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 rough, non-exhaustive scene list and the most prominent changes:
- 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.
- Boone receives call from Decker.
- Murder scene remains intact.
- Lori returning home and calling Boone moved back to where it was in script, the implication being at this point he could be button face.
- Scene with Detective Joyce at crime scene (CS) restored.
- Scene with in Decker’s office as per DC.
- Boone trips his balls off - additional optical effect added to the hallucinations and audio from the previously excised bedroom scene dubbed over. Audio from alternative bedroom scene also incorporated to try and have scene play out closer to book. A line from Boone “I’ll never leave you” from this scene in the book is referred to in the finale / Lori’s transformation, and although in the alternative bedroom scene in the UCC, it’s unfortunately too poor quality to include.
- Lori’s musical number is edited down for pacing, footage from UCC of her fighting through crowd to get to Boone restored.
- Examination by doctor is taken from UCC, scene in UCC is edited to be a bit more foreboding and keeps the tension.
- Film more or less plays as per DC up to Boone’s disappearance from morgue.
- Decker’s ‘evil lair’ is removed, clip of newspaper headline used as a transition.
- Lori’s vision of Boone from DC is removed. Although in the early script I don’t think the scene comes across well and in the DC it creates a continuity error as the set is from an alternate apartment of Lori’s that doesn’t match other scenes.
- After Lori meets Sheryl-Ann, ‘baptism’ scene is removed. Although not the worse scene in the reshoots it takes the focus away from Lori. After Lori goes to bed, scene fades to black and cuts back into the morning.
- Film plays more or less as per DC up to Decker chasing Lori in Midian. Some alternate shots worked in and Boone’s argument with Lylesberg / fistfight are removed. Although in the early scripts, as Lori is more pronounced an audience surrogate in this cut I felt it was appropriate for Boone’s first post-death sighting to be when Lori sees him.
- Lori’s exploration of Midian reordered as per script. Decker’s phone call / murder of attendant removed.
- After escape from Midian, Decker’s murder of hotel receptionist removed.
- Boone’s red eye shots replaced by non-effect shots from UCC - unfortunately the effect hasn’t aged well.
- Shot mirroring from interrogation scene undone.
- Scene added of Babette contacting Lori telepathically restored. UCC version edited down and some audio effects added to Rachel’s and Babette/Lori’s voices. This cuts into the exploration of Midian by the police.
- Shot added to Ohnaka’s death (sorry Simon Bamford, he still dies) from Babette/Lori’s perspective as well as reaction shots from Lori.
- Extended scene of Police post Ohnaka’s death added, additional footage taken from UCC and edited for reasons of drama.
- 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 from UCC. UCC scene sounds oddly high pitched so some audio correction done.
- Scene of Eigerman, Ashbury and Decker talking in car restored to full TC version (no idea why DC cut this down).
- Boone’s rescue plays out as per DC up to his conversation with Lori in the cell. Majority of conversation is now from UCC, with some heavy colour correction to try and match as close to DC as possible. End of scene cuts as per DC.
- Scene restored from UCC of Joyce with other police officers outside Midian and Joyce having second thoughts, building to his face turn.
- Scene of Ashbury exploring Midian as explosives being laid added
- Scene from UCC of Joyce being attacked by Decker and surviving incorporated.
- Final battle is reordered heavily to try and match shooting script where possible. Although DC is still the default footage, some shots from TC excised in DC re-added.
- Boones’ cheesy “brothers and sisters” talk 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, scene end from UCC used where Berserkers choose not to attach 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.
- Ending otherwise more or less as per DC. Eigerman’s last meeting with Ashbury and Lori’s transformation scene has been colour adjusted to look like night time scenes.
- Edited down version of Decker’s resurrection added post credits – it’s not in the script but it’s fun.
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 a high quality rip 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.
If anyone’s interested in seeing, drop me a PM and I’ll try and make a copy available.
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 cut scenes 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); some extended scenes from my alternate cut are left out, such as extended hospital and jail scenes, to maintain highest footage quality possible; Ashbury’s “you’re an abomination Boone!” scene is restored; and Decker’s resurrection is now added as a mid credit scene.
I’ve got a couple of variations of the above but they’re my two strongest cuts IMO.
And then (you can tell I’ve been off work with Covid!) I ‘remastered’ the theatrical cut!
I believe in 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.