When Nightbreed was released in 1990, the film was plagued with issues. The studio wasn’t keen on a movie that portrayed monsters as sympathetic creatures, and so, in an act of butchery that only the big studios are capable of, they made cuts and changes to the film that severely altered the tone that Clive Barker was going for. This being his sophomore feature - and clearly a project that he cared deeply about - Barker was devastated that his vision had been tainted. Over the years, the film began to develop a cult following. Even fans of the film knew that pieces were missing and that this was a world that hadn’t been fully explored. As time passed, new footage was found and the “Cabal Cut” was created. However, the quality of the found footage in this version left much to be desired.
Cut to 2014, and we now have the director’s cut - the definitive cut, thanks to producer Mark A. Miller, who would not rest until Nightbreed was finally complete. The dedication to this restoration is admirable, and all of that love ends up on the screen. This is a film that is begging to be rediscovered.
Nightbreed is based on Clive Barker’s own novella, entitled “Cabal”, and tells the tale of Aaron Boone, a mentally fragile young man who constantly dreams of a place called Midian, a dwelling place for monsters who have set themselves apart from the rest of the world. Worried that the dreams are becoming more frequent, Aaron’s girlfriend asks him to visit his psychotherapist, the sinister Dr. Philip K. Decker (played by a super creepy David Cronenberg), and is manipulated into believing that he is responsible for a series of horrific murders. A series of strange events at a local hospital lead Aaron to Midian, where he meets several fascinating and strange creatures - the “nightbreeds” - the very beings who will help him to discover his true destiny. Aaron will face many obstacles, including the prejudiced town lawmen who loathe the monsters - and a terrifying serial killer.
I’m trying my best to be as vague as I possibly can in order to avoid serious spoilers. When it comes to Nightbreed, the less that you know going in, the better. Clive Barker has given us a rich new world to roam around in, with characters that we will never forget. It’s hard to believe that this film has been around for so long and has been so misunderstood and under appreciated. Granted, the theatrical cut lacked all of the substance that we find in this new cut, but it was always an endlessly imaginative picture, ripe with possibilities. It helps that Nightbreed is a film for adults, hence the R rating. It pulls no punches, and can be quite shocking at times. Anything can happen in a film like this.
And then there is the music. There is a strong emotional core to Nightbreed, which is highlighted by a beautiful score from Danny Elfman - a soundtrack that should be re-released as soon as possible. This is by far one of the composers best pieces.
Nightbreed is a classic, plain and simple. For those of you who have never seen it, who will be lucky enough to stumble upon this new release at some point in the future, just know that you are in for a real treat. You really don’t want to miss this one! Shout Factory has really outdone themselves as far as this release is concerned, and the fans are going to love it. There are two releases: a standalone Blu-ray that only features the director’s cut, and a limited three-disc edition that features additional special features, as well as the digitally remastered theatrical cut of the film. I was only able to review the standalone release, but I was more than happy with it.
Special features include an introduction with Clive Barker and Mark A. Miller, a highly informative audio commentary, interviews with various actors and crew members, a theatrical trailer, and more!
Do yourself a favor: stop what you are doing and purchase a copy as soon as possible! I promise you that you will not be disappointed! And Clive Barker, please make another movie soon! It’s been way too long.