The day is finally here. Some of us have been waiting decades to catch a glimpse of Clive Barker’s intended vision of his 1990 epic monster movie, Nightbreed. Some of us got close with the Cabal Cut, but that still wasn’t his intended vision. It was long-thought to be an impossibility, thanks to both studio interference, as well as mishandling of the original elements. Hell, when Scream Factory announced the title, most of us assumed we would be getting the Cabal Cut, including the awful-looking footage sourced from VHS. I feel like, when the announcement was made that all of the materials they needed were located in a vault somewhere, a big enough deal wasn’t made. I see people every day, disappointed that The Cabal Cut isn’t what we’re getting with this release. These people don’t understand that Barker’s Director’s Cut is superior to the Cabal Cut in every way. You see, in that cut of the film, we basically get everything that was shot, shoehorned into the theatrical cut. So even scenes that were never intended to be kept were present, no matter how unwatchable the quality. In this Director’s Cut, we get Barker’s original vision, cut together from the original elements, and supervised by Barker himself. This is the version of the film we’ve all been waiting for.
From Shout! Factory’s Website:
“A rip-roaring monster flick, all the stops out and pumping with imagination.” – John Stanley, Creature Features
For the first time on home video, you can experience Clive Barker’s original director’s cut of Nightbreed with over 40 minutes of new footage, all mastered in high definition from the original camera negative!
Boone (Craig Sheffer) may be a troubled young man, but his troubles are just beginning. Set up as the fall guy in a string of slasher murders, he decides he’ll hide by crossing the threshold that separates “us” from “them” and sneak into the forbidden subterranean realm of Midian. Boone will live among the monsters.
Hellraiser creator Clive Barker writes (adapting his novel Cabal) and directs this vivid leap into horror that asks: in the battle of man vs. monster, who’s really the monster? The answer supplies flesh-crawling suspense, sudden fear, a colorful Danny Elfman score and a creepy array of shape-shifting beings. They are the Nightbreed, denizens of a world beyond death, beyond the imagination, perhaps beyond anything you’ve seen.
Before we get started, I have never seen the Cabal Cut. I’ve seen screenshots, and I know that some of the footage is so rough that you can’t make out what’s happening on-screen. In fact, I have never even seen the theatrical cut on DVD. The last time I saw Nightbreed, was either on HBO or on VHS. I still own the VHS, actually. So after all of this time, how does it hold up? Well, I’ve yet to peruse the Theatrical Cut Blu-ray, but as far as the Director’s Cut goes, it’s phenomenal. This really is Barker’s best movie, and quite possibly one of the best monster movies ever made. If Nightbreed were to be made today, it would be goofy. At the very least, it would have elements of comedy which the film doesn’t call for. I hate to use such a cliched saying, but they really don’t make them like this anymore. A well-executed, serious monster movie, with heart, and an intelligent script? There have been some good monster movies lately, but none of them hold a candle to Nightbreed. Clive Barker’s Monster Opus wowed me the first time I saw it, but I think it really blew my mind this time around. The Director’s Cut is such a perfect exhibition of Barker’s vision, and you can see why he has fought so hard, for all this time, to have his vision come to life.
Prior to the release, there were some concerns based on some things said on a podcast, which seem to have been taken out of context, and fully misunderstood. When it was announced that they remaining elements had been found, it was stated that some of the footage would be without sound, since it would be too costly to dig through all of the new elements that were discovered. When I heard that, I took it to mean that some of the deleted scenes/bonus footage would possibly be without sound, which I was okay with. Others, however, took it to mean that the Director’s Cut of the film would have scenes with no sound. I’m happy to report that I was right, and the Director’s Cut of Nightbreed is presented, fully restored, with sound throughout. You can’t even tell a difference between the original footage, and the restored footage. The whole thing flows seamlessly, and clocks in at around 20 minutes longer than the Theatrical Cut’s running time, but in actuality, there is 40 minutes worth of new footage incorporated into this cut of the film. So, was it worth the wait? Absolutely. You’ve never seen Nightbreed like this, and you may not even have any interest in the Theatrical Cut after you do. Personally, I’m happy to have the theatrical cut on Blu-ray, even if the only real reason to pop it in is to compare it to the new cut.
As you know, there are two different releases of this Director’s Cut. There is the standard edition, which will cost you around 25 bucks or less, which consists of the Director’s Cut on Blu-ray, and on DVD, with a ton of extras included. There is also a somewhat controversial Limited Edition, which from what I understand, is close to being sold out. With this Limited Edition, you will receive the Director’s Cut on Blu-ray, the Theatrical Cut on Blu-ray, all of the extras that come with the standard edition, as well as an additional bonus disc, with deleted scenes, and other various pieces of extra footage. For this review, I have only watched the standard edition, even though I have both at my disposal. I’m not going to get into whether or not I think the $80.00 dollar price tag is too much. What I will say is, I am satisfied with what I have, but regardless of which version you pick up, Scream Factory’s restoration of Clive Barker’s Nightbreed is one of the most important home video releases of the decade. This Director’s Cut is the very definition of a “Bucket List” title, and Scream Factory did an amazing job putting it together. The amount of restoration required for this release, is damn close to having edited a film from the ground up. We have received several commendable restoration jobs as of late, including Synapse Films’ Blu-ray release of Prom Night, which was also previously considered to be impossible. It’s certainly a good time to be a genre fan, to say the least.
- New “Director’s Cut” presentation of the film which contains over 40 minutes of new and altered footage
- Introduction by writer/director Clive Barker and restoration producer Mark Alan Miller
- Audio Commentary by writer/director 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… (72 min.)
- Making Monsters – interviews with makeup effects artists Bob Keen, Martin Mercer and Paul Jones (42 min.)
- Fire! Fights! Stunts! 2nd Unit Shooting – an interview with Andy Armstrong (20 min.)
- Original Theatrical Trailer