If you ask anyone to name a horror writer then chances are after they mention Stephen King that the name Clive Barker will come up. Like King, Clive Barker has some famous horror films that come from his work- with most people having seen Candyman and Hellraiser. Alongside those two hits he has also had a number of other adaptations including my favourite film based on his stories- Nightbreed. This was based on his book Cabal, a film about a disturbed young man who learns of a secret underground world and tries to find them to escape his current life.
Nightbreed is a classic horror monster movie, with added emphasis on the word monster. Monster with a capital M- this film is full of them. And not awful CGI creations as seen in today’s films these were all real men made to look crazy with make up, masks and real skill from the special affects department. It is these creations that has left the film to have a cult following, with a twitter campaign demanding the release of an extended edition catching my eye the other day.
Nightbreed is one crazy film. It made a loss as a cinematic release with a marketing campaign that has gone down in folklore as at best misguided. It had awful posters, awful trailers and had no stars. The edited cut is too short and bits of the film don’t really make sense. Still it rocked and eventually found its audience through VHS. I mean look at the poster below and the one at the top. Do they even look like the same film? The bottom one was typical of the marketing at the time- it portrays the film as some sort of slasher film, not even showing the monsters- the whole reason the film exists!
Heres Clive Barker himself on the editing process…
“Many of the scenes were cut for pacing reasons, resulting in a rollercoaster ride of a movie at the expense of a good deal of narrative structure, many because certain executives feared audiences would start to root for the “monsters” against the humans (the very point of the movie… it was right there, after all, in the screenplay the studio greenlit…) The head of marketing at Morgan Creek never even saw the movie all the way through, and he was the guy publicising the movie! He could never make it through the film; it disgusted and distressed him. He said to me at one point, ‘You’re an intelligent man, why do you make these movies? They’re disgusting and horrible.’ And this guy was selling the movie! They were just incredibly confused as to how to market the picture. It’s a monster movie and they were slightly ashamed of it being a monster movie”
I came to the film when I was about 12, and some of the monsters absolute freaked me out. My older brother probably brought it home on VHS and made his younger brother sit through it. I also remember playing some godawful Amiga game based on the film too which was absolutely rock solid. For about a month my thoughts were consumed by Nightbreed.
The best thing about the film was definitely the way it grabbed your imagination. Watching it you are literally thinking What the hell is that? as some mutant creature scuttles around in the background. To do this day it is probably the best film if you want to see a shed load of monsters stomp around some crazy world. But don’t take my word for it- take a look at why the film is awesome- the monsters.
Lets start off simple- a normal looking guy- just with half his face ripped off. Sunglasses, Hat and a lack of skin.
A weird porcupine woman. This is the film’s version of a sexy female lead.
Check this guy out. He’s not even a big character. From what I remember he’s barely in it- this is why Nightbreed rules. You can have totally weird freak creations just popping up for a second in the background.
These two used to freak me the hell out. Some moon faced weirdo and a monster with dreads that are part of his skin. Even worse I couldn’t get past them in the computer game. Scum. But you know what freaks me out more?
Yeah……. someone somewhere is messed up.