Director: Clive Barker
Writer(s): Clive Barker
Starring: Craig Sheffer, David Cronenberg, Anne Bobby
As straightforward as most horror movies are when it comes to its villains, it’s always refreshing to watch a flick that delivers more than one creature of the night. I’ve always been a fan of horror flicks that showcase a group of frightening creatures (e.g. Puppet Master, Hellraiser, Ghoulies II, etc.) because in most cases, each one has a specific feature that is usually pretty memorable. Any one villain can be strong, invulnerable, and unrelenting but a group of monsters with different abilities opens the door for creative kill scenes, and sometimes you even get to see them work in tandem which is always a treat.
While most kids my age at the time was thinking about how neat it would be to be one of the Power Rangers, I remember how awesome it would be to join a group of supernatural creatures, each with a distinct feature that would terrify any human (needless to say, not a lot of kids wanted to join my monster squad). This need to be part of a group can be attributed to human nature, but in a more whimsical (or terrifying) way, I just wanted to be part of a gang that terrorized the human populace with my cool powers.
When I saw the cover for Nightbreed for the first time, I immediately thought it was somewhat similar to The Lost Boys or The Warriors; a group shot where the characters are leering at you looking tough as nails and letting you know you don’t want to mess with THIS group. Each creature seemed to have a unique feature, while looking spooky at the same time, and I knew that I was in for a good time. Not only were my expectations met with an array of fantastic creatures in true Clive Barker fashion but the movie also had a heart, which was a pleasant surprise. What was unique about this movie was its ability to humanize the group of monsters to the point where the audience begins to emotionally invest in these creatures which (ironically) results in cheering for them by the time they’re killing off humans!
Directed by legendary horror filmmaker, Clive Barker, the flick starts off with Aaron Boone (Craig Sheffer) who dreams about the mythical city called Midian, a sort of refuge for supernatural creatures. At the request of his girlfriend Lori (Anne Bobby), he begins to see a doctor named Dr. Decker (played by another legendary horror film maker, David Cronenberg!) who moonlights as a serial killer who’s convinced that he’s killing monsters and not people. Boone ends up in Midian where he meets an array of creatures which include one with razor sharp teeth and demon eyes, another with snake like creatures that slither out of slits from his belly and a seductive woman who is covered in sharp spikes like some sort of porcupine temptress.
Boone ends up getting bitten by one of the creatures and as he escapes, he gets gunned down by the police. He later awakens in the morgue realizing that the bite transformed him into one of the Nightbreed. Decker has other plans as he leads an army of humans against the Nightbreed which sets up the climactic battle for the future of Midian (the battle alone is worth catching this flick)! The ending of the flick is a fantastic cliffhanger with the revelation of Boone’s destiny with the Nightbreed and the horrific events that lead to Decker’s demise(?).
This flick follows a theme similar to Dances with Wolves or Avatar, where the main character unexpectedly joins a group that has been misunderstood and eventually becomes one of them only to have to defend them against the outside world who threatens to destroy their world. It’s not simply cheering for the monsters to win just because they’re neat to watch (which is most of my reasoning) but they suddenly have the moral upper hand and now you cheer because they are in the right. Throw in some gruesome kills, some monsters and an epic war and you’ve got yourself a horror flick night that will have the crowd wanting to be part of the Nightbreed!