Sometimes a long, tortured wait is finally rewarded. Now, I’m not going to hold my breath for a completely restored version of Erich von Stroheim’s “Greed”, and it seems pretty certain that the missing hour of footage from Orson Welles “The Magnificent Ambersons” has been lost forever. However, for better or worse, it appears we will soon see a release of Clive Barker’s “Nightbreed”, with the intended epic-length running time of 2 hours and 35 minutes(after premiering in theaters at a mere 1 hour and 42 minutes when initially released in February 1990). Dubbed “The Cabal Cut”(“Cabal” being the title of the 1988 Barker novella on which the film is based), there has been a sizable “underground” movement for years trying to force the studio to allow a new DVD release(btw, one of those petition signatures is mine!). And with a campaign term monikered “Occupy Midian”(apparently coined by “Nightbreed” female lead actress, Anne Bobby), it seems the geek hordes have finally won out. An official release date has yet to be chosen, but video production company Scream Factory has stepped up to the plate and officially announced that a home video version of “The Cabal Cut” will hit shelves by 2014. My mouth is already watering.
I’m going to hold off on a breakdown and review of “Nightbreed” until that DVD is in my player(I’ve watched the truncated, but promising version a number of times), but some brief words on the film’s troubled history. After finding success in 1987 with his film version of “Hellraiser”(based on the novella “The Hellbound Heart”)writer & director Clive Barker ambitiously set out to bring his story “Cabal” to the screen with an exciting and flamboyant project called “Nightbreed”. Stars would include Craig Sheffer as Boone and auteur David Cronenberg(!)as Decker. “Nightbreed” would be a dark and violent story centered on a tribe of outcast “monsters” that reside in an underworld called “Midian”. But 20th Century Fox wasn’t sure what to do with this beast as completion neared in 1989. The premiere of “Nightbreed” was delayed from the autumn of that year to the winter of 1990. It was then notoriously butchered by the film company, which deleted almost an hour of footage and proceeded to market it as a “slasher flick”. It tanked critically and commercially. But there was always the chorus that believed it was mishandled, and knew it could be better. The on-line pressure to restore the film continued to grow. Work prints of the film and VHS copies of the cut scenes were eventually located and restored. And so here we are…just months away from fruition.
There have already been various screenings of “The Cabal Cut” in cities around the world beginning with a Charlotte, North Carolina showing in 2012. Word of the screenings have been met with such enthusiastic response on the internet and social media that it has reached a fever pitch. And now us “Nightbreed” followers can finally rejoice. Director Russell Cherrington should receive massive kudos for restoring the missing footage and also a huge thanks to Mark Miller, co-head of Clive Barker’s production company, for his tireless involvement. Because of them, a huge injustice can soon be rectified. For now though, I guess I’ll be seeing you in Midian in 2014.