When the clock strikes half-past six, babe
Nightbreed (1990): 6 out of 10: Nightbreed is an early nineties horror film by Clive Barker that has developed a decent cult following and has a newly restored director’s cut that includes a half hour of previously cut footage and apparently changes the ending. It tells the story of a young man who dreams of a place called Midian where an extremely varied group of monsters hide from humanity.
The Good: David Cronenberg. Yes, this is a film written and directed by horror auteur Clive Barker but it is David Cronenberg that steals the show. David plays a soft-spoken serial killer wearing a Coraline mask simply slaughtering all that come before him while setting up our dim-witted protagonist to take the fall. The creature designs are also, on the whole, very well done. It is a delight to see McDonald’s moon mascot Mac Tonight in his big screen debut.
The Bad: David Cronenberg’s character really should have had his own movie. The story of the creatures also needed its own story. Putting both together does neither plot line any favors. The feeling one gets is as if halfway through Jaws Richard Dreyfuss’ character started making mashed potato mountains on the Orca and left the boat to hook up with Terri Garr and visit some aliens.
Another thing that does not quite click unfortunately is our leads. Craig Sheffer and Anne Bobby seem to lack a certain chemistry. More damning id that they clearly were chosen based on their resemblance to the leads of Dirty Dancing which graced screens three years earlier, Anne Bobby, in particular, seems to be channeling her inner (and outer), Jennifer Grey. Somebody needed to put that baby in the corner.
Last the film’s direction and tone seem all over the map, particularly in the third act. You have a sheriff and various yahoos who are out of a cartoon; you have the monsters reenacting 1932’s Freaks; you have David Cronenberg who is in a better movie somewhere, and Nightbreed’s action scenes never make it clear where anyone is related to everyone else and how many characters are even in the scene.
In Conclusion: Nightbreed is more entertaining than I made it sound above. It reminds me of all things the recent Monster Trucks in terms of theme and tone. If Monster Trucks had Michael Myers killing entire families in the first half.