Clive Barker is most renowned for his work in Hellraiser, but he has also been responsible for shaping some less popular classics. The 1990 released Nightbreed is a brilliant example of his genius with dark horror-fantasy works and was his second endeavor as a director. Unfortunately the film did not do too well at the box office owing partly to poor marketing and partially because the studio made some changes.
However, Nightbreed was able to develop a cult status over the years as fans developed a liking for the novel concept of the movie to the point they started rooting for the monsters and it is the humans who are the real monsters.
The film makes a powerful statement through a delightful story. The plot is premised around Boone who dreams of a city called Midian which houses monsters within it. His therapist Dr. Philip Decker, a secret serial killer, ends up convincing Boone that he is the real killer. Boone learns that the monsters exist and that he has been framed by Decker is the worst possible way.
These monstrous and beautiful creatures although extremely humane and even gentle can be quite scary and dangerous. In this video we will explore the back stories of these unforgettable Nightbreed monsters.
While the monsters in his film will have you rooting for them, we do not mean him. Button Face or, as we are introduced to him as, Dr. Decker is the prime antagonist here. This evil psychologist is a tall immaculately dressed man whose secret identity allows him to adorn a pair of gloves, and a mask with a zipper for a mouth and buttons in place of eyes allowing him to become the feared killer Button Face who carries a long-blade knife and would not even feel hesitant in slaughtering a family if he felt like it.
Decker loathed anything that did not abide by his absurd standards of living. In fact, he committed murders simply if people did not act or live the way he did. When the killings got too many and demanded special attention from the cops, he hatched a plan to divert attention by creating a fake killer.
Aaron Boone, a man seeking therapy for his disturbing dreams, became an easy prey and Dr. Decker managed to convince him that he was the serial killer. He got Boone killed by the cops, but the Nightbreed resurrected him in their world. Once Button Face was aware of the existence of these monsters, and was determined to wipe them out.
Boone had become a monster, Cabal, and easily defeated the serial killer. But, he was resurrected by a fallen priest using the blood of Baphomet, the Nightbreed’s God. He thus became one of the Nightbreed, and that is the biggest irony of the story: Dr. Decker, ultimately, became what he wanted to eliminate. The character of Button Face was played by David Cronenberg, and he did a fabulous job portraying the doctor’s truly evil nature.
Cabal, previously a human named Aaron Boone prior to becoming a Nightbreed, is the protagonist of this tale. As a human, he was prone to constant nightmares and would sense the presence of creatures that he actually could not see.
This leads him to think he is mentally instable and seeks the help of psychologist Dr. Philip Decker, who in turn frames Boone for the crimes he had committed. He administers heavy narcotics to Boone and even tipped the police off to have Boone killed. Boone would often dream of a utopian city called Midian where monsters were accepted for who they are.
Boone was bitten by Peloquin, a Nightbreed creature, and was eventually shot down by the police. His body, however, disappeared from the morgue under mysterious circumstances.
After his resurrection, Boone took a the identity of Cabal and fought alongside the creatures against the Sons of the Free, who tried to destroy Midian, and whose membership included Dr. Decker. Although Midian was destroyed, Boone did manage to lead the surviving creatures into a new safe haven.
Cabal was emotionally involved with his girlfriend Lori even after becoming a monster. When she requested him to make her a monster too, he did not listen until she stabbed herself, forcing him to bite her. She could then become a member of the Nightbreed, and the duo could spend an eternity together.
Most of the Nightbreed creatures had a strange aversion to sunlight, but Cabal was not much affected by this affliction. Craig Sheffer was stunning in the role of Boone, and made us all root for the character. If you ever felt strongly for a monster, it would be Cabal!
Baphomet was worshipped as the God of the Nightbreed. This massive tattered creature with appendages protruding all throughout his body and jet black in color has blood and innards made of molten metal. Baphomet is known to be wise and mighty. He exhibits smart judgment when he chooses Cabal to lead the remnants of the Tribes of the Moon.
