The main reason I wanted to revisit Nightbreed this October was so I could have the chance to finally sit down and watch the director’s cut version that came out a few years back, adding 20 minutes of new footage. Actually, that’s entirely true — I actually wanted to watch the Cabal Cut, which included 40 minutes of new footage, but it was the director’s cut I ended up with, and after reading up on the two new versions, this is probably the one I wanted anyway.
What was weird about watching it was that I really couldn’t detect too many differences until the film’s final few moments. Even a fairly important scene towards the end played, I thought, the same as it had when I saw it in theaters, but breakdowns of the new footage in this version tell me a different story. Maybe I’m remembering the scene from the book? It’s been 25+ years since I saw this or read ‘Cabal’ so I could easily be mixing things up that way.
But enough of differences or not differences. Is it any good? Well, yes, mostly. The message at the film’s core — that those who look like monsters may in fact not be, and that no matter how much of a misfit you are, there’s someplace somewhere that you’ll fit in — still resonates. Somewhat surprisingly, most of the monster effects hold up remarkably well. And while it’s a better looking movie in many ways than Barker’s previous film (Hellraiser), it also manages to highlight some of the director’s weaknesses.
Even considering those weaknesses, it’s a shame that Clive never had the chance to pursue further films in this franchise (if I recall correctly, a trilogy was planned) because it’s a remarkably interesting world.
Added bonus: David Cronenberg plays an appropriately chilling pyschopath.