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Clive Barker: Revelations

On Nightbreed... (continued)


The silhouette of Peloquin, a were-creature, moves between the tombs. He draws on the cigarette. By its brightening point we glimpse an extraordinary face: more animal than human, but no recognizable species.
PELOQUIN : He's not Nightbreed. He's Natural.
BOONE : No! I've killed people, I'm like you, that's why I'm here...
PELOQUIN : Shut the fuck up. You're meat.
KINSKI : If we eat him we break the law.
In the shadows Peloquin starts to alter his form, Boone watches, amazed, as the crouching figure breathes in deeply, his alien appearance becoming smoke, which he sucks into his throbbing body.
BOONE : My God... My God, it's true...
PELOQUIN : Of course it's true. Everything's true... (he starts to emerge from the shadows) God's an astronaut. Oz is over the rainbow. And Midian's where the monsters live. And you came to die.
BOONE : I didn't... didn't come to die. I came to be with you, I'm one of you.
Peloquin reaches out and touches Boone's chest.
PELOQUIN : No. Sorry. I can smell innocence at fifty yards.
BOONE : I've killed people. Fifteen people.
PELOQUIN : Who told you that?
BOONE : What do you mean?
PELOQUIN : He lied, asshole. He lied. You're Normal. And that means... you're meat for the beast.

Second Draft - December 1988

"For the first 'Nightbreed' picture, which is the first of the 'Cabal' pictures, we might do a little bit of shooting in Canada, but Opening credits storyboard essentially we want to work with the same team that has done such extraordinary work here [on 'Hellbound']. In the 'Nightbreed' pictures, I will say I think there'll be more monsters per square inch of screen than probably ever seen before. I mean this is a major, major number of monsters. It may even be three movies eventually. As long as it's planned, I like the idea of a series. The only time it doesn't work, it seems to me, is when - as in the Nightmare on Elm Street pictures - there isn't planning.
"I would certainly like to direct the first 'Nightbreed' because I think it is a horror movie with a very new angle. And it has all these creatures in it, and it can be very imaginative and very fun to do. One of the things that Chris [Figg] and I are trying to do is reestablish that tradition in this country. Nobody else is doing it."
Chains of Love
By Mark Salisbury, Fear, No 3, December 1988

"I'm writing and directing it, and there will be 50 monsters in it, more monsters than in any movie for decades. Major monsters."
Top Of The Horror Heap
By Martin Burden, New York Post, 30 December 1988

"I've always loved monsters. I think there's a corner of all of us that envies their powers and would love to live forever, or to fly, or to change shape at will. So, when I came to make a movie about monsters, I wanted to create a world we'd feel strangely at home in. I called it Midian. An underground city peopled with creatures from our darkest fantasies: things that feed on blood; things that avoid the light of day; things repulsive and fascinating; forbidden souls hiding from their cruellest enemy - manů. All of us, behind the camera and in front, had the same intention - to make Nightbreed a film like no other, flipping all the conventions of the horror movie, plunging you into a world of insanity and miracles where dead men can be heroes and monsters beautiful, where the only place of refuge is the most forbidden place on earth: Midian - the home of the Nightbreed."
Introduction to Nightbreed By Clive Barker, Nightbreed US Video, 1991

"They [20th Century Fox] tested the movie and it tested real well. Then they realised that the campaign was a difficult one because Nightbreed was slightly difficult to classify. It has elements of fantasy, elements of horror fiction, and it was a mixture of both. I saw that as a strength. [Fox Chairman] Joe Roth saw that as a strength. The marketing people saw it as a weakness. They saw the fantastical elements as being difficult, rather than one of its strengths. That's one of the things that I do, both as a writer and as a moviemaker; I write this weird, delirious kind of fiction. It is not necessarily like anyone else's kind of stuff. I wanted to make a movie that was a celebration of monsters, a movie that was a Bosch canvas come to life. It wasn't going to be this rational, logical thing. Instead of trusting the movie, they tried to do something which is reprehensible - they tried to represent the movie as something that it wasn't [a slasher film] which is a small element in the movie. The monsters were nowhere to be seen in the ads or the one sheet [poster]. The TV teasers were extremely confused and didn't represent the movie. Added to that, they chose not to preview the movie, which enrages critics - especially those unsympathetic to the genre in the first place. Nightbreed is a difficult movie of its type because it doesn't fit any neat categories. The result was confusion and poor box office.
"Hellraiser was also an odd movie with weird elements but New World said, "This is a movie that Barker's made. We don't necessarily understand it or like it, but we'll get it out there." And they took one of the movie's strongest images - Pinhead with the box in his hands - and put in on the poster beautifully. Nightbreed was packed with such images! We had 'em crawling out of our ears and the movie needed to be sold that way. Putting aside reviews, they couldn't even open a movie with 200 monsters in it.
"No movie is perfect. There are screw-ups in Nightbreed and all kinds of things I'd do differently, but that's true of Hellraiser and my books as well. Whatever else you can say about Nightbreed, it's not like anybody else's movie, it's not a tintype. It delivers what I always promised it would - a monster movie that would spill over with weird images and creatures. There are lots of horror movies out there that don't have very much in their minds. Nightbreed does. Opening credits storyboard You don't need to be talking down to people all the time. So yes, the movie has a bleak end. It doesn't cross all the t's and dot all the i's, but neither does Hellraiser. We don't know where the cenobites come from. I like the sense that there's a mythology that you only get a glimpse of. You don't get the whole thing, like you don't know how Freddy Kreuger gets into people's dreams.
"There's got to be a way to make the kind of movies that I want to, which are never going to be mainstream, ordinary, middle-of-the-road pictures, and find people in the major studios who will support them. Clearly it's difficult. David Lynch, Cronenberg and Romero are not working in the main flat of the studio. Argento is barely known in America. Those large organisations are extremely conservative."
Barker Bites Back
By Anthony Timpone, (i) Fangoria Horror Spectacular, No 1, 1990 (ii) Fangoria : Masters of the Dark