The real identity of the Baphomet is not confirmed. For all we know, it could be a Dark God brought back from ancient times or simply a creature from heaven. All we know is that Baphomet was actively planning to take back Midian with an army of powerful creatures.
The land that was once his would again become a place where he could live with the other creatures. However, at the end of the movie, we learn that Baphomet knew that Boone would be the cause of the destruction of Midian, and that Boone alone would be able to find them a new home.
He is the one who renames Boone Cabal, and as the lord of the creatures, he is always concerned about their future! We love the terrifying exterior of the Baphomet which is fitting to the intimidating lord of the Nightbreed.
Chocolat is a hairless humanoid residing in Midian. She has several distinctive features including her skin, the color of granite with a strange texture. Her body appears to be covered in scales and sharp claws to defend herself. We found mention of this creature when the Turin authorities came across five strange eggs that were resting in a nest of priest’s clothing.
Not long after the examination, three eggs hatched. The hatched offspring resembled a human child. However Chocolat came looking for her young ones. Acting on maternal instincts, she fought tooth and nail to get her children back.
The conflict did not appear feasible on either side which is when one of the babies started reciting a Prayer. This gave Chocolat enough time to exit with her two of her children and flee to Midian to find a safe place for herself and her babies.
The Tribe of Moon gave her shelter amongst them however her faith remains largely unknown post the attack by the Sons of the Free. We also don’t know of what happened to the egg that did not hatch Her two rescued offspring never reached maturity, remaining in a state of permanent infancy. The one who helped them escape got left behind and considered the Vatican its home from then on.
The unfortunate thing about the creatures of the Nightbreed is that some of them have very little back-story. Shuna Sassi is one of those who is very mysterious and nothing is known about where they come from.
We only know that she too once was a human and like many of the Nightbreed monsters met with a gruesome death and were reborn as a monster. She resided in Midian. She was quite tough and could not be subdued easily.
Her defense systems were unique, largely due to the fact that her body was coated with needle-sharp quills. In the case that she was attacked, she could project these quills outward like a porcupine and defend herself.
This is one of the reasons that she could survive the onslaught on Midian by Captain Eigerman and other police officers. When they began their killing spree, she was one of the few survivors, partly because of Boone and partly due to her quills. Later, when Midian was destroyed completely, she followed Boone with the other survivors, finally reaching another safe haven where they could live peacefully.
She featured in one of the dreams that Boone had when he was human, and the character was fleshed out in much greater detail in the subsequent comic series by Marvel. Christine McCorkindale played the role in the movie, in her one and only appearance on the big screen. We are, however, not complaining – her performance is pretty decent!
Berserkers might be crowned as the most lethal of the monsters residing in Midian. The Berserkers are terrifying, gigantic beasts of distinguished appearances with an underlying similarity among them.
They are characterized by their muscular, stooped bodies which are incredibly powerful. Their uncontrolled aggression makes them dangerous to be around people. They look all the more intimidating with their misshapen heads. The Berserkers also have a rather interesting origin story!
It all started when the Germans were on the verge of losing the Great War, and a group of scientists were trying desperately to create some kind of unconventional weapon that could turn the tide. They went ahead with random genetic altering and breeding to bring about these strange creatures.
The Berserkers were ruthless killing machines with incredible strength and lust for blood, but they could not seem to differentiate between friends and foes. They ended up killing as many fellow soldiers in the trenches as enemies, and soon the experiment was ordered to shut down.
A few managed to travel to Midian and were sheltered by Baphomet, the lord of the Nightbreed, however they were supposed to be locked up for the safety of the other creatures. They played a crucial role when Midian came under attack. Cabal released them during the battle, and they tore the enemies to pieces, helping the Tribes of the Moon to escape.
The Narcisse have one of the most horrifying appearances among all of the other creatures but what they lack in looks they make up in their loyalty towards Boone. He was initially a regular human who eventually went insane. In his insanity he cut off the hair and skin from his skin from his scalp while his facial structure remained intact.
There were bladed steel rings on his thumbs, equipped with sharp edges to inflict damage. His first meeting with Aaron Boone took place in the psychiatric ward of a hospital. He was immediately convinced that Boone was the one destined to take him to Midian.
