Clive Barker may have had a brief career in Hollywood, but he was already more influential than many directors who had made dozens of pictures. His literary career was no doubt equally influential, and some have compared him to Stephen King, the king of horror literature. But we’re not here to create analogies or ignite a conflict between Pinhead believers and Pennywise devotees (Reference from the film IT).
Only the war between the Tribes of the Moon and the Sons of the Free, in other words, monsters and demons vs. humanity, is worth celebrating and appreciating. The story follows a guy named Boone who changes into an undead beast known as a Nightbreed in the 1990 film.
Following his transformation, Boone relocates to Midian, an underground village populated by monsters from your wildest fears. They live in peace, at least figuratively, yet their survival and house are constantly threatened by the outside world.
However, due to Boone’s psychiatrist’s evil intents, who engages in serial murders when not at work, and Boone’s love for his girlfriend, the worst comes to pass, and Boone must rise to save the day, or perhaps the night.!
Like Hellraiser was based on a novella, Nightbreed is also an adaptation of Barker’s horror novel Cabal. Barker successfully created a world, or shall we say, an entire universe of monsters and beasts in his book as well as the film. In the film, grim dreams and horrid nightmares plague our protagonist, Boone.
And it can be said without an ounce of doubt that the creatures that Barker created are hellishly demented and yet exceptionally imaginative. I mean, have you seen the rich creativity employed to create ShunaSassi and Peloquin? Sassi’s porcupine-like quills and Peloquin’s red skin, and several dendritic deadlocks are just the tip of the iceberg that’s Nightbreed.
Another thing that would excite the horror fans is the casting! Firstly, the legendary David Cronenberg himself plays the evil Dr. Philip Decker. Secondly, several of the Hellraiser cast, including Doug Bradley, worked in Nightbreed. While Bradley played the role of Lylesburg, the leader of the Nightbreed, other cenobites such as Simon Bamford or Butterball Cenobite played Ohnaka.
People like Oliver Parker and Catherine Chevalier etc., who had smaller roles in Hellraiser films, received more critical parts in Nightbreed. Since we are on the subject, why don’t we quickly get to know the who’s who of the film!
The protagonist Aaron Boone is played by Craig Sheffer. He was one of the most well-cast actors in the film, as his personality matches the attributes that Boone’s character required. So, Boone is a large guy who wears his leather jacket all the time, even while he’s sleeping or doing anything else.
However, he used to have several terrifying visions and nightmares not long before the events of the film. Lori, his girlfriend, adores him but is unable to understand or console him. Naturally, he became a misunderstood and mentally unstable person and resorted to taking professional help from a psychiatrist named Dr. Phillip K. Decker.
The dreams that Boone watches include that of a place called Midian. According to him, it’s a place where the persecuted outcasts and monsters go to live, the place gives refuge and forgiveness to those who have nowhere to go.
However, Decker is not all that he seems. He’s in fact a serial killer who convinces our troubled hero of committing murders. This would be Decker’s key to freedom. Naturally, Boone fails to trust his own thoughts and actions and accepts the charges that Decker levied upon him.
His remorse overwhelms him to the point where he attempts suicide but winds up in a psychiatric facility, where he is transported to Midian and changed into a Nightbreed. Boone began as a simple victim of circumstance, but as the storey progressed, he evolved into a fabled hero who battled for the weak and oppressed. Furthermore, there was a prophecy that Boone would come at Midian only to be the cause of its destruction and reconstruction, according to the film.
Boone’s girlfriend Lori is another great character who went through a tremendous life-changing journey. From being a mere mortal and a human being, she was dubbed as a natural, and ultimately, she became a Nightbreed so that she could spend an eternity with her love.
She seemed like a pretty little damsel, but she didn’t let her distress take a toll on her. However, she is also attracted to the adventures, excitement and pleasure that the unnatural side has to offer her.
