FrightFest 2012: Nightbreed: The Cabal Cut first reaction

Clive Barker's monster mash grows extra limbs...

One of the holy grails of modern horror, the extended version of Clive Barker's Nightbreed has had its European premiere at FrightFest. The Cabal Cut sticks more closely to both the book and Barker's cinematic vision.

Even die-hard fans have to admit that the original version of Nightbreed is, in every sense, an unholy mess.

Adapted by Barker from his own 1988 novel Cabal, the roughly chopped-up, severely shortened and downright incoherent epic that was released in 1990 is one of horror’s great curios.

The stuff of fanboy legend, the missing work prints were finally discovered a few years ago by filmmaker and aficionado Russell Cherrington (on a bookshelf in Barker’s office, of all places), who painstakingly spliced together the theatrical release and newfound VHS prints.

Even if you’re not a purist, it’s not difficult to spot the new scenes. Looking much like it did the first time you saw it - taped off late-night TV on a worn out cassette – the only thing covering up the scratches and tracking lines is an ironic sense of nostalgia.

For anyone who doesn’t know, the film follows the oddly characterless ‘Boone’ (Craig Sheffer) as a creepy psychiatrist (David Cronenberg!) stalks him into a nightmarish world of underground mutants.

Adding backstories and plugging plot holes, the new footage does a good job of shoring up some of the structural weaknesses – mostly benefiting Boone and his girlfriend Lori (Anne Bobby) – but the best scenes are still the monster menagerie moments we’ve already seen before.

Clocking in at an eye-watering 153 minutes, the new cut could do with losing half of what it put back in (as well as spending a bit more time on the terrible dubbing).

Barker fans will lap up the deleted scenes, and the new film undoubtedly makes a bit more sense, but Nightbreed remains a muddled, confusing and occasionally brilliant glimpse into what Cabal might have been.

Did you catch The Cabal Cut at FrightFest? Tell us what you thought below!


    • GarthMarenghi

      Aug 25th 2012, 16:01

      Eye-watering 153 minutes? So it's shorter than Dark Knight Rises, then? Loved the first version, so I do hope they manage to locate the original film elements of the deleted scenes at some point.

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    • ryandanhauser

      Aug 25th 2012, 16:01

      Mark Miller found the footage, sent it to Phil and Sara Stokes to translate the PAL to VHS, then they gave Russell Cherrington a copy and Russell began editing the footage together. The Movie is 144 Minutes. The only dubbing that took place was Doug Bradley's voice over the DVD footage, rather than the German guy that was put in the theatrical release. All other dubbing was done by producers because they didn't want to pay to fly British actors to LA to dub their own voices in. What's in the VHS is the actors' true voices. This review could have done with a bit more fact checking. Particularly since Russell usually tells the story of how the Cabal Cut came to be at his intro and QA panels, you should have heard it directly from him. I've flown to two different screenings of the Cabal Cut, and I love it. I can't wait to buy it. This review is poorly planned and unnecessarily negative.

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    • ScaryHair

      Aug 25th 2012, 21:13

      I first saw this film 20 years ago.I unfortunately have not been able to catch the Cabal Cut yet I remember he disdain and contempt that the reviewers showed Nightbreed then The same that you are showing it now. The trouble was then that no one was ready to have the physically misshapen, different as the hero's of the piece.Now a Vampire Twilight Edward Cullen.The soon to be released Warm Body's Nicholas Hoult as R a love struck zombie are carrying on what Nightbreeds Boon and Lori started. Nightbreed will not be to everyone's taste same as I can not stand Twilight. Nightbreed and Strange Days have stayed with me as two of the most unsung visions ever made. God IS an Astronaut , OZ IS over the Rainbow And Midian IS where the monsters live. I too can not Wait to own this the SOONER THE BETTER!.

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    • Hadouken76

      Aug 25th 2012, 21:59

      Why don't they just remake the whole thing?

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    • GarthMarenghi

      Aug 27th 2012, 4:31

      @Hadouken76 - I sincerely hope that was a joke...

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