Directed by Clive Barker
Produced by Gabriella Martinelli
Written by Clive Barker
Director of Photography Robin Vidgeon
Music Danny Elfman
Cast: Craig Sheffer, Anne Bobby, David Cronenberg
1990/101 mins/Color/Dolby Surround 5.1
1.85:1/English/USA/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Warner Home Entertainment DVD
Adapted from Clive Barker’s own novel, CABAL, NIGHTBREED is truly one of the more imaginative and stylish horror films in the last twenty years. The story centers on Aaron Boone (Craig Sheffer) who has horrific dreams of a mystical place inhabited by monsters called Midian. Boone talks with his therapist, Philip Decker (David Cronenberg), about this strange place and about vivid dreams of gruesome murders. Boone believes he is responsible for the string of grisly murders and thinks his sins will be forgiven in Midian. When Boone arrives, the residents of Midian don’t exactly roll out the welcome wagon since he is a “natural” or human. One of the monsters tells Boone he is innocent and not the person committing the murders. After this revelation, the monster proceeds to bite Boone, but he manages to escape from the graveyard. Once outside, the police, who want to arrest him for the murders, corner him. Decker approaches Boone and tells him to turn himself over to the police. Boone tells Decker that he is innocent of the murders. Decker sets up Boone and the police shoot him down in a hail of bullets.
Boone, who is believed to be dead, awakens inside the coroner’s office. He travels back to Midian where the monsters admit him into their secret society. Meanwhile, Boone’s girlfriend, Lori Desinger (Anne Bobby), searches for Boone and ends up discovering Midian. There, she takes an unconventional tour of the underground community, and discovers that years ago humans tortured and killed the monsters, thus driving them to hide underground. Lori wants to take Boone back up to the human world. The monsters tell Boone that the humans will not accept him since he has become one of them. Decker, hot on their trail, wants to “cleanse” the world of filth like Midian and destroy it. Boone may be Midian’s only hope for survival, if he chooses to accept his fate as a monster.
As with most of Clive Barker’s films, the best part of NIGHTBREED is the visual effects. The make-up of the monsters deserves high recognition as some of the best on film. Image Animation did a tremendous job distinguishing each of the creatures, and giving them their own personal looks and traits. There is a porcupine woman, a man with his neck stretched down so far that his head rests on his stomach, a man with a moon head, a man with tentacles coming out of his stomach, and many other creative monsters. NIGHTBREED should be seen simply to observe the originality of the make-up.
The story, though not as noteworthy as the make-up, is admirable even with the extensive cuts Barker was forced to make. Barker adds a social commentary to this film as the humans and monsters have different roles that makes for an unconventional horror film. The humans are the ones consumed with destruction and violence. All the monsters want to do is exist. However, the human’s prejudice has driven the monsters underground. The story could have done a better job of explaining Decker’s hatred toward the monsters, which was included in Barker’s original cut of the film. Apparently, Fox wanted Barker to chop 25 minutes from the movie due to violence and what they thought were unnecessary scenes for the plot. Barker has spent the last fifteen years trying to find the lost 25 minutes of footage to create a director’s cut edition, but it’s supposedly hidden away in Fox’s film print warehouse.
Warner Home Entertainment did a decent job of transferring the film to DVD. The film is offered in 1.85:1 widescreen with all of the colors and sounds at a high quality presentation. The drab, dull colors of the Midian set-piece are nearly perfectly preserved. But, the best is the presentation of Danny Elfman’s score. Elfman, who is one of great film composers, is at his best with the ominous music that fits flawlessly with the bizarre Midian world. The 5.1 Dolby Surround captures all of the off-screen screams, and the idiosyncratic noises of the monsters.
As for the rest of the special features, there is not much else. The theatrical trailer is included in widescreen format. Also, filmographies of the major actors, along with Elfman and Barker are given. There is an animated interactive menu at the beginning, which makes for easy navigation from start film to scene selection to special features. Hopefully, one day Barker will come across those missing 25 minutes and make a director’s cut edition. Until then, this DVD will have to do.
This Film Features:
Review by Terry Westhoff. All Right Reserved. 2007. ©