It’s not all mushy love but innate desires too. One strange about the couple was that they were never shown having sex. Yes, we agree that the entire film didn’t give them enough opportunities to do so, but their sexual life seemed a bit icy.
Decker, played by Cronenberg, is, without a doubt, the most intriguing character. His directing abilities are well-known, but his acting abilities were highlighted in this film. His character was devilishly terrible and dark because of the consistent tone of his voice, the mild baritone, and the vacancy in his gaze.
He wasn’t just a knife-wielding serial killer, though; he was a master tactician and planner as well. Everyone assumed Boone was the bad guy thanks to his sophisticated strategy. He dedicated quite a large portion of his life to eradicating what he called filth of the world.
However, we would have been more delighted if Clive Barker got him trained for his action sequences. What we mean is that, have you seen this guy run? That’s not how serial killers run after their prey.
Any discussion about the cast of Nightbreed will remain incomplete unless we speak about the various Nightbreeds. However, since we’ve already done a video on all major Nightbreeds in another video, we will stick to only a few in this one.
But don’t worry, we’ll leave the link in the description. Out of all, ShunaSassiis by far one of the most mysterious and unique creatures who were featured in the film. Quills were spread throughout her body much like cheese is spread over a pizza; it’s just that cheese doesn’t kill you. Played by Christine McCorkindale in the movie, her character was later picked up and explored further by Marvel Comics.
Another equally fascinating character was Peloquin, the Nightbreed who bit Boone and transformed him into a Nightbreed. He was one of the most powerful and dangerous Nightbreeds due to his red complexion, blue eyes, and many dreadlocks, as well as his ability to grant humans the ability to cheat death.
After Rachel, the shapeshifter, Narcisse, Boone’s devoted buddy, had the most Humane appearance. He not only supported Boone through thick and thin, but he also lost his life in the process, at least metaphorically.
The most astounding feature of the film has to be its background score and especially the opening theme, which were given by Danny Elfman. He is recognised for composing music for films such as Men in Black and television shows such as The Simpsons.
The opening theme, with its choral melody that is equal parts fascinating and unsettling, establishes the tone for the picture even before the opening credits appear on the screen.
With this lovely music playing in the background, we catch glimpses of several of the monsters who would eventually play key roles in the film. The following section of the opening credits leads us through a sequence of paintings, which serves as the film’s backstory.
If you’ve already seen the movie, go back and look at these paintings; you’ll see that they’re in chronological order. The film then begins with a chase sequence in which a pack of beasts, including ShunaSassi and Lude, chase someone, and they retreat as soon as the person runs out of an iron gate.
And that’s it, our protagonist Boone wakes up from his dream. It turns out that Boone often suffers from nightmares about a place called Midian and the monstrous entities that reside there. With him is his pretty little girlfriend, Lori. She has no idea what’s about to happen in the next couple of hours of the film’s runtime, but she takes it alright.
Moving on, Boone tells her how Boone has been avoiding calls from his psychiatrist, Decker. Later that day, Decker calls back. The bad, bad shrink successfully intimidates Boone into seeing him.
The next scene shows our good friend Dr. Decker entering the house of a happy and chubby family, the parents are way too much in love. He begins by slashing the mother before moving on to the father.
He walks up the stairs to the young child and kills him off the screen after assuring that the home is painted in their blood; otherwise, the Motion Picture Association would have awarded the film a lower rating.
As Dr. Decker, Cronenberg portrays one of the most ruthless serial killers, his profession and placid attitude evoking the iconic Hannibal Lecter. However, while Hannibals like Sir Anthony Hopkins and MadsMikkelsen could swing a knife or a machete flawlessly, Cronenberg was a little dodgy at action sequences; nonetheless, full points to him for acting.
Boone finally pays a visit to Dr. Decker, and the film picks up steam from there. We find that Boone must have talked about nightmares in which he saw slain families, and that he was quite specific about the crime scenes.
