Monday, November 16, 2015

Only now does it occur to me... NIGHTBREED

Only now does it occur to me... that in a dark, phantasmagorical carnival filled with wall-to-wall imaginative demons,


and nightmarish concepts...

that David Cronenberg would come out of left field to steal the show!

Lookin' creepy, Mr. C!

NIGHTBREED is a deeply atmospheric Clive Barker film (based on his novel CABAL) that he imagined would be the "STAR WARS" of horror movies: a multi-part epic with creature effects, a sweeping soundtrack (by Danny Elfman), heroic prophecies, beautiful matte paintings, and explosive action setpieces.

Unfortunately, it failed to recoup its budget and didn't gain much traction with critics, although over the years it has accumulated a devoted cult following. The newly remastered Director's Cut (while not incredibly different from the theatrical cut), is a generally stronger piece and, when it's over, you're left wishing there had been at least a trilogy of these movies.

Anyway––back to my enthusiastic salute to David Cronenberg's acting abilities! (Who knew?)

As psychotic psychotherapist Dr. Philip K. Decker (an homage to sci-fi author and Cronenberg hero Philip K. Dick), Cronenberg plays a near-pastiche of your typical Cronenberg villains––brilliant, perverse, detached, and clinical. Being a "closeted" outsider himself (Barker, as usual, peppers his horror with apt LGBT commentary), Dr. Decker loathes unconventional society and wishes to (literally) carve the "new flesh" off of the world.  In short, he's a soft-spoken creeper who moonlights as a terrifying, hooded slasher,

almost a proto-version of Cillian Murphy's "Scarecrow" from BATMAN BEGINS.

He has a wonderful yuppie lair where he lays out all of his knives like a Dario Argento murderer,

and he generally hypnotizes the viewer with his self-loathing and low-key menace.  It's an incredibly subtle performance, and I was left wishing that Cronenberg would use his acting abilities more often.

Interested parties may see Mr. Cronenberg ply this underrated talent in JASON X (as a doctor), ALIAS (also as a doctor), THE STUPIDS (as a postal worker), and TO DIE FOR (as a mafioso hitman!).



J.D. Lafrance said...

Love NIGHTBREED and the director's cut is a definite improvement as we get more of Median and more of the monsters... also more of the relationship between Boone and his girlfriend, which I always felt was undercooked in the theatrical version.

Isn't Cronenberg good in this? He exudes just the right amount of creepy icy menace - the kind that makes your skin crawl. I also thought his bit part in TO DIE FOR was excellent. Very effective and I love how it comes out of left field.

Sean Gill said...


Fully agreed, my friend––and I love his bit in TO DIE FOR. It's such a chilling little role, and a bizarre surprise!