The big to-do of Terror in the Aisles 11 was the “Cabal Cut” of Nightbreed; the addition of Hellraiser to the slate was announced soon afterward. From this point on, the idea of Terror 11 being anything other than a Clive Barker theme night was ridiculous. It was speculated for a while that Hellraiser II might be added to the bill, and I personally was hoping for Movieside to go for the trifecta and add Lord of Illusions. Eventually Candyman was announced as the third feature.

Unfortunately a work commitment for early the following morning came up at the last minute (I was literally halfway to the Portage when my boss called me and asked me to take it), so it wasn’t going to be possible to stay for Candyman. Oh well.

As with all Movieside events, proceeds went to Vital Bridges Center on Chronic Care. I haven’t mentioned them in a while, so here’s their mission statement: “…to help people throughout metropolitan Chicago impacted by HIV and AIDS to improve their health and build self-sufficiency by providing food, nutrition counseling, housing, care coordination and prevention services.”

Trailer Trash

Yay, more vintage trailers: Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror; Dracula vs. Frankenstein; Horror of the Blood Monsters; Captain Nemo and the Underwater City; Fireball Jungle; Savage Sisters; The Exotic Ones.

Short film: Tape

This short is by Jason Coffman, who if I remember correctly is the admin of the Music Box Massacre Facebook group. Tape is really, really good. I’ve gone on the record several timesin the past–I think most recently in my review of the Viscera 2007 collection–about my philosophy as to what I love to see in a short horror film and Tape is the epitome of that. It’s creepy, weird and disturbing with some fine performances and great music.

To the woman behind me who yelled “Pick up the phone, A.C.!” at the lead actor: the people who made and appeared in Tape may be personal friends of yours, and that’s fine. But lots of people, including me, don’t know them from Adam and are trying to watch and enjoy the movie, and your interjections are distracting. So please save that shit for Rocky Horror.

Trailer for Iron Sky

Udo Kier leads a horde of Nazis who have a secret base on the dark side of the moon and plots to take over the world with UFOs.

That should hit most peoples’ sweet spots.

Nightbreed: The Cabal Cut (Clive Barker, 1990)

For those of you who don’t know the story of the Cabal Cut of Nightbreed, let’s have a bit of background first.

Fans of Clive Barker and his 1990 film Nightbreed (based on his short novel Cabal) have known for a long time that a lot of footage was cut from Barker’s intended version. The idea of a Director’s Cut has been bounced around quite a bit over the last twenty years, but was eventually deemed impossible because nobody seemed quite sure who was supposed to be in possession of the cut footage. Eventually even Barker gave up on the idea.

Stories differ; the one that seems to be the most prominent goes like this: a guy named Mark Miller, a principal at Seraphim Films (Barker’s production company) asked for Barker’s blessing in tracking down the missing footage. Barker consented; Miller contacted Morgan Creek (the film’s original production studio), who discovered two workprints in VHS format which they turned over to Miller and the couple who run Barker’s official website. (I’ve heard several different stories; another one states that the workprint tapes were in Barker’s possession, not the studio’s, and that Morgan Creek still claims the original footage is missing.)

Miller and another Seraphim associate, Russell Cherrington, got Barker’s blessing to re-assemble a rough cut of Barker’s original version by combining the theatrical cut with the workprint footage. Cherrington and Miller–usually bringing along the film’s lead actors, Craig Sheffer and Anne Bobby–have screened this cut (around two and a half hours long and dubbed the “Cabal Cut”) at several festivals and marathons, often tweaking it between screenings based on audience feedback.

Meanwhile, Nightbreed’s actual copyright holders (Morgan Creek, 20th Century Fox, and Universal Studios) have expressed willingness to fund a professional restoration of the VHS footage and release it on DVD & BD if they can be convinced that sales will justify the expense.

