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Until the DVD showed up on my doorstep, I never had the opportunity to check out Clive Barker’s NIGHTBREED ($20), which the writer/director based upon his own novel Cabal. Sure, I knew there were a lot of people that like this particular horror outing, but I never got around to seeing it. Well, after seeing NIGHTBREED, I can honestly say that this an unusual, but cool, fright flick. The plot of NIGHTBREED tries to draw a distinction between monsters, both real and the twisted human creatures that inhabit our world.

Starting with a deranged killer that butchers entire families, we then encounter Boone (Craig Sheffer), an innocent man who is blamed for the crimes by his creepy psychiatrist Decker (David Cronenberg). Hoping to escape from the authorities, Boone journeys to Midian- the refuge of real monsters in our world. Although Boone ends up shedding his humanity in Midian, he discovers that that the moral code that constrains him and most of his fellow monsters make them far more human than the terrifying creatures that inhabit our world. Unfortunately, Boone’s troubles from the world outside come crashing down Midian, unleashing the previously dormant horror of the monsters. The only thing negative I can say about NIGHTBREED is that the film has an uneven quality. Barker combines his larger philosophical ideas with gruesome, graphic horror, but the two don’t always mix very well. The cast of NIGHTBREED also includes Anne Bobby, Charles Haid, Hugh Quarshie, Hugh Ross and Doug Bradley.

Warner Home Video has made NIGHTBREED available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. This is a very good transfer that produces a very crisp and well-defined image. Colors are strongly rendered, with realistic looking flesh tones and no signs of chroma noise or smearing. Blacks are solid and inky, plus there is a goodly amount of shadow detail in the film’s numerous darker scenes. There are very few blemishes on the film element used for the transfer and little appreciable grain. Digital compression artifacts are not an issue on this cleanly authored DVD.

NIGHTBREED is offered with a new Dolby Digital 5.1 channel sound mix, which greatly enhances the atmosphere of the film unsettling visuals. Sound effects are well deployed in both the forward and rear sound stages, plus there is clean channel separation that gives a genuine sense of location. The surrounds aren’t as aggressive as in a newer film, but they are rather effective. Dialogue reproduction is very good with the actors’ voices maintaining full intelligibility. The bass channel is pretty solid and serves to enhance both sound effects and the film’s score. Speaking of the score, composer Danny Elfman again provides his own unique sensibilities to the project, with his music mining the darker aspects of the material. An English Dolby Surround soundtrack is also provided on the DVD, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a theatrical trailer and cast biographies/filmographies.

NIGHTBREED is an intriguing horror outing that will appeal to horror buffs and Clive Barker fans in particular. Warner’s DVD looks and sounds great, making this disc a no-brainer for those so inclined.




DVD reviews are Copyright 2001 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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