When Clive Barker‘s “Nightbreed” was released theatrically in 1990, promoted by a poster that made the movie look like a monstrous neon-lit sequel to “Lost Boys” and plagued by a series of frustrating production problems, it was critically and commercially ignored. Based on the novella “Cabal” (also by Barker), the studio and production company toned down some of the harsher elements of the film, confused as to why a ragtag band of mutants were the heroes, where humans (exemplified by a chilly performance by David Cronenberg) were the villains. Extensive reshoots and edits were made to the film, compromising the original creative intent, and what remains is an entreatingly off-centered film that plays like a prototype for the “X-Men” movies. The original footage that was deleted from the film was thought to be lost, but some plucky fans have found it and the extended edition (labeled “The Cabal Cut”) will be touring worldwide before a commercial Blu-ray release.
According to a lengthy post on The Geek Chunks, the original material (from an old VHS workprint) was screened in 2009 to enthusiastic applause, a month before another work print, with an additional 14 minutes of footage, was found and actually salvageable. Russell Cherrington, who runs a small production company called Seraphim Films, and Mark Miller, who was a former Barker assistant who was tasked with hunting down the missing “Nightbreed” footage, together with the original film’s director of photography Robin Vidgeon, have assembled “The Cabal Cut,” which clocks in at 155 minutes. According to a post on his official website, Barker said that after much back-and-forth, the original production company, Morgan Creek, has given permission to show the new cut around the world and to raise money for that cut to appear on a commercially available Blu-ray release.
Barker attributes sold out screenings of the film, as well as a strong and vocal online community (exemplified by a site known as Occupy Midian, after the underground city where the mutants dwell), with the success of “The Cabal Cut.” Barker finished his post with the following statement: “Very seldom does anyone in the movie business pay attention as they have, understanding perhaps, that the message of the movie as I shot it is one that dramatizes a different ending to the age-old story of how a war between Humankind and something Other draws to a close.”
What we’re especially curious, in regards to this new cut, is how much new Danny Elfman score will be in the new footage. The original score is one of the composer’s very best works, haunting and richly textured, and we wonder if there was additional score that he composed that was deleted, if the scenes will play without music, or if they will simply recycle earlier musical cues.
Keep an eye on the Occupy Midian website for the list of petition signatures and details on the worldwide release dates for the film. Whether you’re new to the “Nightbreed” world or a dedicated fan, this should be a real treat.