This edit is now listed on the Fanedit Network
This is a film that I’ve always had a special affinity for. I discovered it via TV, at the age of 15, around 2000. As an awkward young kid discovering heavy metal, the goth scene and other things that got me labelled as an ‘outsider’, even in it’s compromised theatrical form, the film’s romanticised refuge for those who don’t fit in was immediately appealing.
Like many I read the book and read interviews with Clive Barker where he discussed his desire to restore his original vision, and when the Cabal Cut was touring I drove halfway across Wales to see this glimpse into what may have been.
When the Director’s Cut was released I, like many, saw a greatly improved edit (although rushed in it’s creation) that didn’t seem to quite deliver on the promise of the Cabal Cut.
Naturally, when the ‘Ultimate Cabal Cut’ appeared I quickly found a copy, and although it’s ‘everything and the kitchen sink’ approach makes it more of an assembly than a functional edit, the potential for what I had been waiting 20+ years for became apparent.
I’d toyed with the idea of fan edits for 10+ years and through my degree I’ve got some intermediate editing skills, but it wasn’t until now I really found a project that compelled me.
Armed with the 2nd draft shooting script, an undated later revision* (seemingly before the major re-shoots were scripted), the Epic Comics adaptation, the Cabal novel and a copy of Premiere Pro CS6, I’ve put together an edit running at about 1 hr 57 min, part restoration and part fan-edit, that I feel represents where the film was headed before the studio interfered too much. Lori is a far more prominent and driving force in the narrative, as in the original script, whereas Boone is less a saviour and more every-man stuck in circumstance.
I’ve drawn from the theatrical cut (TC), directors cut (DC), cut scenes from the DC blu ray (CS) and Ultimate Cabal cut (UCC), only added back in scenes where I feel I’ve been able to do so without it being too jarring and I’ve not used any VHS video footage. I’ve removed scenes from the re-shoots to remain faithful to the early scripts. Due to footage quality I’ve defaulted to DC where possible, then using TC footage and finally heavily compressed UCC footage. I’ve not extended scenes without reason and I’ve not sought to include everything possible. In terms of source footage, it’s roughly 1 hour 42 min of the DC, 11 min from the UCC and CS and 4 min from the TC.
Below is a list of the the most prominent changes (updated 12/8/23):
• After the titles and the dream sequence, shot on Boone’s eyes opening quickly cut to black before cutting to garage scene - scene in bed with Lori cut.
• Lori returning home and calling Boone’s voice mail is now after the Rickman’s murders.
Scene with Detective Joyce at crime scene restored.
• Initial meeting between Boone and Decker extended, Boone now breaks down.
• Additional optical effect and audio added to the Boone’s hallucinations.
• Lori’s musical number is edited down for pacing, footage of her fighting through crowd to get to Boone restored.
• Examination by doctor is extended.
• Lori’s interorgation is extended.
• Decker’s ‘evil lair’ is removed.
• Lori’s ‘vision’ of Boone from DC is edited down to a brief transition shot of her packing a suitcase.
• After Lori meets Sheryl-Ann, ‘baptism’ scene is removed.
• Scene added of Lori in bed of motel and ‘vision’ of Boone at window is added from earlier cut scene.
• Scene of Lori finding Babette is re-edited so closer to the original script.
• Discussion between Decker and Lori when he reveals himself slightly extended
• Boone’s argument with Lylesberg and following fistfight are removed.
• Lori’s exploration of Midian reordered as per script and slightly extended.
• Decker’s phone call and murder of attendant removed.
• After Boone and Lori escape from Midian, Decker’s murder of hotel receptionist removed.
• Scene of Babette contacting Lori telepathically restored. This cuts with the exploration of Midian by the police.
• Ohnaka’s death (sorry Simon Bamford, he still dies) and aftermath extended.
• As Rachel and Narcisse drive away from Midian, DC cuts very jarringly. Narcisse’s line “Why do we have to get him back?” restored from TC.
• Shot of Eigerman recruiting locals in Sheriffs’ office restored.
• Scene of Eigerman, Ashbury and Decker talking in car restored to full TC version (no idea why DC cut this down).
• Lori and Boone’s talk in the prison cell is extended.
• Scene restored of Joyce and Pettine talking outside Midian gates.
