Nightbreed 4K UHD/Blu-ray Review (Scream Factory)

Yes, it's just the theatrical cut in 4K

Film (theatrical)
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Clive Barker’s original concept for Nightbreed, based heavily on his novella Cabal, was cut to shit by film executives providing financial support because it didn’t match the slasher aesthetic that they thought would pull in viewers. The original concept was lost on these producers; instead of humanizing the monsters and making monstrosities out of the humans, they wanted the monsters to be generically evil. It created an abomination that really didn’t make sense, and didn’t match Barker’s story or his vision for the film. This is why both the Director’s Cut and so-called Cabal Cut of Nightbreed also exist, in an attempt to piece together the original intention of Barker’s story. Unfortunately for those fans of the arguably more cohesive cuts, Scream Factory’s new Nightbreed 4K UHD only showcases the theatrical cut for its new 4K transfer, providing a Blu-ray version of the Director’s Cut as a secondary disc that is the same as their previous 2014 release.

For the typical movie review portion of this article, I’m specifically going to reference the theatrical cut since that is the intended focus of this release (even the 2014 Blu-ray was promoted as the “Director’s Cut” despite also containing the theatrical). The flaws of the theatrical cut are pretty clear even if viewers have not seen the Director’s Cut; its editing is frenetic to the point where Barker’s major themes are completely lost to the viewer. There’s not much focus on the Nightbreed themselves; sure, we get a few shots of their underground lair (which often reminds me of Little Monsters‘ universe in a more mature manner), but the highlights of Barker’s grotesquely unique monsters just aren’t here like they are in the director’s cut. And surprisingly, the theatrical version doesn’t even run that much shorter, yet it lacks a lot of storytelling prowess to actually engage the viewer in the plight of the Nightbreed.

Instead, it focuses a lot more on Decker, David Cronenberg’s masked serial killer. It’s an interesting idea to try to pit this movie as more of a slasher, but it ultimately doesn’t work because the motivations of the characters are seriously lacking, to the point where it’s not even clear what our protagonist is hoping to achieve. The theatrical cut has an explosive half-hour massacre of all the Nightbreed, which does highlight the special effects, but it often feels like whole chunks of the plot are just missing.

Ultimately, the theatrical cut of Nightbreed is vastly inferior, impeded by all kinds of odd storyline excisions. With that said, the director’s cut suffers from many of the same issues (albeit more focused), attempting to stuff a lot of Barker’s Cabal into a finite film. Honestly, Nightbreed would make for a much better TV adaptation, with the episodic format allowing for a lot more of the single-character storytelling that a movie can’t provide.


With all of those issues with the theatrical cut, that leads us to the slightly disappointing release from Scream Factory, which only offers the theatrical cut in ultra high-definition. The decision to stick to just the theatrical is likely due to the quality of existing materials, but it’s still slightly odd that Scream Factory were able to make due with a Blu-ray but not offer something like lesser-quality inserts for the director’s cut material; it’s not like they haven’t done that before with Candyman. Regardless of the artistic merits of the theatrical cut, the new 4K scan of the “best surviving film elements” showcases the film’s extreme lighting conditions, its often murky black depths, and the special effects and makeup. The film has a consistently grainy appearance which does not seem hampered by and reduction, but at times that grain can get a bit chunky especially during the film’s use of matte landscapes. There’s also some noticeable damage that crops up now and then, with burns and debris being the most prevalent. With that said, this transfer does make do and offers a much more pronounced color palette that enhances the Nightbreed’s underground territory, capturing the red-orange hues of fire and managing to get good delineation out of interior blacks. It’s not a remarkable step up from Blu-ray, but the Dolby Vision/HDR 10 certainly helps give the 4K scan an edge.

Scream Factory includes both a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo track and a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround option. Interestingly, the stereo track seems to have some odd reverb or distortion during its sound effects; it doesn’t affect the dialogue, but it is apparent throughout and is not present on the included Blu-ray versions of either the theatrical or director’s cuts. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 track also does not have this issue. Ultimately, this is a problem for purists looking to experience the film in its original stereo offering; for others, the 5.1 will be just fine.

Extras include everything that was originally present on Scream Factory’s director’s cut limited edition, providing the director’s cut and theatrical cut on separate Blu-ray discs each with their own extras. This release also adds some items that were included on Arrow Video’s 2019 UK Blu-ray of the theatrical version, making it the most comprehensive collection of bonus features thus far.

Extra Features


  • NEW 2023 4K Scan Of The Best Surviving Film Elements
  • In Dolby Vision (HDR-10 Compatible)
  • Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, 5.1
  • Audio Commentary With Film Critics Adrian J. Smith And David Flint


  • NEW 2023 4K Scan Of The Best Surviving Film Elements
  • Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, 5.1
  • Audio Commentary With Film Critics Adrian J. Smith And David Flint
  • Memories of Midian – An Interview With Actor Nicholas Vince (1080p; 30:34)
  • Walking The Line Between Heaven And Hell – Interview With Critic Kat Ellinger (1080p; 23:31)
  • Speaking Up For The Monsters – An Interview With Critic Kim Newman (1080p; 18:17)
  • Theatrical Trailer (1080p; 1:06)


  • Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, 5.1
  • Audio Commentary With Writer Director Clive Barker And Restoration Producer Mark Allan Miller
  • Tribes Of The Moon: The Making Of NIGHTBREED – A 72-Minute Documentary On The Production (1080p; 1:12:17)
  • Making Monsters – A Look At The Special Makeup Effects (1080p; 42:11)
  • Fire! Fights! Stunts!  – A Look At The Second Unit Shoot  (1080p; 20:20)
  • Theatrical Trailer (1080p; 1:06)


  • Deleted Scenes (1080p; 22:48)
  • Monster Prosthetics Masterclass (1080p; 11:11)
  • Cutting Compromise (1080p; 13:55)
  • The Painted Landscape (1080p; 5:08)
  • Matte Painting Tests (1080p; 8:57)
  • Makeup Tests (1080p; 4:52)
  • Stop Motion Lost Footage (1080p; 7:01)
  • Extended torture scene (1080p; 3:29)
  • Rehearsal Test (1080p; 2:56)
  • Still Galleries –
    • Sketches (chapter breaks; 2:41)
    • Deleted Scene Photos (chapter breaks; 3:31)
    • Posters And Pre-Production Stills (chapter breaks; 0:56)
    • On-The-Set Photos (chapter breaks; 19:06)
    • The Cast and Crew (chapter breaks; 5:24)


It’s hard to deny that there’s not some disappointment with this release only offering the theatrical cut in 4K. However, a complete collection of previously released extras and the director’s cut provided on Blu-ray may help to appease some of those woes, even if some video damage and audio problems are present.

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