"Hellraiser was unapologetically a movie set out to make your palms get clammy and make you shift around in your seat. You weren't sure you wanted to see what was coming next. That isn't the case with Nightbreed. It is much more benign in its intentions. This picture is much more upfront about the fact we don't want to see the monsters die. We actually find them interesting. And sexy. We're not really on the side of the cross-wielding Christians, we're actually on the side of the creatures of darkness.
"The whole idea of Nightbreed began with my novel Cabal. It's a book I'm very fond of and, as I was finishing it, I realised that it would lend itself very nicely to movie adaptation: it was economic in terms of narrative structure and I thought it might be something I'd want to do myself. One of the things I love about making a movie from something I've written is the pleasure of being able to reinvent your imagination: you've done it once, you know the way it looked when you wrote it, and then you reinvent it entirely. Nightbreed doesn't look the way I imagined it when I was writing Cabal. It has turned out to be much larger in scale than I originally anticipated, but it's still manageable for someone like me who is only making his second picture.
Boone's hallucination storyboard "The book is about Boone and his journey; the movie is about the Nightbreed, this hidden tribe of mythological beings, shape-changers and strange people who come from the Old Country of the imagination. My sense was that I had to work really hard to scare audiences, I had to put more solid 'jumps' in it than I did in Hellraiser - it's full of those cheap little tricks. But I also had to make sure that, when the monsters appear, the audience will warm to them despite their strangeness, despite the fact that some of them are quite dangerous. If they simply bit and tore and turned to smoke and ripped people up, the audience was never going to come into their world. There had to be an element of Tod Browning's Freaks in which you saw that there was a wit and a sly warmth to these characters. The balance to be achieved was not to let the humour undercut the scares.
"In the Thirties you felt sympathy for King Kong and the Frankenstein monster, but there haven't been many movies like King Kong and Freaks and Bride Of Frankenstein lately. There's no trace of that earlier, much richer tradition and that's what the inhabitants of Midian represent. What I wanted to do in this movie was to set that Thirties tradition against the Eighties tradition. You start with a stalk-and-slash character, but this time you're going to understand that this isn't something you want to applaud. I'm saying to the audience, 'Here's the tradition you've been applauding, but there's another tradition which is rich and various and witty and warm and poetic. Isn't that what we should be celebrating?'
"Finally, I think that we will perceive the living from the point of view of the dead, we will perceive the natural from the point of view of the unnatural, we will perceive ourselves from the point of view of something other than ourselves - whereas conventionally in horror movies, at least today, you perceive the Other from the place where your head is when you go into the theatre. Nightbreed is a hymn to variegation. No Breed looks like any other Breed. In the same way the cantina sequence in Star Wars worked the first time you saw it, I want audiences to have the impression that there is this great gathering of creatures and they are never quite sure they've seen them all. I think Image Animation has once again created some immensely memorable images - creatures that are monstrous and beautiful in the same moment, which has always been my favourite condition for any creature.
"I think this movie will be a kind of ride - not a ghost train ride because that's too grim; not a fairy tale ride because that's too grim as well; but sort of a ride through the space between my ears, a trip through Clive Barker's skull. There's some very dark stuff in there, some sexy stuff and some funny stuff as well. I hope it will be the kind of dream you don't want to wake up from, the kind of dream that when you've opened your eyes you think, 'I wouldn't mind going back there.'"
Nightbreed Presskit
By [ ], 1990

