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Next month Shout Factory will release Nightbreed: The Director’s Cut, a very different version of the film that 20th Century Fox let out of the cage in 1990. While you wait for that shiny Blu-ray; you could read the 1989 Clive Barker story Cabal published by Harper Collins (you know, the novel that the film is based on).


This is dark fantasy where sexual politics and the ‘mob mentality’ wrestle underneath the surface of the twisted and self-destructive life of Aaron Boone—a man who cannot recall being the aggressor in a series of nasty murders.

Convinced of his guilt and unable to deal with the grief, Boone says goodbye to his psychiatrist and hurls himself in front of a truck. Boone wakes in a hospital and learns of Midian, a place that may ease his suffering …

The narrative shifts between multiple points-of-view, which expertly crafts the small town USA Barker has envisioned while keeping secrets from the reader.

The mysteries make Midian and its Nightbreed inhabitants more intriguing. The mystery entices.

You cannot truly pigeonhole Cabal as just dark fantasy though. The name implies a sinister tone with harsh hues. The prose tends to celebrate the Nightbreed as an eccentric community rather than evil monsters, which subverts our expectations in a horror story.

Boone’s love interest, Lori, visits Midian. She explores the necropolis, discovers an animal terrified, dying in the sunlight, and returns it to a cloaked lady standing by the threshold of a mausoleum. As Lori conducts the exchange:

‘The animal was changing before her eyes. In the luxury of slough and spasm it was losing its bestiality, not by re-ordering its anatomy but by liquefying its whole self—through to the bone—until what had been solid was a tumble of matter … It was sobbing that made her open her eyes. Not the woman this time but a child, a girl of four or five, lying naked where the muck of transformation been.’

Tension builds, friends unite and events escalate to the point where a lynch mob of fear-mongering rednecks rally under the banner of a corrupt sheriff to destroy Midian. Cabal is a page-turner, perfect for commuting, and asks one of many important questions: who are the real bad guys?

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Posted by on Thursday, October 16th, 2014. Filed under Books, Movies. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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