ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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Nightbreed Director's Cut (2014)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Clive Barker

Starring:
Craig Sheffer/Boone
Anne Bobby/Lori
David Cronenberg/Decker
Charles Haid/Captain Eigerman
9 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
Accused of murders he didn't commit, white t-shirt abusing Boone (Craig Sheffer) goes on the lam and winds up hiding in an underground city filled with monsters. He soon becomes part of the outcast society. But with the law, a psycho shrink (David Cronenberg) and his lover (Anne Bobby) on his tail; shit goes from bad to worse very quickly.
THE LOWDOWN
Ironic that I tackle this one now, the weekend STAR WARS ROGUE ONE comes out being that at the time NIGHTBREED was supposed to be "Star Wars for Horror". Alas that was not to be. Now, I was lucky enough to chomp on the theatrical cut of NIGHTBREED (which tanked at the Box Office in 1990, only to gain cult status on video afterwards) on the big screen when it first opened and fell in love with it! On that, being that I was an avid reader of Fangoria at the time, I was very much aware that the cut was compromised as the Studio went chop-chop happy on it.

They tried to shape one movie (a flick about the oppression of minorities/outcasts and man’s hatred/fear of anybody that is different - all wrapped up in a supernatural mythology) into another type of genre party (something more akin to a slasher) via severe editing. Even the initial marketing campaign reflected that M.O. with that lousy BAD DREAM knock-off poster they came up with being beyond misguided. For a long time now a potential Nightbreed Director’s Cut was a Holy Grail for us horror fans. In 2010 a VHS of Barker’s 145-minute work-print was unearthed and it premiered at a Festival. That led to a 155 minutes composite cut to surface; created from footage off two VHS tapes and the theatrical cut. Which then finally gave birth to the 120 minute Shout Factory restored Director’s Cut (WATCH IT HERE) that I finally found the time to dig my claws into. This version was streamlined by Clive Barker himself; it runs for twenty minutes longer than the theatrical cut and pimps forty minutes or so of new or/and alternate footage. The verdict? YESSSSS!

I’m going from memory over here, as I haven’t seen the theatrical cut of Nightbreed in eons, so bare with me. While watching this D.Cut, what the BATMAN V SUPERMAN Extended Cut did for the Studio slashed theatrical cut came to mind. The Director’s Cut of Nightbreed essentially told the same story than the theatrical cut but in a much more focused, cohesive and fleshed out manner. The Boone character (an excellent Craig Sheffer) had more meat to him and so did his romance with Laurie (The talented Anne Bobby - what happened to her?), who also had more to do here. In the theatrical cut, being that the Studio wanted a slasher, there was more emphasis on the Decker character (a chilling David Cronenberg), here, although still present, he came off more as a spark in terms of the unraveling of the dire events as opposed to a central element, which in my useless opinion served the story as a whole better.

At the end of the neck snap, this puppy is supposed to be the story of Boone, his purpose within The Breed and his love for Laurie and it finally got told right. And the potent alternate (and organic as opposed to shoehorned like in the theatrical version) ending found here definitely brought all of it together full circle with gusto. Left field bonus: Doug Bradley finally got to voice his Lylesburg character in this D. Cut and say his actual lines! In the Studio cut, he was dubbed by a German actor (cause they wanted to low ball Bradley cash wise) and the character was given different dialogue to spew. So that was a nice little extra! Any peeves? A couple. I’ve always felt (in both cuts) that the Boone character believed Decker’s “murder accusations” way too freaking easily. EASY MAN! Take the time digest and look into it all before falling apart! It always felt rushed and somewhat forced for me. And that mustache twirling “Evil Sheriff” character always came off as way too “Redneck” clichéd for me and in this cut, it was way worse. And... ummm... that’s it!

Overall; this Director's Cut gave me everything that I’ve always adored about the film: compelling themes (Barker is gay and it's obvious that he used this film to make a statement about our flawed society's standpoint on anybody that falls outside the "norm"), endearingly eclectic characters, top notch practical effects, novel creature/set designs, a wonderful score by then up and comer Danny Elfman and a layered mythology. But on this round, it was all handled in a clear, developed and zoned in fashion, one that shined a bright spotlight on the picture's unflinching ambition.  This IS the Nightbreed I was looking for!

GORE
This D Cut felt gorier than the theatrical cut. We get a slit throat, stabbings, a severed head, cut off skin, gouged eye balls, pins in the face, bullet wounds, a hand through the heart, burn damage and more!
T & A
We get two women topless, one of them in "monster" form. Both use their sexuality to lure and dispatch of "evilll" ignorant basterds.
BOTTOM LINE
The intention behind NIGHTBREED was always to launch a franchise. Of course as we know, that was not to be. Good news is, this well rounded Director's Cut not only gave us a complete, emotionally resonant, refreshing unique, well acted, thought provoking and visually stirring oeuvre, it alas made lots of coin on disk, hence bringing further attention to the property. A Nightbreed TV show has been in the air for a while now and I wouldn't be surprised to see it finally happen down the road. Till then, although I had some very minor peeves with it, this Director's Cut will have to do and personally, it is the only version of the film I will clock from now on. Loved it! Shout Factory has done it again! Now if they could only get to work on a COBRA (1986) Director's Cut that would make my year...
BULL'S EYE
Midian is actually from The Bible. It's where God appeared to Moses (as a burning bush) to give him his mission.

Nightbreed is based on Barker's 1988 novella Cabal.

Decker's long knife is called a Liston Knife. It's a surgical instrument used for amputation. Ouch!

Two video games were created based on Nightbreed. Nightbreed: The Action Game and Nightbreed: The Interactive Movie Game. I played the former and had a blast! Must play it again!
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