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The Cabal Cut Review

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Big things always have small beginnings.

Little did anyone know that this conversation between podcast co-founder Ryan Danhauser and Nightbreed actors Anne Bobby and Craig Sheffer at the 2012 Mad Monster Party in Charlotte, NC would create horror movie history.

AB: And you know what? Honestly, I think one of the things that occurred over the last 
twenty five years and especially in the last.. in recent memory is the power that we have
as a populous to make things happen. And I’m very confident that this is happening at
the perfect time. I am really…

CS: Otherwise we’ll have ‘Occupy Morgan Creek’.

RD: (Laughs)

AB: ‘Occupy Midian!’

RD: (Laughing) Yeah, ‘Occupy Midian’..

AB: Oh my God, that’s actually a really good idea! ‘Occupy Midian’!

RD: There we go! Yeah, you heard it here first!

AB: I said it, it was me! It was me, I take ten percent!

Two years later, the fan movement would help pave way for Clive Barker’s Nightbreed Director’s Cut to be released on home video by Scream Factory. In a day where fans feel entitled to everything and start petitions to try and remove films from cannon, Occupy Midian was (and still is) a selfless group of people trying to help a filmmaker get his true vision out to the world. I don’t know if we’ll ever see anything like it again. 

To celebrate the movement and everyone involved, Seraphim Films has released The Cabal Cut officially on home video so fans can finally experience the version that started it all. VP of Clive Barker’s Seraphim Films Mark Miller and producer of The Director’s and Cabal Cut—offers a nice intro before the movie starts. He talks about how this version is, “a warts and all version of the film” with twelve minutes of VHS composited video and audio edited into it. Of course, some of you might be distracted by this, but personally this didn’t bother my viewing experience at all because I’ve watched so many work and composite prints over the years.

Not only does the film include new footage, but it’s also edited differently sticking closer to Clive Barker’s second draft of the screenplay. For example, when Lori goes searching for Boone in the Tabernacle in the Director’s Cut Lori is stopped by Lylesburg before starting her journey, but in The Cabal Cut this moment happens right before Lori encounters Narcisse when he warns her about the Berserkers. Putting this scene here makes the underworld of Midian feel much bigger. This version is filled with little moments like this which helped the narrative move a lot smoother when it comes to establishing characters and overall pacing of the story.

So, what do the fans get in regards to new footage?

For starters, there’s a new scene with Boone and Lori at her apartment that I think establishes their relationship much better while also showing Boone has a dark side to him. There’s a new intro for Inspector Joyce after the family is killed, who survives this cut of the film, which I really liked. In the scene where Decker tells Boone that he’s a murderer, there’s a brief moment where Boone breaks down and Decker tries to console him, making the scene where he betrays Boone more powerful. There’s a small knife fight between Boone and Kinski before Peolquin makes his appearance. There are more scenes of Lori defending Boone to Decker before she finally breaks down realizing that Boone was probably crazy all along. I loved seeing even more of Anne Bobby in this cut and it’s frustrating that her best scene (the confrontation in the jail cell) in the film was so butchered by the studio. Luckily, the Director’s Cut got most it back in there, but there’s a couple more beats that I think should’ve been kept. There’s also an interesting subplot (that’s in the novel too) where Decker’s mask talks to him! I wish they would’ve kept that in. It adds another layer of complexity to the character that I feel was needed. There’s also some great lines and humorous bits like when Decker makes fun of the Sons of the Free name. Or when Narcisse actually calls himself by name. Of course there’s also more monsters on hand as well. One being a phantom that escapes from the Tabernacle as Midian burns to the ground. I could go on and on, but I don’t want to spoil everything.

After watching this new version—I can honestly say it’s now my preferred cut of the film. But let me make it very clear that’s nothing against the Director’s Cut. Hardly. It’s still a wonderful version and you can read my glowing review of it here: (http://www.clivebarkercast.com/2015/08/18/review-nightbreed-the-directors-cut/) But for me The Cabal Cut captures all the themes Clive was so desperately trying to convey when he set to make the movie. Especially, the ending in this version which feels very much like a holocaust when the Sons of the Free storm into Midian and start killing the Breed off. It’s no wonder by the end of the film there’s such a small group of them left in the barn.

So, there you have it. I highly recommend this version to any fan. I know the quality varies, but I think most will agree that this version is just as strong (maybe stronger) than the previous ones.