Last year at San Diego Comic Con, Scream Factory announced that they would be putting out Clive Barker’s 1990 film Nightbreed on Blu-Ray. Let’s be honest, it rocked horror fans’ socks off. A year later, Scream Factory announces the details about the release of two editions and some of those same fans are complaining about the price tag for the limited edition. I just want to preface this article with the fact that this knowledge that I have gained over the years of not only being a fan of the genre but dealing with studios and knowing some of the ins-and-outs of home media distribution. I don’t work in the industry, I just deal with it for this site and with my own local theatrical program, Late Nite Grindhouse. So, none of this is inside information with Scream Factory and while I have reviewed one product they have sent me, this is of my own opinion and is more of a commentary of what I’m seeing on social media.
Ok, now that we got that out of the way, I get why some fans are upset. Nightbreed was a film that has had so many issues. Between the studio not fully believing Clive’s vision, to how they marketed it and how they made Clive trim down some of his baby. Nightbreed is his baby. I would put Nightbreed as the essential Clive Barker film. Whether you like it or not, Clive’s approach to make the “monsters” more human than the actual humans is along the lines of his fantasy work.
I personally met the man almost a decade (shit, it’s been that long?) ago at the Rue Morgue Festival of Fear. That convention, that trip, made what defines some of me to this day. I met friends there that I am still friends with. It was my first convention, my first trip out of the States and it was my first trip travelling alone. Clive was signing for free for those willing to wait and to those that had a ticket that was procured at the beginning of the day at the Rue Morgue booth. His book The Thief of Always was a very important book to me as I read it when I was going through puberty. I was changing. The main character from the book, Harvey, changes and owns up to his responsibilities. I identified with Harvey, maybe a bit more than I should have. Nightbreed was also one of my favorite movies of the 90’s. Since I didn’t have any Nightbreed memorabilia, I also thought it would be best to maybe stray from the norm. Many people in the line were getting a countless number of Hellraiser memorabilia signed so by the time I came around, I plopped down my hardback edition of The Thief of Always and told him how much the book meant to me. He was very happy to see the book and hear my love for the novel. I kept it short and sweet and after taking a picture, he again thanked me for bringing the book for him to sign. I gotta say 2005 was a great year because of not only what would be the start of many relationships I would continue to have with people I met at the convention but because I got to meet the man who not only made one of my favorite films of the 90’s but the man that authored a book that changed my outlook on life.
Yes, I know. You came here for the reasoning of why is this bloody Blu-Ray EIGHTY FUCKIN’ DOLLARS! I’ll get to it. I just wanted to let you know that Nightbreed is very important to me as well. Do I think $80 is a bit much, maybe. Especially when you consider that Halloween box set that is coming out by the same company is only about $50 more and you get 15 discs including all of the Halloween films. Why is it $80? I can pretty much guarantee you that it all came down to two things: the market and the rights.
Let’s face it, many people thought that Scream Factory pulled off a miracle in getting the aforementioned Halloween set out by teaming up with Anchor Bay. I can tell you working with Warner Bros. would be a much harder feat. Especially on a film that they really don’t think is worth a damn.
Look at Twilight Time, a company that has its own share of controversy. They charge $30 for barebones Blu-Ray editions of films. Films like Christine and Night of the Living Dead (1990) went for $30 and sold out. Now, they are being sold on eBay for sometimes triple the original cost. Many people complain that Twilight Time’s 3,000 copies for every release is too small. The reason they sell 3,000 copies has nothing to do with Twilight Time, it has everything to do with the licensing agreement that they made with Columbia. In these cases, Columbia knows that the titles have potential but they don’t really want to put the effort (even though it would be cheaper for Columbia to make a Blu-Ray disc than Twilight Time). However, they don’t want to sabotage themselves and let a company pay either a flat fee or a percentage of sales to a market that changes – especially with genre fans. Us genre fans will either buy stuff like crazy or let it sit and die. It comes in waves and sometimes, there is no rhyme or reason. Look at Grindhouse Releasing’s Blu-Ray release of The Big Gundown. That was a Columbia release but Columbia knows that they couldn’t sell that film and the fanbase for spaghetti westerns doesn’t really fluctuate. Horror fandom fluctuates.
When Scream Factory announced that they would be bringing Nightbreed to Blu-Ray and the Occupy Midian movement touring a cut of the film culled from DVD and VHS, I wondered how they would do it. When I saw Nightbreed: The Cabal Cut at Fantastic Fest last September, I was even more curious as I felt that some of the cut footage looked pretty damn atrocious. The only way I figured it could be done would either be extensive restoration or Scream Factory would be using their time and effort to finding the original footage. Granted, Clive Barker and Seraphim Films claimed they searched high and low for it as well but lets be honest, they might not have been looking in the right place, saying the right things or asking the right questions. Clive Barker is an artist, not a film archivist. Scream Factory’s latest release with The Final Terror had no inter-positive or negative and was frankensteined together from SIX different collector prints. When you hear the term “collector prints”, whoever is doing the searching is really fucking digging.
Up until now, it was always said that Scream Factory would only be putting out the Director’s Cut – which I hear is different than The Cabal Cut (thank god), even though I’m now getting reports that it is the same – as they only have the rights to do that cut. Today, it was revealed that the Limited Edition set would actually have both cuts. For a completest like me, that’s music to my ears. I love the theatrical cut even though I know it is truncated and based off of what I saw in The Cabal Cut, there were pacing reasons why some stuff was cut.
