Hey Creeps! In my last post I mentioned the April 1990 issue of Fangoria magazine that featured a piece about the unproduced adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s Shadow Over Innsmouth, but of course that wasn’t the only amazing freak show featured in those ghoulish pages.
One of the lead features that month was about a new feature from horror auteur Clive Barker, a feature that was promised to be the Star Wars of fright films (Ralph McQuarrie even provided production designs!); Nightbreed! Chosen as the follow-up to his smash low-budget debut feature Hellraiser (based on his novella The Hellbound Heart), Nightbreed (in turn based on another novella he penned, Cabal) was given a larger budget and was expected to be a box office winner when it was released in February of 1990…yet history proved that to be untrue.
The film follows the adventures of a man (who believes himself a murderer) that flees to a fabled city of monsters located beneath a remote Canadian cemetery. This narrative in which monsters were the “good guys” and normal humans were evil proved to be a challenge for its distributor 20th Century Fox, who marketed Nightbreed as a slasher film. The studio also excised large portions of the film after poor test screenings. This of course served only to distort Barker’s vision of the film, and make the end result disjointed (yet the innate coolness of the story and characters remained intact). As the film gained cult status, fans always held out hope that the film would someday be restored to what was originally intended.
Flash forward to 2009 when Mark Miller, co-head of Barker’s production company Serraphim Films, compiled an extended cut of the film compiled from VHS work prints. Realizing that a version of the film now existed that was indicative of Barker’s intentions, Miller decided to take the cut “on tour” and began showing it at various horror conventions worldwide. Dubbed “The Cabal Cut”, the new version runs 159 minutes (compared to the theatrical cuts runtime of 102 minutes), and restores many scenes that make the narrative a more cohesive whole.
Unfortunately, this cut of the film has yet to screen anywhere even remotely close to my neck of the woods, so my hopes of seeing The Cabal Cut appeared slim. But, all is not lost as Shout Factory’s horror division Scream Factory have recently picked up the film for a 2014 release! Even though I have waited 23 years to see this footage, the next few months are going to see like an eternity. Perhaps I’ll bide my time by re-reading Epic comics Nightbreed series (yes, Nightbreed actually had its own comic book series…but that’s a post for another day)!