Welcome back to the Hellbound Halloween and the first film in sort of interlude. See, the last two films in the Hellraiser franchise are their own kind of bad, so I need to take a short break before wrapping this all up with them. But that gave me an opportunity to check out some of Mr. Clive Barker’s other films that are tangentially related to the Hellraiser series, starting with 1990’s Nightbreed.
The story follows Boone (Craig Sheffer, who we last saw as a detective in Hellraiser: Inferno). He’s been having nightmares filled with monsters and some place called Midian. This concerns his girlfriend Lori (Anne Bobby, AKA Brigid Tenenbaum from Bioshock), but seems to intrigue his psychiatrist, Dr. Decker (THE David Cronenberg). Turns out Decker is a serial killer obsessed with killing people he views as lesser, so the idea of wiping out an underground city full of monsters is appealing. After Boone is bit by one of the Nightbreed, our hero is killed by a bunch of trigger happy cops after Decker convinces them that all of his murders were committed by Boone. But death is not the end of Boone, who is revived and enters Midian. Lori follows, which leads to Boone being apprehended by more police. Realizing Boone has no pulse and the stories of monsters might be true, the cops wrangle up a militia and attempt to kill all the Nightbreed. Turns out this was all part of the prophecy surrounding Boone, and that the hero is destined to build a new sanctuary for the monster people. But before that can happen, an overly long action sequence happens where Nightbreed get shot down while cops and “good ol’ boys” are torn apart. Boone kills Decker in a final showdown, while a disgraced preacher becomes a Nightbreed who vows to kill all the other monster people. I watched the director’s cut, so the ending is different from the theatrical version. Here, Decker isn’t resurrected by the preacher, and Lori stabs herself so that Boone will bite her and turn her into a Nightbreed like him.
I mentioned that Nightbreed is tied to Hellraiser, and that’s partially true. In the comics, a least. 1991 saw the Hellraiser Nightbreed: Jihad limited series where the orderly cenobites attempted to exterminate the chaotic Nightbreed.
While the movie itself definitely has its flaws, I’m kind of surprised it’s not more of a cult classic. The vast majority of the monster effects were practical, so we get some really gnarly looking effects. The soundtrack is by Danny Elfman fresh off of Batman, and the two films’ score is more similar than I think was intended. Then again, the main villain is a mask-wearing psychiatrist serial killer, so maybe Batman vibes are fitting. And several of the Nightbreed give of BIG queer vibes, but that’s probably due to a lot of the cast being good friend with Barker.
How good? Good enough to appear in several of his movies! The leader of Midian, Lylesberg, is played by none other than Doug Bradley, the cenobite Pinhead himself. The dude with a crescent moon head was Kinski, played by Nicholas Vince, AKA the original Chatterer (I talked about the actor and the character back in Hellbound: Hellraiser II). Simon Bamford played Ohnaka (the guy with a nipple tassel/pin and a dog) as well as the Butterball cenobite, Oliver Parker was the mover in the first two Hellraiser films and the tentacle-headed Peloquin, and even Kenneth Nelson had minor roles in both Hellraiser and Nightbreed. And that’s really cool to me. Clive Barker is a man with a unique vision, and he has some very talented friends who believe in said vision enough to stick with him. The power of friendship is the true secret to the Hellraiser franchise. Or… something.
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