• Scene added of Ashbury exploring Midian and discovering a resident as explosives being laid.
• Joyce survives Decker’s attack.
• Final battle is reordered to try and better match shooting script.
• Boones’ “brothers and sisters” line is replaced with Boone telling Lylesberg to release the Berserkers.
• Lylesberg is hit by debris, slowing his journey to do so.
• Scene with Boone giving Lylesberg a pep talk in tabernacle removed as result.
• Rachel rescuing Babette removed, she’s now picked up by wolf-man as Midian’s evacuated.
• As Berserkers are released by Boone, alternative shot used where Berserkers choose not to attack Boone (no jumping out their way and no “go get them boys”)
• Joyce now rescues Babette, meets with Boone and eventually returns her to Rachel.
There’s lots of smaller edits such as the odd line from Decker removed at the beginning to make it less obvious he’s button face and colour corrections to have scenes from different versions match.
Still rough in places, but it’s my preferred version. I appreciate when making the Director’s Cut they chose to retain stuff from reshoots and not restore some scenes and I’m not looking to replace that cut, I see this as more an alternative to the theatrical version.
I was tempted to cut down Leroy and Lude’s presence in the final fight as it seemed contrary to the spirit of the second draft, but they were added in before the studio’s interference, as far as I’m aware, so decided to keep them in.
There are some shots from the UCC I’ll replace with better quality footage from the Tribes of the Moon doc soon, but other than that the only major changes I’d make would be if I got hold of the Cabal Cut blu ray. Some of my colour correction could also probably be improved, but I think I’ve taken it to the limits of my current skills.
So 1 edit has turned into more!
My initial ‘alternative cut’ is still my primary edit and I feel represents the film that could have been released in 1990 had the studio not interfered. The only significant change I’ve made was removing the Decker resurrection scene from the post credits, seemed silly to cut so much of Decker and leave it in, even as a post credit scene.
It’s 2 main flaws are IMO that the quality of some extended scenes (even with heavy colour correction) is variable and some of the re-shoot scenes I’ve cut are quite good.
So I made my ‘extended cut’!
Only scenes cut from the DC are those that contradict added scenes (so essentially Rachel’s rescue of Babette) and Decker’s resurrection is now added as a mid credit scene.
And then (you can tell I’ve been off work with Covid!) I ‘remastered’ the theatrical cut!
I believe the US the special edition release came with a remastered version of the TC, but the UK Arrow release seems to be a warts and all unaltered scan. There’s a lot of variable colour quality and it’s generally quite washed out. So where possible I replaced scenes with their DC counters and elsewhere I colour graded the TC. The amount of colour grading varied from minimal gamma adjustments to quite heavy handed RBG curves, colour wheels, white balancing and / or B&W level adjustments. Doing this also made me go back and improve some of the grading I did in my other cuts. This is in the slightly narrower aspect ratio of the UK Nightbreed release, whilst my others are full 16.9 the same as the US release
It was actually very eye opening to do this ‘remaster’ as it meant I was comparing the DC and TC far closer than I had before. I remember Clive Barker saying the DC had a total of 40 min alternate footage and I could never figure out where it was, but a lot of it is very brief shots where they use alternate takes. Interestingly you can also see where the DC uses the original camera negative (mostly in the early scenes) as opposed to a theatrical scan (quite possibly the same one Arrow released).
So, after all this I am done editing Nightbreed! Probably… (I can hear in my head my other half saying “Yeah, right! I’ve heard that before!”)
If I get my hands on any alternate sources I’ll dive down the rabbit hole again, and I’m sure at some point I’ll watch it back and spot something I want to tighten up, but after a year playing with this I’m taking a leave of absence from the Tribes of the Moon for a short while.
I spoke too soon! I’ve found a copy of the US special edition release on-line for a surprisingly reasonable price, so I’ll be swapping out the source of the TC footage.
I’ve got hold of a copy of the Nightbreed OST and I revisited the cut as I felt this gave me opportunities to integrate some scenes that otherwise wouldn’t have worked. I’ve only added a couple of minutes but there’s now: an extended monologue from Decker giving Boone’s history to Joyce and the doctor; a shot of Lori in her room where the ‘baptism scene’ was; an extended discussion between Lylesburg and Boone after he’s rescued Lori; and a scene of Ashbury finding Ohnaka’s remains and the entrance to the necropolis before he tells Eigerman it’s holy ground.
