Anatomy Of A Scene - Nightbreed (Ending)

A scene often changes radically between first conception in the writer's mind and its final publication or public airing. This is perhaps especially so in the melting pot of collaborative effort on a movie - and on a troubled movie, even more so...
The ending of Nightbreed has often been cited as an example of a troubled relationship between director and studio and the sequence below highlights the changes made as the story's conclusion moved from page to screen via re-shoots, test audiences and the editing suite...


The first incarnation of the story of Aaron Boone and his place within the Nightbreed is as the novel, Cabal. This was written in 1987 and published in 1988 as a standalone novel in the UK and packaged with four stories from volume 6 of the Books of Blood in the US.
After Decker's death, the destruction of Midian and Baphomet's encounters with both Boone and Ashberry, the book closes with three sequences establishing the characters and their roles for the book's (currently unwritten) sequels. First Lori pleads with Boone (now Cabal) to bite her and so convert her to be one of the Breed, like him, so that she can join him on his quest to re-establish Midian - a plea only granted after she stabs herself with one of Decker's knives. The second and third sequences are shown below, setting Ashberry and Eigerman on a path as the Breed's future tormentors before closing on the wanderings of the dispersed Breed.

It was Pettine who found Ashbery, but it was Eigerman who recognized the remnants for the man they'd been. The priest still had life in him, a fact - given the severity of his injuries - that verged on the miraculous. Both his legs were amputated in the days following, and one of his arms up to mid-bicep. He didn't emerge from his coma after the operations, nor did he die, though every surgeon opined that his chances were virtually zero. But the same fire that had maimed him had lent him an unnatural fortitude. Against all the odds, he endured.
He was not alone through the nights and days of unconsciousness. Eigerman was at his side twenty hours out of every twenty-four, waiting like a dog at a table for some scrap from above, certain that the priest could lead him to the evil that had undone both their lives.
He got more than he bargained for. When Ashbery finally rose from the deep, after two months of teetering on extinction, he rose voluble. Insane, but voluble. He named Baphomet. He named Cabal. He told, in the hieroglyphs of the hopelessly lunatic, of how the Breed had taken the pieces of their divinity's body and hidden them. More than that. He said he could find them again. Touched by the Baptiser's fire, and its survivors, he wanted the touch again.
'I can smell God,' he'd say, over and over.
'Can you take us to Him?' Eigerman asked.
The answer was always yes.
'I'll be your eyes then,' Eigerman volunteered. 'We'll go together.'
Nobody else wanted the evidence Ashbery offered, there were too many nonsenses to be accounted for as it was, without adding to the burden on reality. The authorities gladly let Eigerman have custody of the priest. They deserved each other, was the common opinion. Not one sane cell between them.
Ashbery was utterly dependent on Eigerman: incapable, at least at the beginning, of feeding, shitting or washing without help. Repugnant as it was to tend the imbecile, Eigerman knew Ashbery was a God-given gift. Through him he might yet revenge himself for the humiliations of Midian's last hours. Coded in Ashbery's rantings were clues to the enemy's whereabouts. With time he'd decipher them.
And when he did - oh when he did - there would come such a day of reckoning the Last Trump would pale beside.

The visitors came by night, stealthily, and took refuge wherever they could find it.
Some revisited haunts their forebears had favoured; towns under wide skies where believers still sang on Sunday, and the picket fences were painted every spring. Others took to the cities: to Toronto, Washington, Chicago, hoping to avoid detection better where the streets were fullest, and yesterday's corruption today's commerce. In such a place their presence might not be noticed for a year, or two or three. But not forever. Whether they'd taken refuge in city canyon or bayou or dustbowl none pretended this was a permanent residence. They would be discovered in time, and rooted out. There was a new frenzy abroad, particularly amongst their old enemies the Christians, who were a daily spectacle, talking of their martyr and calling for purges in His name. The moment they discovered the Breed in their midst the persecutions would begin again.
So, discretion was the by-word. They would only take meat when the hunger became crippling, and only then victims who were unlikely to be missed. They would refrain from infecting others, so as not to advertise their presence. If one was found, no other would risk exposure by going to their aid. Hard laws to live by, but not as hard as the consequences of breaking them. The rest was patience, and they were well used to that. Their liberator would come eventually, if they could only survive the wait. Few had any clue as to the shape he'd come in. But all knew his name.
Cabal, he was called. Who Unmade Midian.
Their prayers were full of him. On the next wind, let him come. If not now, then tomorrow.
They might not have prayed so passionately had they known what a sea-change his coming would bring. They might not have prayed at all had they known they prayed to themselves. But these were revelations for a later day. For now, they had simpler concerns. Keeping the children from the roofs at night; the bereaved from crying out too loud; the young in summer from falling in love with the human.
It was a life.

