31 Monsters in 31 Days: Nightbreed

What could be better than a city of monsters? Perhaps having the artistic freedom to portray that city as intended, writer-director Clive Barker would probably add in defense of this 1990 release. Adapting his short novel CABAL Barker found himself at the mercy of producers and a studio out of sync with his vision of a subterranean community of creatures persecuted by far more monstrous humans. (It didn’t help that movie’s initial ad campaign focused on David Cronenberg’s psychotic Philip Decker, implying the film was more slasher flick than monster rally.) Despite the interference and meddling from studio brass Barker gives us a flawed yet fascinating look at outsiders populated by an imaginative menagerie of creatures.

Beneath the surface NIGHTBREED is a compassionate look at the gay community, driven into underground societies by the tyranny of psychiatry, law enforcement, and religion. (Maybe this is what caused it such trouble during its production.) The film has since found a new cult of fans at odds with homophobic authority figures and politicians who insist homosexuality can be cured. In fact its themes of solidarity and acceptance are as resonant today as ever.

Rumors abound of an eventual release of Barker’s director’s cut, but it appears to be as unlikely as seeing the intended versions of MARTIN and TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME. But man, wouldn’t it be nice.

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