Is the Director's Cut of Clive Barker's NIGHTBREED Really Any Better?
Updated: Aug 4, 2019
To Clive Barker and his fans, they had entirely missed the point. The finished film suffered greatly for it.
Critics pointed to uneven direction and lack of characterization. Little did they know, 40 minutes of Barker’s original film had been cut. And until very recently, it was thought this footage was lost. The story of how Nightbreed: The Director’s Cut came to be started in 2008, when Mark Miller, co-head of Barker’s production company, Seraphim Films, began to hunt down the extra footage. It was clear from the get-go the heads at Morgan Creek weren’t eager to help. When they finally relented, he was left with a box full of VHS tapes. All the film they’d shot, according to Morgan Creek bigwigs, had vanished.
Fans asked for it, and we got it.
Shot in slow-motion, this Rodney King-style beating during which the victim, dragged out into the sun and beaten, turns to dust, sets the stage for the slaughter to follow.As Midian explodes, it actually seems like a BIG thing, unlike in the original cut, which felt and sounded like a Hollywood soundstage. We hear babies screaming, mothers crying. The earth cracks underfoot with huge, surround-sound rumbles. By the time Boone finally unleashes the Berserkers (giant, slimy monsters with football player padding), we’re rooting for them to take out the human invaders—and they do, in classic monster-rampage style. Another good addition is adding clarity to the scene where Boone inherits the spirit of Baphomet, the Nightbreed’s version of God, and becomes the living god “Cabal.”
In the end, when Lori asks Boone to bite him so she can become Nightbreed and stay with Boone, the decision makes much more sense, as their relationship is solidly established. Boone refuses, still the good guy even now he's a full-on monster, and in her desperation Lori stabs herself, forcing him to bite her so she’ll live forever. The surviving Nightbreed, hidden in a barn, speak of Boone/Cabal returning “on the next wind.” “Johnny Get Angry” plays us out into the credits.
Why, Clive? Why?If you’re a fan of the original cut, you owe it to yourself to watch Nightbreed: The Director’s Cut. If you’re a horror fan who's never seen it, it's worth a look. Alejandro Jodorosky called Nightbreed "the first truly gay horror fantasy epic." This is the movie that inspired Wes Craven’s The People Under the Stairs, and it’s a far better film. For creature fans, the Director’s Cut has many more monsters to satisfy your deviant pleasure. All-in-all, the new cut is a more cohesive story with a lot more focus on Boone and Lori's relationship, and much more sympathy for the Nightbreed themselves. If it had been released this way originally, it might have spawned its planned sequel instead of just a cult following and a half-baked video game.
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