Tuesday, October 11, 2016

31 Days of Horror- Day 11: Nightbreed (1990)

(dir. Clive Barker)

20th Century Fox
*First time viewing

A newly resurrected man discovers, Midian, an underground city of monsters and must protect it from a crazed serial killer looking to wipe them out.

Holy shit! This movie! Nightbreed is basically a smorgasbord for fans of the horror genre. Blending elements of the sympathetic monster as made popular by the Universal horror series, the psychological thriller of the 60s, the fresh blockbuster perspective of the 70s, and the slasher craze of the 80s, Nightbreed is jam-packed full of horror history that used to deliver a film unlike anything before or since. Visionary writer and director Clive Barker envisioned Nightbreed as a trilogy that would serve as his Star Wars for horror fans. Unfortunately, studio cuts, mis-marketing, and poor reception of the film squashed its chances. But in Barker’s Cabal Cut, the film he originally intended, Nightbreed stands as one of the best horror films of the 90s.

Nightbreed is packed full of grandiose ideas about where all of our monster stories disappeared to, and the very nature of the changing genre. Craig Sheffer’s man-turned-monster protagonist, Boone, is a compelling enough messiah, but the film really goes to another level when David Cronenberg’s Dr. Decker takes the screen. Decker is one of Cronenberg’s few onscreen roles and he delivers the monster hunter with a chilling conviction that's magnetic and entirely convincing. He’s Van Helsing, twisted through the lens of the slasher film and set loose on a world of monsters that is every bit, if not more, imaginative than Star Wars’ Mos Eisley Cantina or Hellboy II’s marketplace. None of the film’s imagination or my enthusiasm for it can mask some issues in character motivation or the surplus of  rules that are occasionally muddled, but by the time the film reaches its action-packed climax it no longer really matters. Nightbreed is a no holds barred peek into the mind of Clive Barker that’s effortlessly entertaining and a reminder that he should have more than just three films under his belt.

Scare Factor: 2/5 Nightbreed is huge, spectacle horror that works more like an epic fantasy or superhero film that it does a horror movie. Like Hellraiser, the gore effects push the limit between creative and obscene, though likable characters create a vastly different feeling movie. More modern horror directors looking to take a page from the 80s should go back to the madcap creativity of Barker’s work. Or hell, just convince Barker to finally do that sequel he planned.

**Available to watch on Netflix Instant


  1. I watched this years ago. I remember liking it, but not much else. Maybe I should revisit it.

  2. It's definitely worth a watch, especially if you haven't seen The Cabal Cut.

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