censorship:

  • the plot told about Somafree Institute of Psychoplasmics psychotherapist Dr. Hal Raglan's (Oliver Reed) self-obsessed, psychotic, and disturbed patient named Nola Carveth (Samantha Eggar); Nola had a history of psychological, verbal and physical abuse from her two alcoholic parents
  • over a year and a half of time, she had autogenetically given birth to homicidal strange, sexless, dwarf-like mutated children, known as "The Brood," to physically express her own internal psychic suppressed rage (anger personified); the vengeful mutant dwarf-like children (the brood) - offspring of Nola Carveth - would murderously attack and psychically respond to Nola's anger; the children who were color-blind were also without genitalia, speech, teeth, and navels
  • in an early scene, two of the 'Brood' children murdered Institute teacher Ruth Mayer (Susan Hogan) in front of her class
  • in the final concluding sequence, Nola's upset ex-husband Frank Carveth (Art Hindle) arrived at the Institute to retrieve his endangered daughter Candice (Cindy Hinds). Before entering, Frank was confronted by Dr. Raglan and warned about Nola's homicidal Brood of children (living in the attic) who had already killed Ruth Mayer
  • Raglan held a gun on Frank - and cautioned him about just rushing in to take Candice. He explained how Nola's "Brood" of children were the result of her psychoplasmic sessions with the doctor, and a physical manifestation of her rage and how she felt about her own custody battle. Whenever Nola was in an angry mood, her Brood-children would carry out her bidding without her knowledge
  • Raglan: They'll kill you if you try to take her away from them....Because they understand that she's one of them....Frank, they exist. You've seen them.
    Frank: They're just freaks. Deformed children. You've got Nola taking care of them. I'm sure she just loves being their surrogate mother.
    Raglan: She's not their surrogate mother, Frank. She's their real mother. Their only mother....They're her children, Frank. More exactly, they're the children of her rage. They're motivated only by her anger, whether that anger is conscious or subconscious.

    Dr. Hal Raglan (Oliver Reed)

    Frank Carveth (Art Hindle) - Nola's Ex-Husband

    Nola Carveth (Samantha Eggar)

  • Raglan persuaded Frank about the "right way" to get Candice back. He was told to enter the hut and "persuade Nola that you want her back, that you want your family back. I want you to play the role of apologetic lover and husband....Because if you can keep Nola calm and happy, then the Brood's neutral. If she's mellow, then I can just walk into that attic, pick up Candy, tuck her under my arm and walk out....Frank, be nice to her"
  • Frank followed Raglan's suggestions and visited with Nola in the downstairs wooden hut, who was found in a trance-like state. She was kneeling and wearing a white robe. As they conversed together, he attempted to reconcile and seek a rapprochement with her (as a trick to calm her), while Dr. Raglan entered the attic, waiting for the right time to snatch Candice away from the Brood:
  • Frank: I want us to understand each other. You're the only woman in the world for me. You always have been, you always will be. It won't ever change. I want you to know that.
    Nola: I wish it were true. God, I wish it were true.
    Frank: We lost touch. That's the only reason all this ever happened. All we have to do is make sure we don't lose touch again.
    Nola: Isolation is part of my therapy, Frank. What's been happening to me has been just too strange, too strange for me to share with anyone from my old life.
    Frank: Then make me a part of your new life. Let me be part of it. Show me, educate me, involve me. I'm ready now. I wasn't before, but I'm ready now.
    Nola: Are you ready for me, Frank? Are you really? I seem to be a very special person. I'm in the middle of a strange adventure.
    Frank: Let me be with you. I want to go with you wherever you go.
    Nola: Do you? Do you?
    Frank: Yes.
    Nola: Then, look. (She raised her robe)

  • during the concluding 'birth' scene, both visceral and nauseating, Nola raised the two wings of her white robe - to reveal her external psycho-plasmically induced womb sitting on her lap. Then, in both a visceral and nauseating moment that shocked Frank ("Oh God, Nola!"), she leaned down and with her mouth, she ripped open her own uterus (baby or egg sac), and then licked the bloody afterbirth off of her own monstrous baby.

  • Nola Licking and Eating Her Own Creature-Baby's Afterbirth

  • when Frank reacted with disgust, Nola realized Frank's real motivation for visiting her: "I disgust you. I sicken you. You hate me. You didn't come here because you love me. You came here to take our daughter away and give her to somebody else." Although Frank denied her accusations: "I wouldn't do that. I wouldn't do that to you," she called him a liar and became incensed at him ("I know you so well, and it won't work. I'd kill Candice before I let you take her away from me"), when gunshots rang out from upstairs in the attic
  • meanwhile in the attic, the activated Brood (sensing Nola's anger) had attacked Dr. Raglan who was attempting to carry Candice out and not disturb them - he was armed and shot some of the Brood, but then was overwhelmed and beaten to death. Nola's pale, terrified and catatonic daughter Candice was able to run off and hide herself in a locked closet - although the pursuing Brood was able to break through the door behind her.
The Brood's Attack Upon Candice Who Ran and Locked Herself in a Closet
  • back down in Nola's room, Frank threatened to kill Nola if she didn't call off the Brood upstairs: "Make them stop. They're doing what you want them to do. You want them to kill Candice. You make them stop, or I'll kill you." He was forced to strangle Nola during a struggle with his bare hands - when she urged: "Kill me!" With the death of their psychically-connected mother, the Brood died off and Candice was saved.

Strangulation Death of Nora

Simultaneous Death of Her Brood
  • as Frank drove away with the traumatized Candice after the film's last lines of dialogue ("We're going home, Candy. We're going home"), the last ominous image of the film was a close-up sight of a raised, red sore (or wheal) growing on Candice's arm - she had undoubtedly inherited her mother's cursed abilities to manifest the pain inside of her.

Ex-Husband Frank Carveth Reconciling With Nola

Nola Raising Her Robe For Frank to See

Nola's External 'Birth' Scene - Revealing Her External Womb

Dr. Raglan in Attic Attempting to Rescue Frank's and Nola's Daughter Candy From the Brood

Nola's Reaction to Frank's Disgust

The Brood Surrounding Dr. Raglan With Candice In His Arms

One of the Brood Children Shot Dead by Dr. Raglan

Dr. Raglan Beaten to Death

Strangulation of Nola with Frank's Bare Hands

Candice Saved by Frank

Shocking Last Image: Sores or Bumps (Wheals) on Candice's Arm


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