Cabal - 1987


Clive had planned to adapt Cabal into a screenplay, renamed Nightbreed, early in its writing and, like the book, the screenplay always anticipated sequels.

"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.
"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."

Nightbreed Presskit

By [ ], 1990


We track among the wounded, devatated MOB MEMBERS until we find ASHBERRY, blind, his face horribly scarred, crawling out of the gates.
ASHBERRY: ... I saw Him... I saw God... I heard God talk...
His hands find someone's boot. A hand reaches down, takes ASHBERRY's hand and EIGERMAN kneels down beside him. He looks sick and dangerous.
EIGERMAN: Where? ... where is he?
ASHBERRY: It was God. He bonded with me. I can smell Him... he's out there, I can smell him still...
EIGERMAN: And you can find him, can't you Padre?
ASHBERRY: Oh yes. I can find Him. He's waiting for me.
EIGERMAN: You'll lead us to him. I'll be your eyes.
EIGERMAN: And when we find him... there'll be such a day.
ASHBERRY: And night... and night...
The scene FADES. We MOVE IN, leaving only the echo of ASHBERRY's one visible eye until it becomes...

The moon is full.

In the distance, the burning ruins of Midian. The wind sighs in the moonlit reeds. CABAL and LORI reach the top of the hill, turn and look down, standing apart.
CABAL: I'll have to start tonight.
LORI: I'll go with you Boone.
CABAL: I'm not Boone, Lori. Do you understand? I belong to the Breed now.
LORI: Then make me belong too; they made you one of them, you can do it to me...
CABAL: I can't...
LORI: I want to be with you.
CABAL: I'll come back for you when I'm finished...
LORI: And when's that gonna be, when I'm ninety and you're still the way you are? I went through hell to find you and you just, just walk away from me?
(pause; brokenhearted)
Well go on, then, just go. Go on! What more do you want? Leave me some dignity for Christ's sake!
Pause. She turns away, trying not to show him her pain. CABAL turns to go. LORI turns back, sees him going. She can't bear it, looks around. Sees Decker's briefcase lying beside the police car. Gets an idea. Runs to it, finds a knife.
LORI: Boone!
He turns. She puts the blade to her belly and drives it in, crying out.
CABAL: Lori, NO!
She sinks to the ground, in terrible pain, as he reaches her, holds her in his arms. LORI: I lied, I lied, you're all I want, I'd rather be dead.
CABAL: Don't die, God, Lori, don't die...
LORI: Well why don't you do something about it, God damn it... remember what you said...
... quickly...
He raises her neck to his mouth. Her eyes flicker closed. He bites. A fatal, bloody kiss. He rises from her. Her eyes are closed.
CABAL: ... too late? ... Oh God, too late...
Her eyes open. She's turned.
LORI: You said you'd never leave me.
She grins, presses up to kiss his bloodied mouth. CAMERA MOVES UP off then to find the moon and we: DISSOLVE TO:

Shining, full. We MOVE DOWN to find a derelict barn, standing alone in a vast field. DISSOLVE TO:

We TRACK through the darkness to find RACHEL, BABETTE, KINSKI and a number of other REFUGEES and CHILDREN of Midian, staring out at the night.
BABETTE: Who will come for us?
KINSKI: His name is Cabal. He unmade Midian.
BABETTE: How soon?
RACHEL: On the next wind. If not tonight, then tomorrow.

