Nightbreed: The Cabal Cut (2012) [REVIEW]


Some of you guys, or as I sometimes say “yous guys”, might be confused as to what this movie is. You might be familiar with a movie known as “Nightbreed“, which was written/directed by Clive Barker and based on his novella Cabal, and was released in 1990. I’ve never seen the movie, so I can’t really speak to the quality of the film, but supposedly it was ruined by studio interference. Barker had shot one film, which closely mirrored his story and script, but the studio edited it together into something that everyone involved in the filmmaking was unhappy with. One of Clive’s friends, Russell Cherrington, was able to obtain two raw prints of the film through Clive, and Cherrington went ahead and edited together this “Cabal Cut”, restoring the movie to what Clive’s original story was. Cherrington has been screening this version of the movie in hopes that he can show the movie studio that people want to see an extended cut on DVD and Blu-ray, as well as gaining access to the original negatives to get the best quality possible throughout the entire extended cut.


If only Craig Sheffer could’ve been replaced by Kari Wuhrer, because THEN I would have been interested.

Aaron Boone (Craig Sheffer) is plagued by strange dreams of a monster-filled land called “Midian”, and the only one who can seem to help him curb these visions is his doctor, Philip K. Decker (David Cronenberg). After taking a prescription that Dr. Decker gives him, Boone has strange hallucinations that lead him to the psychiatric ward of a hospital, where he overhears another patient mention Midian. It turns out that Midian is the name of a cemetery that Boone explores and where he discovers strange creatures and monsters that threaten him. After one of these monsters bites him, he escapes, but runs into the police on his way out. Something you should know is that there has been a serial killer entering family’s homes and murdering them, and Dr. Decker is that serial killer. He’s able to blame the murders on Boone, and based on his erratic behavior and psychiatric evaluation, the police try to apprehend him. Dr. Decker intervenes and yells to the police that Boone has a gun, so Boone is shot down by police. Don’t worry, the story doesn’t end there!


How can you see out of this mask, David Cronenberg?! THE EYES ARE COVERED WITH BUTTONS!

The bite on Boone’s shoulder doesn’t keep him down for long, and he goes back to Midian to discover a whole underworld full of monstrous beings. While Boone has disappeared after being accepted into this community of underworld beings, his girlfriend (Anne Bobby) goes in search of him. She arrives at Midian and learns about these creatures that belong to an ancient race which were hunted and killed to the brink of extinction, until they found safety underground. They’re referred to as “Nightbreed” because most of them are affected by sunlight, not in a good way, and they really only come out at night. When Dr. Decker learns of these creatures and learns that he might be discovered as the serial killer, he talks to the authorities of the nearest town and explains the situation, causing there to be a large attack on these creatures. While Midian is being destroyed by the police, Boone is able to rally the Nightbreed and encourage them to stick up for themselves. Despite fending off most of the attackers, the damage to Midian has been done and the Nightbreed must leave. Luckily, Boone was transformed into a savior-like being by a statue underground, and he plans on going forth to find a new home for the Nightbreed. In case you are nervous about whether or not he’ll get to spend time with his girlfriend, she kills herself in front of him, but he is able to bite her in time to turn her into one of the Nightbreed. Now how’s THAT for romance?!


Every time I saw this character, I couldn’t help but try to figure out if you could cut your skin and muscle down to your skull and stay alive. Who needs all that extra stuff anyway?

I didn’t really like this movie, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t think this movie was good. Clive Barker has always struck me as weird sort of fellow. I don’t think this is a negative thing, as he is obviously very creative and talented, but nothing he has written or directed has really spoken to me personally or touched on the kind of horror I like. With Nightbreed, he created a whole new race of beings gave them their own history, mythology, and sense of spirituality. I didn’t mention it much for sake of brevity, but the rules and decisions of these Nightbreed were determined by a statue that supposedly spoke to one of the leaders, and there was some pool of water or something that determined whether or not Boone could be accepted as one of the Nightbreed. The whole concept of what was going on was interesting to me, and I wanted to like what was going on, but it just wasn’t for me. The whole experience felt like that scene in Hellboy II: The Golden Army where Hellboy goes to whatever dimension to get some device or something (I don’t really remember the plot that well) and we saw that marketplace of all the monsters, but in Nightbreed, we saw those monsters just hanging out, and then combined that with a serial killer movie. The reason I typically enjoy those kinds of scenes, whether it be Hellboy making a brief visit, or characters stopping by Mos Eisley in Star Wars, or even Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter franchise, it’s fun to see the diversity of these characters and let your mind fill in the gaps of what these visually interesting characters do with their time. Remember when The Phantom Menace started using characters like Sebulba and Watto as anything more than visual jokes? Exactly. The guy with the giant chin and forehead in Nightbreed really only needed to exist to showcase the creativity of the filmmakers, but I didn’t really give a shit who giant chin’s girlfriend was.


The height of makeup effects in 1990: dreadlocks and a big moon face.

As far as the difference between the theatrical cut and this “Cabal Cut”, obviously it’s hard for me to say, having not seen the original theatrical release. There was an obvious distinction between the quality of what was added in, considering that footage being abandoned early on, but I tried piecing together what the theatrical version could have been. I guess I thought that this version would just be 45 minutes longer because of 45 minutes of footage being reintegrated into the film, but while watching it, it felt like half of the movie was theatrical quality, the other half being the raw footage. Am I just taking crazy pills or something? Maybe it was because all of the low quality stuff added back in was of such importance that it seemed crazy to think that some of those scenes weren’t included in the original cut. If that is the case, then it seems as though the theatrical cut was more similar to Clive Barker’s Midnight Meat Train, where it’s a relatively straightforward movie about a serial killer, but oh by the way, there’s a race of underground monsters. Wait…was this a prequel to Midnight Meat Train? And this explains the monsters living underground at the end of that movie? PLEASE I HOPE SO THAT’D MAKE SO MUCH SENSE! Anyways, this cut is definitely worth checking out if you’ve seen the theatrical version, and if you’re a Clive Barker fan, I’d say you skip seeing the theatrical version until this Cabal Cut is available more easily.


Wolfman Moon Scale

Occupy Midian – The Cabal Cut Official Site
Amazon DVD


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4 responses to “Nightbreed: The Cabal Cut (2012) [REVIEW]

  1. i think that guy (russell charrington) explained why some footage from vhs sources was used even though it was also in the theatrical version. i don’t remember what he said though. i didn’t realize that cronenberg’s character was named phillip k. decker. a nod to phillip k. dick’s rick deckard? one thing i wondered about after seeing this again was the monsters as oppressed/marginalized beings angle. it would have worked a whole lot better if there were ever any repercussions for the dreadlock guy biting boone. moon face guy talked about “the law” but that was it. if the monsters can’t curb their lust for human blood it’s hard to be all ‘humans are dicks!’ as the movie seems to want us to be.

    • That’s right! I forgot about that whole “The Law” thing. I thought he was just referencing The Island of Dr. Moreau, which came out years later. This was a prequel to that, right? It had to be!

  2. I’m jealous you got to see it, I’m going to have to wait for a Blu or DVD release. It is very sad to hear that you, who had never seen the original could tell that some of the cut scenes were that important.

    I love your theory on Midnight Meat Train, and I agree on the Mos Eisley type scenes adding so much to a movie and the world it is trying to craft.

  3. First, it is not a prequel to The Island of Dr Moreau. No relationship to that at all. Dr Moreau with Val Kilmer is a remake from a movie in the 60’s or 70’s… can’t remember.

    Second, the “statue” is the pagan god Baphomet and the “water” in the bowl is Baphomet’s blood used to baptize new members of the breed.

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