On July 19th, I had the extreme pleasure of attending a screening of Clive Barker’s NIGHTBREED: THE CABAL CUT (or perhaps more appropriately titled,The Version You’ve Never Seen). As many fans of the original 1990 film already know, the movie we’ve come to revere as a cult classic is incomplete; reels and reels of additional footage were shot but ultimately not included in the final release. All existing copies of the unseen footage were thought to be lost, however, an extraordinarily rough cut was discovered on an old, PAL encoded VHS tape. Parts of it were missing soundtrack cues, other parts missing audio entirely, and the majority of it looking as if the celluloid was rubbed in dirt… and then backed over repeatedly with an 18-wheeler. We’re talking dirty.
Enter: Russell Cherrington, a filmmaker and a friend of Clive Barker’s. Unbeknownst to anyone else, he took it upon himself to re-edit the found footage and intersplice it with the already existing cut of NIGHTBREED. What emerged was an extended cut that included an additional 45 minutes of length. And although the quality varied as it jumped back and forth between industry-processed film and the hidden gems buried within a dilapidated VHS, the movie suddenly took form in a way it never had. To quote Russell himself:
“NIGHTBREED had evolved into CABAL.”
After seeing the newly edited film, Clive Barker was ecstatic. Though it had taken twenty years, his film was finally his again. Since the first time Russell Cherrington presented his version of NIGHTBREED to Clive, the film has been re-edited five times, taking every effort to remain as true to the original vision and spirit as possible. It is an obvious labour of love, driven by the independent efforts of people passionate about filmmaking and restoring integrity back into a movie that was so savagely ripped apart by the studio.
Unfortunately, THE CABAL CUT is hardly a finished product. It has not been digitally restored, only converted from the VHS copy and digitized into a format which allows it to be presented theatrically. It is plagued by dips in quality which range from barely noticeable all the way to a prominent “COPYRIGHT/89” written in big bold letters across the upper right hand of the screen. A true restoration could fix these issues, but like everything, it costs an incredible amount of money.
Russell Cherrington and those who care about the preservation of NIGHTBREED have created an initiative aptly titled Occupy Midian. It consists of a petition and a place to donate any small funds you may wish to give toward a good cause. If nothing else, please take the time to toss your name down and help a group of talented filmmakers. They need 10,000 signatures, and they’ve already received 6640 as of this moment. Don’t let them fall short of their goal.
For more information, check out their website at: http://www.occupymidian.com
It is a wonderfully inspiring reminder that there are still people out there who care about the preservation of our genre, and are willing to sacrifice their own time and money. Join us and show them you care. Every signature counts.