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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Brood aka 'Die Brut' [Blu-ray]

 

(David Cronenberg, 1979)

 

Also a UK Blu-ray edition of The Brood:

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Canadian Film Development Corporation (CFDC)

Video: Criterion Collection Spine #777 / Wicked-Vision Media (Germany)

 

Disc:

Region: 'A'  / Region 'B' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:32:29.544 / 1:32:11.734

Disc Size: 46,138,728,710 bytes / 49,990,432,284 bytes

Feature Size: 24,225,122,304 bytes / 31,407,627,648 bytes

Video Bitrate: 30.99 Mbps / 35.84 Mbps

Chapters: 12 / 12

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case / Media Book-style case

Release date: October 13th, 2015 / July 28th, 2016

 

Video (both):

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit

 

DTS-HD Master Audio German 1620 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1620 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1786 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1786 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Commentaries:

DTS-HD Master Audio German 1573 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1573 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1586 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1586 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), none

 

German, English, none

 

Extras:

• New documentary about the making of the film and Cronenberg’s early work, featuring actor Samantha Eggar, executive producer Pierre David, cinematographer Mark Irwin, assistant director John Board, and special makeup effects artists Rick Baker (Videodrome) and Joe Blasco (Shivers, Rabid) - 31:06
New, restored 4K digital transfer of Cronenberg’s 1970 feature Crimes of the Future (1:02:38), supervised by the director, plus a 2011 interview with Cronenberg about his early career (13:18)
Interview from 2013 with actors Art Hindle and Cindy Hinds (19:51)
Appearance by actor Oliver Reed on The Merv Griffin Show from 1980 (20:57)
Radio spot (0:31)
PLUS: An essay by critic Carrie Rickey

 

Audio commentary by Prof. Dr. Marcus Stiglegger and Kai Naumann
Audio commentary by Prof. William Beard *
Super-8 version (15:44)
Featurette: "Childhood Memories" with Cindy Hinds (13:02)
Featurette: "Scoring the Brood" by Howard Shore (7:51)
Featurette: "Cronenberg Compositions" with Mark Irwin (23:21)
Featurette: "Pierre David on ..." Pierre David (10:54)
Radio Spot (0:31)
TV spot (0:27)
Teaser (0:31)
German trailer (recut2015) (1:00)

German trailer (1:03)

Original Trailer (2:42)
Artwork Gallery (4:54)
Lobby Cards (4:22)
Promotional material (2:55)
Filmprogramm (1:27)
24-page booklet with an essay by Prof. Dr. Marcus Stiglegger
DVD version of the movie and all the extras

 

Bitrate:

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

Wicked-Vision Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

 

Description: A disturbed woman is receiving a radical form of psychotherapy at a remote, mysterious institute. Meanwhile, her five-year-old daughter, under the care of her estranged husband, is being terrorized by a group of demonic beings. How these two story lines connect is the shocking and grotesque secret of this bloody tale of monstrous parenthood from David Cronenberg, starring Oliver Reed and Samantha Eggar. With its combination of psychological and body horror, The Brood laid the groundwork for many of the director’s films to come, but it stands on its own as a personal, singularly scary vision.

 

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

Wicked-Vision Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

The Film:

Canadian director David Cronenberg followed his graphic vampire variation Rabid with this multi-layered, speculative horror film which addresses the way the repressed demons of the psyche can force their way to the surface. Psychologist Dr. Raglan (Oliver Reed), director of the controversial Psychoplasmic Institute and author of the book "The Shape of Rage," encourages his patients to outwardly manifest their anger and fear (aided by some experimental drugs), which then takes physical shape as actual sores, cancers, or strange new organs. One of Raglan's more successful patients (from his point-of-view, anyway) is Nola Carveth (Samantha Eggar), who is undergoing therapy following a painful divorce from her husband, Frank (Art Hindle). When Frank discovers evidence that Nola may have injured their daughter, Candice (Cindy Hinds), he begins to suspect Raglan's techniques but is unprepared for the most horrifying by-product of her rage: a progeny of sexless, dwarflike mutants who are born for the sole purpose of acting out her violent fantasies of revenge. Containing only enough energy to carry out their murderous tasks, the brood is dispatched to kill Nola's parents, then a woman she believes is having an affair with Frank. By the time Frank discovers the origins of the tiny offspring, they have already abducted Candice and taken her to the institute, where Frank must confront Nola in person. Although it contains one of the most visceral and nauseating scenes in movie history (during the film's climax), this nevertheless remains the most subtle of Cronenberg's early horror projects, with a strong subtext about the devastating effects of divorce.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

The Brood was David Cronenberg’s first great film, the point where he can be identified as someone who is not merely an interestingly perverse B-movie director but someone whose movies bristle with a dazzling intelligence. The Brood was slammed much when it came out – even surprisingly by many genre critics who later championed the Cronenberg cult – for its supposedly repellent elements. By then, Cronenberg had clearly not transcended B-movie labeling and attained the critically celebrated status that he holds today. To the contrary of his contemporary naysayers, Cronenberg has for the most part trimmed back on the wilful grotesqueries that drove both Shivers and RabidThe Brood is a film driven by its ideas, not its gory set-pieces. There is however a remarkably perverse climactic scene – the one that everybody found repellent – wherein Samantha Eggar opens her gown to reveal the sores and baby sac attached to her body and then proceeds to bite into the sac and lick the bloody afterbirth off the baby.

