Tag Archives: 1979

The Brood (1979) Review

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The Brood

Time: 92 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast:
Oliver Reed as Dr. Hal Raglan
Samantha Eggar as Nola Carveth
Art Hindle as Frank Carveth
Director: David Cronenberg

A mad doctor (Oliver Reed) tries psychoplasmic therapy on a raging woman (Samantha Eggar) soon to be a mother.

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I really knew nothing about The Brood going in except that it was another horror movie from David Cronenberg and it was meant to be quite good. It is great as to be expected, very well made, and was one of the more unsettling horror movies from Cronenberg, while also managing to be quite surprising.

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The Brood is at its core is a movie about divorce, it’s basically David Cronenberg’s response to Kramer vs Kramer. It’s also worth noting that Cronenberg was writing the movie while undergoing a messy custody battle, and let’s just say that it really shows in this movie. Knowing that when watching The Brood does make it feel more personal and honest. Trauma and abuse are also prominent themes involved with this movie. There are some readings of the movie that does see the movie as being a bit misogynistic (especially with regard to the character of the wife), and while I might see where those people coming from, especially when looking at the movie on the surface level, I think it’s a little deeper than that, though I can’t fully explain why in this review. The tone of the movie is quite serious, some of what happens in the movie could’ve easily fallen into being camp, but Cronenberg keeps it pretty serious. It is definitely more focused on character drama than horror. The Brood pretty short at just over 90 minutes long, and with regard to the plot, I guess you could call it a slow burn. The first two thirds are actually fairly slow and uneventful, playing more like a family drama than a full on horror movie (a horror movie made by David Cronenberg no less). However, I was pretty interested in the story, and the movie flew by for me because of how frantic it feels at times. Without revealing too much, the finale is pretty insane, almost serving as a reminder that this movie was made by Cronenberg. Also in terms of notable scenes in this movie, there’s also a particular scene just before the third act which was effectively freaky and disturbing.

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The cast all play their parts well. Art Hindle plays the main character of Hal. He’s decent enough on his part but does feel like a blank slate more than an actual character. He feels a little out of place, but maybe it’s because it’s really the other two main performances that stood out in the movie. Samantha Eggar is great in her role as Nola, the ex-wife of Hal. Her performance could’ve been over the top but she and Cronenberg managed to create the right performance for this complicated character. Oliver Reed is fittingly subtle and understated, yet effectively creepy in his scenes as a therapist who is treating Nola using ‘unconventional’ methods.

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David Cronenberg directs The Brood very well. It’s greatly shot, with some very memorable images that really stick with you. It does have some body horror (not a big shock, this is a Cronenberg horror movie after all), and those parts were very well handled, with some great effects, especially in the crazy final act. The monsters in the movie (not explaining the context beyond that) are fittingly unsettling when on screen. The practical effects are good, though it’s not quite as spectacular as some of Cronenberg’s other body horror work like The Fly or Videodrome. Howard Shore composed the score and it was great and fit the tone well. It’s also worth noting that this is the first movie score he worked on, and it’s quite impressive. It really helped convey the amount of atmospheric dread as well as the urgency. Like with the story, the direction is relatively restrained and doesn’t go all out (until the third act at least).

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The Brood is a greatly written and directed horror movie. While the body horror was quite good, it was the story, characters and themes that had me so invested in everything that was happening. I wouldn’t personally recommend it as a first film from Cronenberg, but it is worth watching for sure, especially if you like horror.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) Review

Time: 132 Minutes
Age Rating:
Cast:
William Shatner as James T. Kirk
Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock
DeForest Kelley as Leonard McCoy
James Doohan as Montgomery Scott
Walter Koenig as Pavel Chekov
Nichelle Nichols as Uhura
George Takei as Hikaru Sulu
Persis Khambatta as Ilia
Stephen Collins as Willard Decker
Director: Robert Wise

The Federation calls on Adm. James T. Kirk (William Shatner) and the crew of the Starship Enterprise to contain an immense nimbused object that’s on a crash course with Earth. After investigating, the crew discovers that the alien cloud harbors artificial intelligence with an ominous primary directive. Crisis strikes when a probe dispatched by the energy cloud attacks the crew, abducting navigator Lt. Ilia (Persis Khambatta). An android look-alike containing her memories shows up soon after.

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Star Trek had been going on for a while, with the original television show starting in 1966. Over a decade later, in 1979, Star Trek took its first attempt at a live action movie… unfortunately it really didn’t go all that great. While it had some pretty visuals for its time, it doesn’t have much else to offer.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture is 2 hours and 12 minutes long and it definitely felt it. The movie really feels like a lot of padding, everything took too long with countless sequences of just nothing happening, focussing on ships going places. For instance, Kirk and Scotty, from the moment they first see the ship, it takes at least 4 minutes for them to actually arrive on it, and nothing really happens within this 4 minutes. And there are at least a couple more of these 3 to 4 minute long unending sequences of ships going in a certain direction and absolutely nothing happening. Without these drawn out sequences, the movie must’ve been more like 1 hour and 30 minutes long. The story itself isn’t handled all that great either. There are aspects that definitely had potential but the end result is actually quite boring and uninteresting. By the time the plot actually really kicks in and things actually start happening, it’s way too late for us to care.

