Back in 1989 director/writer Clive Barker made the movie Cabal. The movie had a running time of just less than three hours, and the production company Morgan Creek, for whatever reason were not happy with the movie. So a recut was ordered, and that movie turned into Nightbreed. Fast forward many years, and with the birth and popularity of the Internet, rumours start circulating properly about additional footage, fast forward a little further and a search of Clive Barkers office leads Russell Cherrington to discover, the long thought missing footage, on a VHS tape behind a bookcase. Cherington and his associates then spent an exhaustive time reassembling the movie into Barker’s original vision.
Aaron Boone (Craig Sheffer) is a mechanic, who wrestles with a past; the only person who knows about that past was Dr Decker (David Cronenberg). But Boone’s past comes to the forefront when Decker calls him into his office out of the blue, Decker tells Boone that if he does not go to the police and confess to murders (that he described to Decker as dreams), that have begun happening locally, he will go to the police instead. Before Boone has had chance to act events take control and he finds himself at the isolated graveyard Midian, where having encountered the very Nightbreed he sees in his dreams, he is shot and killed by armed police. But this is not the end for Boone, just the beginning.
In order to create the Cabal cut of Nightbreed, Cherrington has assembled the movie from a number of sources, of varying quality. Some of the movie is DVD quality, some of it is of what he described at “classic porn footage”. This grainier footage is reminiscent of the pre-digital era when people often had poor quality television reception, fuzzy dots and the like.
In order to get the interest of the company to put some time and investment into the restoration process, Cherrington needs to prove that a DVD would have a sales base, Morgan Creek obviously skeptical because Nightbreed itself has never sold well as a DVD, so concerns as to why people would buy an extended cut are obviously justified.
To get personal, I cannot lie when I saw Nightbreed back in 1990, I found it dull, boring, and lifeless. Twenty two years on, and although I was more interested in the movie, I’m sorry its still not something I would invest my hard earned cash in. Some of the questions I had twenty years ago have now been answered, but its just not a movie for me. This being said, we are not all the same and I appreciate that for every Nightbreed hater, there is also a lover. And if the audience wants it, then they should get what they want surely?
A problem I see however is how much restoration, and how long would restore the movie to its desired shape, I cannot see anyone paying money for a copy that is less than perfect, and with image quality so bad, I cannot believe many would invest cash in it, even if they ramped it up a few notches.
Nightbreed: The Cabal Cut is what you want it to me but at 152 minutes in its current form, that’s 30 minutes too long for me, and sadly I’d never invest time again on what many consider to be such an important movie.
Spencer Hawken @Views From The Edge