Film / Nightbreed

Boone: Then it's true.
Peloquin: Everything is true. God's an astronaut. Oz is over the rainbow, and Midian is where the monsters live.

A 1990 fantasy-horror film directed by Clive Barker, who adapted his own novel Cabal.

A masked Serial Killer is stalking the families of the city, killing them brutally, and Aaron Boone has been having nightmares where he sees the crimes through his eyes. In his nightmarish dreams he also sees the strange, undergound city of Midian and its monstrous inhabitants, feeling a strange pull towards it. The nightmares are so bad he quit the force and had been seeing Doctor Decker, who is worried he's getting worse. After Dr. Decker's "lithium" nearly gets him run over by a truck, he meets a touched man who babbles about Midian, and claims to know where it is. Deciding to take the chance, Boone heads there and promptly gets killed for being suspected of being the serial killer.

Then he leaves the morgue.

With a music score by Danny Elfman very reminiscent of Batman, Nightbreed is a gorgeous, disgusting movie with a captivating mythical mood. The titular Nightbreed aren't quite monsters, and the humans aren't exactly saints either.

This film contains examples of:

  • Adaptational Villainy: Ashberry in the novel ends up crippled, and spouting prophetic gibberish Eigermann intends to decrypt to aid him in his revenge on the Nightbreed. In both versions of the film, he's the one intent on hunting them to extinction. The Boom Comics series even goes so far as to make him secretly a zealot Serial Killer.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: Villainous variation in the theatrical cut. The hateful serial killer Dr. Decker, who despises everything that isn't him and regarded the Nightbreed as vermin that he wanted to exterminate, becomes a Nightbreed himself in the Sequel Hook at the end when the priest revives him. Now he's an undead, superpowered serial killer more dangerous than ever.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The novel is short and rather laconic, not too heavy on descriptions and such. The movie expands not only the plots, but also gives us lot of details about the world and the creatures that dwell in Midian.
  • Audible Sharpness: The psychotic Doctor Decker's blade makes a particularly cool and sinister scrape as he draws it on one unsuspecting victim, and the blade gets a close-up as it does so.
  • Ax-Crazy: Not initially the case with Decker, but over the course of the movie, he becomes more reckless and violent in his attempts to frame Boone. Played straight with Eigermann.
  • Blood Knight: Eigermann and his men seem ... a little too enthusiastic about wiping out the 'Breed.
  • Body Horror: Some of the 'Breed look downright bizarre and grotesque.
  • Book Ends: Cabal begins and ends with a declaration of "I'll never leave you."
  • The Cameo: Horror writer duo John Skipp and Craig Spector appear as corpses in a hotel room.
  • Canada, Eh?: Not so much, actually. It takes place in Edmonton and points north, but beyond mentioning that fact, the setting has no effect on the story and nothing stereotypically Canadian is used or even mentioned.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Dr. Decker is proud to be a Serial Killer, calling himself "death, plain and simple."
  • Creepy Monotone: Decker speaks in a calm, low, monotone register. He makes it seem like he does it because he wants to soothe his patients. He's in fact an unempathetic, murderous psychopath.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The Midians... though definitely not harmless. And definitely not all of them if the I'm a Humanitarian tendencies of Peloquin are anything to go by.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Decker on occasion, with heavy emphasis on the "deadpan".
  • Death by Adaptation: In the original novel, Eigerman survives the climax and decides to use Ashberry to hunt down the Nightbreed. In both cuts of the film, he dies..
  • Decapitation Presentation: The homicidal Dr. Decker seems to be fond of this. He cuts off a motel clerk's head and places it on the front desk for his wife to find before killing her too. Later, he decapitates Narcisse and puts the head on a stick before showing it to Boone.
  • Fanservice: When Rachel takes her clothes off to mesmerize a cop.
  • Fantastic Nature Reserve: Midian is the last city for the eponymous Nightbreed, who have been persecuted for all of human history.
  • Flanderization: Ashberry in the new comic series. In the original film he turns evil after being burned by Baphomet but prior to that he was halfway decent and even tried to stop Eigerman from massacring the Nightbreed. In the comics even before meeting them he's shown as a full-blown religious zealot (whereas in the film he didn't even believe in the existence of Satan) quoting Bible scripture and murdering people. Likewise in events taking place after the film he's still depicted as such even though the film shows him removing his priest's collar before encountering Baphomet.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Decker. He's more of a monster than every being in Midian combined, and he's the only character in the movie with prominent glasses.
