Tuesday, April 5, 2011

30 Day Horror Challenge Day 05 - Your favorite monster movie

What do you call a group of monsters? A gaggle? A herd? A murder? A horde? That’s it, we’ll go with horde, and in Nightbreed we get a whole horde of monsters. This isn’t just a monster movie though; it’s a film that’s all about exploring what it means to be a monster. Not all monsters are evil, and those we would never expect can be the most heinous and ruthless “monsters” imaginable. It explores many themes, and along the way, we get the best collection of bizarre creatures on screen since Jabba the Hutt’s palace.

Boone dreams of Midian, a secret underground city populated by monsters. When his serial killer psychiatrist drugs him and pins his murders on Boone, he flees to Midian, where he is not accepted. Suffering a bite from one of the monsters, he becomes a true member of the “Nightbreed.” Decker, the killer shrink, leads the local police in a raid of Midian, battling the Nightbreed until Boone unleashes the “berserkers” and wins the day, leading the Nightbreed from Midian to find a new home. This synopsis is an incredibly simplistic outline, because the movie is so complex and the mythology of Midian so extensive that a proper synopsis would be pages long.

Along with the abundance of unique and downright cool looking monsters, this is a truly sophisticated film. It has religious undertones. It has racial undertones. It can be read as a metaphor for being gay in the 80’s. What I choose to see it as is an exploration of “monsterhood.” The denizens of Midian may be frightening and grotesque in appearance, but they live by a moral code that makes them far less “monstrous” than the humans that attack them. The monsters aren’t the villains. The true villain, and true monster, is Decker, played amazingly by David Cronenberg. Yes, THAT David Cronenberg. Had he not decided to direct some of the greatest horror films ever, he could have easily had a career as an actor. Decker dons a very creepy mask to become the “monster”, but his real mask is one of humanity that he wears for the world. The mythology of Midian is expansive and well realized, without overpowering the central narrative. I could go on and on, but this is one of those movies you really must see and interpret for yourself.

The battles between writer/director Clive Barker and Morgan Creek Studios over Nightbreed movie are legendary. The studio forced Barker into massive reshoots and rewrites. It was promoted as a slasher flick, when it is anything but. The most tragic thing to come out of all the studio interference is that Barker’s original two and a half hour cut had to be trimmed to 101 minutes. The uncut version exists, but whether or not it will ever see the light of day on DVD is a mystery. There was also a sequel planned that never came to fruition. Will we ever see either of these? We can only hope. Two severed thumbs up. Nathan says check it out.


Anonymous said...

'Night Breed' is one of my favorite monster movies! Great pick! Now, I need to watch it again ;)

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