'Nightbreed' - Movie Review

Clive Barker had an idea: the monster as hero rather than antagonist. With the corollary that those who hunt monsters are often much worse than the supposed monsters. I was intrigued by the idea and so I tracked down the Director's Cut of this 1990 movie - it was slaughtered by the studio, who were convinced that no one would watch a movie with the monster as hero. It wasn't until 2014 that the movie was released with a coherent story line and in a form that Barker was happy with.

The movie starts with Aaron Boone (Craig Sheffer) dreaming of monsters dancing in a place called Midian. Back in real life, he visits his psychiatrist Dr. Decker (David Cronenberg, acting instead of directing) who convinces him he's murdered several people recently (the murders were actually committed by Decker). Eventually, Aaron realizes Midian is real and finds his way there, but he's followed by ... well, just about everybody: Decker, the police, his girlfriend (Anne Bobby). For a place that doesn't want visitors, Midian is kind of inundated.

The monsters are mostly visually quite good (although there are a couple small segments of stop-motion animation that stand out for their jerkiness), but the Midian sets are pretty terrible: obvious painted backdrops and the like. But a better story played by better actors would have gone a long way to making me not care about technical deficiencies: Scheffer and Bobby are poor, and the monster-as-hero idea only stretches so far. And Barker hasn't come up with anything more than "young guy figures out he's different, goes to new place, causes horrible problems he didn't mean to, tries to fix them." Despite a two hour run time, approximately thirty seconds is given to the origins of the monsters ("peaceful beings hunted almost to extinction by humans") and none at all to the serial killer - he's just ... there. And apparently the monsters are "peaceful" despite the fact that they like to feed on human flesh and blood. All of which leaves us with a mildly interesting but weak movie.