Lylesburg [re. casting Cronenberg out of type] "It's an insight missed by Barry Norman! Most insights are missed by Barry Norman! You're right. The thing for me was his doing what will probably be the last horror movie I'll do for a while, was the idea of colliding two traditions, very consciously. I mean, the movie is a series of riffs. My two favourite descriptions of the movie: one was that it was an Indiana Jones odyssey on acid, which I very much liked; and the other was that it was like a series of trailers, which is not wrong. It is, it's like a series of trailers for a whole bunch of movies, interweaving and colliding and then going off at various directions. It's a series of moments from traditions, if you like.
"It's unfair on David, that casting, deeply unfair on him, because - and I think this is one of the reasons why he did it - the new horror which he represents, 'Long live the new flesh,' is so much more interesting than the tradition he's representing in the movie. Stalk 'n' slash is a very uninteresting sub-genre...I think it is a pretty dull genre. So I wanted to kind of collide that with, as you rightly say, a much older tradition, which is this kind of fantastical tradition of monsters, which is fairy-tale as much as anything. It's going into the enchanted wood and finding around every corner some kind of strange beast; and you're not absolutely sure whether they mean you good or harm."
The Edge Interview
By David Alexander, The Edge, 1991

"Cronenberg is a very interesting man. Very urbane and civilised. And he makes these crazy and demented movies! So I thought he'd fit the role of Decker perfectly especially when he's beneath the mask of the serial killer. I also found it interesting to watch the contrast between David Cronenberg the moviemaker and David Cronenberg the actor.
"I don't think the budget [for Nightbreed] was huge. Today, even modest films have a budget of fifteen to twenty million dollars, and Nightbreed was certainly nowhere near that. It was a bigger film than Hellraiser; and certainly had a bigger budget. I enjoyed having the larger scope for that picture. Hellraiser was a very small film and those limitations helped with the claustrophobic mood. So to answer that question, I'd have to say that it would depend upon the script and the story you are trying to tell. It would be very difficult to try and do Nightbreed on Hellraiser's budget. And it's very possible that Hellraiser wouldn't be as good on Nightbreed's budget.
[re. Cabal's facial markings resembling Maori tribal designs] "It was a completely conscious effort. That's rather obscure, and I'm surprised you picked upon that. The spiral is a classic form, very symbolic. Lost Magic Kingdoms is a wonderful book, with beautiful photography and very informative. So, I do look everywhere, and I do see a kind of new tribalism. You don't have to go to New Guinea to see ear, nose, and cheek piercings anymore. In Los Angeles, all you have to do is step out onto Santa Monica Blvd. to see all kinds of tattooing. Forty years go, you wouldn't see people doing these sorts of things with their bodies, at least not in Western culture there has been an eruption of new tribal forms in our culture."
L A Gore
By Paul Mungo, GQ, December 1992

...other comments


Ohnaka and Lori reach the next to last chamber; a roaring from below, down a slope in front of them, walls vibrating with the din from Baphomet's chamber. Ohnaka withdraws. Blindingly bright light, out of which Lori spots a figure climbing towards them.
LORI : Boone? Boone!
She moves down to Boone, scrambling up the slope towards her, drenched in sweat, half-mad with terror.
BOONE : Don't... don't look...
He reaches for her, then collapses. She starts down the slope towards him. Dust falls from the roof, the din makes her reel. But she reaches him, starts to haul him to his feet. Then, she looks up and we get a glimpse of...


Out of the blinding light, and seemingly the source of it, a huge black figure turns towards her, twelve feet high, severed limbs connected by sinews of hot, white energy and extruded spines, the face terrible, wise and beautiful.
Lori's stunned, she averts her eyes. Boone collects himself enough to pull her away and they help each other frantically scrabble up the slope, out of the chamber.

Second Draft - December 1988

Doug Bradley : "I didn't really enjoy playing Lylesburg very much. There just wasn't very much to get hold of; he was a Moses-type character. He stood for a kind of patriarchal thing; sit down, don't rock the boat and don't frighten the horses, which was fine and I did it to the best of my ability. I'm not sure I was perfect casting for it necessarily, and I found it quite hard work. I felt quite on the fringes of the movie as a whole."
Pin - Points
By Nick Vince, Hellbreed No.3, July 1995

Malcolm Smith : "We're not sure why [Ashberry] puts his hand in the potion to change himself at the film's end. It seems very predestined. Much greater powers have brought him there. He is sent as a messenger from another god, but I don't know whether he's good or bad."
A Hymn To The Monstrous: The Making Of Nightbreed
By Mark Salisbury and John Gilbert, Clive Barker's Nightbreed - The Making Of The Film, 1990

Geoff Portass : "We've got computer-controlled animatronics in Nightbreed, but only where necessary...Nightbreed has in it every type of monster imaginable, but no monsters that necessarily say 'monster' Kinski to you. The real monsters in Nightbreed are the humans. That gives us great opportunity: we're on the monsters' side. With that in mind you don't design anything that's really going to upset that."
Games Without Frontiers
By Brian J. Robb, Fear, No.6, May/June 1989

