‘Nightbreed: The Director’s Cut’

The Tribes of the Moon have reason to rejoice!


Clive Barker


Clive Barker (novel), Clive Barker (screenplay)



I first saw Nightbreed during its original theatrical release in 1990 (just a tyke was I), and I’ve been a huge fan ever since.   And I’m hardly the only one; Nightbreed has amassed an incredible worldwide cult following over the years. Which is why it surprised me to hear that Master Horror Practitioner Clive Barker (who wrote and directed the film based on his novella Cabal) was unhappy with it.

Sure, Nightbreed ends rather abruptly, and it certainly leaves a lot of questions unanswered, but this film that subverted the conventional idea of a “monster” is incredibly solid. Turns out, Barker felt the film was never promoted properly by the studio; apparently, they wanted to market it as a slasher film when, in truth, its an epic horror fantasy. Barker says that studio execs couldn’t wrap their minds around the idea of hero monsters fighting human villains.   History would prove that Barker was ahead of his time as sensitive creatures and misunderstood miscreants are commonplace these days.


The Tribes of the Moon welcome you.


When Barker discovered a VHS copy of an early draft of Nightbreed in his basement a few years ago, he decided to re-integrate the footage, creating a substantially longer tale (almost 3 hours) that was dubbed The Cabal Cut. Unfortunately, the quality of the newly added footage was abysmal, creating a somewhat disjointed and lumbering saga. Still, Barker took this version of Nightbreed on the road where it was greeted with incredible enthusiasm.

Suddenly, there was a movement afoot. Fans and supporters began petitioning Morgan Creek Productions to release the original footage so that Barker could truly realize his vision. Anne Bobby (who plays Lori in the film) founded the Occupy Midian page on Facebook where it became clear that there was tremendous support for an updated and expanded version of Nightbreed. It was too much for Morgan Creek to ignore; the original negatives were released to Barker who created the definitive Director’s Cut.

The good folks at Shout! Factory got behind the film and, earlier this month, distributed the finished product (as both a regular DVD/Blu-ray and a Limited Edition run of 10,000 copies that included the original theatrical version on Blu-ray, as well as a bevy of bonus material). The response has been almost universally positive and the Limited Edition is already sold out.



So does the Director’s Cut really live up to the hype? You bet your ass it does! Remember, you’re talking to someone who already loved the film and the story, so how much better could it really have been? A lot better!

First of all, it looks stunning! Everything is richer and fuller in terms of color and texture, creating the sensation of extended depth. The incredible score by Danny Elfman has also been remastered adding outstanding resonance.

While those familiar with Nightbreed will be able to instantly spot edits and additions, there is no differentiation in film quality; the entire movie glides seamlessly, as though it had been assembled this way from the very beginning.

The relationship between Boone (Craig Sheffer) and Lori (Anne Bobby) is given a lot more attention in the Director’s Cut giving the entire film an emotional backbone that keeps viewers compelled and invested. The film’s sudden ending is expanded into a concussion that feels worthy of its epic magnitude; while Boone’s quest may merely be entering a new chapter, we are left with a concrete finale that is really very satisfying. Fans and newcomers alike will also be treated to a musical number and a plethora of exciting new beasties!


Shuna Sassi says, “Come hither!”

If I had to complain about something, it would be that there is not enough new footage of Dr. Decker (David Cronenberg). The Cabal Cut featured scenes with the twisted psychiatrist conversing with his emotionless, button-eyed mask, yet they are nowhere to be found in the Director’s Cut. Also, a fabled sex scene between the reptilian Peloquin (Oliver Parker) and the quilled temptress Shuna Sassi (Christine McCorkindale) never materializes. These are rather petty complaints, mostly reflections of my personal disappointment, and do not effect the overall quality or scope of the Director’s Cut.

If you already love Nightbreed, the Director’s Cut will excite you to no end.  If you’ve never seen the film, you will definitely want to acquaint yourself with this cult classic, now on it’s way to becoming a legitimate mainstream hit!


Dr. Decker says, “Look into my eyes!”

 Bonus Features

  • New “Director’s Cut” presentation of the film which contains over 40 minutes of new and altered footage
  • Introduction by writer/director Clive Barker and restoration producer Mark Alan Miller
  • Audio Commentary by writer/director Clive Barker and restoration producer Mark Alan Miller
  • Tribes of the Moon: The Making of Nightbreed featuring interviews with Craig Sheffer, Anne Bobby, Doug Bradley and more… (72 min.)
  • Making Monsters – interviews with makeup effects artists Bob Keen, Martin Mercer and Paul Jones (42 min.)
  • Fire! Fights! Stunts! 2nd Unit Shooting – an interview with Andy Armstrong (20 min.)
  • Original Theatrical Trailer

Josh Millican is the founder of Blood and Guts for Grown-Ups, a blog for intelligent Horror Aficionados.

3 Comments on this post.

Leave a Reply



  • Robert Ridenour
    29 October 2014 at 6:20 pm - Reply

    The reason the sex scene was included was that it didn’t fit and they didn’t find all of the original footage. Just bits and pieces that you see in the making off.

    • Josh Millican
      1 November 2014 at 5:09 pm - Reply

      Even if there wasn’t enough footage for a scene, I just wish they could have included something: A flashback, a dream, a peek in the opening credits… Just something in the actual film that would prove a relationship. It would give the characters incredible depth, implying a level of connection rarely seen between monsters. It would also indicate a potentially rich subplot for exploration. Behind the scenes is cool, but if it doesn’t make it into the film, it’s like it doesn’t really exist. Again, this is just a personal gripe. The Director’s cut is brilliant!

  • Evan A. Baker
    1 November 2014 at 2:22 pm - Reply

    I’m aching to take a look at this. I only saw the movie for the first time about a year before the Cabal cut first started circulating. Immediately after watching it, my friend and I began talking about all the places it felt like the story should have been expanded. The next day, I did some reading about the movie online, and discovered that everything we’d talked about corresponded with things that had been trimmed from the movie.