I've wrestled with one question for a solid portion of my life: is Nightbreed any good?
Boy, I wish I had an easy answer for you. First off, the movie's not so much the "Star Wars of horror" (as was creator Clive Barker's original intent), but more the "Blade Runner of horror", due to all the studio tinkering and various cuts we've received over the years. Barker's horrific allegory for race and sexual relations has appeared in no less than three forms for us to ponder throughout its tumultuous existence.
Where the theatrical cut has the roughshod feel of a studio riding it ragged - what with excised scenes and reshoots perpetrated to beef up David Cronenberg’s murderous psychiatrist, Decker - and the Cabal Cut resembles an overlong wank session pulled off by cultish devotees (running 2.5 hours and assembled out of VHS footage of the seemingly "lost" scenes), The Director’s Cut seems complete but deeply flawed.
No doubt, Nightbreed's ambitions are great and admirable, but they also become the picture's Achilles Heel. Tonally, Barker can never strike the exact right note, alternating between cartoonish adventure - the rubbery creatures that inhabit the lost city of Midian are never actually menacing due to resembling a tribe of unwashed Basquiat admirers - and garish satire (a legion of heavily armed backwoods lawmen in the film’s finale are nothing short of intolerant Deliverance caricatures).
In-between, the "human" elements are dreadfully uninteresting, as Barker shows a wanton fetish for 90s rock star attire (black leather jacket, white undershirt, stone washed denim) while never really making troubled bad boy Boone (Craig Sheffer) a person we care about. Even after he discovers the lost monster city of Midian, Boone just kind of feels like a mannequin - beige window dressing amongst a vibrantly executed tableau of portent.
This is all a long-winded way of saying a remake of Nightbreed could possibly improve upon the original picture (as Barker's novella Cabal is really good except for that one weird ass sex scene). However, a Syfy series may not be the arena to pull that qualitative improvement off. But we're gonna see the network try, as they're moving forward with a show based on the legendary cult property.
The project will be produced by Barker (Hellraiser), writer Josh Stolberg (Jigsaw, Piranha), Morgan Creek Entertainment (whose feature division produced the Nightbreed movie) and Universal Cable Productions. Written by Stolberg, the Nightbreed series will return to Cabal as the source, using it to explore race relations in America, only the races are Humans and Monsters. It follows a group of underground half-human/half-monsters seeking to find a new refuge in the world after their original hiding place is destroyed. Boone will also return to lead the beasts as a sort of human Christ figure.
I mean, sure. This could be cool. But I'm still suck on the Syfy of it all. It's sweet that Barker is going to be EP'ing (with Mark Miller via Seraphim Films), and Stolberg's a pretty solid writer. However, you wish that maybe HBO or (gasp) Netflix could pick up the property and funnel some real prestige money into it, elevating the B-Movie trappings into something ponderous and excellently designed, a la Westworld.
We'll keep you updated as this moves along, but count us as intrigued, if not fully sold at this point in time.