A Look Into Shout! Factory’s Nightbreed and Lord of Illusions

22 Jan

By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

nightbreed-blu-ray-1The underground world of Midian was very much alive within me many years ago, even before I discovered Clive Barker’s Cabel. I loved the narrative and it spoke to me as there were times I felt misunderstood. Life of an outcast as a nerd was never easy but I adapted. When the film Nightbreed appeared in 1990, I hoped some of the themes explored in the book would get translated over. Instead, what was presented was totally alien. This film was not Barker’s story and I wondered why. My favourite moments were either cut out or never written in.

As a rated R film, I hoped the way Boone connected to Baphomet would be represented but alas ….

Back then, I had only magazines than the World Wide Web to learn about the film presented back then was not what Clive Barker wanted. I bought the comics and consumed everything I could find for my Midian fix. Even over the years, I never lost my love for this series and I tracked when the Cabal cut would come close to my neck of the woods so I could travel there to screen it. Either they came and went faster than the night on Spring Solstice or I just had to wait.

Did I give up hope if a video release will ever happen? I figured that it would eventually come. Lo and behold, Nightbreed: The Director’s Cut by Scream! Factory gets released. It took me a few months since its original release date to find the limited three disc version at a reasonable collector’s price than to buy the regular retail version. When that arrived, I knew I had to purchase this company’s release Clive Barker’s Lord of Illusions too for a double-bill weekend binge.

The regular two-disc release of Nightbreed thankfully offers the golden nuggets of behind-the-scenes information — the extras includes three featurettes (Tribes of the Moon, Making Monsters and A Look at 2nd unit Photography), a trailer and a director’s commentary. The Tribes documentary offers plenty of insight in what Clive Barker originally wanted for his film before studio executives came on the set to see what was being made. What they wanted was a simpler movie which squarely made Decker the antagonist and any notion humanity being bad guys were written out.

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Sometimes, businessmen are not filmmakers and they will not understand what visionaries want to create. As Doug Bradley explained, it’s best to let him make the story that he wants and don’t interfere. That included looking at cost cutting measures which had all of Bradley’s lines redone by a voice-over actor. Some performers can feel insulted at this move, and Bradley said that sometimes performers have to roll with the punches. These featurettes reveal a lot of frayed feelings when the studio got involved in developing the theatrical cut that not everyone liked, including many of Clive Barker’s fans. At the same time, I got some answers to why some moments from the book were not written in the screenplay.

Even with the regular video release that’s more easily obtainable, fans can look at both cuts to see what the differences are. One scene includes Lori singing in a nightclub only to see Boone stumble in like a drunk to see her for one last time. The next scene shows him getting into a car accident that sets up his meeting with the Nightbreed. True to the book in the film’s final climactic moments, the transformed Boone makes Lori a creature of the night so their love is truly eternal and they can live in peace. Well, that’s after they find a new paradise to live in. That’s where the comic books published by Epic (a division of Marvel Comics) comes in. That series didn’t last long and I was a sad panda. There were not enough fans buying and that’s often the reason why most franchise products get cancelled. I don’t expect the original author to always continue expanding the universe. Can you imagine my joy at Barker’s involvement in Boom! Studio’s Hellraiser continuation? When he provided an excellent foundation to grow upon, other writers can continue the work.

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