If you haven’t read the announcement from Scream Factory, here’s what they posted on their Facebook page:
We have big (and extensive) news to report today regarding a film that we announced almost over a year ago in July. In collaboration with Morgan Creek Productions and Clive Barker’s Seraphim, Inc., the long-awaited NIGHTBREED: THE DIRECTOR’S CUT is scheduled for a release of October 28th and will be available in two retail versions: A 5,000 Unit Limited-Edition 3-Disc Blu-ray™ set and a Special Edition DVD & Blu-ray™ Combo.
In 1990, the film was released theatrically nationwide. However, the movie studio edited the film extensively and several scenes were excised or rearranged – much to Director Clive Barker’s disappointment. Since then, a fan-driven movement was created (www.OccupyMidian.com) to see the full version of the film restored and re-released. Now, after 25 years, fans and horror enthusiasts can finally experience NIGHTBREED like never before! Scream Factory, in conjunction with Warner Bros., was able to find the long-thought-missing original film elements and combed through over 600 boxes to locate not only the lost scenes but a treasure trove of never-before-seen footage as well. With nearly an hour of lost footage meticulously restored, the result is not only a more faithful adaptation of Clive Barker’s book Cabal, but also what he originally intended NIGHTBREED to be.
Official statement from Clive Barker: “This is film history and beyond my wildest dreams of realization. When Scream Factory told me that they found the NIGHTBREED film footage I was gob-smacked! This is the ultimate validation of choices made by myself and Mark Miller [of Seraphim Films] all the way back in 2008. As we embarked down the road of attempting to track down the lost footage, we looked at each other and said, ‘Maybe one day they’ll find it.’ It’s my pleasure to announce that the day has come. Speaking personally, I didn’t allow myself to believe that it would. Even if we did find some footage (which we did in 2009 in the form of heavily degraded VHS tapes) and even if we did find a company willing to release the film (which we did in 2013 with Scream Factory, God bless them) the prospect of finding the actual lost film materials was remoter than I’d wanted to admit out loud. If the footage could not be found by those who had worked closest on it the same year it had been released, then what were the odds we’d be able to find anything 20 years on? But Scream Factory, in their commendable determination, kept up the search and thanks to them total reconstruction has been made a possibility. There’s never been a reconstruction that’s had as little chance of succeeding and yet has succeeded on as many fronts as this film has. It’s unprecedented. To now have a movie that we can put together in the way that I fully intended it to be seen when I first set out to make this film in 1989 is extraordinary. The project has moved inexorably to this conclusion. Fate and the hard work of individuals such as Mark Miller, Russell Cherrington, Phil and Sarah Stokes, Occupy Midian, Morgan Creek, and ultimately, Scream Factory have made this a possibility and I could not be happier.”
Details on the two retail sets are as follows:
LIMITED EDITION SET (ONLY 5,000 NUMBERED SETS MADE):
– Disc 1: Unrated Director’s Cut of the film on Blu-ray
– Disc 2: The 1990 R-Rated theatrical version of the film on Blu-ray (through a special licensing agreement through Warner Bros.)
– Disc 3: EXCLUSIVE-TO-THIS-SET Bonus Blu-ray disc packed with extras (details forthcoming)
– Includes Collector’s Book with an essay and rare photos
– Slipcase includes newly-designed artwork by Joel Robinson approved by Clive Barker
**NOTE: Those who order the Limited Edition set directly fromwww.ScreamfactoryDVD.com will also receive an exclusive 18”x24” poster of the newly designed artwork (available while supplies last)! The Scream Factory site will also receive the first 1,000 numbered copies and ship 2 weeks earlier than Oct 28th.**
SPECIAL EDITION SET:
– Disc 1: Unrated Director’s Cut of the film on Blu-ray plus bonus features (details forthcoming)
– Disc 2: Unrated Director’s Cut of the film on DVD (details forthcoming)
– Slipcase includes artwork designed by Ralph McQuarrie approved by Clive Barker
While I cannot say for certain, as I’m not on the inside, I can only assume that the deal that Scream Factory made with Warner Bros./Morgan Creek is much like what Twilight Time deals with when dealing with Columbia. They are only limited to sell 5,000 copies of the “official/theatrical” release if Scream Factory was willing to eat the production costs but in return they got to sift through the Warner Bros./Morgan Creek archives to find the footage. There could have been additional percentages for the Limited Edition set as well that needed to be met (ie. We, Warner Bros., will license the theatrical release to you only if you limit it to a certain amount of units and/or we meet a certain dollar amount).
That also brings me to the fact that this release is only for Region A, North America. Since Seraphim Films is based in the U.K. and they are really the ones that started this whole movement, fans across the pond probably feel cheapened. That’s not to say that this release might come out in their own region but it just further proves my point with what probably happened between Scream Factory & Warner Bros./Morgan Creek. Scream Factory did the major lifting for the home video presentation and all of their releases have only been for Region A/1 playback. Arrow Films is pretty much the equivalent but more than likely, they would need to strike a new deal with the studio and who knows what is happening with the transfer. I don’t want to be harsh but if you live across the pond, suck it up. Buy a region free Blu-Ray player, they are more readily available in Europe anyway. While it doesn’t look like Scream Factory will be shipping outside of the U.S. and Canada, I’m sure a place like DiabolikDVD.com will be able to help them out.
All complaints aside, let’s take in the moment that we will be able to own not only the theatrical version of Nightbreed on Blu-Ray but a “straight from the source” transfer of what is being called “The Director’s Cut” – which will be the closest thing to an unaltered version of the film and the closest fans can get of Clive Barker’s original vision.
$80 is a lot of money for a release. Keep in mind, the film Possession – which is more obscure than Nightbreed – has a $65 release of that film which includes the film plus some extras and a more standard version of the film for a lower price. Scream Factory is doing the same thing with Nightbreed. You don’t HAVE to buy the $80 version. They will have a regularly priced version with just “The Director’s Cut” and no extras for under $25.