February, 1990 saw the release of two horror films in U.S. cinemas – the Clive Barker adaptation Nightbreed and the Roger Corman-produced The Haunting of Morella. One became notable for its production troubles and subsequent battles over warehoused footage, while the other would quickly be forgotten (at least until the brutal murder of one of its stars 13 years later). The month was also marked by the death of a seminal director who made an indelible impact on the serial-killer subgenre.
Period song to take you back:
“God Damn Rock & Roll” by The Cramps
Album/Release Date: Stay Sick!/February 12, 1990
Release Date: February 16, 1990
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Box-office Gross (Domestic): $8.9 million
The Plot: Aaron Boone discovers an underground city known as “Midian”, where a plethora of bizarre, otherworldly creatures make their home. After being framed for a series of brutal murders by his psychotic therapist, he is resurrected by the Midian creatures, known as the “Nightbreed”, to exact revenge.
Production & Reception: Following the successful Hellraiser, British horror writer Clive Barker made a second foray into directing with Nightbreed. Based on his 1988 novella Cabal, the project was plagued by problems throughout its production, mostly thanks to intrusive meddling by production company Morgan Creek (shocking). For one thing, the studio was unhappy with the Cabal title and forced Barker to change it to something more “commercial” (hence final title Nightbreed). After the film tested poorly, the release date was pushed back so character motivations could be refined and a different ending could be shot. After significant haggling with the MPAA (they rejected the trailer a dozen times) and an advertising campaign Barker felt did not represent the film, Nightbreed was finally released to poor reviews and grossed less than $9 million on an $11 million budget.
Legacy: Dismissed by the general public on its release, Nightbreed has become a cult classic among horror fans over the last twenty years. This has left many clamoring for the release of a director’s cut on DVD/Blu-ray, but despite repeated attempts by both Barker and super-fan Mark Miller, the additional footage needed for this remains locked up in a dusty 20th Century Fox vault somewhere. For the record, Barker’s first cut of the film came in at a whopping 2
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