Movie Lover: Clifford Weimer
Sacramento, CA US
-- November, 14, 2004
When I was a kid, my big brudder, bless 'em, used to take me to the movies every weekend, mainly to the local grind house to see re-releases of cheap horror and exploitation films of the 1950s. One film featured a scene that I'd never forgotten: a delivery boy is fed ground glass in a hamburger and dies a painful death. Thanks to Michael J. Weldon, I found out a couple of decades later that the film was THE BLOODY BROOD (1959), which has recently been released on DVD by Alpha Video. Unlike many childhood memories, BROOD still packs the punch I experienced then.
Peter Falk is Nico, who's working his way up the mob corporate ladder by using beatniks and greasers to do his dirty work. Despite his boss's admonition not to "think" like a beatnik, Nico has indeed come under the sway of the bongo-playing, leotard-wearing, chain smoking, espresso swilling, devil-may-care Beat Generation, and is looking for a new thrill. He finds it when an old man suddenly keels over of a heart attack while delivering papers to the coffee house ("Did he die - or was he murdered by life?") and decides that death is the ultimate kick. As always, loath to do his own dirty work, he talks his pal Francis (Ron Hartmann), into helping him find some unsuspecting victim. At a Beat party, the messenger boy blunders in, and soon the hamburger is on the griddle.
The rest of the film is concerned with the boy's brother and a gruff police detective with a heart of gold trying to find the killers. (The brother is played by Jack Betts, who was Boris Karloff in GODS AND MONSTERS).
I liked this film a lot, in a greasy, need to take a shower after, sort of way. The Beats are all seen as pretty useless human beings, not caring whether they (or anybody else) live or die, which is pretty harsh. Falk is terrific as Nico, and rises far above the material. It's no wonder that he was typecast in gangster pictures for a while, going from this to MURDER, INC. and PRETTY BOY FLOYD. Also excellent is Barbara Lord as the Beat chick who"s torn between loyalty to Nico and horror at his crimes. The Alpha DVD is very good, too, better than usual. Recommended.