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.