CABAL and LORI, standing on the hill, against a background of stars.
BABETTE (V.O): ...if not tonight... tomorrow...

MOVING THROUGH the ruined chambers, illuminated by dying flickers of flame, we find and TRACK ALONG the end of the heroic mosaic/mural. It tells, in a rush of images, the story of the ruin of Midian.
CAMERA comes to a stop on the final image: CABAL and LORI, as we just saw them, on a hill, framed against the star-filled heavens.
The sound of the wind...


Second draft - December 1988

Ahead of the start of principal photography, this ending, which tracked the novel reasonably faithfully, was amended to give Ashberry more power and presence after his encounter with Baphomet. With Ashberry's autonomy, Eigerman's role became redundant and the re-draft eliminated the policeman from the movie's sequels.


We TRACK through the ruins of the Necropolis. The walls are blackened by fires that are almost extinguished; CORPSES (human and Breed) lie in barely distinguishable bundles, from which partially cremated limbs jut. Smoke hangs in the air. From the distance we see EIGERMAN, going amongst the CORPSES, reclaiming guns, bullets and grenades. As we get CLOSER we realize that he is a broken man, his face dirty, his eyes lunatic. He's been crying, the tracks marking the dirt.
Suddenly, he hears a noise, and stands up to see a large FIGURE appearing from the smoke. He goes for his own gun, levelling it at the FIGURE as it approaches.
EIGERMAN: Keep your distance!
The figure keeps coming, emerging from the smoke. It's ASHBERRY. He has been transformed by the confrontation with BAPHOMET. His hair has been almost burned away entirely and there is a subtle reconfiguration in the shape of his skull. His clothes are in tatters. There are hints that his once broken body, poisoned by alcohol, has taken on new strength. He looks as insane as EIGERMAN, but stronger in his lunacy. There's a dangerous fervour in his eyes.
ASHBERRY: I saw their God...I saw him...
EIGERMAN: What the hell are you talking about?
ASHBERRY: I can still smell him. He's out there...
ASHBERRY walks on past EIGERMAN towards the exit from the Necropolis.
EIGERMAN: You mean you can find them?
EIGERMAN: We'll go together then. You can lead me to the bastards. Then I'll wipe them all away.
ASHBERRY: No. They're mine. Their God burned me. I want to burn him back. All of them. Burn them all away.
EIGERMAN: You can't, you don't have the wits...
ASHBERRY turns on him, his face wild. He takes hold of EIGERMAN by the neck, his fingers digging into the muscle. Blood runs. EIGERMAN tries to raise the gun but ASHBERRY takes hold of the man's hand, and summarily snaps his wrist. The gun is dropped. ASHBERRY starts to lift EIGERMAN up off the ground. The policeman's flailings stop suddenly. The head lolls. ASHBERRY flings the body aside, and starts out of the Necropolis. As he approaches the exit he looks up. Sunlight falls on his face.

Revised draft - Pink pages, 9 February 1989

With this replacement scene inserted, the screenplay ran through the three sequences - Boone biting Lori after she stabs herself, Ashberry killing Eigerman and leaving Midian on his quest to find the Breed and the gathering of the Breed in a barn talking of Cabal before closing on the mural of Boone and Lori on the hillside. This was the script that was filmed, with the sole changes in 27 February's amendments to the shooting script being an extra line for Babette and the planned addition of an on screen graphic to make audiences aware of the intention for a Nightbreed 2, as follows:


We track through the darkness to find RACHEL, BABETTE, KINSKI and a number of other REFUGEES and CHILDREN of Midian, staring out at the night.
BABETTE: ...who will come for us?
KINSKI: His name is Cabal. He unmade Midian.
BABETTE: How soon?
RACHEL: On the next wind. If not tonight, then tomorrow.
BABETTE gazes out over the cornfields.
BABETTE: On the next wind...


CABAL and LORI, standing on the hill, against a background of stars.
BABETTE (V.O): ...if not tonight... tomorrow...