As a result, Decker continued to murder families and stage crime scenes in the manner of Boone’s fantasies. He becomes persuaded that he is a serial killer after seeing images of killings performed in the same manner as his dreams, and he has no recollection of any of his crimes. Decker makes matters worse by giving him strong hallucinogenic tablets to take.
Boone goes to see his girlfriend at her singing event, but has a panic attack and has to leave right away. Boone loses all control of his physical and mental self, and, haunted by the images Decker showed him, Boone attempts to commit suicide by jumping in front of a moving truck.
He ends up in a psychiatric ward and finds another patient named Narcisse who blabbers something about Midian. Boone fools him into telling the address of Midian, but when Boone tries to flee the place, Narcisse cuts open his scalp in an attempt to convince Boone to take him to Midian.
The ensuing chaos helps Boone to escape the spot. Decker arrives with the police and offers to analyze Narcisse. Meanwhile, Boone begins his journey to the lost city of Midian.
Boone comes into what appears to be a graveyard in the middle of nowhere and decides to sleep there for some reason. The intricate settings and gorgeous matte paintings served as the icing on the cake, as fascinating as the film’s monsters were.
The matte painting may be seen clearly in the scene where Boone first sees Midian. It’s not quite as good as James Cameron’s for Escape from New York, but it gets the job done.
He meets Kinski, a creature with a crescent moon-shaped face, and Peloquin, a demonic-like entity whose description is best expressed by looking at him. At this point, all of Boone’s doubts fade away with the day’s light, and what was once his nightmare became his reality.
Kinski suggests that he should be taken below to the actual city, but Peloquin differs and intends to eat him. Peloquin has a strange power to smell innocence, and only Nightbreedsand undead sinners are allowed to take refuge in Midian. He bites Boone on his neck, but Boone manages to flee.
However, his freedom is short-lived because, outside the graveyard, he is met with the police and Decker. The evil doctor offers to be the negotiator of sorts and approaches Boone, but he tricks the cops into believing that he had a gun. The cops seemed to be extremely trigger-happy because, despite repeated requests from their detective to hold fire, they go on shooting the crap out of poor Boone.
Lori learns about the events after Boone’s body is brought to the morgue. However, the wound from Peloquin’s bite begins to come alive in an unusual turn of events. Boone’s body is later discovered to be missing.
Lori realises she needs to go to Midian if she wants to get answers after hearing this. This is the start of Lori’s enormous efforts and sacrifices to save her one true love, or at the very least to assist him in his travels.
On her way to Midian, Lori befriends a woman named Sheryl in a bar. After hearing Lori’s story, Sheryl offers to drive together to Midian. Meanwhile, Boone gets initiated into the town of Midian in an elaborate ceremony performed by the leader named Lylesburg.
Lori and Sheryl reach Midian the next morning, and Lori leaves Sheryl at the car to go and explore the cemetery by herself. There she finds a strange and hideous wolf-like creature, crying in pain and agony. And from the shadows, a woman named Rachel begs Lori to get the creature inside her room and into the shade.
After initial hesitancy, Lori manages to pick it up and bring it to Rachel. To Lori’s utter surprise, as soon as the creature came into the shadows, it transformed into a little girl. Rachel says that it was her tiny daughter, Babette, who didn’t understand why she shouldn’t play in the sun. Lori performed a heroic gesture by saving Babette’s life, and Rachel rewarded her with a gift.
Lori only wanted to know a few things about Boone, such as where he was and why he had abandoned her. Lori was refused by Lylesburg, who told her that the information she sought would have disastrous effects for the people of Midian.
Lori was not one to give up easy, and when she tried to enter the underground city, she was met by Peloquin, who terrified her away. On her way out, she saw that someone had brutally murdered Sheryl and the killer was none other than Dr. Decker.
He wouldn’t rest until he’s made sure that Boone is dead because that’s who he wants to pin his own crimes upon. So, he uses Lori to draw out Boone from hiding and the plan works but only partly. Boone can not be killed because he’s already dead, and in his own words, he’s become ‘the walking dead.’
