Nightbreed: Dirctors Cut (1990)
Everything is true.
God’s an Astronaut.
Oz is Over the Rainbow,
and Midian is where the monsters live.
Growing up I was a big fan of the original butchered Nightbreed. Unaware that the studio didn’t know what to do with it so tried to sell it as a slasher and not what writerDirector Clive Barker has intended the film to be.
It was perfect to me. Amazing sets and wonderful, creative monsters; a film full of action that doesn’t let up for a moment with an amazing score by Danny Elfman that was very… Elfman.
Great cast to play great characters with David Cronenberg on top form as the murdering psychiatrist Decker standing out for probably everyone who watched this film.
The ending set up a sequel that was sadly never to be and other than the occasional showings on BBC1 at random times this is a film that ended up being ignored in the UK never even getting a DVD release.
I happened to catch it again once and decided to look into it’s history only to realise there was supposed to be so much more to this than we got.
But Mark Miller, co-head of Barker’s production company, Seraphim Films, discovered that missing footage was actually available and hadn’t been destroyed but the studio holding the missing footage in their vaults refused to release it citing there not being a big enough demand for it.
A 145 then 159 minute workprint was found on VHS and Russell Cherrington, a senior lecturer in film and video production at the University of Derby, created a new cut from these tapes as well as a DVD from Warner Archive Collection dubbed the Cabal Cut that was shown publicly leading it to be taken around the world to raise funds and support for a new release on Blu-Ray as director Clive Barker intended.
The movement was named Occupy Midian by Nightbreed actress Anne Bobby who played Lori and in 2013 Shout! Factory announced a Directors cut Blu-ray was to be released…
…in America only. So still no love for the UK for this largely British film.
I got a copy though so here’s my review.
Boone has been having nightmares though he is becoming used to them and is contacted by his psychiatrist Decker to see him only for Decker to convince Boone that he is responsible for a series of murders. Decker gives him the wrong medication causing Boone to be involved in an accident and he ends up in hospital where he meets Narcisse whom he convinces to tell him where Midian, the place where the monsters live in his dreams is.
Boone travels to Midian and is turned into one of the Nightbreed but then must save them from Decker and Police Captain Eigerman.
Despite only being 20 minutes longer the directors cut has 40 minutes worth of new footage. Most of this is easily spotted in the first 30 minutes where we get more interaction between Boone and his girlfriend Lori as well as Decker. What I liked about the original was that there was no fluff and it was straight into the action. I am part of the original MTV generation so attention span isn’t an essential part of my life whereas here it feels like the film takes more time to build up characters and story as well as motivations for Boone to seek out Midian and Lori to search for Boone and Decker to stalk Boone despite the new version only actually taking 5 minutes longer to get to Boones death.
This was one of the main criticisms of the original that it had underdeveloped characters and was “patchy”.
Further into the film it expands on Boones interactions or place within Midian so that he is no longer the newcomer who comes in and haphazardly destroys the Nightbreeds home and way of life but as someone who is destined to take over from Lylesberg played by everyone’s favourite Doug Bradley.
Ultimately it feels like Nightbreed just less rushed to get to the action bits with more fleshed out characters but no major changes other than removing the ending with Decker (which I love) and replacing it with a new one involving the priest and Captain Eigerman which makes more sense but lacks the cool visuals from the original. Also changing the ending with Boone, Lori and the Nightbreed and this too makes more sense especially if they was planning on a sequel.
I like both and will definitely switch between the two when watching them in the future. The new version has a fantastic picture quality as does the missing footage which is a relief as there was talk about it coming from a VHS source at one point and that would not upscale to Blu-ray quality at all.
The surround sound is fantastic too playing through my system Danny Elfmans score really helps build atmosphere.
Sadly only the limited edition has both versions but if you can get hold of a copy I recommend you do. If you didn’t like the original this might just make a fan out of you.
Not the sequel I want but there are talks of a TV series on the horizon so who knows what the future holds.
After all not many would’ve predicted getting the directors cut over 20 years later.