Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Nightbreed

(vt Clive Barker's Nightbreed) US movie (1990). J&M/Morgan Creek. Pr Gabriella Martinelli. Exec pr James G Robinson, Joe Roth. Dir Clive Barker. Vfx/mufx Image Animation. Screenplay Barker. Based on "Cabal" (in Cabal coll 1988 US) by Barker. Starring Anne Bobby (Lori), Doug Bradley (Lylesberg), Catherine Chevalier (Rachel), David Cronenberg (Dr Philip Decker), Charles Haid (Captain Eigerman), Oliver Parker (Pelonquin), Hugh Quarshie (Inspector Joyce), Kim and Nina Robertson (Babette), Hugh Ross (Narcisse), Bob Sessions (Pettine), Craig Sheffer (Boone), Malcolm Smith (Ashberry), Debora Weston (Sheryl Ann). 102 mins. Colour.

Seemingly respectable psychiatrist Decker is a Serial Killer; he commits his barbarities wearing a grotesque Mask, so that they are, in effect, done by "someone else". His patient, Boone, has Dreams depicting the crimes, and is framed by Decker. But Boone has dreams also of another place, seemingly nightmarish yet also welcoming: Midian. Fleeing the law, he finds this place: living Underground is a Wainscot society of Monsters. "Killed" by the police at Decker's behest, he becomes a part of this community, made up of the surviving members of Shapeshifter races otherwise long ago exterminated by mankind (as recorded in Genesis); he has always been, unknowing, one of them, the Nightbreed. Undead, they have Invulnerability to much that might kill humans but are susceptible to, e.g., sunlight. Standard Monster-Movie plotting ensues – though this time the lynch mob is slaughtered by the monsters – until Boone, ritually given the new Name Cabal, must lead the Nightbreed to a fresh refuge.

N, despite gore, is a straightforward exposition of a Genre-Fantasy theme: the Nightbreed are a Pariah Elite, with Boone ignorantly passing as a member of humanity until witlessly undergoing a Rite of Passage (here, his "death"); once accepted among them he rapidly becomes their leader; chips down, mankind's mindless mob proves unable, despite vast weapons superiority, to prevail against the elite's abilities/sheer grit. [JG]

further reading: Clive Barker's Nightbreed: The Making of the Film * (1990); The Nightbreed Chronicles * (coll 1990) ed Stephen Jones.

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.