Bob Keen : "The whole idea is that we wanted a certain background and texture. I think Clive will use the characters we see a little of in future movies. It's pretty much like the Star Wars films, in that you lay down the storylines and textures for numerous extra characters, and then you can build on that in later films. In a way, it's heartbreaking to work on something for five months and only have it end up on the screen for three seconds, but it will eventually pay off."
On The Set of Nightbreed
By J.B. Macabre, Slaughterhouse, Vol 1 No 5, 1989

Charles Haid : [on Eigerman] "A very interesting aside to this, which should give you some idea how I've found a way to make Eigerman come to life, is a quote I read recently from Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie. He said, 'I am a son of the Eiger. I live in its shadow.' That gave me a focus, tied in the fascist elements being used as a background detail."
Birth of the Nightbreed
By Philip Nutman, (i) Fangoria, No 86, September 1989 (ii) Fangoria : Masters of the Dark

David Cronenberg : "Clive has got about 60 or 70 characters to deal with in this film and I only have to deal with one. So, if Clive would say, 'Maybe he'd pick up the cup of coffee,' and I would say, 'Oh no, I don't think he would do that,' well, Clive would listen. To a certain extent, Clive is going to trust my instincts as an actor, with that character, because that's the responsibility, to keep that character consistent through and through. On the other hand, you depend very much on your director to bring you into the movie at the right level.
"The first scene I shot was a scene at the end of the movie, and that was my introduction to the character of Decker: I don't say a word, but it's a very complex scene. Clive has to tell me what level we're on for that, because he's the only one who's got the whole picture in his mind. My instincts might say, 'Do this in a hysterical tone,' and he might say, 'No, no, that's quite wrong, because you've got to build up later to even more hysteria, so if you go totally to the top, you've got no place to go.' It's really collaboration that way. It never really gets to, 'You're wrong.'
"A death scene is always a wonderful thing to do. Basically, it's all play, it's like kids and that's what's nice about it. You get on the set, there's a strange balance between the adult part of yourself which has to be obedient and punctual, and the part that likes to play. It's really exciting to be on the set as an actor, and primarily be expected to play, make yourself up and put on funny clothes. That's what it is, and that is my pleasure. It has nothing to do with real death or anything like that whatsoever. You're going to do your version of a psychotic. My interests and Clive's overlapped to a certain extent. We could both talk about psychotics of the past, and some of the future, so we really don't need that kind of input [copious character research]. I find that very inhibiting as a director or writer. I tend to invent my research rather than do it.
"There are certain similarities between what I do and what he does, and then there are some extreme differences. For me, it's the differences which are exciting rather than the similarities. We're both interested in transcendence through transformation, considered in a very physical sense rather than a metaphysical sense. Those are themes that we both return to again and again. But he is much more exuberant in his sense of invention and his creation of new mythologies without any rational explanation. That's where we become different: I would never create the Cenobites, for example, I would never create the Nightbreed. Those are the differences there, I think."
Faces of Death
By John Gilbert & Mark Salisbury, Fear, No 22, October 1990

Bob Keen : "On Nightbreed we had two months to play around with ideas, before even modelling on maquettes. Baphomet is a real knockout of an idea and people will say 'Wow, that's never been done before'.
"Clive dreamt up the answer of how to do Baphomet on screen. He phoned me up one night and said, 'I've dreamt it!' It's difficult putting your own imagination on the screen, but try putting Clive Barker's imagination on the screen! That's the challenge, making the imagination real...We're doing the best work we've ever done on this film. We've done two test tapes and everyone is very pleased with them."
Games Without Frontiers
By Brian J. Robb, Fear, No 6, May/June 1989

Doug Bradley : "I have mixed feelings about Nightbreed on two counts. Firstly, because the movie that is released is not the movie that was shot at Pinewood, and it's not the movie that Clive wrote. If anybody has read Cabal, then there's the movie, because the movie that was shot at Pinewood is a very faithful, almost page-by-page faithful, adaptation of Cabal. And Fox, in my opinion, screwed the movie up.
"It's not my voice doing Lylesberg. in the post production mayhem they decided to give him a German accent, some guy in L.A came in to do it, which, particularly when you are working in prosthetic make-up... your vocal performance is terribly important to you. It's one of the things that enables me to possess Pinhead.
"When I saw the film it was like I was watching somebody else do it. But it remains like no other film I've seen... the qualities of the original managed to struggle through the crap that Fox created, in my opinion, and mark it out as something special, so I can understand it having that cult following and I think it deserves that."
Pins And Needles
By Chris Fullwood, Firelight Shocks, Issue 4, September 2002

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