MOVING THROUGH the ruined chambers, illuminated by dying flickers of flame, we find and TRACK ALONG the end of the heroic mosaic/mural. It tells, in a rush of images, the story of the ruin of Midian.
CAMERA comes to a stop on the final image: CABAL and LORI, as we just saw them, on a hill, framed against the star-filled heavens.
The sound of the wind...
FADE TO BLACK from which these simple words appear:



Revised draft - Pink pages, 27 February 1989


Storyboards of the closing sequence of Boone and Lori on the hill and the Breed in the barn supported the screenplay and principal photography started at Pinewood Studios on 6 March 1989 for a scheduled nine-week shoot.

Closing sequence storyboard


CABAL and LORI, standing on the hill, against a background of stars.

Closing sequence storyboard


MOVING THROUGH the ruined chambers, illuminated by dying flickers of flame, we find and TRACK ALONG the end of the heroic mosaic/mural. It tells, in a rush of images, the story of the ruin of Midian.

Closing sequence storyboard Closing sequence storyboard


CAMERA comes to a stop on the final image: CABAL and LORI, as we just saw them, on a hill, framed against the star-filled heavens.

Storyboards - 1989


Writing the introductory notes to the movie's "making of" book, Clive reflected on the development of scenes under the myriad of contributing influences on a production.

"Movies change; and change; and change.
"The images that first play on the screen inside your skull as you set pen to paper are subject to constant configuration. First you cast the faces to go with the characters, and costume them, and make them up; then the actors add their own embellishments to the dialogue, and the lighting cameraman has his contribution, and the set dresser his, and so on and so forth. But that's only the beginning. The image, though fixed on celluloid, is still malleable in countless ways. The editor, placing one action beside another, can change the significance of each; can re-order dialogue, making new sense of old ideas. The optical effects men may create paintings that will put cities where there were none before, and just as magically remove them. The labs can make noon into twilight, or vice versa. Then, sound: another world of significance, transforming the way we perceive the picture on the screen; and music, to signal our responses.
"What at first may seem the most immutable of media is in fact capable of being transformed at dozens of stages on its way from screenplay to screen.
"As both a writer and a director I am involved in the full spectrum of these processes. Inevitably, during the long, long trail from word to premiere, spirits soar and dive, ideas one day seeming God-given and the next rejected as hellish; decisions becoming badges of honour or yokes.
"Somewhere half way through this journey I'm setting these words on paper. Maybe the profoundest doubts about this project are past, and I'm finally on safe ground, believing we've made a good movie: but I'm laying no bets. We've still got another two weeks of shooting to do, much of it related to special effects; that material has then to be cut into the picture. Mattes have yet to be painted, cells animated, titles created, music composed..."

Introduction: Nightbreed

By Clive Barker, Clive Barker's Nightbreed - The Making of the Film, 1990

"Midian is destroyed and the second movie does not happen minutes later. It happens after the passage of some time. Nightbreed leaves a lot of questions unanswered, a lot of long-term questions. The second movie is not what will happen tomorrow.
"There are people out there in the world who have been waiting for Ashberry. Just as there are people out there who have been waiting for Boone. Secret orders who have been waiting for their own particular Lucifer. Armies waiting to rise who want a leader, and Ashberry is going to walk into their lives like I guess Hitler did; to stir up some deep feeling."

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

Re-shoots - 1

With the screenplay shot and the footage edited into an initial cut, Nightbreed moved into the first phase of what was to be a protracted "post-production" period. The ability for others to change and mutate a movie that Barker had anticipated in the 'Making of...' book was pushed to its limits...

In late July 1989, it was announced that the release date for the movie was being pushed back from its original Autumn 1989 date to early February 1990 instead. The press release cited "the complex demands of the film's ground-breaking post-production optical effects currently underway at Pinewood Studios in London." These included Ralph McQuarrie's mural and matte paintings but a week of additional shooting in late August would also see key parts of the narrative re-shot.

Scene 259 was revised to incorporate more of the mural painting which opens the movie and serves as the history - and destiny? - of the Breed.


