In 1990 legendary genre author and filmmaker Clive Barker, released a motion picture that was very dear to him. However, he was left with nothing but disgust and emotional anguish once he saw the final version of his beloved project. 20th Century Fox had every intention of capitalizing on the slasher craze, instead of keeping the integrity and point of Barker's vision. The result? A ton of cuts in editing to both shorten the length overall, and to try and portray the monsters as villains. This left Nightbreed falling flat on its face to a lot of cinemagoers who were confused by the mess it turned out to be. During commentary on the Hellraiser (1987) Blu-ray, Clive Barker, explained how Nightbreed (1990) was his metaphor for being homosexual. When you think about it, it makes total sense. You have a guy (Aaron Boone) who wants to get away from his surroundings and go to a place where people are like him, and where he can quite literally hide under a rock to get away from the society that doesn't accept him. Thinking of how gays weren't kindly received until recently, you can clearly see the connection to the story, which is very deep and powerful. And while the theatrical cut still allows you to see the metaphor, the director's cut makes everything come together in a more solid and likable way. Distributing company Scream Factory, went through 500 boxes obtaining sixteen hours of footage to give you the motion picture originally intended. Although it has 45 minutes of new footage, the director's cut is actually only 20 minutes longer, due to the fact that they replaced old scenes with alternate ones as well as added in things that previously ended up on the cutting room floor. Fans can finally see Barker's original idea, and how it flows a lot smoother than the rendition we were given back in 1990. The most satisfying part is the fact that people can now see and understand that the creatures are veritably good guys, as always intended. Some confuse this version with The Cabal Cut, but that's not the case. The Cabal Cut is an even more extended version, using a combination of the work print footage from the U.S. DVD and the CD Soundtrack by Russell Cherrington and Jimmi Johnson to make one cohesive version. The Cabal Cut has also been re-cut, and seven different versions have been shown at conventions.
Aaron Boone (Craig Sheffer) has delusions about murdering people, ergo he sees psychotherapist, Dr. Philip K. Decker (played by genre filmmaker David Cronenberg, who was Barker's one and only choice to play the part). Decker, however, has his own agenda in framing Boone for the murders he's confessed to by committing them in perfect detail himself as a means to quench his own psychopathic thirst. With the police after him, Boone runs away to a cemetery called Midian, a place he's dreamed of, where he believes he belongs. Boone is attacked by two monsters called Kinski (Nicholas Vince, who played Chatterer in Hellraiser) and Peloquin (Oliver Parker), the latter of which bites Boone in a hostile attack for trespassing. Peloquin smells the innocence on Boone and reveals to him that he's not a killer, and that his doctor is betraying him. Boone goes to leave but is shot down by police (a scene that took a lot of takes to perfect). Back at the hospital, Boone is awoken by the bite he's received courtesy of Peloquin, and meets a new pal, Narcisse (Hugh Ross), who is also seeking the Nightbreed for acceptance. Narcisse shows that he belongs to the tribes of the moon by cutting half of his face off (which was done in one take), and reveals a reptilian skin underneath. Both he and Boone find Midian together, and become one with the pack of misfits they've striven to belong to after the leader, Lylesberg (Dough Bradley, Pinhead), grants them official members of the tribe. Meanwhile, Lori Winston (Anne Bobby), Boone's girlfriend gets the news that he's been found and killed, and goes to the cemetery in search of answers. Instead, she finds a dying creature, that's a woman named Rachel's (Catherine Chevalier) daughter, Babette (Kim Robertson). Both of whom belong to the Nightbreed. Babette going out into the sun is what caused her deathlike appearance, but as she's returned to Rachel, she regenerates (a scene that took five different makeup stages and the use of Kim's real-life twin sister). But, the bad news is, Decker knows Boone is alive. After trying to kill Lori in Midian, Decker briefly faces off against Boone. After turning his back on the Nightbreed to help Lori, Boone is excommunicated. He and Lori return to her motel room for her things