Cool film title, much better than the original novel title of 'Cabal', guess Morgan Creek was right on that little change. Unfortunately this film was one of those productions that suffered from heavy interference from the studio and thusly ended up being nothing like it was intended.
I can't even place what 'Nightbreed' is suppose to be really, a kind of horror, thriller, fantasy or translation...'Beetlejuice' with blood. Yes it is! this film is basically a grown up nasty version of 'Beetlejuice' with Danny Elfman doing the score even!.
The plot makes no sense whatsoever frankly, no real point behind it, no real motivations, explanations or reasons. Basically a diverse race of monsters that live below an ancient graveyard called 'Nightbreed'. Some young guy wants to join them and errr ends up helping them fight against the nasty humans that wanna destroy the city of 'Midian', the city of monsters.
Read between the lines there...the plot is saying we the regular folk are the real monsters, not the actual monsters. Not exactly an original concept huh.
This film is really quite odd. Chock full of bizarre creatures of the night, most of which look utterly stupid and not a tall scary. The effects are of course dated but makeup and prosthetic work is in good form with heavy hands on work, plenty of blood and some interesting gore, no CGI here folks. The problem being that most of the creature ideas are pretty daft looking, like a collection of cartoon characters. For example there is a female creature that seems to be a humanoid porcupine? eh?? and a male humanoid with a head shaped like the crescent moon for some reason.
Casting is just as unique to be truthful. Oddball character actor and usual badguy Craig Sheffer is the young hero here, he fits the bill perfectly really with his strange features. In for the ride is Cronenberg as a psycho trying to destroy the 'Nightbreed' race. Again he fits this film perfectly as the guy himself is pretty eerie and odd with his calm pleasant unsuspecting manner. Its his eyes that do it.
The film is known as a huge cult and you can see why. Clearly a lot of work was put in with monster designs, sets, makeup and matte work but the whole thing is just so damn surreal and without real reason that you lose interest. The monsters aren't scary and neither is the attempted creepy location/set work and atmosphere, but you do get the odd moment of nasty gore, so where do you stand?.
The wonderful familiar musical score from Elfman lures you into thinking your watching a fantasy film for teens, something like 'Legend' mixed with 'Batman Returns' with the weird undead creatures from 'Beetlejuice'. Some lovely visuals throughout and some terrific imagination but its all wasted on a poor plot and overall badly edited film.
You get the feeling this really could/should of been a classic epic horror fantasy, the foundations are there but it just hasn't been constructed correctly.