Nightbreed – USA, 1990

‘A new reason to fear the night’

Nightbreed is a 1990 American fantasy horror feature film written and directed by Clive Barker (Hellraiser), based on his 1988 novella Cabal. The movie stars Craig Sheffer, Anne Bobby and director David Cronenberg.

On its release, the movie was a commercial and mostly critical failure. In several interviews, Barker protested that 20th Century Fox tried to sell it as a standard slasher film, and that the powers-that-be had no real working knowledge of Nightbreed’s story. However, since its initial theatrical release, Nightbreed has developed a cult following.


A young man named Aaron Boone (Craig Scheffer) is plagued by dreams of a city called Midian, a place where monsters can go to be forgiven and accepted. As a means of coping with these recurring nightmares, and at the request of his girlfriend Lori (Anne Bobby), Boone is seeing psychotherapist Dr. Phillip K. Decker (David Cronenberg), who convinces Boone that he has committed a series of gruesome murders.

In reality, Decker is a serial killer who dons a grotesque mask and has been murdering several families, all whom he sees as disgusting “breeders”. Decker attempts to pin the blame for his killing spree on Boone. He gives Boone a bottle of lithium (actually LSD) and twenty four hours to turn himself in. Boone wanders the streets in a hallucinogenic haze. He is hit by a truck and taken to a hospital.

In the hospital, Boone overhears the drug addled cries of Narcisse (Hugh Ross), who is waiting for the monsters to take him to Midian. Narcisse, led to believe Boone is a messenger from Midian sent to test him, tells Boone the way, before tearing the skin from his face with a pair of razors, in order to show his “true face”. Boone escapes the hospital and makes his way to Midian, an entire city standing under a massive graveyard.


“Technically; Barker gunned out an atmospheric film, with often kinetic camera moves (props to DP Robin Vidgeon for his fine work). The score by Danny Elfman was ideal and captured the wonder, horror and sadness found in this tale. The practical FX were on the money as well even by today’s standards (for the most part that is, some haven’t aged well, like that dude in a blubber suit)…” [read more at:] Arrow in the Head

“As a feast of sights and sounds, Nightbreed is a sumptuous triumph.  Unfortunately, the Frankensteined edit truncates the story at its knees and nearly everything else about the project causes it to fall face first in the dirt.  Not without redeemable charms, Nightbreed is far too bloated by its own ambition to have ever had a chance of succeeding with compromised creativity or with an abbreviated runtime.” Ian Sedensky, [read more at:] Culture Crypt

“This film was my first introduction to Clive Barker and his world of outcasts and mutants, which even at such a young age, I absolutely related to. The makeup is beautiful, and I was just as transfixed trying to take note of every detail now as I was the first time. And that opening sequence? Hot damn, it’s still perfectly gorgeous and unsettling no matter how many times you watch it.” [read more at:] Horror Honeys

” …it’s not enough for Nightbreed to focus on a secret society of monsters and its prophecies, so it follows that there would also be a bloodthirsty butcher from a slasher flick hunting them down. That the two modes sometimes find difficulty jelling seems besides the point—the film might be exhausting, but it’s equally as breathtaking whenever Barker really lets loose and indulges the most unhinged parts of his macabre id…” Brett Gallman, [read more at:] Oh, the Horror!

nightbreed blu-ray

Nightbreed Director's Cut Blu-ray

Cast and characters:

  • Craig Sheffer … Aaron Boone / Cabal
  • Anne Bobby … Lori Winston
  • David Cronenberg … Dr. Philip K. Decker
  • Charles Haid … Captain Eigerman
  • Hugh Quarshie … Detective Joyce
  • Hugh Ross … Narcisse
  • Doug Bradley … Dirk Lylesberg
  • Catherine Chevalier … Rachel
  • Malcolm Smith … Ashberry
  • Bob Sessions … Pettine
  • Oliver Parker … Peloquin
  • Debora Weston … Sheryl Ann
  • Nicholas Vince … Kinski
  • Simon Bamford … Ohnaka
  • Kim Robertson … Babette
  • Nina Robertson … Babette
  • Christine McCorkindale … Shuna Sassi
  • Tony Bluto … Leroy Gomm
  • Vincent Keene … Devil Lude
  • Bernard Henry … Baphomet
  • Richard Van Spall … Drummer
  • David Young … Otis and Clay
  • Valda Aviks … Mellissa Rickman
  • Mac McDonald … Lou Rickman
  • Richard Bowman … Rickman Boy
  • McNally Sagal … Motel Receptionist
  • Daniel Kash … Labowitz
  • Bradley Lavelle … Cormack
  • Stephen Hoye … Gibbs
  • Tom Hunsinger … Tommy
  • George Roth … Kane
  • Peter Marinker … Pathologist
  • Lindsay Holiday … Morgue Assistant
  • Kenneth Nelson … Emergency Doctor
  • Carolyn Jones … Emergency Nurse
  • Ted Maynard … Bartender
  • Mitch Webb … Jail Cell Doctor
  • Scott Gilmore … Ambush Cop
  • Eric Loren … Ambush Cop
  • John Agar … Decker’s Victim

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One Comment on “Nightbreed – USA, 1990”

  1. A film of massive imagination and huge ambition. A city of subterranean monsters? Yes please! Peloquin and Shuna Sassi rocked my world, and Decker’s mask is way too cool! “He’s meat! Meat for the beast!” One of my faves.

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