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Blu-ray Review: Nightbreed: The Director’s Cut
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Adam Frazier   |  @   |  
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Nightbreed

Nightbreed: The Director’s Cut
Blu-ray
Director: Clive Barker
Screenwriter: Clive Barker
Cast: Craig Sheffer, Anne Bobby, David Cronenberg, Charles Haid, Hugh Quarshie, Doug Bradley, Malcolm Smith, Oliver Parker
Scream Factory
Unrated | 140 Minutes
Release Date: October 28, 2014

Everything is true. God’s an Astronaut. Oz is Over the Rainbow, and Midian is where the monsters live.” – Peloquin

Based on his 1988 novella Cabal, Clive Barker‘s 1990 film Nightbreed, produced by Morgan Creek and distributed by Twentieth Century Fox, was an epic saga about a tribe of monsters and outcasts that hides from humanity. Barker’s original version of Nightbreed ran 160 minutes, but unsure of how to sell the unconventional fantasy-horror film, Fox demanded a recut, prompting editor Richard Marden to leave the project in protest.

The theatrical cut of Nightbreed was released on February 16, 1990. Barker’s film was to be the Star Wars of the horror genre, but after nearly an hour of footage was cut from the movie, the studio repackaged it as a gory 102-minute slasher flick. The film was a critical and commercial failure – an incomplete, aimless curiosity that only the most die-hard Barker fans could find value in.

In 2009, Mark Miller, vice president of Clive Barker’s Seraphim Films, contacted Morgan Creek and discovered two European-encoded VHS tapes containing lost footage from Nightbreed. With Barker’s permission, restoration director Russell Cherrington took the footage back to England and, working with editor Jimmi Johnson and Barker’s original screenplay, created a new version of Nightbreed dubbed The Cabal Cut, composited from the two VHS sources and the original theatrical release.

After a string of successful screenings at conventions across the country, Nightbreed: The Cabal Cut needed distribution – and access to the original film elements – to make an impact. Enter Shout! Factory, who – in conjunction with Warner Bros. – was able to find the long-thought-missing original film elements. Shout! Factory sorted through 600 boxes to locate not only the lost scenes but a treasure trove of never-before-seen footage as well.

Now, after nearly 25 years, Barker’s ultimate vision will finally see the light of day in Nightbreed: The Director’s Cut, which hits shelves on October 28. With nearly an hour of lost footage meticulously restored, the result is not only a more faithful adaptation of Barker’s book Cabal, but also what he originally intended Nightbreed to be.

There’s 40 minutes of new material (deleted scenes and alternate takes) in the Director’s Cut, which runs 18 minutes longer than the theatrical version. The Director’s Cut puts Boone (Craig Sheffer) and Lori’s (Anne Bobby) relationship first, and the film begins and ends with them in an entirely different fashion. Boone and Lori’s love story is reinforced by new footage in the first act that shows Boone struggling with some new information David Cronenberg‘s Decker has given him.

This is a much more cohesive, comprehensive story about a man drawn to the monsters of Midian, only to be their harbinger of destruction and, ultimately, their savior. As someone who has seen the theatrical version, as well as The Cabal Cut, I can say with certainty that Scream Factory’s Nightbreed: The Director’s Cut is the definitive version of Nightbreed. The characters are more developed and defined, with Boone really stepping out as more of a leader than someone lost in the shuffle of disjointed chaos.

Technically, Scream Factory and the various parties behind The Director’s Cut have done an incredible job on the audio/video presentation, given the circumstances. Like The Assembly Cut of Alien 3, Nightbreed: The Director’s Cut is one of the few re-cuts that exceeds the theatrical version in every possible way. This is the only way to see Nightbreed, and hopefully the renewed interest in Barker’s work leads to new stories (and adaptations of those stories) set in this world.

I highly recommend this Director’s Cut Blu-ray of Nightbreed. Scream Factory has provided horror fans with yet another definitive release of a beloved cult classic. “Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah…

Bonus Features:

* Introduction by Clive Barker and restoration producer Mark Alan Miller

* Audio Commentary by Clive Barker and restoration producer Mark Alan Miller

* Tribes of the Moon: The Making of Nightbreed featuring interviews with Craig Sheffer, Anne Bobby, Doug Bradley and more…

* Making Monsters: Interviews with makeup effects artists Bob Keen, Martin Mercer, and Paul Jones

* Fire! Fights! Stunts!: An interview with Andy Armstrong (20 minutes)

* Original Theatrical Trailer

You can purchase Nightbreed: The Director’s Cut on Amazon. A three-disc limited edition, which includes the original theatrical cut of the film, can be purchased at the Shout! Factory website.

Video

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