So anyway…

Introduction by Anne Bobby (Nightbreed’s Lori Winston) and Russell Cherrington (Cabal Cut restoration director)

…the guy from Fangoria who usually introduces guests at Movieside events (please forgive me, I never seem to catch the guy’s name) brought out Russell Cherrington and Anne Bobby to introduce the film and talk about how it came to be. The vast majority of the intro (and the Q&A session that followed the screening) was dedicated to how the studios are willing to release a director’s cut if interest can be proven. Bobby, who sees the film as a political allegory (and who believes that the film’s themes are more relevant to the modern day than they were to the late ’80s/early ’90s), coined the phrase “Occupy Midian” at an early Cabal Cut screening and the phrase has stuck, eventually becoming the name of the most prominent Cabal Cut advocacy site.

The Movie

I’ll start by being honest: I still have a lot of problems with Nightbreed. I have a hard time buying a small, sleepy Canadian town having a police department with a S.W.A.T. team and that much military-grade firepower. (My response when they bring out the rocket launcher is always, without fail, “Oh, for fuck’s sake!”) The assault on Midian drags. The dialogue has a tendency to be too quippy (forgivable when the quips come from Narcisse or Leroy, less so when they come from Peloquin or Decker). I don’t find Aaron Boone anywhere near as fascinating or compelling as Clive Barker clearly does. (Check out some of the things Barker has said about the character if you don’t believe me.)

That being said, the Cabal Cut corrects the biggest problem with the theatrical cut of Nightbreed, which is that it simply doesn’t feel like a complete movie. There’s too much background and story for a hundred minutes, and it’s hard to follow or understand if you haven’t read Cabal. (I know this from actual experience.) Now, Barker intended Nightbreed as the first film in a series (more on that later), so that problem would doubtlessly have been alleviated in the sequels–except that, of course, those sequels were never made.

I would say the most radical changes involve the supporting characters, particularly Ashberry, who clearly would have been an important character in the sequels; in the original theatrical version, he showed up out of nowhere and did a couple of bizarre things that made no sense. In the Cabal Cut, he has a point. Another improvement is more Decker. I’m not going to try to claim that David Cronenberg is a great actor or anything like that (he’s a bit flat whenever he tries to deliver a one-liner), but he delivered a truly chilling performance that, at least to me, made Decker one of the most memorable cinematic horror villains of his era, and the additional footage underscores that (particularly when he’s talking to the Mask).

It’s a rare film that’s actually improved by the addition of nearly an hour of footage, but Nightbreed actually is. The Cabal Cut is an impressive achievement. Kudos to Russell Charrington and Mark Miller for making it happen–and best of luck to them in getting an official release for the cut.

Anne Bobby & Russell Cherrington Q&A

Cherrington and Bobby came back out and answered a few questions. Unfortunately they didn’t have microphones for most of this session, and while my digital recorder is pretty sensitive (it’s the one we use to record the podcast these days) it didn’t pick up a whole lot. On top of that, Bobby was suffering from laryngitis–it was occasionally hard to make out what she was saying even when she did have a mic. Still, their enthusiasm for the project shone through.

Anyway, if you’re interested in an official home-video release of an extended cut of Nightbreed, head over to Occupy Midian; they’ve got news on upcoming screenings, an e-petition, and a lot more.

Lowcarbcomedy’s Hellraiser

I’ve seen Lowcarbcomedy shorts I thought were a lot better; the “hooks in the face” jokes are funny at the beginning, but ultimately the sketch relies way too much on them. On the other hand, casting Kusper as Frank Cotton (“I like boxes!”) is a stroke of genius.

Hellraiser (Clive Barker, 1987)

I’m not going to go too much into this, because I’m going to do a full and proper review of it in a couple of weeks. But something hit me as I was watching this on a big screen: this must have looked absolutely monkeyfuck insane to mainstream audiences and maybe even casual genre fans in 1987. I expect a lot of filmgoers expected Pinhead to be like Freddy Kruger but were ultimately treated to something the likes of which they had never seen before in their lives.