Following his meeting with Boone, Narcisse badly mutilated himself, and later, Dr. Decker murdered him. It is not clearly specified how he was reanimated as one of the Nightbreed creatures, but we saw him make his way to Midian to live among the Tribes of the Moon.
Later, when Boone came to join the Nightbreed, Narcisse was already there welcoming him into the group. He freed Boone from the police station and also played a crucial role in the battle with the Sons of the Free when they attacked Midian.
Unfortunately, Narcisse did not survive the attack and was beheaded by Dr. Decker, killing him for the second time. He did have a strong impact on the battle, and we loved the compassionate bond he shared with Boone!
Leroy Gomm is sure to be a nightmare for you if clowns scare you. He is a short, plump man adorned in circus clothes and ample jewelry that give him a bizarre appearance. He has retractable tentacles springing out of his stomach and sharp talons which surrounds a yellowish red eye at the end of each one. If this is not strange enough wait till he smiles with his horrible blackened teeth.
He belonged to the Family Gomm during his human days, who were hailed as one of the best clown troupe in Europe. The patriarch of the family wanted to preserve the pure bloodline and decided to implement the practice of inbreeding.
As estimated, it did not pan out favorably for the future generations, who degraded both mentally and physically. Leroy Gomm was a rare exception, learning the best of tricks from his father. His father died soon after while teaching him eel-juggling, and Leroy buried him in the Necropolis of Midian, visiting the grave often.
Leroy was instrumental in defense of Midian when it came under attack. As his companions were being slaughtered, he put up a brave fight and became one of the few Nightbreed creatures who managed to escape. This human mutant did have scary appendages and didn’t look the most pleasant, but we loved the loyalty and spirit that he showed in the toughest of times.
Ohnaka is a unique monster that looks like an adolescent but in reality is over a hundred years old. He has one of the strangest origin stories among the Nightbreed monsters with the claim that angels had drawn tattoos over his body for amusement prior to his birth.
Since they were worried that God would not approve of their work of art, they ensured Ohnaka wouldn’t be able to bear the sunlight hence he would remain hidden from the eyes of the creator. He had frequent nightmares where he would see the angels coming back to tattoo him, on the inside this time!
Besides the multiple tattoos on his arms, he also had images etched on his chest coupled with which he wore a necklace made out of rooster heads. A strange medal was hung from his nipple piercing, and he was inducted into the Tribes of the Moon pretty early. It isn’t exactly clear why he didn’t age, but it could have something to do with him merely living in Midian.
It is hard to even term him as a monster, though, as we loved the shy, friendly character and his relationship with Cabal when the latter first joined the ranks. The character had a rather sorry ending, as his susceptibility to sunlight predictably brought about his downfall.
The police arrested Boone, suspecting him of murder, and pulled Ohnaka from his mausoleum. The moment he was exposed to the sunlight, he burned up and became ash – even minimal exposure was enough to kill him.
The ferocious-looking, lithely-built humanoid Peloquin was the monster that bit Aaron Boone when he first came to Midian. Peloquin is also known as The Great Virility and is claimed to be a part of the extinct Qualm tribe. He has a red skin tone resembling dried blood. With blue eyes and dreadlocks Peloquin has a ferocious look to him.
Even without transforming to his animalistic form, Peloquin has a disturbing appearance, with his lightly-colored welts on his body. He was able to shape-shift and transform into a meaner looking version of himself, where his teeth would elongate and sharpen even further. He could also change into a four-legged reptilian creature.
But looks can be deceiving, and Peloquin wasn’t called the Great Virility for nothing! He had several human characteristics and was readily available to provide affection to any female creature. He is the only monster who left Midian pretty often, but even though this breach of rules called for banishment, he escaped punishment because of his seniority.
Many creatures, in fact, called him their father, and this helped him cover up his criminality. His bite was actually the gift of the Nightbreed, and Peloquin could smell a person’s innocence to decide whether he deserves to be a part of the clan. He also fought fiercely in the battle for Midian, and although he was seriously wounded, he managed to survive the onslaught.
