Review: Nightbreed: The Director’s Cut
This review for The Nightbreed Director’s Cut is going to be a very personal one for me. My feelings on the situation go beyond the movie itself. Honestly, I never thought I’d live to see Clive Barker’s true version of the film. My heart told me it wouldn’t happen, and with a studio that didn’t care about investing money into a director’s cut or even upgrading the theatrical cut to bluray, how else was I supposed to feel?
But all of that changed in 2012 when the now well-known Cabal Cut was screened at the Mad Monster Party in Charlotte, NC with our very own podcast creator Ryan Danhauser in attendance. The screening was a success and everyone loved the new cut of the film even in its raw form.
Ryan also had the opportunity to interview both Anne Bobby and Craig Sheffer and this where she coined the phrase “Occupy Midian”. This started a rabid fan movement to see that a proper release would be given to Clive Barker’s original version of the film. The movement would continue to grow over the next few years. It was a monster that just wouldn’t die.
Finally seeing that there was money to be made from releasing this movie’s Director’s Cut, Morgan Creek would eventually agree to allow the Cabal Cut to be played at conventions all across the globe. With each subsequent screening the more popular it got.
And to everyone’s surprise at the 2013 San Diego Comic-con it was announced that the niche sci-fi/horror company Scream Factory would release the Director’s Cut. It was also announced later that year the eventual release would not be the Cabal Cut but a true director’s cut that Clive always wanted for the film.
This announcement hit me like a ton of bricks. I couldn’t believe this was actually happening. Like many of you, I’d been following the release of a director’s cut since the mid-90’s when there was talk of a laserdisc special edition. Like I said before I honestly thought it would never see the light of day but I love being wrong!
And on October 28th, 2014, a day that will go down in history for Clive Barker and his loyal fans, the Director’s Cut was finally released on the home video market for everyone to see. And I’m sure no one could be happier than Clive Barker himself. The theatrical version of Nightbreed was always a sore spot for him and now he could could wash it away like a bad dream.
Early reviews for the Director’s Cut were positive, but I’ll admit, I was more than a little nervous before I sat down to watch it. I’ve always had a fondness for the original version (I still do), and for me personally throwing in some new scenes wasn’t going to be enough to make me forget it.
Also, what if the new material wasn’t very good? Could the studio have been right in their decision about re-cutting the film so much? I was just a bundle of nerves. Thankfully those fears went away very quickly once I started to watch it.
There have been a lot of director’s cuts that I’ve seen over the years, and in some cases the extra material can hinder the fondness of a film that you’ve already enjoyed. The Nightbreed Director’s Cut though is a special case because the added footage not only enriches the story but it brings out the themes Clive was trying to convey much stronger.
One aspect that the Director’s Cut goes deeper into that the released version barely touches on is the love story between Boone and Lori. We really get to see how much these two characters are into each other. The added scenes when Boone is at work and the ‘Johnny Get Angry‘ musical number really make it clearer that these two characters have a destiny together. This version makes it very apparent that this is their story.
Anne Bobby really does shine in this version a lot more. Her character suffered the most through the re-editing. The new scenes with her not only make her a stronger, but we believe in her more too. I’m glad we finally get to see her entire performance because it really makes a huge difference.
We also get to see Boone become the leader for the Breed he was always meant to be. The new takes that editor Andrew Furtado uses in the scenes where he tells the Breed that they must stand up and fight play out much better because the performance comes across more genuine. It’s not so over the top like it was in the released version.
Reverend Ashberry really becomes a stronger character in this version as well. We get to see and understand why the character dislikes the Breed after he gets burned. In the new version Baphomet’s blood actually begins to transform him into something more.
The new cut also delves deeper into prophetic nature of the story, especially when Boone turns into Cabal. Unlike the theatrical cut, Boone is now branded with the mark of Cabal letting the Breed know he truly is the chosen one. I also felt that the character had finally accepted his destiny and found his place in the world. The new ending really shows this.
Speaking of the new ending (which is probably my favorite new addition to the director’s cut) it feels so much more epic in scope and made me feel something on a emotional level than the released version. Yes, the new ending actually makes me cry. When the image fades out from Lori and Boone standing on the hill to the mural painting in the prophecy room as the sound of wind slowly takes us to black I just lose it. Just typing that gets the hairs on the back of my neck to stand up.
There’s all of kinds of fun stuff that’s been added back into this addition. We do get to see more monsters in this version when Lori is searching for Boone, but that’s not all. There’s also new effects shots created with Baphomet at the end when the Necropolis is falling apart.
Some of my other favorite bits that were also included were with the ‘Sons of the Free’. The news scenes with the character Kane really had me on the floor laughing. I’m happy that actor George Roth could finally see the great work that he did for the film after all these years.
This new cut of the film is also edited much better than the released version. It has a better pace and tells the story a lot more effectively. Andrew Furtado did an amazing job putting this back together with such a short amount of time to do so. I enjoyed the moment where he brought the music down when Decker was falling to his death and then brought it back up when he hits the ground. There were a lot of great changes like this throughout the new version.
The Nightbreed Director’s Cut was well worth the twenty-five year wait. I hope Morgan Creek can finally see why they were wrong in ripping the heart out of this movie. I believe the film would’ve been a success if they would’ve just trusted Clive and his vision more.
Studios need to realize that people aren’t stupid and can grasp the deeper meanings that filmmakers want them to understand. Nightbreed had something more to say and I’m happy that the film was finally allowed to let its voice be heard.
Special Thanks To:
Clive Barker for making the film first and foremost. Your work has now been justified.
The entire cast and crew of Nightbreed.
Mark Miller for having the courage to tackle such a huge assignment and never giving up on the project. Your Saturn Award is great deserved.
Russell Cherrington for putting together The Cabal Cut and taking it around the convention circuits for everyone to see.
Ryan and Jose Leitao for creating the Occupy Midian Facebook Facebook page and creating the fan movement.
To Michael Plumides for getting David Robinson in touch with Scream Factory and all his contributions.
To everyone at Scream Factory for putting it all together and getting out there to the fans to see.
To all the fans that supported this release on a universal scale. European fans, you are not forgotten!