Film: Nightbreed

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Film:

Nightbreed

Director: Clive Barker
Honors:
Genres:
Distributor: Warner Home Video

Troubled twentysomething Craig Sheffer is haunted by violent dreams of serial killings and nocturnal invitations by misshapen creatures who live in a misty, mysterious land called Midia. Adapted and directed by Clive Barker (Hellraiser) from his novel Cabal, this tribute to the magical creatures of the night plays like a Jungian reinterpretation of classic myths with a modern twist. Nightbreed are the dead reborn as monsters of legend, fantasies, and nightmares who form their own outcast society in an underground city beneath an Alberta graveyard.…

Reviews

Amazon.com

Troubled twentysomething Craig Sheffer is haunted by violent dreams of serial killings and nocturnal invitations by misshapen creatures who live in a misty, mysterious land called Midia. Adapted and directed by Clive Barker (Hellraiser) from his novel Cabal, this tribute to the magical creatures of the night plays like a Jungian reinterpretation of classic myths with a modern twist. Nightbreed are the dead reborn as monsters of legend, fantasies, and nightmares who form their own outcast society in an underground city beneath an Alberta graveyard. Visionary horror director David Cronenberg steps in front of the camera to play Sheffer’s unscrupulous psychiatrist, an eerie, unsettling character whose dark side is hidden under a soft-spoken manner and an eerily calm and controlled voice.

Barker has a rather unsubtle approach to this fantastical Holocaust metaphor: every human is a victim, a hick, or a bloodthirsty monster, and the climactic witch-hunt is all gore and spectacle. By contrast the bestial society of outcasts has a kind of natural, innocent savagery that turns protective when the tribe is threatened. Cool-looking beings of bright colors, latex masks, and outrageous bodysuits, they band together like some extreme mutant superhero team with anger-management issues. Barker could use more attention to details (what happened to the so-called mystic properties of his shape-shifting monster heroes when the guns were drawn?), but there’s an undeniable charge to his modern take on myth and magic. —Sean Axmaker

Barnes and Noble

The lurid imagination of writer-director Clive Barker (Hellraiser) runs wild in Nightbreed, the horror maven’s 1990 tale of undead misfits that is based on his novel Cabal. Craig Sheffer portrays Boone, a psychologically disturbed young man who ends up joining an oddball subterranean community of mutant dead known as the Nightbreed, with his persistent girlfriend Lori (Anne Bobby) and evil psychiatrist Philip Decker (David Cronenberg) on his trail. As is typical of Barker’s work, Nightbreed has enough plot and back-story for ten movies, all jam-packed into rapid-fire scenes, almost all of which involve violence. Barker employs a smorgasbord of horror legends in Nightbreed, with aspects of vampire and werewolf myths mixed freely with tropes of his own design. The acting is hardly subtle, but it suits Barker’s purpose perfectly. Horror auteur Cronenberg is a standout, however, offering a creepy, low-key performance that can stand as the archetype of the Mad Shrink. But Nightbreed’s greatest achievements are the extravagantly conceived creatures of the night, as garishly bizarre as any array of characters you’re likely to find. Gregory Baird

Related Works

Book:Cabal

Cabal

Clive Barker

For more than two decades, Clive Barker has twisted the worlds of horrific and surrealistic fiction into a terrifying, transcendent genre all his own. With skillful prose, he enthralls even as he horrifies; with uncanny insight, he disturbs as profoundly as he reveals. Evoking revulsion and admiration, anticipation and dread, Barker’s works explore the darkest contradictions of the human condition: our fear of life and our dreams of death.

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