CABAL and LORI, standing on the hill, against a background of stars.
BABETTE (V.O): ...if not tonight... tomorrow...



We cut from the hush of the barn and the hill-top scenes to the ruins of Midian. The soundtrack suddenly erupts with roars of destruction as the city beneath the Necropolis is claimed by the earth. The floor of the Mural Chamber is sliding away into a fiery abyss, the walls are cracking; rock and dirt falls from the ceiling; flames burst all around. We move along the walls to scan the murals. Occasionally sparks of lightning - the last vestiges of BAPHOMET's blood - burst from the toppled bowls.
We glimpse paintings from the story we've just been told: PELOQUIN biting BOONE; LYLESBURG and OHNAKA; DECKER's mask; EIGERMAN and ASHBERRY; RACHEL and BABETTE; BAPHOMET; NARCISSE...
And as we see the pictures we hear, woven into the epic cacophony of destruction, voices from the past, over-lapping.
NARCISSE (V.O): North of Athabasca. East of Peace River. Near Shere Neck, North of Dwyer...
PELOQUIN (V.O): God's an astronaut. Oz is over the rainbow. And Midian's where the monsters live...
LYLESBURG (V.O): Baphomet. Who made Midian...
RACHEL (V.O): You call us monsters, but when you dream, you dream of flying and changing and living without death...
ASHBERRY (V.O): Arm yourselves for war and let them go and take vengeance on Midian...
EIGERMAN (V.O): ... head to head with the Devil himself...
BAPHOMET (V.O): Follow me, all you tribes of darkness...
BOONE (V.O): I love her! Lori!
LORI (V.O): Why aren't I on these walls? I'm part of this story...
And finally, we come to a part of the Mural we've never seen before. On it, BOONE and LORI standing against a sky filled with cascading stars.
A plume of flame erupts in front of us, burning the image out.

Revised draft - Green pages, 25 August 1989

The August 1989 revisions had one further significant change to the end section, inserting a new scene immediately before the one in which Boone bites the dying Lori. The scene reintroduces Narcisse, a character who dies in the novel and who had suffered the same fate in the screenplays up to this point, his head being lopped off by Decker during the Midian fight sequences. However, during dailies and the initial edit, reaction was that Narcisse might have some ongoing role to play, so he was written back in.

"What I've got to avoid is making the books and films self-referential. I've got to keep them separate. I'll write the second Cabal book after I finish this picture, and as a sequel to the first book, not a sequel to the movie (of the book!). I don't want to keep the characters separate, but what you can't predict of course is how theatre audiences will react to different characters. Narcisse is a big hit in rushes, and maybe that will influence the way we view him in the movie. Maybe we'll bring him back in the movies if he goes down well. But I won't bring him back in the book, absolutely not. That's where there might be divergences."


By Stefan Jaworzyn, Shock Express, Vol 3 No 1, Summer 1989


The Necropolis has exploded. Now LORI and BOONE stand in the reeds as the last, bright bloom of the fires dies away on their faces. Figures move away through the smoke, creatures we recognise. The DRUMMER beats out a tattoo as they depart.
NARCISSE appears from the darkness, and throws BOONE his jacket. As he does so, the final explosion roars up from the underground, and destroys the necropolis. The creatures all look back.
NARCISSE: Never piss off a God.
LORI looks up into the sky. CUT TO LORI's POV of the sky, with other Breed, spirits of smoke and light, moving away into the night.
LORI: Where are they going?
NARCISSE: Any hiding place they can find. It'll be dawn soon.
BOONE: When I need you where will I find you?
NARCISSE: You'll find me. And you will need me.
He reaches to shake BOONE's hand.
NARCISSE: Never touched a legend before.
He laughs his manic laugh.
NARCISSE: (to Lori) Good night, pretty.
He fades into the night, the laughter going with him.

Revised draft - Yellow pages, 25 August 1989

This scene was also storyboarded:

Closing sequence storyboard


Now LORI and BOONE stand in the reeds as the last, bright bloom of the fires dies away on their faces. Figures move away through the smoke, creatures we recognise.

