Will the Nightbreed Rise Again?

Production company Morgan Creek recently announced that they’re changing their name to the Morgan Creek Entertainment Group.

And…why would anyone (who isn’t directly or indirectly involved with Morgan Creek) care?

The reason is because one of the movies in their catalogue is Clive Barker’s Nightbreed (based on the short story, Cabal from The Books of Blood). 

An almost legendarily troubled production, Nightbreed was an attempt by Barker to move away from the gore of his prior film, Hellraiser. 

And it might have worked, if it weren’t for the fact that at the time Morgan Creek wanted a slasher movie–it came out in 1990, when slasher movies were in vogue–and if they couldn’t get Clive Barker to make them one, they’d take control of his film and  do it themselves!

So somewhere in the ballpark of an hour of footage was cut from the movie, altering storylines in ways that Barker hadn’t intended; literally changing the structure, flow and intent of the movie.

And while various attempts have been made since the release of Nightbreed to restore it to an approximation of his vision, the damage had been done and Barker only directed one other movie, 1995’s The Lord of Illusions (from The Books of Blood, Vol. 6) since that time.

Fast-forwarding to today there’s no guarantee that Barker will have anything to do with Nightbreed, be it a television series or a feature film, but it’s logical that the relaunched Morgan Creek Entertainment would would at least seek to have Barker on in an executive producer capacity, if only go to satisfy the legions of fans of his work because I am comfortable saying that without Barker’s imprimatur, a reboot is DOA.

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Hellraiser Sequels As Good As Or Better Than The Original

Clive Barker’s Hellraiser is–when viewed in retrospect–hasn’t aged particularly well.

The acting is often campy and overwrought–probably due to a relatively small budget–and some of the special effects weren’t even that good in 1987.

Though Barker did the best with the resources that he had, though I get the feeling that what made the movie most successful was that it took advantage of the ignorance of the average American moviegoer (a ‘cenobite’ is member of a religious order living in a convent or community.  That’s it, though Barker’s genius was that he was able to imbue the word with powers and intimations beyond its humble origins).

Ironically enough, some of the sequels–most of which, rightly so, are maligned in the minds of movie goers–managed to capture that mixture of weirdness and perversity crucial to Barker’s work with even less in the way of budget.

So here’s a list of the best Hellraiser sequels, in order of release.

• Hellhound: Hellraiser II

Arguably the best of the series; it was directed by Tony Randel–who also directed the underrated Amityville: It’s About Time–and took the foundation and characters Barker created and turned them into something greater than the sum of its parts.

It also improved upon Barker’s original in virtually every way, and had some really trippy and disturbing imagery.

• Hellraiser: Inferno

The first Hellraiser film from Miramax, as well as the directoral debut of Scott Derrickson (Sinister, Doctor Strange), Hellraiser: Inferno is interesting because it manages to take the Hellraiser formula and successfully take it into a more psychological direction.  The horror’s there, but the movie is more of a journey into the mind of its protagonist (in this instance, Det. Joseph Thorne (Craig Sheffer).

• Hellraiser: Hellseeker

By this time the Hellraiser movies budgetary restrictions are painfully apparent, but director Rick Bota does well with a story that brings back Kirsty Cotten (Ashley Lawrence) and connects directly to the original movies.

• Hellraiser: Bloodline

For some reason Hellraiser: Bloodline is much maligned–which probably has more than a little to do with the fact that the original director, Kevin Yeager, left the production due to studio interference and had to be replaced by Joe Chappelle, who had to cobble a movie together from Yeager’s completed footage–though I have always found it more interesting that most of the sequels.

Not everything worked, but when it did it was pretty effective.

But don’t take my word for it.  Most of the Hellraiser films are on Netflix, so you can choose for yourself which is the best.

Weaveworld Is Coming, So Why Am I Worried?

WeaveworldIn the past I have been a huge fan of Clive Barker’s work.  From the Books Of BloodImajica to the Great And Secret Show, if it were written by Barker, I was reading it though I began to move away from his writing when I noticed in books like Sacrament that it seemed that he was moving away from horror.