After rescuing Lori, he takes her to Midian, but Lylesburg tells him that he’s threatened the safety of the place by his actions. In order to fix the problems Boone created for himself, the only choice at his disposal was to talk to the god of the Nightbreed—Baphomet and Boone took that chance.
Meanwhile, Rachel tells Lori the history of Nightbreed like her and how they were brought to the verge of extinction by their constant persecution by humans. Rachel shows Lori the true nature of humans, and we destroy what we envy, it’s just like plucking a flower from a garden because we like it.
Babette then tells Lori about the past and how Midian’s ancestors were slain. When you compare these images to the murals from the opening credits, you’ll notice a lot of similarities.
Lori moves on to find Boone, and her journey through the city’s twists and turns shows the numerous Nightbreed that we discussed earlier. Lori and Boone, on the other hand, are expelled from Lylesburg. They drive to the motel where Lori was staying because they have nowhere else to go.
But Decker was already there; he’d murdered people in the room adjacent to Lori’s, and the cops suspect Boone of the killings. They take him into custody and take him to Shere Neck Police Station, which was headed by Captain Eigerman.
After finding out that Boone had no pulse, Eigerman assembled a militia posse with the help of Shere Neck residents, and they all head to Midian to slay the Nightbreed. In their journey, a drunkard priest called Ashberry offers to help as God’s servant against the apparently evil creatures of Midian.
Meanwhile, Narcisse, Rachel, and Lori rescue Boone from the police station, and all of them rush to Midian, where he convinces the Nightbreed to fight, either for themselves or for their children. If you have even a passing knowledge of Barker’s works, you’d know that he relies heavily on biblical imagery.
This scene reflects what looks like a man rising up to a situation to lead a tribe to safety and salvation. Lylesburg is referred to as Moses, while the Nightbreed’s god is referred to as the Baptizer. Furthermore, the inebriated priest Ashberry cited a text in which he recounted a conflict with Midian.
Only when humans began attacking the Nightbreed did Boone and others arrive. The Nightbeed were split into groups within the town. While Lylesburg preferred that they remain concealed in order to avoid being discovered, Boone preferred that they fight for their lives.
The ensuing battle reveals the powers that the Nightbreed had. For instance, ShunaSassiattacks several cops with her quills. However, the most striking feature about the climax was the Berserkers, they were horrid-looking humanoids who had immense power and were uncontrollable. Think of them as The Hulk transforming into a zombie. Do you get the picture? After a harrowing battle, the Nightbreeds manage to scare away the townsfolk.
In comparison to the Cabal Cut and the Director’s Cut, the theatrical release featured an entirely different ending. As a result, we’ll only discuss the Director’s Cut in the form that Clive Barker intended.
So the Nightbreeds wait in a barn for Boone to say his final goodbyes to Lori. Lori asks if she can accompany him on his mission to locate a new home for the Nightbreed. Boone vowed to return, but she is frightened that when he does, she will be old and ailing, while he will still be youthful.
She stabs herself with a knife in a desperate attempt to be with him as a Nightbreed, compelling Boone to bite her and turn her into a Nightbreed. Following this, the god of Nightbreeds destroys the city and orders Boone to rebuild it.
Captain Eigerman is killed by a now transformed Ashberry. The very end shows the mural that depicted Boone as a part of the prophecy. Captain Eigerman died in the end and everyone had a good laugh; it was only because Barker intended his audience to cheer for the monsters.
And, the notable thing is that he didn’t do this by making them look funny or stupid. They were hideous in the real meaning of the term and yet he managed to make you see the humans as villains.
Decker is brought back to life in the film’s post-credit scene. In recent news, Michael Dougherty, the man who directed Godzilla King of Monsters, has been named as the director of the Nightbreed TV series, which has been in development for quite some time. Let us know whether you’re looking forward to the show in the comments.