This epic horror fantasy film written and directed by the hugely talented artist/author/director Clive Barker was first released in cinemas way back in 1990. At the time that version of the film had been sadly recut and edited under orders by the film studio and producers, to sell it as more of a ‘slasher’ style movie. The real film was never intended to be like that, and at that time so much of the film was abandoned and lost for many years, with most people believing that the original version would never really ever be seen by the public.
After close to twenty five years, and with a sudden amount of sheer luck and then extreme hard work and effort, reels of footage were found and eventually cleaned up over the last couple of years. After a rough cut which was then toured around the UK, USA and other international film festivals, a strong response prompted the eventual successful completion of the closest cut of the film which Clive agrees with.
I personally live in the UK, and so had to get a US dvd copy (no idea when or if it will come out over here yet) and hope for the best. Thankfully I have been able to watch it today.
Nightbreed was adapted by director Clive Barker, who had only just has huge international success with his first horror film Hellraiser, also based on another of this short novels. This film though, while containing monsters and including some bloody and graphic sights, was much more than a simple slasher or gore fest horror flick.
I first saw the cinema cut version recorded from cable tv in the late 90’s, and was already a huge Clive Barker and Hellraiser fan then. As many have stated, that original cinema version of Nightbreed left out so much, and distorted the story vastly. I did though easily love that version because I could see enough original and stunning imagery and characters and pieces of the story between the patchwork structure of atempted slasher flick. I had read the novel Cabal which it was based on, and while I could tell that it was the same story, I knew that there were parts left out, or cut short which was strange enough as it was a fairly short book.
Over the years, reading interviews from Clive Barker I found him and some of the actors and other involved discussing the tragic events which had produced the box-office and artistic failure. Clive knew that the film studio probably did have reels of missing film scenes and footage for years, but would not let him have it. Thankfully, a glorious load of extra footage was hit upon suddenly a couple of years ago-and here we are with the cleaned up and recut version of Nightbreed today.
I did see the rough ‘Cabal Cut’ of Nightbreed when it was shown in some select UK cinemas a year or more ago, and though most of the found scenes and new footage was of fairly terrible visual quality (the film reels having deteriorated over years slightly) it was so great to see more of Midian and more of the monster I had seen pictures of but never seen on screen included in the film.
I sat down this afternoon and enjoyed a restored and spectacular horror fantasy movie, this time a slightly different, coherent and emotional film. Most of the structure of the film is still the same, but there a number of extended scenes and sequences which previously were only a second or two onscreen. This time Midian is a much more wider, elaborate, detailed place, there are dozens more monsters within the caverns below. The relationship between Boon and Lori is deeper, more touching and real. We care for them more, and by the end of the film, it means much more to see them get through the entire dramatic tale.
It does feel less like a simple Friday the 13th rip-off, with Dekker moving back in the narrative in the second hour, and more of the monsters and world of Midian move forward this time. I would agree that yes, there could still be say around ten minutes cut down perhaps, but largely this is a very satisfying, hugely enjoyable dark fantasy movie, now thankfully given the true finish and version that it should have had so many years ago.