Lude’s appearance would probably be very close to the image of a demon you can conjure in your head. With his curved horns and the protrusions on his chin, he does look like a spitting image of a demon. With his sharp talons adding to his devilish look, Lude came to be known as Devil Lude in this fantasy-horror flick.
Despite the intimidating appearance, Lude had an aura of innocence around him that was adorable. He would plainly accept that he was conceived with the blood of old Gods, and the devil had a role in his conception. Due to his strange form, he was abandoned by his mother as a child and joined the Sisterhood.
Not only did he survive, but he also managed to find his mother and lived with her till her death. He returned to Midian and became a part of the Tribes of the Moon. He was not the most powerful, but he did have excellent morale, keen to fight the attackers when the Sons of the Free came for Midian.
The failed defense was bolstered slightly by his presence, though eventually he fled along with the other survivors guided by Boone. The half-human, half-demon monster caught our fancy and is a fine example of how Clive Barker proved that monstrous origins and a demonic appearance doesn’t necessarily mean evil!
This monster is one of the most accomplished lovers among the members of the Tribes of the Moon. Mexico is dark-skinned and rather strange looking that has hands popping out of his neck resembling a collars.
He is not particularly expressive and spoke very little unless he was agitated beyond normal. His hands made up for what his lips fail to convey, and he managed to satisfy multiple partners over the years. This also implies that he had the most number of offspring, although none survived to share Mexico’s strong physical features.
Rumors have it that a boy was born like him, but Mexico’s mistress who gave birth smothered the boy to death. The mistress in question neither accepted nor denied the allegations. This nonchalance leaves the facts for your interpretation, but Mexico’s strength should raise no doubts.
He is one of the stronger monsters in the clan and could be a formidable opponent for the enemy. He proved his mettle in the fight for survival and was another amusing addition to the long list of interesting monsters in the movie.
Radinka’s appearance is probably the least monstrous of those residing in Midian. She has a normal human face except for her protruding eyes appearing to be popping out of her socket. Her optical organs are somewhat like a frog, and the protruding lenses look more cute than threatening.
These eyes also have a special ability to scan the surroundings, to see how things were in the past. She is constantly trying to relate the visions of the past with the sensations of the present times, and she concludes that reality is somewhere in between the two, like an average.
People thought that Radinka had a medical condition, and as a result, she consulted numerous doctors across Europe. They were all eager to cure her, but soon she realized that they were merely curious about her condition from a scientific perspective because of its uniqueness. She was pushed to the brink of her mental stability and ultimately found peace in Midian.
We see a wedding band on her finger, but it is never stated whether she was married. We also don’t know her fate after the brutal attack by the Sons of the Free. It is, however, likely that she perished during the rampage because we don’t see her again after that.
With her conventional good looks, Annastasjia coul easily have been the epitome of feminine beauty if it was not for a major flaw that ruined everything for her. Her face is partially developed, with a hand reaching across her right cheek and forehead. This strange growth even has its own independent thought and speech and could thus influence her actions.
In the early 1920s, she was a budding star of silent movies and had great prospects ahead of her. During this time, she got involved in a nasty bar fight. She fought for a woman for whom she had developed a strong liking, and this fight left an ugly scar on her face. Annastasjia was anxious that this could spell the end of her acting career, and so desperately sought help from someone who could provide her the perfect skin graft to shield her disfiguration.
She did find an unconventional doctor who went ahead with the procedure, but the donor literally started to grow on her! He soon developed a mouth and eye, and eventually, a hand. Once she realized that her acting career was all but over, she was intent on revenge, and killed the man who had caused her the initial scarring, as well as the doctor who operated on her.
She sought refuge amongst the members of a travelling circus, though this group was framed for the murders. Some managed to escape the angry townsmen, and fled to Midian along with Annastasjia. She performed her films to the members of the Tribes of the Moon, who were kinder and more appreciative than former audiences. It is not known whether she survived the attack on Midian.