Excerpt from Moria located HERE

 

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The Brood looks strong, if a bit muted, on Blu-ray from Criterion. The transfer is cited as being a "new, restored 2K digital transfer, supervised by director David Cronenberg".  It looks very strong -exporting that late 70's feel and keeping textures, colors and detail at a very high level. This is dual-layered with a high bitrate and we can guess that it is a solid representation of The Brood never appearing glossy or overly tight. It is in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio and contrast looks adept and depth is occasionally apparent. This Blu-ray video has no discernable flaws and supplies an pleasing 1080P presentation.

 

Well, this Wicked-Vision Media Collector's Edition (Germany) version is not "supervised by director David Cronenberg" and it looks very different. I now was assume the Second Sight (UK) might look the similar but I don't own it to compare. The German transfer is extremely brighter and the technical rendering is more robust with a higher bitrate. It is also in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio but shows a little more information on top - and less on the bottom, when compared to the Criterion. Colors are significantly richer (too exuberant?) on the Wicked-Vision and I have no idea which is more accurate although the Criterion does have the endorsement of Cronenberg. As we often say - it is good to have a choice. I though the German Blu-ray gave me a wonderfully consistent and clean presentation.

 

NOTE: I have seen 1000's of copies of the Toronto Sun newspaper in my life and frankly, I think the real color of the title background is actually in-between the two shown in this comparison, but if forced to choose would lean to the Wicked-Vision Media color.          

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

Wicked-Vision Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

Wicked-Vision Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

Wicked-Vision Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

Wicked-Vision Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

Wicked-Vision Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

Wicked-Vision Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

Wicked-Vision Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

Wicked-Vision Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

Wicked-Vision Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

Wicked-Vision Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

Wicked-Vision Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

Wicked-Vision Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

Wicked-Vision Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

Wicked-Vision Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

Wicked-Vision Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

Wicked-Vision Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

Wicked-Vision Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Audio :

Criterion stay faithful with a linear PCM mono track at 1152 kbps (24-bit). There are some dynamic audio effects and they are exported with pleasing depth. The score is by Howard Shore (Cronenberg's Maps to the Stars, Scanners and Dead Ringers, Tim Burton's Ed Wood, Fincher's The Game and Se7en etc.) and can bite in the tense scenes and sound suspenseful in the interim. It works very well in the lossless - just as good as the video. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A' disc.

 

Wicked-Vision Media go with the option of a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel 16-bit - in either original English or a German DUB. I though the English track sounded fine - Howard Shore's score was deep and supportive - perhaps exported with more depth than the Criterion LPCM - I'm not positive. There are also optional subtitles in German or English (see sample above.) There are also optional German subtitles for the Prof. William Beard commentary (which is in English). The Blu-ray disc is region 'B'-locked.  

 

Extras :

We get a new, 2015, documentary entitled Birth Pains - made by Criterion - featuring actor Samantha Eggar, executive producer Pierre David, cinematographer Mark Irwin, assistant director John Board, and special makeup effects artists Rick Baker (Videodrome) and Joe Blasco (Shivers, Rabid) as they discuss director David Cronenbrerg's early work and the making of The Brood. It runs over 1/2 hour in length and is both revealing and interesting. We also get a new, restored 4K digital transfer - as found on Arrow's Videodrome Blu-ray - of Cronenberg’s 1-hour 1970 feature Crimes of the Future , supervised by the director, plus a 13-minute, 2011, interview with Cronenberg about his early career. Included are a fun, 20-minute, interview from 2013 with actors Art Hindle and Cindy Hinds by Fangoria editor-in-chief Chris Alexander and a vintage appearance by actor Oliver Reed on The Merv Griffin Show (with Orson Welles and Charo) from 1980. Reed shares various anecdotes as well as his thoughts on acting. It runs about 20-minutes. There is a brief radio spot and the package has a liner notes booklet with an essay by critic Carrie Rickey.

 

Thankfully the Wicked-Vision stack their package with different extras than the Criterion. There are two commentaries - the aforementioned by Prof. William Beard (English), excellent discussion on themes etc., and a second, in German with Prof. Dr. Marcus Stiglegger and Kai Naumann (no English subs). We also get a 1/4 hour Super-8 version of The Brood - looking appropriately weak in 1.33 and there are extras produced by Wicked Vision and Red Shirt Production - four featurettes - all in English (with optional German subtitles); "Childhood Memories" spends 13-minutes with Cindy Hinds (Candice - little blonde girl from The Brood), "Scoring the Brood" with Howard Shore - running shy of 8-minutes, "Cronenberg Compositions" with Mark Irwin, and it's quite good, lasting 23-minutes and lastly "Pierre David on ..." spending 11-minutes with the executive producer. There are Radio and TV Spots , Teasers, trailers and galleries, promotional material and as well as a DVD of the film and extras the package has a 24-page booklet with an essay by Prof. Dr. Marcus Stiglegger (in German). Very competent.

 

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

 

Wicked-Vision Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I just love when Criterion do Cronenberg films. It is very satisfying to see this exceptional storyteller get his due. This is a minor masterpiece of the late 70's horror cycle and the Criterion Blu-ray package offers a flawless a/v presentation with fabulous new extras. Very strongly recommended!

 

Depending on how you interpret the image differences - the Wicked-Vision Blu-ray is very enticing. The extras and commentary(s), book-style case and a max'ed out bitrate and lossless audio. I am impressed with this and am curious for more from Wicked-Vision. Their package is likewise strongly recommended!   

Gary Tooze

September 18th, 2015

September 15th, 2016

 

Also a UK Blu-ray edition of The Brood:


 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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