One of the more nagging “lost” movies in horror cinema has been the longer director’s cut of Clive Barker’s seminal monster mash “Nightbreed.” The tale of an underground city of mutant creatures, sort of like a punk rock version of “X-Men,” the film was heavily truncated before its theatrical release by Fox and Morgan Creek, with the original version thought to be lost forever. While a fan revival has kept the possibility of a director’s cut of “Nightbreed” alive, nothing has solidified until now, with Morgan Creek and Shout! Factory announcing plans for a multi-platform home video release for the restored director’s cut in 2014.
The original film was released in 1990 and featured director David Cronenberg as its main protagonist, a doctor intent on killing all of the monsters that live in an underground city called Median. A fan driven movement, entitled Occupy Median, is what originally ignited interest in the commercial prospects of an expanded version of “Nightbreed,” and finally Morgan Creek and Shout! Factory (through its Scream Factory imprint) will make that a reality.
In a statement, Clive Barker said, with all the floweriness of a Clive Barker novel, “I had a dream about the tribes of the moon. They would live in a city called Midian and, though they were monsters of every shape and size, they would be the heroes of a movie called “Nightbreed.” However, when I made the movie, the studio was not comfortable with this inversion of the classic structure. They wanted the monsters to be simple-minded scare machines, while I wanted them to be the dark side of all of us, mysterious and misunderstood. Finally, with this new version of “Nightbreed,” which contains over forty five minutes of previously unseen material, my original vision has been realized. Come with me to Midian, the city of monsters. The tribes of the moon await us.”
Tribes of the moon, right. It’ll be interesting to see how the new footage is reintegrated into the body of the original film, especially considering how well the frequently overlooked Danny Elfman score is utilized. Barker’s work, even the story “Nightbreed” is based on, is so impressionistic that it lets your mind fill in the blanks where straight description would rather be. It would be nice to see a similarly dreamy aesthetic applied to this new variant.
Shout! Factory is like the Criterion collection for genre films, and this year, especially through their Scream Factory imprint, has released an embarrassment of riches, including but not limited to, new deluxe reissues of “Prince of Darkness,” “They Live,” “Lifeforce,” and “The Town That Dreaded Sundown.” They are all beautifully re-mastered and drowning in extras; just wonderful stuff.
As excited as we are to see the longer cut of “Nightbreed,” we’re just as interested in seeing what the Shout team has dug up for inclusion in the disc. Rarely are special features special anymore, but on Shout! Factory discs they really are.
Look for the “Cabal cut” of “NIghtbreed” sometime next year.