I’m not going to say that nobody was making movies like this at the time, because they clearly were: I can see parallels between Hellraiser and movies like Bava and Argento’s Demons or even Fulci’s Gates of Hell trilogy. But at best those were treated like art films; at worst, they were sleazy exploitation flicks that played in the successors to grindhouse theaters, assuming they didn’t just go straight to VHS in heavily-expurgated cuts. Hellraiser actually played in multiplexes.

The person who introduced me to Hellraiser was a girl I’d dated while in my early twenties. She liked the comedy-with-gore stuff like Army of Darkness; for the longest time she was the only person I knew who had actually seen Dead Alive instead of merely knowing about it by reputation. She didn’t seem to like what I would have termed “serious” horror movies–I once tried to get her to watch Cronenberg’s Shivers with me and she asked me to turn it off after half an hour because it bothered her too much. When I told her I didn’t understand because she liked Hellraiser, her response was that Pinhead was obviously a cartoon (her word) because he had pins in his face. Honestly–I don’t think she ever really understood Hellraiser.

*   *   *

Then there was a Vital Bridges auction. I usually try to snag something at the auctions, even if it’s something small (I have a couple of pairs of passes-for-two to the Music Box), just to support the cause. Unfortunately, I’m not much of a memorabilia collector, so most of what gets auctioned doesn’t really interest me. This time was no different: I nearly bid on a House of the Devil poster, but as much as I liked that movie, I didn’t really want to spend $50.

Then there was a short film, but that was the point at which it occurred to me that I would need to be leaving, so I didn’t catch the name of it.

In the lobby I ran into Russell Cherrington and we had a brief chat. I congratulated him on the Cabal Cut, and we briefly discussed what I thought had been improved. When I mentioned the planned sequels he told me that Clive Barker had once shown him an eight-page treatment for Nightbreed II, and he outlined the basic premise for me. (He compared the Nightbreed to the X-Men, which may sound weird, but then again it’s obvious that Barker’s drawn a lot of influence from comic books.) Nice guy.

Anyway: Terror in the Aisles 12 will be held in late September, featuring the aforementioned Iron Sky. And, as always, Save the Portage (I’m a bit shocked this whole thing still isn’t resolved, actually).

6 thoughts on “Terror in the Aisles 11

  1. Fuck! I’m sorry I missed that. I was hoping to make it, at least for the Cabal Cut of Nightbreed. I’m glad to hear it improved, rather than destroyed, the movie. As far as Cronenberg’s acting goes, I don’t think he’s acting. I’ve seen him in interviews, and he conducts himself in the exact same way. (Well, except he probably doesn’t wear the mask and go around killing people. At least, I don’t think so.)


    1. Something tells me that if Cronenberg were to take up serial-killing, he’d find a way to do it that’s a lot weirder than wearing a burlap mask that he talks to.


  2. Glad you enjoyed “TAPE!” It was a lot of work, but really fun and I think it turned out pretty well– happy to see someone agrees. Looks like some of your text might be missing, I’d like to see what else you had to say about it! I do run the Massacre Fans group on Facebook, as well as the Massacre fan site (, too. Thanks for the write-up!


    1. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment–and thanks for letting me know that the text got wiped (I fixed it).

      Basically, I like short-form horror as a medium for concentrated bursts of weirdness and insanity, and I thought Tape did that very well, particularly some of the weirder plot turns (and of course the vomiting sequence). The performances were also strong and I really dug the music and sound design.


  3. Vital Bridges? Really?? Huh. My ex-wife interned there while in grad school. I’m glad the auctions are going to their funding. They need it.


    1. Interesting, didn’t know your ex worked there. Yeah, the Movieside/Vital Bridges connection goes back as far as I can remember (which would be the 2008 Music Box Massacre–incidentally the one that Clive Barker was at).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s