    • Also Eigerman, the fascist police captain of Shereneck County. He loses the glasses at the end, though.
  • Game Face: Lori and her boyfriend Aaron Boone, now a newly-turned member of the Nightbreed, have escaped Midian and are on the run from the police. When the cops marshal an entire force to arrest him he turns around to show Lori his true face.
  • Gollum Made Me Do It: In the original novella Decker is driven to kill by his mask 'Button Face' that speaks to him in his mind. This was dropped in the film although a few deleted scenes show the mask talking with Cronenberg's voice.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Doctor Decker is introduced when he murders a family of three. While the parents' deaths is shown in graphic detail, it obviously cuts away when he advances on their young son.
  • Hate Sink: Captain Eigerman is a racist, fascist, homophobic Rabid Cop and all around Jerk Ass. He orders an assault on Midian including the children verbally abuses and threatens Reverend Ashberry for calling him out on his genocide, beats up Boone in his cell, and even starts trying to shoot at the "sons of the free" as they try to flee. Not a very pleasant man, to say the least.
  • Hidden Elf Village: Midian.
  • Home of Monsters: Midian is an underground city where the monsters live.
  • Humans Are Bastards: What with having made the Nightbreed near extinct.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: A few of humans in the film want to become Nightbreed, some to have their guilt absolved, some because they envy the Nightbreed's power.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Many of the Midianites. Discouraged since it tends to draw unwanted attention, though.
    Kinski: If we eat him we break the law.
    Peloquin: Oh fuck the law! I want meat!
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: The protagonist gets a sword through the back, pinning him to a card table. Being semi-undead, he removes the table and continues fighting with the sword still in place and a card stuck on it. He finally kills his enemy by hugging him, impaling him on the sword as well.
  • Intercontinuity Crossover: The comics, with Hellraiser. Nightbreed and Cenobites do not get along.
  • Knife Nut: Dr. Decker prefers to use huge carving blades to kill his victims, often appearing with one in each hand. He's briefly seen in his apartment with an entire collection of knives and blades laid out in front of him on a conference-style table.
  • Lack of Empathy: Decker has this in spades. He seriously cannot fathom why anyone would care about any other person's pain.
  • Last of Their Kind: Midian is a whole city of this. Strange beings nearly hunted to extinction and one-of-a-kind freaks all find refuge there.
  • Living Shadow: Lylesburg in the novella.
  • Mad Prophet: In Cabal, Reverend Ashberry is reduced to this.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: The serial killer Dr. Decker wears a bondage/scarecrow mask.
  • Marked Change: As Boone metamorphoses, various swirling patterns form blackened grooves in his skin.
  • Masquerade: Why they live in Midian.
  • Medication Tampering: Dr. Decker replaces Aaron Boone's medication with hallucinogenic drugs to make him think that he was responsible for several murders that Decker himself committed.
  • Misanthrope Supreme: Decker justifies his crimes as being part of his mission to purify the world of humans. He wants to stop 'breeders' from spreading their "filth" and murders entire families, including their children.
  • Monster Mash: The veritable freak show of Nightbreed.
  • Motive Rant: During Dr. Decker's torture and questioning of an old shopkeeper, he goes on a whiny rant about his serial-killing activities, explaining that he just hates humanity so utterly that he hacks up whole families to stop humans from creating offspring. He concludes that wiping out the Nightbreed race is the logical extension of his self-given mission to cleanse everything. This scene was apparently added after initial shooting to explain Decker's motives for being so evil more thoroughly, which wasn't all that clear in the original cut.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: The patient that Boone meets in the hospital. He desperately wants to be taken to Midian and believes that Boone is the guide sent to test him and (hopefully) take him there. But first, he needs to show his "true face," so he cuts off most of his scalp and eventually dies which is heavily implied to be hastened by Dr. Decker. But in a semi-subversion, it turns out that he was Nightbreed, and death ended up making him dramatically more happy and reasonably more sane.
