A Midnight Movie Monograph on THE BROOD was a no-brainer. When comics artist and film critic Stephen R. Bissette said he wanted to write it, I think I almost bit his hand off.
I still think that it’s Cronenberg’s most powerful film, the first film he made where everything came together in perfect synthesis. And Steve . . . well Steve’s writing was part of my formative development as a film lover, in the pages of GOREZONE and DEEP RED.
I don’t remember how we got to know each other, but that’s social media for you. I think it may have been reminiscing about DEEP RED editor Chas. Balun that broke the ice. And somewhere a friendship began to grow so that, when I came to edit WE ARE THE MARTIANS, I invited Steve to come aboard. And really, given the way his contribution to that collection grew beyond his and my expectation . . . I wasn’t entirely surprised when this one did as well.
But still, what Steve handed in to me was like nothing I have ever read before . . . and like everyone here at PS Towers, I’ve read quite a lot.
Seriously: It’s huge, and all encompassing. It ranges across the history and lineage of the genre in film and literature, what came before THE BROOD and what came after; it opens doors on Cronenberg’s biography and Stephen’s too. It looks at how ideas in natural history, science, mythology and metaphysics influenced the times and culture in which THE BROOD was conceived, and into which it was then born. It explores disturbing elements of Canadian cultural and political history involving the systemic abuse and experimentation on orphan children in the name of science; looks at cults and deprogramming; and takes a bold and heartfelt look at how trauma and abuse affects not only the victims, but also the people who love them. Not to mention the unique production and distribution history of this most unusual family drama.
There are precedents of course: Raymond Durgnat’s A LONG HARD LOOK AT PSYCHO comes to mind, but that’s a forensic book, picking apart the film in question shot by shot; it puts the movie under a microscope and as a result the focus is sharp, but necessarily narrow. I’ve never read anything that takes quite such a holistic approach as Stephen has done here. Not about a single film. The nature and history of an idea. He approaches the film like psychogeography, exploring the ripples both backward and forward in time, climbing the vertical and horizontal axes of its influence to see what went in to the film, and what came out.
The breadth of topics that Steve covers in this book is breathtaking. The number of threads that he finds woven into the intricate tapestry of this single 90 min film is dizzying, and he picks at them all. This book breaks new ground for Electric Dreamhouse, and at an entirely new length—six times longer than a standard monograph volume! We’re in the final stages before this enormous book goes to press. The signing cards that we did for the HORROR EXPRESS book went down well, so we’re doing more (and backtracking to do signature cards for some earlier entries in the series too). This time out, were looking at something extra exciting. Not only will Stephen Bissette be signing but we should be adding signatures from stars Art Hindle and Cindy Hinds as well.
I can’t wait for you to read this. —Neil Snowdon