I also enjoyed, for the most part, the movies he helmed like Hellraiser and Lord Of Illusions (Nightbreed had some good elements, though I always felt that it never quite jelled for me).

I particularly recall enjoying Weaveword as well, though when I recently learned that he was executive producing (and I assume writing, sooner or later) a series based on it, I got a bit of a sinking feeling because its on network tv (the CW) and if there’s one thing that permeated Barker’s work, which I am reasonably sure won’t translate, is a sensualness–in some instances, blatantly so–of Barker’s writing.

I was always of the opinion that sex was what underlie most of his novels and short stories (as well as his movies,  particularly Hellraiser and The Lord Of Illusions) and be it hetero or homo, if you take that away from the reinterpretation of his work, while it may be interesting, it’s not Barker.

Which is why I am surprised to learn that Weaveworld failed to work on Showtime.  I don’t know the details, cable sounds like the perfect place for it (or Netflix.  That would be awesome).

Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse – Red Band Trailer

Christopher Landon’s Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse on the face of it looks like fun, and while I was a boy scout when I was younger, there’s something that has always felt a bit off-putting to me about people who don’t outgrow it.

That being said, the movie looks like there’s some potential for hilarity among the viscera.

And this is the Red Band Trailer, so it goes without saying that there’s copious amounts of the red stuff because, wasn’t it Clive Barker who said something to the effect that people are just like books, in that when we’re opened, we’re red.

‘Deliver Us From Evil’ Trailer

I like the work of Scott Derrickson (and I hope that he’s being considered for Marvel Studios upcoming Doctor Strange feature, along with Don Coscarelli).  Heck, I even like his remake of “The Day The Earth Stood Still,” if only because he was able to find a role for Keanu Reeves that made that actor’s wooden acting style an advantage instead of a liability (which, let’s be honest, it generally is).

Derrickson also does horror well.  He did “Sinister,” which was pretty decent (if you can get around a demon with the dopey name of ‘Bagul’) as well as “Hellraiser: Inferno” one of the better of spinoffs from Clive Barker’s original movie.

‘Wishmaster’ and ‘Wishmaster 2’

As I repeat often enough, remakes are evil (except when they’re not).  Recently I watched “Wishmaster” and “Wishmaster 2” on Netflix, and got to thinking…

I decided to deal with both movies at the same time because, despite one being a sequel, they’re essentially the same film.  Sure, you have differences in casting and the quality of special effects the second time around (they’re marginally better, though not as inventive) but the story, like the song, remains the same.

Which is:  An evil djinn (jinn.  Islamic Mythology, any of a class of spirits, lower than the angels, capable of appearing in human and animal forms and influencing humankind for either good or evil) is attempting to force the person who frees him from his prison to make three wishes, which would enable him to free his brethren from the Limbo-like dimension that holds them, and rule the world.

Though, unlike with the Dictionary.com definition, there’s no doubt where this particular djinn’s loyalties lie.

And to my dismay, I soon discover that, instead of taking what could have been a rich mythology and building upon it, the Wishmaster comes off like a Middle-Eastern ‘Freddy’ (which is interesting, since Robert Englund, plays ‘Raymond Beaumont’ in the first film), a schtick gets old really fast.  That being said, the concept of an evil djinn trying to free others like him in an attempt to depose humanity as the dominant species on the planet is actually pretty interesting and predates either “Underworld” (vampires and werewolves versus humans) or “Legion” and “The Prophesy” (Humans versus angels).

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‘Twilight: Breaking Dawn’ Trailer

Here’s the trailer for “Twilight: Breaking Dawn.”  I don’t personally see the attraction of the series, then again, the millions of people that do more than make up for my lack of interest.

That being said, what does interest me is that Bill Condon is behind the camera, because a talented director can elevate just about any project, and Mr. Condon is definitely that.  He somewhat reminds me of Bernard Rose, who’s direction elevated Clive Barker’s Candyman to something special.