  • No Shirt, Long Jacket: At one point in the Cabal novella, Boone takes off his dirty white shirt to feel his beloved leather jacket on his skin.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: All of the Nighbreed are vampiric to some extent. They crave blood and flesh and the sunlight hurts them. But the variety of their appearances and individual traits are vast. Aaron Boone is the closest to "your average vampire" in his Nightbreed form. He's more or less a Buffy-style vampire with an increased resistance to sunlight.
  • Physical God: Baphomet, the creator of Midian. What it IS though, seems to be a mystery even to the Breed.
  • Psycho Psychologist: At first Dr. Decker seems like a concerned psychologist who feels obliged to report Aaron Boone to the authorities for all the apparent murders that Boone committed during his blackouts. He prescribes Boone some medication to keep him from having another episode until he turns himself in. Turns out that the drugs are actually hallucinogens, Decker is the real killer and has framed Boone for his own crimes.
  • Psycho Strings: The psychotic serial killer Dr. Decker is accompanied by a creepy string-based theme designed to unsettle the viewer during his first major knife-wielding appearance.
  • The Sacred Darkness: The Baptizer, Baphomet.
  • Scenery Porn: Especially the abandoned graveyard, which is gorgeously mysterious. Then it's more like Scenery Porn for Nightmare Fetishists, with amazingly detailed, imaginative and yet extremely scary and unpleasant Midian.
  • Sealed Badass in a Can: Early in Boone's introduction to the Breed, he finds that the hall to Baphomet's chamber is lined on either side by locked cells containing Berserkers: Breed who are mindless and deformed (even for monsters), but whose strength is unparalleled. During the climax of the movie, Midian is falling apart, fires are raging through the cemetery, and the Breed are being slaughtered by gun-toting humans. Lylesburg uses his last moments alive to unlock ALL the doors and drive away the invading humans.
  • Serial Killer: Dr. Decker is a misanthropic serial killer who murders entire families and anyone else he comes across to 'cleanse' the world. He becomes an undead one at the end of the theatrical cut. The Boom Comics series also goes so far as to reveal Ashberry has killed A LOT of hookers.
  • Sequel Hook: Dr. Decker is revived as a Nightbreed by Ashberry, and Boone and the survivors have to find a new home.
  • Shout-Out: Dr. Philip K. Decker is named after the science fiction author Philip K. Dick.
  • Sinister Minister: Reverend Ashberry after being "burned" by Baphomet in both versions of the film wants revenge on both the Nightbreed and their God.
  • Smite Me, O Mighty Smiter: Shown with an aftermath in the film — A badly fallen priest is dragged along for the ride when the rednecks go after the Nightbreed, and when he manages to splash the Shattered God's transformative baptism over himself, he winds up in the ruins of the Breed's old home and vowing revenge: "Their God burned me. I want to burn him back!"
  • Softspoken Sadist: A major contributing factor to how creepy the psychotic Dr. Decker is is how calm and collected he always remains even during his hands-on murders.
  • Spared by the Adaptation:
    • Decker is resurrected in the theatrical cut of the film by Ashberry. However in Cabal, the Epic Comics adaptation, and the Director's Cut, he stays dead.
    • Lylesburg survives in the Novella.
    • Narcisse lives in the theatrical cut of the film, but dies in both the Novella and the Director's Cut.
  • Tear Off Your Face: One character starts to cut his own face off as part of his passage into Midian. Later inverted, in that as a Nighbreed he peels off all of his skin but his face in the film and comics. The novella plays this straight.
  • Utopia: To naturals, Midian probably looks like the stuff of twisted nightmares. But to the Nightbreed it's "Shangri La on dope".
  • Van Helsing Hate Crimes: Humanity has hunted the tribes of the moon, the Nightbreed, to near extinction for millennia.
    Rachel: You call us monsters, but when you dream, it's of flying and changing, and living without death. You envy us. And what you envy...
    Lori: ...we destroy.
  • Viral Transformation: After Peloquin bites Boone and he's gunned down, it's this that turns him into a Nightbreed.
  • Vomiting Cop: After the police drag Ohnaka into the sunlight and he subsequently explodes into ash, one of the cops stumbles off to puke on the ground.
  • Wainscot Society: In a dark form - the Nightbreed and Midian.
  • Waking Up at the Morgue: Aaron Boone is shot to death by the police after his Psycho Psychologist frames him for his crimes. He awakens at the morgue as a new member of the supernatural Nightbreed and escapes to go live with them.
  • Weakened by the Light: Some Nightbreed burn in sunlight. In the Novella this somehow applies to all of them except Cabal.
  • White Mask of Doom: The serial killer wears a full head white mask with button eyes, made even more chilling by his soothing and reasonable voice.
  • You're Insane!: When the psychotic Dr. Decker explains to an old man whom he's torturing for information that he believes it is his mission to wipe out the Nightbreed, the man calls him crazy. Decker's retort: "No, I'm Death, plain and simple".