Closing sequence storyboard


CUT TO LORI's POV of the sky, with other Breed, spirits of smoke and light, moving away into the night.

Closing sequence storyboard


NARCISSE: Never touched a legend before.

Storyboards - 1989

Re-Shoots - 2

While the process of what Barker later described as "preview testing hell" continued, other studio pressures also mounted...

"I delivered Nightbreed in a first cut with a temporary soundtrack. It didn't test well at all. The characters' motives and the monsters as good guys caused confusion. I cleaned up those narrative lines and the next preview went better. There was this nice feeling at Fox - a sense if we could get a few extras right and offer a punchier ending we'd be fine."

Nightbreed: The Trials And Tribulations Of Clive Barker

By Alan Jones, Starburst, No 145, September 1990

These extra scenes were picked up in three days of additional shooting in Los Angeles in late 1989. The extras included several additional scenes with David Cronenberg, which expanded and clarified Decker's characterisation, focussing more of the story onto his character, as well as the desired "punchier" new ending. The mural segment of the previous drafts was dropped with the re-revised scene 259 altering the dynamic of Ashberry's future role once more...

"We tested this movie, we tested it twice with that ending and the audience said, sorry, don't like that ending and Twentieth Century Fox said, OK, get rid of it. That's the way you go... Originally Decker died..."

Fangoria Weekend Of Horrors

Transcript of a talk by Clive Barker, Weekend of Horrors, Los Angeles. May 1991

We leave BOONE and LORI, together on the hilltop and -- CUT TO:

The fires are dying down, but the air is still thick with flickering smoke. We move through the chaos, past carbonised corpses that still smoke. Now we see a structure ahead, emerging from the smoke. The remains of a tomb, which has been turned into a morbid altar. Around its base, the grotesque bodies of Naturals and Breed. At its centre, a body we can't yet see properly. In front of this structure, a figure with its back to us. A flare of flame. The figure turns-
It's Ashberry! Horribly transformed by his encounter with Baphomet. On the ground in front of him a barrel containing the bubbling dregs of Baphomet's bood. He puts his hand into the fluid, which boils up around his hand.
It hurts, but he LIKES the hurt. He raises his hand towards the body on the altar.
ASHBERRY: I saw their God... he burned me...! I want to burn them back...
He plunges his hand into a wound in the middle of the chest of the altar corpse.
ASHBERRY: Burn them all away!
We hear a heart-beat begin. Another flare of light illuminates the head of the altar-corpse.
It's Decker's mask!
A roar from the earth adds terror to the moment. The mask throws back its head.
THE MASK: Boone!
Light pours out of the mouth and eyes. The rest of the image goes to darkness, burning the grinning skull on our retina...

Revised pages - late 1989

"We cut the sequences in and tested it to a fabulous response. Even Tim Burton liked it. 'We've got it right,' I thought. I'll admit that the process was invaluable in making the movie slicker, faster, stranger and more intense. Explanations were dropped which weren't needed and Fox were happy."

Nightbreed: The Trials And Tribulations Of Clive Barker

By Alan Jones, Starburst, No 145, September 1990

"It's more of a rollercoaster ride than originally intended. I was surprised at how little time the US audience wanted to spend with dialogue when I tested the movie. The longer cut frankly didn't work for them. They wanted sensation after sensation after sensation. But it's roundabouts and swings in a way, because there's an element of excitement now in the movie. What happens now is the movie gets running and just never stops. I don't think it bores anybody, it moves way too fast to bore... It has a delirious quality; it begins with a dream and it never stops being a dream all the way through, it has the tone of an opium dream movie and I like that a lot. Its weirdness quotient is high, which does tend to delight me."

Flesh And Fury

By Mark Salisbury, Fear, No 22, October 1990

"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. 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."

Barker Bites Back

By Anthony Timpone, (i) Fangoria Horror Spectacular, No 1, 1990 (ii) Fangoria : Masters of the Dark

Final Editing

Asked by Fox to cut almost an hour from the initial two-and-a-half hour 'director's cut' of the movie, editor Richard Marden objected and decided to leave the project. Cut first to two hours and then again to just 102 minutes for the eventually-released theatrical cut, Nightbreed is a compromised movie in many respects.

