Nightbreed (1990) - Rotten Tomatoes

Nightbreed (1990)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Multimedia horror maven Clive Barker followed the success of his feature directorial debut, Hellraiser, with this equally surreal effort, based on his novella Cabal. The story involves the plight of Aaron Boone (Craig Sheffer), a young man tormented by visions of monstrous, graveyard-dwelling creatures. Seeking the aid of his clinically cold therapist Dr. Decker (played by Canadian horror auteur David Cronenberg) in deciphering his nightmares, Boone becomes convinced that his frequent blackouts are linked to a recent spate of mutilation murders in the area. His frantic search for the truth leads him to the subterranean city of Midian, the dwelling place of a mythical race of undead nocturnal monsters known as the "Nightbreed." But it is only after he is cornered and shot dead by police that Boone's real journey begins -- he finds himself resurrected as one of the Breed. Though Barker's unique and graphic vision is somewhat blunted by choppy editing (thanks to relentless tampering from the studio), this is nevertheless a fine sophomore project from a talented storyteller; the central conceit of presenting the monsters as the "good guys" -- at least compared to the gun-and-bible-toting lunatics who hunt them -- is handled with verve and originality. ~ Cavett Binion, Rovimore
Rating: R
Genre: Action & Adventure, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
Written By: Clive Barker
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jun 1, 2004


Craig Sheffer
as Aaron Boone
David Cronenberg
as Dr. Philip Decker
Charles Haid
as Capt. Eigerman
Hugh Quarshie
as Detective Joyce
Hugh Ross
as Narcisse
Doug Bradley
as Lylesberg
Bob Sessions
as Pettine
Oliver Parker
as Peloquin
Tony Bluto
as Leroy Gomm
David Young
as Otis and Clay
Mac MacDonald
as Lou Rickman
Daniel Kash
as Labowitz
Peter Marinker
as Pathologist
Lindsay Holiday
as Morgue Assistant
Kenneth Nelson
as Emergency Doctor
Ted Maynard
as Bartender
Mitch Webb
as Jail Cell Doctor
Eric Loren
as Ambush Cop
Alan Harris
as Stand-In
John Agar
as Special Appearance
Debora Weston
as Sheryl Ann
Mac McDonald
as Lou Rickman
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Nightbreed

Critic Reviews for Nightbreed

All Critics (26) | Top Critics (6)

Full Review… | September 7, 2011
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

Full Review… | February 16, 1990
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

The Director's Cut is vastly superior to the theatrical version, expanding on the secretive realm of Midian and the monsters who reside in this underground lair.

Full Review… | November 9, 2014
Creative Loafing

Audience Reviews for Nightbreed

Full marks for great monster makeup and a story that is excellently cheesy and pointless.

Curtis Lilly

Super Reviewer


Cool film title, much better than the original novel title of 'Cabal', guess 'Morgan Creek' was right on that little change. Unfortunately this film was one of those productions that suffered from heavy interference from the studio and thusly ended up being nothing like it was intended.

I can't even place what 'Nightbreed' is suppose to be really, a kind of horror, thriller, fantasy or translation...'Beetlejuice' with blood. Yes it is! this film is basically a grown up nasty version of 'Beetlejuice' with Danny Elfman doing the score even!.

The plot makes no sense whatsoever frankly, no real point behind it, no real motivations, explanations or reasons. Basically a diverse race of monsters that live below an ancient graveyard called 'Nightbreed'. Some young guy wants to join them and errr ends up helping them fight against the nasty humans that wanna destroy the city of 'Midian', the city of monsters.

Read between the lines there...the plot is saying we the regular folk are the real monsters, not the actual monsters. Not exactly an original concept huh.

This film is really quite odd. Chock full of bizarre creatures of the night, most of which look utterly stupid and not a tall scary. The effects are of course dated but makeup and prosthetic work is in good form with heavy hands on work, plenty of blood and some interesting gore, no CGI here folks. The problem being that most of the creature ideas are pretty daft looking, like a collection of cartoon characters. For example there is a female creature that seems to be a humanoid porcupine? eh?? and a male humanoid with a head shaped like the crescent moon for some reason.

Casting is just as unique to be truthful. Oddball character actor and usual badguy Craig Sheffer is the young hero here, he fits the bill perfectly really with his strange features. In for the ride is Cronenberg as a psycho trying to destroy the 'Nightbreed' race. Again he fits this film perfectly as the guy himself is pretty eerie and odd with his calm pleasant unsuspecting manner. Its his eyes that do it.

The film is known as a huge cult and you can see why. Clearly a lot of work was put in with monster designs, sets, makeup and matte work but the whole thing is just so damn surreal and without real reason that you lose interest. The monsters aren't scary and neither is the attempted creepy location/set work and atmosphere, but you do get the odd moment of nasty gore, so where do you stand?.

The wonderful familiar musical score from Elfman lures you into thinking your watching a fantasy film for teens, something like 'Legend' mixed with 'Batman Returns' with the weird undead creatures from 'Beetlejuice'. Some lovely visuals throughout and some terrific imagination but its all wasted on a poor plot and overall badly edited film.

You get the feeling this really could/should of been a classic epic horror fantasy, the foundations are there but it just hasn't been constructed correctly.

Phil Hubbs

Super Reviewer

This is one of those films that I hope the director's cut gets released. The film as it stands now is a great horror/fantasy film but you can see that the film was re-edited and just almost destroyed in post production. Hopefully Barker will get his promised directors cut out one day, Anyway Nightbreed is about Boone, a troubled young man, is having some very realistic nightmares about a place called Midian, where the monsters live. The dreams used to frighten him, but now they're almost welcoming. His doctor, Philip Decker, wants to keep him doped up and under surveillance. Decker wants Boone to believe that he is dangerous, uncontrollable and homicidal, when in fact it is Decker himself who commits gruesome murders and wants Boone to take the fall. When Boone is brought to a hospital, overdosing on the powerful hallucinogenics that Decker supplied him with, he meets another man who speaks of Midian. Midian is real, and Boone knows he must find his way there. But Boone is not welcomed by the monsters who live beneath an ancient cemetery...not immediately anyway. When one of them attempts to take a bite out of him, Boone runs for his life and directly into Decker and a wall of armed policeman. Boone is shot down, but is he really dead? Both Decker and Boone's girlfriend Lori are determined to find out, and there's only one place to look....Midian.

As for the cast and characters, David Cronenberg as the evil Dr. Decker is smooth and hypnotic and downright creepy in his S&M killers mask. The monsters are the good guys for a change, and they're really cool looking! My absolute favorites are the bad tempered Peloquin, the lovely quilled Shunma Sassi and the awesome god Baphomet, all created by Clive Barker's amazing imagination. Look also for Doug Bradley as Lylesburg. The underground city of Midian is an impressive set, as well as the gothically beautiful cemetery above ground. This is a film worth checking out if you can find it. A nice blend of horror and fantasy.

David Ladd

Super Reviewer

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