Nightbreed - Nightbreed(Blu Ray) [Arrow Video - 2019]The 1990s are often thought of the decade horror cinema forgot- as the cinematic output in this period was very uneven and mostly decidedly lacklustre. One of the few films of this decade that stands out for both itís scope, ideas & reach is Nightbreed- as it tried to blend/ bring together creature feature, horror fantasy, and good old fashioned psycho killer subgenres- and while none of the different versions of the film are wholly satisfying- thereís certainly much to praise & celebrate what there is, and what could have been. Here from Arrow Video is a double Blu Ray release of the film- bringing together the original theatrical cut of the film, and the new directors cut which offers up forty five minutes of lesser/ never seen footage, added to this the set features a host of extras- making this set primed perfectly to delve into the
Nightbreed was the second film directed by British horror writer Clive Barker, and it appeared in 1990- three years after his break-out hit Hellraiser. And while Nightbreed shares some themes with the Hellraiser films- hidden monsters, obsession & greed- Nightbreed is a much deeper and multi-layered film.Roger Batty
The film's plot focuses in on Arron Booth- a late-twenties man who dreams of a place of monster he calls Midian. After some years of psychological trouble, Arron seems to get things back on track- as he has a new love in his life nightclub singer Lori Winston. When out of the blue he gets a phone call from his shrink Dr. Philph Decker- played with great cold glee & sinister intent by David Cronenberg. Seemingly someone in a weird zip month & button eye mask is staking & killing people in exactly the way Arron discussed in his sessions. As the film moves along we find out Midian is indeed a real place- and itís under a local graveyard- itís somewhat of a subterranean city for different monsters and magical humans to hide, and one way or another both Arron and Dr. Decker are heading for this mystical & strange place. I wonít delve too much more into the plot than this, as Iíll start to give away reveal and twists in the plot. But basically what we get is a sort of highbred of dark horror fantasy, creature feature with lots of monsters- blended in with deranged serial killer flick. Itís certainly very much of a balancing act- which from time-to-time falls over- whichever version you're talking about.
I personally never saw the film when it was released- as at that point, like many other horror fans I was somewhat drifting away from the genre- as it had so little to offer. I can certainly recall seeing the VHS in rental shops, and was semi curious but not enough to watch it. So this two-disc set is my first viewing of the film, which in some ways is great- as for many years the cabal cut/ directors cut of the film was difficult to get hold, and if you could it was pricey & the quality was decidedly mixed. Seeing the film all these year latter it certainly does feel very 1990ís in both itís effects, acting, and flow- I started off by watching the directors cut, and this runs at two hours- and Iím afraid it just feels too long- sure thereís some great ideas & neat scenes in here, but thereís a lot of padding/ repetition too- as well as a lot of monster who arenít developed much beyond fleeting glances. So while I canít say I found it a complete success itís certainly a daring & at times fascinating picture- and Iím glad Iíve finally seen it.
Moving onto this new reissue- and Arrow Video have done a stellar job- first off the directors cut looks seamless, I believe that other mixed cuts of the film were decidedly mixed in quality- but the print here is crystal clear. This version of the film runs at the 120-minute mark, with forty-five minutes of new footage- and this cut of the film certainly adds in more depth to the characters, as well as more story tying up, and more monster footage. The theatrical cuts print is well defined & balanced- and this cut runs for 102 minutes.
Moving onto the extras, and boy is there a bountiful amount- we have two commentaries- first is on the directors cut- this is with Clive Barker and restoration producer Mark Alan Miller- here the pair move from talking about how the film was changed/ altered in its theatrical cut, and the impact this had on Barker- and his feeling on when the film came out. Going onto hear interesting stories from behind the scenes- like how Cronberg was offered the role in the film. Before going onto analyze and discuss the new scenes in detail- and how they impact the whole feel of the film. The next commentary is over the theatrical cut- and this is with critics Adrian J Smith and David Flint- here the pair start off talking about when they both first saw the film together at a 1990ís horror festival- before going onto discuss the film the book was based on, key actors, and the flow/ differences between cuts, and much more. Both commentary tracks are interesting & worthy in their own right- but Iíd say that the Barker/ Miller is the most fascinating as we really get a great insight into Barkers hopes & dreams for the project, his disappointment with the studio meddling, and been happy about the new print of the film. Also on the first disc, we get a short on-camera introduction from Barker & Miller to the new cut of the film.
Then on the second disc in the set, we have purely extras- of the new exclusive to this set we get a half-an-hour new on-camera interview with the films lead actor Craig Sheffer. We have two featurettes from horror genre experts- these each run between eighteen & twenty-three minutes- the first is with Kat Ellinger Ė and as usual she gives very worthy & interesting comment on the film, and Barker's work in general. She starts talking about her first introduction to Barker's work when she read his Weaveworld book as a teen- then she goes onto discuss the themes of outside youth culture & Decadent literature movement on Barkers work. The second featurette is with Kim Numan- and here he talks about how he was involved in Barkers early cinematic work- been on the set of the first Hellraiser, and spending a few days on the set of Nightbreed- he discusses the films monster & fantasy themes, as well as going onto talk about the different cuts of the film. The rest of the disc is taken up by an hour and a half making-of doc, as well as a host of other behind the scenes footage, interviews, etc- really hours, and hours of extras.
In conclusion, Arrow Video has made an extremely thorough & impressive ultimate edition of Nightbreed- answering every question you could possibly have about the film, as well as giving a seamless new directors cut of the film.