Tuesday, August 9, 2011

#368. Nightbreed (1990)

Directed By: Clive Barker

Starring: Craig Sheffer, David Cronenberg, Anne Bobby

Tag line: "Lori thought she knew everything about her boyfriend... Lori was wrong!"

Trivia:  Rutger Hauer and Christopher Lambert were both considered for the role of Boone before Craig Sheffer got the part

"Someone at Morgan Creek (the production company) said to me, 'You know, Clive, if you're not careful some people are going to like the monsters.' Talk about completely missing the point! Even the company I was making the film for couldn't comprehend what I was trying to achieve!" - Clive Barker, on Nightbreed

Nightbreed is a Clive Barker film that looks nothing at all like the movie he intended. Misunderstood by both Morgan Creek (the producers) and 20th Century Fox (the distributors), Nightbreed was heavily edited just prior to its release (by some accounts as many as 45 minutes, perhaps more, were cut from Barker's original version), and unfortunately, it shows. With a choppy structure and heightened pace that never fully comes together, Nightbreed feels like part of a good movie which, in its chopped-up state, isn't much better than a fair one. 

For years, Aaron Boone (Craig Sheffer) has been having nightmares about a strange and magical place called Midian, where creatures of all varieties live together in harmony. His therapist, Dr. Philip Decker (David Cronenberg), tells Boone that his dreams are nothing more than a distraction created by his subconscious, masking a violent streak in his personality. In short, Dr. Decker believes Boone is a serial killer, one who's murdered several families in the area, and that he most likely carries out these brutal slayings while in a dream state. The truth, however, is much simpler: Dr. Decker is the actual serial killer, and hopes to pin his crimes on the confused Boone. Not fully convinced Decker is right, Boone locates Midian on his own, only to discover that the creatures he thought existed only in his dreams are all too real. Before he gets a chance to tell anyone about what he's discovered, Boone is shot and killed by the police, who were tipped off (by Decker) of his whereabouts. But this is far from the end of Boone, who's body is shuttled off to Midian, where he regains consciousness and joins the community of creatures, known as Nightbreeds,. But when an incursion of mortals threatens the safety of Midian, it's up to Boone to unite the Nightbreeds and lead them in a last-ditch effort to save their way of life. 

This all sounds really great, but in its current condition, Nightbreed doesn't live up to its own potential. Right out of the box, the film fails to establish any cohesive rhythm; one minute, Boone is in Decker's office, discussing his condition, the next he's wandering the street in a drug-induced state, where he's hit by a truck. So, it's off to the hospital, where he meets, by some form of coincidence, another patient named Narcisse (Hugh Ross), who also dreams of Midian. Each one of these early scenes feels like an abbreviated segment of a much longer one, containing just enough (though barely) to connect the story from point “A” to point “B”, without ever slowing down to explain itself in any logical way. 

The creatures who inhabit Midian are a fascinating group, and their story would have made an interesting movie. Without studio interference, it's even possible Nightbreed could have become a horror / fantasy classic. One can only hope that, at some point in the future, Barker will be permitted to restore the film to match his original vision, but until that time, I simply cannot recommend Nightbreed. As it stands now, Nightbreed is just not a complete movie.


Anonymous said...

HJ was a fun podcast with so many good reccomenations, it will be missed. knm

DVD Infatuation said...

KNM: Thanks so much for the kind words. They are greatly appreciated.

Also, I'd like to extend my sincere thanks to both yourself and the other great fans of Horror Jungle for supporting the show so enthusiasticly. It means more to us hosts than you can ever know!

Take care, and thanks again!

Anonymous said...

I have been having trouble all day posting comments here and on other host's websites like BB's and HH's. Also sent in a form feedback to the main spot.

I wanted to say, hopefully it goes through, Sorry to see the cast go I was a faithful listener and loved it very much.


DVD Infatuation said...

@Roley: Sorry you were having so much trouble, but we appreciate your determination, and I'm glad it finally posted!

Thanks for the compliment, and we, in turn, thank you for your loyal support of the podcast.

All the best to you!

Anonymous said...

Mr, Sir, Dude, Gentleman, Dr Shock why in the large landscape of things aren't you stepping in to keep the podcast from dieing?

Don't you realize how amazing the podcast is?

Anonymous said...

Such a tremendous podcast hosts, it will truly, definitely, absolutely be missed. Great place for horror movies.


Anonymous said...

Dammit DocShock I love you Chete+Hellhunter and now your gone again, Fuck.

I even just listened to Macabre #15 and the Bloopers so damn Fun+informative.

Is there any possible way in the world for you to put on a Fan show on Jungle. Come on please if you can one last bang.

Davis Jones

DVD Infatuation said...

Thanks, everyone, for stopping by!

@Anonymous: Unfortunately, I have neither the experience or equipment required to record and edit a podcast (unlikeBillchete, who has years under his belt and state-of-the-art recording equipment, I have 9 months as a podcaster and a pair of headphones)

That said, a number of hosts are getting together to continue on, and while it may take some time to put it all in motion, I'm sure it'll be something special! Thanks for listening!

@Garrett: Thanks so much for the kind words, and for being such a faithful listener. It is greatly appreciated! All the best to you.

@Davis: Thanks for the compliment! And I know how you feel...it's a damn shame things had to end this way. Unfortunately, there's no plan to put together one last episode at this point, but keep checking the host's sites as there is another show in the works! Thanks for your support, and for listening to Horror Jungle (AND Planet Macabre!)