Clive Barker’s Nightbreed

I really enjoy the two Clive Barker novels that I’ve read (Imajica and Weaveworld), I find him an intelligent and incredibly imaginative writer. Here he gets to direct as well, adapting his novel Cabal for the big screen – though I read that over an hour was cut by the studio (who also promoted it as a completely different genre of movie).

The production design of Nightbreed was fantastic, with the bizarre creatures and their underground realm. Like his (other) novels, I get the sense of a much broader mythology despite seeing just a slice of it, and like his (other) novels the plot and characterisations were thin in places. The existence of a secret supernatural community seems to be a favourite theme of Barker’s (draw your own conclusions why that is).

The plot functions as a number of episodes rather than a single crescendo, with characters taking different roles in each – this strongly recalled Barker’s storylines in Imajica and Weaveworld. In particular the villain reminded me a lot of Shadwell: a normal villain who has multiple run-ins with the supernatural before manipulating others in an effort to destroy it.

I was astounded to learn that David Cronenberg the director played an actual significant character in this movie. In my view he did quite a good job.

I liked Nightbreed; it ably preserved Barker’s style in a visual medium, flaws and all.

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