to discover the room next to Lori's has several dead bodies in it. Yet again, Boone is set up as a murderer by Decker and is taken to jail. Hellbent on stopping the creatures, Decker goes to the police Captain Eigerman (Charles Haid) for assistance in obliterating all of Midian and those who reside there. Eigerman obliges after finding out that his prisoner, Boone, has no heartbeat. The Captain takes the local drunken priest, Ashberry (Malcolm Smith), out of his holding cell and brings him along for blessings as a savage massacre on the beasts underground ensues. That is until Narcisse, Rachel and Lori help Boone escape and protect Midian. Only when they arrive, the damage has already been done and Midian is in pieces. It's up to Boone to stand up and take on the outsiders with the help of the Berserkers; a brutal bunch of wild creatures kept in lockup. The Nightbreed join forces with Boone in his defensive attack, which ends in their victory and the death of Decker at the hands of Boone. Since Boone was the only one of the Nightbreed to see their deity, Baphomet, and live, Boone is now the chosen one who must find the Nightbreed a new home. He embraces who he is and takes on his new name; Cabal. As he begins hunting for a new residence, Lori kills herself to force Boone into making her part of the tribe, so they'll never be apart again. This is all foretold on the cave walls in what used to be Midian. Only the war is just beginning, because Ashberry wants revenge on the breed for his disfigurement that occurred during the battle in Midian, and has sworn to take the Nightbreed out, and refusing help of defeated Captain Eigerman. The film ends with hope, but doom leering around the corner.
|Boone gets accepted by the Tribes of the Moon|
I've always liked the theatrical cut of Nightbreed, but now, after seeing the director's cut, I ponder as to whether or not I'll ever watch that version again, I like them both for their differences, but when it comes down to it, the director's cut is almost verbatim to the original short story Cabal (minus some small details), written by Clive Barker. I have zero complaints. Unlike in the theatrical, Decker isn't brought back at the end by Ashberry, and Narcisse doesn't live. Decker actually beheads Narcisse! It's important details like this that make this two hour version a refreshing experience. Take notice when watching, because the first scene added in is the phone call from Decker to Boone towards the beginning. The director commentary is well worth a listen too, if you're into such things. I learned that my favorite character, Narcisse, is the "most bi-sexual monster in Midian", which I honestly never really picked up on. I also thought it was thought-provoking to hear that the reason Lylesberg's several eyes open when he dies at the end of the film is because he's seeing where he's going in the next life. Also, most of the dialogue was ad libbed, including Narcisse's iconic "sailors" quote, which I never would've expected. And lastly, the woman we see Decker murder in the kitchen, Melissa Rickman, is played by Valda Aviks, who is a real-life opera singer.
While I have no complaints on the new cut of Nightbreed, I still have one little one little problem with the movie as a whole: I dislike some of the monsters' ability. Most specifically Leroy (Tony Bluto), who's fighting style involves (don't laugh) two one-eyed snakes to come out of his abdomen and bite you. It's just silly. I have the same problem with the X-Men movies too, because some of the powers the mutants have are incogitable. I know that every monster has to stand out in their own way to be memorable, but I think it's lame when you give them something just to make them weird. Their ability should be for the better, it should make them advanced over human beings. And I wouldn't consider someone with stomach snakes to be above me, Most of the other monsters' powers are for fighting and survival, and I'm okay with that. That's how it should be.
|Decker attempts to murder Lori|
Ultimately, if you like Nightbreed but you haven't seen this cut, prepare yourself to love it. There's a surplus of monsters, action, character development and an all-around better motion picture. Even if you've seen the theatrical version and hate it, you still should watch the director's cut because, it seems like two separate movies with different plots. It'll more than likely make you a fan. Regardless of your situation, rather you love, hate or haven't even seen Nightbreed before, there's no reason you shouldn't watch this version. You owe it to yourself.