I’m sure most people have seen, or at least heard of, Clive Barker’s ill-received project “Nightbreed”. An adaptation of Barker’s novella “Cabal,” “Nightbreed” was originally released a confusing, cut-up mess that played up the slasher aspects of the story while leaving the world-building by the wayside. As time tells us, this was a misstep on the part of the studio as “Nightbreed” failed to leave any lasting impressions outside of the cult arena. Yet another instance in the long and storied epic of studio’s mishandling a film and marketing it however they felt would sell regardless of content. You know, sort of like “The Witch,” or “Crimson Peak,” or <Y>?
“Nightbreed: The Director’s Cut” aims to correct those studio mistakes of yore, putting in the hands of the horror community the film that Barker intended to make in 1990. At the very least this is the closest, most coherent version that will ever exist short of a remake. This cut of the movie adds something in the neighbourhood of forty minutes of new footage, completely replacing some scenes as well as lengthening others. Many of these additional scenes serve to actually shine a light on the world of Midian, the world of monsters that is central the novella. Unfortunately with this new footage of monsters and demons and other sordid creatures of the night comes a mess load of more story that doesn’t exactly make for a swift ride.
The thing is, as much exposition as we do get on the less explored facets of the “Nightbreed” story, it doesn’t change the fact that the story can be confusing and dare I say even, kinda boring at times. I know, awful right? I re-read the “Books of Blood” almost annually, at least in part and have always been a fan of Barkers particular eye for what terrifies. “Cabal”; is a great book, and one that I immediately shoved in Robins face once I was done reading it. That story, however compelling on the page, is far less so once brought to life on the screen. I think this is simply because there’s too much to digest in one sitting; this isn’t exactly a cookie cutter universe he’s playing with and they were still decades away from the current environment of acceptance for stranger concepts (se: Guardians of the Galaxy) in mainstream movies.
The creature designs are where Nightbreed excels still, this time around afforded more screen time so we get to see quite a bit more than the theatrical cut allowed. The high definition transfer brings quite a bit of light to some previously dark scenes as well, literally illuminating designs that before languished in the shadows. This is one of the few occasions you will see me admit that tossing more monsters at a problem might not solve it however. A hard to swallow truth but one that is highlighted throughout this release of “Nightbreed.”
I like Nightbreed, and this is the most complete and accurate telling of the movie we will ever see but it still comes with some entry requirements. FIrst off, you need to have a tolerance for fantasy, and more over a taste for Clive Barker; This is far from an easy Friday night popcorn movie. Second, you’ll need at least a marginable tolerance for bullshit because there is indeed some bullshit here to the tune of minutes of not very exciting (debatably necessary) exposition. If you absolutely need to see this movie realized as fully as it was intended, get your hands on this. If you are just curious about a movie with such a storied history or looking for an easy watch, stay clear of Midian.
– Scotty Floronic (@drunkgraveyard)