As you can tell by the name of the blog, I’m a big Clive Barker fan. Nightbreed, flaws and all, has always rivaled the almighty Hellraiser as my favorite Barker flick. I think every kid who grew up as an outsider has a soft spot for the Tribes of the Moon. Just like the rest of the Nightbreed fans, I’ve dreamed of seeing the “uncut version” ever since the days when we all thought it might be a myth. For many, many years it was spoken of in tones usually reserved for London After Midnight. So, you can imagine my excitement when it was announced that the missing footage had been located. You can also imagine how many expletive laden tirades I subjected my poor computer to when Occupy Midian kept sending me invitations to screenings that were half a country (and in some cases, an entire continent) away. Then, it finally happened. Baphomet smiled upon me. One of the last screenings before it slunk back into the shadows to be restored happened in my back yard! A few midnights ago, I got the opportunity to stagger (thanks to James Bickert and his spicy lemonade/tequila concoctions) into Gwinnett Arena’s screening room and behold something that, as recently as a few months ago, I feared I might never see. And let me tell you, Cellmates, everything is true. God’s an astronaut, Oz is over the rainbow, and The Cabal Cut is just as bad ass as you’ve heard it is.
As Russell Cherrington (the Cabal Cut director and the man who actually found the footage) said in the pre-screening Q&A, this movie isn’t Nightbreed at all. This is a whole different film. It’s been a long time since I read Cabal, and I’ve killed off a lot of brain cells since then, but from what I do recall the new cut follows the book pretty closely. One of the criticisms that has long been flung at Nightbreed is that it doesn’t make sense. Admittedly, the plot in the theatrical cut is all kindsa disjointed and jumbled. That’s definitely not the case any more. Whole characters and subplots that were originally left on the cutting room floor are resurrected. I think the main difference is the astounding amount of character development that’s been added. It’s most evident with Lori, Boone’s girlfriend. In Nightbreed, let’s face it, she’s downright annoying at times. She becomes a fully realized character with an actual arc in The Cabal Cut. She’s a major player, and the Lori/Boone love story is much more front and center. She spends a lot more time in Midian too, which really does add a lot to the story. We also get to savor more of David Cronenberg’s tour de force performance as Dr. Decker. A lot of nuance is added to the good doctor. There’s one scene involving Decker having a conversation with his mask that’s probably my second favorite re-inserted scene. My favorite is definitely when Boone… ah, dammit. I would be straying into spoiler territory if I told you. That sucks, ‘cause I really want to gush about that scene. Let’s just say that my murmured “holy shit” wasn’t the only one I heard during that moment.
The added footage also lets the outstanding set and creature design shine. The clichéd line about this being “the Star Wars of monster movies” applies now. The Tribes of the Moon are out in force. The sheer amount of unique makeups is staggering. There are some never before seen major effects and monsters that are, at very least, as impressive as anything in the theatrical version. I can’t emphasize just how cool the army of monsters is. A lot more of the proceedings take place in Midian. It feels a lot more like the vast, labyrinthine subterranean city described in the book than the mere underground hideout we know. I dare say that if this movie had originally been presented in this form, it might have deservedly won effects Oscars in 1990.
I can’t, however, call it a perfect movie. I’m about to say something that will sound like heresy to a lot of the fanboys that are salivating over seeing this, but it’s a little too long. Just because all of that footage was found doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s all essential. There are times that the flick gets a little slow. It could stand to be tightened up by about 10 minutes. Of course, the fans (myself included) want to see that footage. So maybe while it ought to be excised from the flick, it should all certainly be included as special features on the DVD/BD.
Speaking of which, I’m even more excited for Scream Factory’s 2014 blu-ray release after seeing the film in its current form. I’m not a hi-def snob, far from it actually, but the version I saw looked bad enough to take me out of the flick at times. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the hell out of it and knew what I was in for, but the new footage, quite frankly, looks shitty. It looks like a fifth generation bootleg, which it essentially is. Sometimes it was so blurry that it was hard to be sure what I was seeing. It was a lot like listening to The Ultimate Warrior rant when I was a kid. I had a vague idea of what he said, and it didn’t make a lot of sense, but I was so excited that it was happening at all that I just went with it. As cool as this flick is, it deserves to look great. Scream Factory has delivered in spades on all of their releases so far, and with this being one of those horror holy grails I have no reason to believe that it will receive anything but the same TLC. The movie was awesome when it looked like shit. Looking as it should, it’s gonna be downright orgasm inducing.I told Leah and Nicole as we were leaving that as much as I cherish my innumerable Nightbreed viewings over the years, I sorta envy those who will see the film for the first time like this. The Cabal Cut is a sprawling epic that finally does the mythology of its universe justice. From the much more coherent beginning to the seriously protracted climax to the completely different finale, it left me slack jawed. The film can finally be viewed for what it is, one of the most ambitious movies - not horror movies mind you, but MOVIES – ever made. If you love Nightbreed, you’re in for a treat that will exceed any expectations you may have. If you hate Nightbreed, I can’t see how The Cabal Cut won’t change your mind. If you’re a horror fan at all, the Scream Factory release is the very definition of a “must own.” Now more than ever, I’ve decided that when I die I don’t want to go to heaven or hell at all. I want to go to Midian, dammit! After all, it is Shangri-la on dope. Could any place possibly sound cooler than that? 9.5 secret faces of 10. Nathan says check it out.