Nightbreed : The Cabal Cut – Reviewed


Dir. Clive Baker/Restoration Dir. Russell Cheerington.

Morgan Creek/Seraphim

Nightbreed is a film based on a Clive Barker book named Cabal. When the movie was released in 1990 it had changed greatly from what was in the novel and from what Barker had directed on screen. The studio, Morgan Creek, were not happy with the finished cut so demanded that Nightbreed be re-edited and a lot of footage was removed.

For nearly two decades many thought the original cut was long lost until Clive Barker discovered an old VHS in his office. Yes, it contained all the missing footage! Morgan Creek refused to remaster the bad quality tape and re-insert it into Barkers movie. Russell Cherrington, a Barker fan and film lecturer at the University of Derby, painstakingly took on the challenge and created ‘The Cabal Cut’. Given permission to screen the film for one year, Russell has taken it all over the world and shown it to thousands of happy and grateful fans.
The film starts much in the same manner as the original yet moments into feature the ‘found footage’ kicks in. It is easy to spot as it is very grainy, full of imperfections and the sound is horrible. Despite these faults it is a genuine thrill as the viewer has the knowledge that THIS IS IT, they are finally seeing the original edit of the movie, Barkers true vision.


nightbreed1When it gets released on DVD and Blu Ray it will be interesting to see what ‘magic’ can be done to make the footage look just as clear and crisp as the rest of the film. One scene, never before viewed by fans, is Boone (Craig Sheffer) talking at length with his shrink Dr. Decker (David Cronenberg). It fleshes out both characters a little more than previously. There is also extra footage of Boone and his girlfriend Lori (Anne Bobby) interacting that helps develop their relationship. There is one moment that may have been better left cut: Boone goes to a nightclub to see Lori singing on stage. He is moved to tears by her beautiful voice although it ends up being unintentionally funny as Boone appears to be bawling uncontrollably.


Other characters benefit from the extended cut, too. Doug Bradleys role of Dirk Lylesberg gets a lot more screen time. Dirk explains some more of the background of Midian and the Nightbreed to Boone, which in turn would have filled in more gaps for the viewer. The cuts seems counterproductive: some were originally asked for in order to get the running time down and not confuse cinema-goers. But the cuts will have added to any misunderstanding. Decker’s exploits and motives are more dense than previously seen for the evil doctor. One restored moment in the movie, which is vital to the book, is very powerful.

The actual ending is different too, hinting at the then planned sequels that could have awaited fans back in 1990 if Nightbreed had been a bigger hit. Overall an extra hour of footage seems to be inserted, fleshing out every aspect of the film. If you loved the character of Narcisse you will find this cut bittersweet.
nightbreed2Russell has stayed as true to Clive’s original as is possible. In interviews he has said that Clive only wanted two minor things to be changed about the extended cut. One was four seconds of footage trimmed and the other being a different piece of music used on the soundtrack. For Barker fans and more importantly fans of the book Cabal this will be welcome news. Developments that were important parts of the novel are now in place, making the plot better and easier to follow.

The longer running time flies by as things are allowed to be absorbed by the viewer. Russell pieces together a narrative that warrants Barkers praise.
After taking so long to emerge and a few years to get to this stage, The Cabal Cut is finally being seen. Not just by its original target audience but fans that have came along since. More people will have seen the film now (via TV, home video, youtube and more) than ever before. A large percentage has already seen the restored edition, thousands and thousands of people, plus many more have signed the online petition. The success of the new Nightbreed has shown that fans of a movie can band together and prove that the studios don’t always know what the public want to see.

Plans are to release The Cabal Cut by the end of the year so many more will have access to what their peers have already seen.
Nightbreed has long been a favourite, the Cabal Cut is a reward for those long term fans of Barker and a treat waiting to be discovered by newer fans.

8 out of 10
Visit for further details, including worldwide screening details, on Nightbreed: The Cabal Cut. Sign the petition:

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James Simpson

About James Simpson

A freelance writer and lover of movies, James is a long term contributor to UK Horror Scene. He has a regular feature on UKHS, World of Horror, as well as reviewing and interviewing when he can. He also writes for Gore Splattered Corner and Space Monsters Magazine. He has previously written for Scream Magazine and Zombie Hamster. Twitter: @JSimpsonWriter

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