When I was in high school I was a huge Clive Barker fan and I read every book and collection of short stories of his that I could get my hands on. At one point I read “Cabal”. I enjoyed it quite a bit and moved on with my life. For some reason, at the time, I never connected that Barker’s film Nightbreed was a film adaptation of that novella. I never got around to seeing Nightbreed until now that his director’s cut has been released. The film is now 20 minutes longer with 45 minutes of new footage and I was very excited to finally see director Clive Barker’s original vision for the film.
Aaron Boone (Craig Sheffer) has been having horrible nightmares of monsters and a mystical place called Midian. His therapist, Dr. Philip Decker (David Cronenberg) has been helping him. Boone thought he was cured until Decker brought to his attention a series of grisly murders that had happened in their area. Murders similar to things Boone described from his nightmares. Decker tells Boone he believes he is responsible for these murders. He gives Boone some meds and tells him to turn himself into the police.
Before Boone can turn himself in he is hit by a truck. In the hospital the doctor explains to him that he hasn’t been taking lithium, rather it was LSD. While recovering Boone hears a man begging to be taken to Midian. The man tells Boone how to get there right before cutting his own face off. The police think Boone did it and he runs.
He winds up in a cemetery where he runs into his first Midians. Here a few things become clear: There really are monsters and he didn’t kill anyone like he was told. One of the Midians tries to eat him, while another tries to save him. He escapes the cemetery only find a barrage of cops and Dr. Decker waiting for him. Decker screams, “He’s got a gun!” and jumps out of the way. Boone is killed instantly. However, because of the bite he is resurrected as one of the monsters and is renamed Cabal at the end of the film.
It is Boone’s transformation into one of the Nightbreed where this film really gets rolling. Decker reveals his true colors and we learn that being a monster isn’t necessarily skin deep. In fact, the whole idea behind this story is that one doesn’t have to look like a monster to be a monster, and just because you like one, doesn’t mean you’re bad. According to the intro, Barker explains that much of this theme was lost in the studios cut of the film. In this director’s cut, this theme is made very clear.
It’s a bizarre story for sure, but an interesting one. The acting isn’t super, but it’s good enough. Sheffer is pretty good as Boone. It’s a complex character who goes through a lot changes and Sheffer is able to bring life to all of that. Cronenberg is great as Decker. He’s isn’t obviously evil, even when he dawns his mask and starts talking crazy, there is a calculated madness to everything he says and does that makes his character all the more creepy, even when you don’t know what his real motives are.
What really carries this film is the intriguing story, a cornucopia of creative creatures that would make Guillermo Del Toro jealous, and a fantastically haunting score by Danny Elfman. This film is as much a fantasy film as it is a horror film, which is probably why it was hard for it to find an audience when released. I think people today are more open to genre mixing films like this. This film was obviously set up for a sequel, sadly that never came to be.
As I stated before, this is my first time seeing the film, so I can’t compare it to the original cut of the film. What I can tell you is that I quite enjoyed this one and can only assume that it is much improved over the original.
If there is one thing Clive Barker excels at, it is creating rich complex fantasy worlds and populating them with interesting and memorable characters. While he certainly does this better in his books, he succeeds pretty well in his films as well. Nightbreed isn’t going to be a film for everyone, but those willing to go on Barker’s journey with him should have a good time.
The film is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen and Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. I’m not sure what the film looked like before, but it looks amazing now. I sure this is a big improvement over older editions of the film because this one looks and sounds great.
You get an Intro by Clive Barker: (4 min.) Barker explains the process of how this director’s cut came to be. Audio Commentary:. Tribes Of The Moon: The Making Of Nightbreed: (72 min.) These are some great interviews from cast and crew that discuss all elements of the making of this film. Making Monsters: (42 min.) A great look at Barker’s creative process when it comes to his monsters and the artists who brought those monsters to life. Fire! Fights! Stunts! 2nd Unit Shooting: (20 min.) The 2nd unit director discusses his collaboration with Clive Barker. Theatrical Trailer.
From everything I heard in the special features, I’m glad this is the first time I’m watching this film. It sounds like the film the studio originally released took away everything that had any meaning of the film. This film tackles some very interesting ideas and they finally presented to viewers with this director’s cut.
Scream Factory presents Nightbreed, The Director’s Cut. Written and Directed by: Clive Barker. Based on his novel “Cabal”. Starring: Craig Sheffer, Anne Bobby and David Cronenberg. Running time: 120 min. Rating: Unrated. Released: October 28, 2014.
Tags: Clive Barker, Nightbreed