Based on his 1988 novella Cabal, Clive Barker's 1990 film Nightbreed, produced by Morgan Creek and distributed by Twentieth Century Fox, was an epic saga about a tribe of monsters and outcasts that hides from humanity. Barker's original version of Nightbreed ran 160 minutes, but unsure of how to sell the unconventional fantasy-horror film, Fox demanded a recut, prompting editor Richard Marden to leave the project in protest.
The theatrical cut of Nightbreed was released on February 16, 1990. Barker's film was hoped to be the Star Wars of the horror genre, but after nearly an hour of footage was cut from the film, the studio repackaged it as a gory 102-minute slasher flick, like Friday the 13th or The Prowler. As a result, the film was a critical and commercial failure - an incomplete, haphazard curiosity that only the most die-hard Barker fans could find value in.
Now, Barker's ultimate vision will finally see the light of day in the fully restored Nightbreed: The Cabal Cut, to be distributed by Scream Factory, a division of Shout! Factory that focuses on cult horror and sci-fi films, in 2014.
In 2009, Mark Miller, vice president of Clive Barker's Seraphim Films, contacted Morgan Creek and discovered two European-encoded VHS tapes containing lost footage from Nightbreed. With Barker's permission, restoration director Russell Cherrington took the footage back to England and, working with editor Jimmi Johnson and Clive Barker's original screenplay, created a new, definitive cut of Nightbreed, composited from the two VHS sources and the original theatrical release.
Nightbreed: The Cabal Cut made its world premiere last year at Mad Monster Party, a horror and science fiction convention held at the Blake Hotel here in Charlotte. Local filmmaker Michael Plumides organized the screening. "I contacted Eben McGarr and Joe Moe, the convention chairs, who needed help getting permission from Morgan Creek to screen Nightbreed: The Cabal Cut at Mad Monster Party." Plumides stepped in and contacted president David Robinson and told him, "We need to support this Nightbreed thing. I think it's got some legs."
After its premiere at the Mad Monster Party and a string of successful screenings at film festivals all across the globe, it was clear that Nightbreed: The Cabal Cut needed distribution to make a real impact.
"I had several hour-long conversations with Theatre & Film Studies Professor Jay Morong, chair of the Back Alley Film Series in Charlotte, who suggested Drafthouse Films." Plumides got in touch with Alamo Drafthouse Cinema CEO Tim League about distribution for The Cabal Cut. Although the folks at Drafthouse Films were fans of the project, the film distribution company wasn't equipped to oversee the further restoration and distribution. In turn, Drafthouse suggested Plumides go to Shout! Factory, a distributor of retro pop culture titles.
"They introduced me to Cliff MacMillan (DVD producer for Shout! Factory and Scream Factory home entertainment series), who I in turn introduced to Morgan Creek. We got the deal done minutes before the San Diego Comic-Con announcement, literally minutes."
The VHS work print elements will be delivered to Shout! Factory, who will further refine and restore The Cabal Cut in a Collector's Edition, including behind-the-scenes materials and making-of documentaries. While no official date has been set, Nightbreed: The Cabal Cut will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray in 2014.
"I look forward to finishing the film with Mark Miller and Clive Barker and cannot wait for the day we record the commentary together," said Cherrington. "Holding the finished DVD will be like winning the World Cup or the Super Bowl."
The filmmakers of Nightbreed: The Cabal Cut will host a screening and panel at DragonCon in Atlanta on Sept. 1. Go here for more information about upcoming screenings and further news on the DVD/Blu-Ray release.
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