11 October 2014

October 11th

Nightbreed (Director's Cut) (1990) directed by Clive Barker
I last watched the theatrical cut way back in 2005. At the time, I said:
It's too bad Barker hasn't found the missing footage in order to construct the long-awaited director's cut of this film. As it is, themes and plotlines fly by a little too fast. Decker's obsession with destroying breeders of all sorts, the 'breed prophecy, and, especially, the 'breed themselves are all given too little screen time.
My 9-year-old memory is a little fuzzy, but I'm sure the director's cut beefs up the screen time for all three of these things to varying degrees. Decker's insistence on sicking the police on the Nightbreed seems to make a little more sense now, as the film spends a tiny bit more time showing Decker's obsession with order and cleanliness. The mural depicting the Nightbreed's prophecy is given a bunch more screen time, including a final shot of it mirroring the new ending. As for the 'breed themselves, there are scads of new monsters in this version. Lori's journey into Midian to find Boone is far longer, giving us a deliciously lengthy look at its inhabitants. There are reaction shots of never-before-seen monsters inserted in appropriate spots. The final battle features many new faces fighting the Shere Neck PD. It's monster heaven.

All of that is just tasty monster frosting on the cake. The largest change in this version, for me, was to Lori and Boone's relationship. A chunk of the new 20 minutes of footage is spent showing us the depth of their love for each other. This being a Barker tale, their relationship is highly sexually charged. When Lori surprises Boone at his mechanic job, the camera follows his gaze as it pans up Lori's bare legs. Boone then tells her that if he wasn't so dirty... but Lori interrupts this feign of protest with a passionate kiss. After Decker slips him a hallucinogen, Boone imagines himself making love Lori. All of this stuff, not surprisingly, was cut from the theatrical cut, but is essential to making the new ending work.

In the new ending, Boone tells Lori that he has to leave her. She isn't Nightbreed and he has Nightbreed stuff to do as Nightbreed Jesus. After pleading and yelling at him not to abandon her, she stabs herself in the guts with one of Decker's knives to force his choice. In bold defiance of the old laws, he bites her to save her life and preserve their love. This was a necessary final nail in the coffin of the old laws. Cabal, as the new leader of the Nightbreed, has the responsibility of forging a new path of salvation for his tribe. Together with Lori, he can help build a new Midian and restore Baphomet, as depicted on the final panel of the prophecy mural.

On the negative side, Nightbreed still feels a little rushed. You can tell Barker had a ton of ideas he was desperate to get into the movie and it makes things a little over-stuffed at times. Cutting down the priest's role in the theatrical cut was probably one of the few good decisions they made in 1990. In this new cut, he appears out of nowhere in the third act of the film, only to have a way-too rapid moral arc involving defending the monsters, getting beat by the police, throwing away his religion, attempting to join the Nightbreed, then dedicating himself to the destruction of the Nightbreed when they reject him. It's just too much, especially with the extended battle between the PD and the Nightbreed raging on amongst all of this. Still, it makes you sad that a sequel to this setup never happened.

Devil's Advocate (1997) directed by Taylor Hackford
Does it make me an evil person if I say that if I found out I was the son of the second-most powerful supernatural entity in the Universe, I'd be geeked? It's the fairytale dream of finding out you're really a prince or princess and will soon leave your life of drudgery. Who wouldn't want that?

I hate the ending of this film. The "it was all a dream, or was it?" thing is far beyond cliche at this point. Had the film ended with Kevin's suicide and Satan enraged, that would've been perfectly fine. To push the reset button and give Kevin the chance to redeem one of his presumably many sins in the courtroom felt like a feel-good cop-out. That Kevin's daddy is still going to try to corrupt him in this new reality made the ending a little less saccharine, but Al Pacino's fourth wall-breaking mugging was over the line of cheeziness for me.

How about this? Cut from Kevin's suicide to a few years later. Papa Satan is playing with his new toddler, while mama's body lay bleeding in the background. Maybe have Papa Satan reading a modified version of Paradise Lost to the kid which casts himself as the hero. Have Papa Satan say something to the effect of "if you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself."


  1. I'd forgotten about the seemingly tacked-on cheesy ending of DA. It's still a dark ending the way I see it. Pacino-fer will get his way when all's said and done, hoo ha.

  2. I really need to pick up the new Nightbreed disc.

    As for "Devil's Advocate," I remember it got really bad notices upon releases but has developed something of a following over the years. I think, when approached as a horror/comedy then a straight serious film, it's better received. I also like your idea of a "chosen one" story where the chosen one is the son of Satan. Like the bastard child of "Harry Potter" and "The Omen." I'd see that movie/read that book.