Something I noticed about the actors in the original Star Trek movies is that the quality of their performances usually depends on the level of the quality of the movie, mostly due to the writing of the characters. For example, William Shatner’s Captain Kirk makes a lot of bad decisions and really doesn’t give you a sense that he’s any good at being a captain (at least in this movie). Early in the movie, Kirk takes command of a ship which he is completely unexperienced with commanding over someone who was much more experienced, things didn’t go so great, especially when his actions led to the deaths of 2 people. There is also some forced romantic subplot between the characters played by. Persis Khambatta and Stephen Collins that we don’t really care about. I guess on the whole the acting was fine enough but not enough to really add anything to the overall movie.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture does have some impressive visuals for the late 70s, however they don’t really hold up today. It honestly feels like the effects overshadowed the rest of the movie. As I said earlier, there is way too many drawn out sequences focussed on ships and nothing ultimately happening. It’s like they tried to make a Star Trek movie like 2001: A Spacey Odyssey and it really didn’t fit at all.

For the first live action film version of Star Trek, this movie really was a disappointment. There’s honestly not a lot to say about Star Trek: The Motion Picture, it kind of looks good, you don’t care about the rest of it and it’s way too slow and drawn out. If you are an old school Star Trek fan you may like it. It’s not the worst thing ever, but it isn’t by any means even close to being one of Star Trek’s high points in terms of films.

Alien (1979)

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Alien

Time: 117 mins
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and offensive language
Cast:
Sigourney Weaver as Ripley
Tom Skerritt as Dallas
Veronica Cartwright as Lambert
Harry Dean Stanton as Brett
John Hurt as Kane
Ian Holm as Ash
Director: Ridley Scott

A commercial crew aboard the deep space towing vessel, Nostromo is on its way home when they pick an SOS warning from a distant planet. What they don’t know is that the SOS warning is not like any other ordinary warning call. After picking up the signal, the crew realize that they are not alone on the spaceship when an alien stowaways on the cargo ship.

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The pacing of this movie is slow at first. The first half an hour or so is build up for the rest of the movie, which is absolutely perfect because it manages to create a very tense atmosphere. Alien is one of the best examples of how to create atmosphere in a movie, you take the pacing slower and let it build the atmosphere build up over time. This film also manages to give a feeling of claustrophobia and vulnerability that is present throughout the entire film.

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One reason that the alien is scary is because unless you’ve seen the other movies, you don’t know how this alien works and what it can do. The alien looks different every time we see it, and leaves us wondering what it would look like every time it’s on screen. If there is one thing that the alien represents, it’s the unknown. Like other well-made horror movies it doesn’t give all the answers to the creature that stalks the characters, all the viewer can do is watch. It’s quite a while before the alien gets seen or even mentioned. When it does, it only appears on screen every so often but that’s what made it scarier than if it was frequently popping up. The film’s scares don’t come from jump scares alone, it takes advantage of its atmosphere and uses it to help its scares. This led to one of the biggest scares I’ve ever seen in a movie. I won’t tell which scene it is or any of the other scares; in case you haven’t seen it. Like Psycho, many of the scenes are so easy to spoil it’s best to watch those moments yourself without prior knowledge. Another thing great about this movie is the fact that it doesn’t have action that could’ve ruined the amount of tension. Granted, James Cameron’s sequel manages to balance it out nicely but Alien succeeds in the type of movie it’s aiming to be: a haunted house in space.

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The actors still do a good job reacting to everything that happens despite the fact that they aren’t anything special. When you go to a horror movie you aren’t looking for great acting but fortunately the actors here to a much better job than most actors in most horror movies. While you don’t get to learn much about the characters, again, most horror movies aren’t about the people. We are with these characters for the whole movies so they needed to feel real enough, which they do.

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The alien is always a presence in this movie, even when it’s not on screen. This is due to many things, the camera work, the lighting, the sound design and the score. The score by Jerry Goldsmith in particular gives the movie an eerie vibe. The sound design should also be commended for managing to convey a feeling of emptiness. The camera’s tone is quite bleak and dark. The lighting in this movie in some parts is quite dark, leading viewers to wonder if the alien is on screen or not. All of those film techniques results in the film have a very creepy vibe.

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Although I still personally prefer Aliens over this movie, I will say is that Alien is scarier than its great sequel. Even though Aliens has a lot of action, don’t go into this movie expecting that same thing. It’s a slow, horror movie that builds atmosphere, and actually is a great example of how to create suspense, scares, atmosphere and an overall good horror film.