Horrortoberfest Day 18 – Nightbreed (1990)

Nightbreed poster

Nightbreed is one of those movies that has always been on the periphery of my interest. Probably because it was sold as more of a generic monster movie that didn’t seem all that interesting. What it actually is is Clive Barker at his Clive Barkerest. It’s monsters and boobs and blood with a plot that can basically be boiled down to “But maybe the real monsters are the humans.” Which is the horror movie equivalent of making a sports movie about outcast underdogs that win the big game.

Our protagonist is Aaron Boone, a tough but sensitive cool guy with a leather jacket and a mysterious past that was pulled directly from the Big Bucket O’ Lazy Archetypes. He keeps having dreams about monsters and a graveyard called Midian and that is the extent of Boone’s backstory. When he is framed for murder by his psychiatrist (David Cronenberg devouring all scenery) , he ends up running to Midian, getting turned into one of the titular Nightbreed, and coming back from the dead to hang out in the catacombs beneath Midian. He gets accepted into their ranks and learns of their rules. Turns out the monsters are all cool guys that like to chill but when the humans find out about them they want to burn down everything they have built and wipe them out. Now it’s up to Jake Sully and Lt. John Dunbar to stop the humans from destroying Ferngully.

The plot is nothing special and the acting is about as good as the plot. Cronenberg playing Dr. Decker is definitely the highlight of the film. Since they are doing the whole “who is the real monster” plot, at least Decker is unabashedly insane and looks like he walked straight out of a slasher film. The other humans are just stereotypical yeehaw rednecks that get a boner whenever they smell gunpowder and are looking for any excuse to shoot something. Great for disposable monster fodder but not exactly compelling side-villains. Also, as much as I love Cronenberg in this, there is no explanation for why he suddenly decides it’s his duty in life to destroy all the Nightbreed once he finds out they exist. You’d think he would rather want to be one and live forever as an actual monster but nope.

The one thing that I’ll give this movie is that it does have some super fun visual effects for the Nightbreed that are hanging around in Midian. You get a lot of visually interesting things like the guy with the head in his stomach and the chick with hands coming out of her face and the porcupine lady. With all the cool things that they do for the breed, it was disappointing that they made Boone’s “monster form” be that he gets a bunch of tribal looking tattoos and shit on his face. Spooooooky. Truly you are a monster now, Boone. It’s like that shitty Beauty and the Beast retelling they did a few years ago where the guy was a beast because he had a bunch of sweet rose thorn tattoos all over his body. Shit, man, I know people that would pay good money to get work like that done. Just another thing that makes Boone, the prophesied savior of the Nightbreed, about as interesting as your standard tortured protagonist from a show on the CW.

This movie just didn’t grab me at all. I know that a lot of people love it and look at it as a cult classic but, just like the other cult classic I’ve reviewed this month, it falls short of being interesting enough for me to care. I give it a 2 out of 5.

Favorite part of the movie: Anytime Cronenberg is on screen.

Least favorite part: One of the Nightbreed is super nice, has a cute little dog, and also manifests being a monster as “has some tattoos”. This, of course, means he has to be the first one to die to highlight the humans’ cruelty.

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