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Nightbreed (1990)

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Plot Summary:
"A community of mutant outcasts of varying types and abilities attempts to escape the attentions of a psychotic serial killer and redneck vigilantes with the help of a brooding young man who discovers them."

Reviewer: Ben Aslett @horrorasylum
Review Date: 31 October 2001 My Rating: out of 5


# Nightbreed. Another film about monsters, you might say, or depending who you are you might find yourself saying, another Clive Barker masterpiece. There are many conflicting views about this film, and the opinions seem to be split. Half of the people that have watched it say it is a dumb, pointless and mediocre film, whilst the other half praise it for its wonderful use of imagery, it's attempt to show the not-so-perfect world that we live in and its unique originality. Myself, I am with the latter half. I feel this is a very underrated film. Not because of its entirely serious approach but for its more laid-back method of showing how well a rather unorthodox and far from believable story can be put across.

Nightbreed, the film that inspired British black metal legends Cradle Of Filth's Midian album, is a strange tale taken from Clive Barkers own book Cabal. It is the story of a man named Boone who has dreams about monsters; monsters that live in their home of Midian. Boone consults his psychiatrist about these weird visions that he has in his sleep, the psychiatrist then exploits Boone's hallucinations by going out and killing the people that he has described. This is the first part of the film that surprises the audience. A man who has a highly regarded profession exploits one of his patients and frames him for murder. All done under a guise of a peculiar, brown, featureless mask. This subplot alone could have made an acceptable movie itself.

When Boone first enters the town of Midian we meet an old adversary of Clive Barkers, Doug Bradley. It was nice to see Doug Bradley (as we all know stars as Pinhead in the legendary Hellraiser series) back working with Clive Barker. It seems the film wouldn't feel complete if it didn't include the actor that played the regulator of Hell; after all, this film has a close resemblance with Hell (in a way Midian can be seen as a metaphor for Hell). Bradley uses his distinct and unmistakable voice to play Lylesberg who thankfully didn't look like Pinhead, but gave Bradley a new look that fans have wanted to see in a long time.

What makes Nightbreed so different is that there are two separate story lines that in the end are woven into a single, extremely dramatic, ending. On one side there is Boone's psychiatrist Decker, who it appears needs a psychiatrist himself. He is on the look for the town of Midian and realizes that the only way he can find it is through Boone and his nightmares. He is also satisfying his hunger for killing by using Boone to pick his next victims. When Boone is trapped by the police Decker manipulates the situation again by telling the police that he has a gun, thus gets shot and killed himself. Decker now knows where Midian is and sets out to destroy the town. On the other side we have Boone. A normal man who has far from normal dreams. He has visions of Midian in his sleep, which brings him to Decker. After he is killed, no thanks to Decker, he then takes his journey in to the town of Midian, where he is inducted and lives the rest of his immortal life with the rest of the nightbreed in Midian. This is where the two stories combine. Boone's wife, Lori, goes in search of him and Decker is right behind. Then using his master full manipulative powers he gets the police on his side and all hell is about to break loose.

This leads to one of the most dramatic endings that I have seen in a film in quite some time. It all starts with the police planting explosives in Midian and then blowing the place sky high. With the town surrounded in fire it is the perfect backdrop for an all out war. Boone persuades the rest of the nightbreed to fight and that is what they do. With the police using guns, mostly in vein, the nightbreed resort to straight aggressive fighting to win the war. What makes the ending so dramatic, apart from it's unprecedented length (which is a good thing), is that the action doesn't stop. The constant surrounding of fire adds the extra drama and tension. When the Bezerkers are released the fun is about to begin. Of course the nightbreed come out on top.

What has to applauded the most is the wonderful job that special effects artists done on the nightbreed themselves. All of the creatures are visually stunning and most without flaws. Especially the Bezerkers who look as mean and vicious as you have come to expect from a Barker film. Most look serious although there are a handful that have great comical factors to them which adds a nice touch to the film.

Nightbreed is a great film to watch. The early 's feel gives it a lighthearted sense, which makes it all the more enjoyable. The monsters bring a unique visual aspect to the film. In all Nightbreed is definitely one to watch; whether it has you coming back to watch it again is a matter of personal taste. Just be sure that you don't lose the plot, it is easily done.

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