Wednesday, December 29, 2010

"Night Breed" - Unsequelized

Clive_Barker_s_Night_Breed

Let me be the first to admit that the movies we love are rarely perfect. We may not recognize that fact until much later; we also may not recognize what it is that they're lacking until much later. In the case of Night Breed, a movie I still adore, it wasn't until many years later that I discovered just why the movie a) is kind of a mess and b) not well regarded by so many including its creator. All I knew after many years of repeated viewings of the film was that I was never gonna get the second part in what I saw as the Star Wars of monster movies.

It turns out that my reading of the film was one thing Clive Barker did intend from day one of pre-production on this film. He saw Cabal, later to be retitled Night Breed by execs at Morgan Creek and Fox, as THE Star Wars of monster movies. It was to be a starting point for a much larger story about the monsters and their struggles with the human world. even with Boone you have the classic archetype of the hero's journey, although told via the perspective of some one who REALLY does not fit in with the world around him.

Being a fan of horror, fantasy and sci-fi from a very early age my ten-year old self was ready to take that journey with Barker. As a kid who was incredibly out of step with the world (talk to me about it some time; I'm not posturing) I was also fascinated by the notion of a man embracing a monster inside of him as some kind of foregone destiny, while becoming part of a surrogate family that was, in many ways, freakier than even he. When I met Barker three years later and realized he was gay it didn't come as a surprise. Even before Singer used the X-Men as surrogates for the gay rights movement and the adoptive family of the gay community, Barker painted that picture with even broader, bolder strokes.

But, besides all that, the world Barker created was just viscerally fascinating. His creatures and the world of Middian were equal parts repulsive and alluring. Unlike a lot of the posturing of the gothic movement, who can never properly strike that balance between lush and romantic and the truly macabre, the world Barker weaves is one that you were frightened to rush headlong into, though the forward momentum of your desires felt damn near unstoppable.

That rather odd mixture is where a lot of people tend to pass on the invation Barker has extended them. Most horror fans can't reconcile the fantastic and romantic elements of the story, while the true horror doesn't coalesce with the tone most fans of the gothic or the fantasmic are used to. Barker's film is ambitious to the point of alienation. The fans of this film (and there are so few of them) represent the very element of cult fandom, that of an obsession with or attraction to the outrageous and unaffected.

Of all the movies I've discussed in Unsequelized, Night Breed is the first that was created to have a follow-up. With all the others I've talked about it was just wishful thinking. But seeing the ending of Night Breed (God damn that image of Decker coming to life on the cross still scares the shit out of me) and knowing Barker's intentions make it clear that we were being set up for something, something we would never get, something that would have been unlike anything we had seen before. Thank God we have our imaginations...

2 Comments:

Blogger Dave said...

"It was to be a starting point for a much larger story about the monsters and their struggles with the human world. even with Boone you have the classic archetype of the hero's journey, although told via the perspective of some one who..." see Kal Bashir's 510+ stage hero's journey at http://www.clickok.co.uk/index4.html

December 30, 2010 at 6:19 AM  
Blogger Pork Chop Express said...

Yeah, that was the point I was making; note "classic" archetype. The difference here is that you still don't see this type of storytelling format in the world of horror, fantasy or otherwise. At least, not directly. You could make an argument that any survivor character has gone through a change by the end of the standard hack and slash horror film, but it is so rarely ever given this much emphasis.

January 4, 2011 at 8:12 AM  

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