In the final editing, many of the filmed sequences were dropped such that the "final" screenplay which ran:
(a) Narcisse says goodbye to Boone and Lori
(b) Boone explains he's Cabal, Lori stabs herself and Boone bites her, converting her to be one of the Breed
(c) Ashberry kills Eigerman
(d) Rachel, Kinski, Babette and other Breed in the Barn discuss Cabal, who unmade Midian
(e) Ashberry resurrects Decker
becomes a rushed onscreen ending that drops (b) and (c) and deletes the dialogue in (d).

In and of itself, this doesn't destroy the likelihood of any sequel - it simply continues the breakneck speed of the sequences before it and sets the raging, resurrected Decker at the heart of the Breed's future story - but other events were to conspire against the movie's chances of success...

Marketing and Politics

"A television trailer was sent to the MPAA ratings board and rejected twelve times. They won't allow any monster footage ever, so gradually it was cut down and ended up just showing someone being terrorised in their kitchen with a razor. That was acceptable by their standards but it constituted only five minutes of my movie. It was hopelessly confusing and didn't convey the right feel...
"I've tried to analyse over and over again how I could have done it differently. I made errors all down the line. When you finish a picture you're really tired. With relief you hand it over to the marketing people saying, 'here's my baby, you can look after it can't you?' 'Of course we can,' they reply, 'we've had years of experience.' I did that and it was the dumbest move I made..."

Nightbreed: The Trials And Tribulations Of Clive Barker

By Alan Jones, Starburst, No 145, September 1990

"Despite the superfice of sophistication that that [film-making] community has, it really works at gutter level. People bully, people connive, this is nothing you haven't heard about Hollywood before, but there it is - and they lie. I want to make movies, I don't want to make movies with dishonourable people. I think I'm probably going to have to once in a while. I would prefer to know the systems better. I made Hellraiser here [in England], I made Nightbreed here. I walked over there to finish post-production on the movie and discovered a whole different system of values, almost anti-values. The politics got so Byzantine that I didn't know who was stabbing me in the back, who was stabbing me in the eye - but they all had knives. All those things happen to directors all the time, but because books aren't like that, it came as a real shock to realise that people would just lie straight to your face and there were times when I thought I really don't know what I'm doing this for. I don't know why I'm bothering to deal with these people - they are total bastards."

Flesh And Fury

By Mark Salisbury, Fear, No 22, October 1990

"What Nightbreed taught me to do is to just get on - fuck, move on. You can lick your wounds and you can blame everybody in sight, but at the end of the day - I still believe that if I could one day get out of the vaults all the fucking stuff that should be in Nightbreed but isn't, and have the half-million dollars that it would take to reinstate it and give people the two-and-a-half-hour Nightbreed, it could be a really splendid movie; but it isn't there. And what is there is broken-backed as a consequence, but even in its broken-backed state, I don't think it's a bad picture. I think there's some very interesting, nice things going on in the picture, and they come out of the fact that the movie is what it is, which is a sort of cri de coeur on behalf of the monster."

The Bastard Child

By Douglas E. Winter, The Dark Fantastic, 2001

Deleted Scenes

As well as the storyboards presented above, a number of photographs of the cut scenes were included in Nightbreed's 'The Making of the Film' official tie-in book. This book contained an illustrated version of the shooting script with the August 1989 Narcisse elements incorporated.
The image of Boone and Lori on the hilltop, silhouetted against the sky was included as the final page. The other photos show Narcisse, Lori and Boone looking up at the sky, the bite on Lori's neck and Ashberry killing Eigerman.

Deleted - Narcisse, Lori and Boone Deleted - Lori's neck Deleted - Ashberry killing Eigerman Deleted - Ashberry killing Eigerman Deleted - Boone and Lori on the hilltop
Deleted - Boone and Lori on the hilltop

Click here for Anatomy of Nightbreed's opening scene
Click here for Anatomy of two of Nightbreed's deleted scenes...

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