I’ve gone through and tweaked some colour work, adding grain to UCC shots to soften some of the compression artefacts. I’ve also updated my editing software to Premiere Pro CC 2015 (editing on very old laptop, doubt it would handle the most recent editions) giving access to some different colour tools.
*I’ve also got hold of the ‘Making of the Film’ book and found the undated script I’ve been referencing is from here. May try to find out more about where in the film’s timeline this belongs.
The only thing left for me to do now is pray to Baphomet that someone with the Cabal Cut blu-ray takes an interest and is willing to share a rip of that version…
I’m ill (potentially with Covid again!), so have been doing more work on the cut. I’ve re-watched some of the extras on the blu-ray and this has inspired some more opportunities to bring the cut closer to the early scripts. I’ve also been able to get some additional footage from the featurettes to either replace UCC footage or add scenes.
In the directors cut there’s a new scene between Boone being cast out by Lylesburg and Lori waking in the crypt that appears to try to show Boone arriving at Baphomet’s chamber. In the script Boone finds the mural that shows the history of the Breed and also prophecies such as Boone being made. I’ve edited together a scene so here it’s closer to the script.
I’ve also slightly extended Lori’s exploration of the Necropolis.
I’ve also been able to date the script from the ‘making of’ script as being after principle photography ended (as it features characters that were only filmed during re-shoots) but before the re-shoots commenced (as it doesn’t include the extra Decker scenes). I’ve been pretty strict on excising scenes from the re-shoots and it seems my intuition regarding scenes with Leroy and Lude were right as I’ve discovered they were 2 of the characters added in re-shoots.
However, I’ve decided not to exercise any further scenes as: a) it seems the script at this stage was still majority of Barker’s ‘vision’ rather than studio mandated; b) it would shorten the film too much; and c) it seems some elements from the 2nd draft script, such as the Breed running through the graveyard, weren’t actually filmed in principle photography. It also appears Shuna Sassi was only filmed in re-shoots, and removing her from the film I think would be to it’s detriment.
Ultimately, most films have pick-up or enhancement shoots and I think my edit is still a good attempt at anticipating how the film may have come out had the studio trusted the film-makers.
For an edit I ‘completed’ over a year ago I keep coming back to this. I’ve updated my copy of Premiere Pro up to CC 2017 and have re-graded from scratch 99% of what I’d done before. I’d finally taught myself how to use colour scopes and where I’d previously done all the grading by sight, this has made a huge improvement.
I’ve discovered some AI tools that separate vocals from music and have used this on a couple of scenes. Most importantly Boone’s “I’ll never leave you” line that’s so important in the book and script is restored (if not mumbled a bit).
It’s also allowed me to re-edit the scene of Lori discovering Babette for the first time so it’s more reflective of the script.
Recently I’ve felt my edit had reached it’s full potential and I put a copy out there for the fan edit world to see… So typically, I’ve just won a copy of the Cabal Cut bluray off eBay.
My expectation was that I’d be able to swap out footage from the UCC for higher quality shots, but due to how some scenes are edited I’ve also added some material bringing the run time up to 2 hours with credits.
In this pass I’ve:
- extended the first scene between Boone and Decker, Boone now breaks down.
- reintroduced Ashbury’s “you’re an abomination” scene. I’ve been flipping and flopping whether to include it, but it’s in the early drafts and shows how unhinged he can be.
- slightly extended Narcisse’s and Rachel’s arrival at the police station.
I toyed with adding some other scenes in the final act, such as Peloquin’s “I just wanted meat” scene and Ashbury finding more 'Breed but I found, even after editing them down, it just killed the pacing in that act.
With each pass I’ve got closer to a cut that IMO is the best, highest quality representation of the early scripts. This project has far exceeded my hopes and expectations in what I’ve been able to achieve and I hope if Barker were ever to see it he’d think it was a respectful reflection of his original concept.
I think (hope?) I’m done now. I’ll get Fanedit Network updated in the next week or so but knowing me, once I get hold of the 2 disk reissue of the score I’ll tinker some more.
As an aside, I don’t intend to incorporate the 4K release as I use the TC minimally as a source, the version I currently use is high quality and also mastered to the same standard as the Director’s cut.