What if you were a monster and yet unaware of your sins? To be a killer but have no memory of the crimes? How could you take another person’s life without remembering every single slash and cut as you butchered your victim, their children watching in horror, knowing that they were next? Would it be possible to live a double life as a serial killer, a predator that stalks the weak and innocent before committing the most unforgivable of acts, without even being aware of this other self that hides inside of you? These are the thoughts that pass through Boone’s mind as he sits across from Decker, his long-suffering psychiatrist who has laid out the facts before him, each crime revealed in explicit detail as he struggles to accept the consequences of his actions. Did he really slaughter six families? Could he even be capable of such unspeakable violence? The photographs are spread across the desk and within each one he sees death, slow and agonising death at the hands of a tortured soul that revels in the suffering of others. ‘Did I do this?’ he pleads, no longer sure of his own innocence. ‘I did it. I did it all.’
Clive Barker, the man responsible for conjuring up the fractured world that Aaron Boone inhabits, has long held a fascination with the relationship between man and monster. Whether it was the gruesome murders of Mahogany in Midnight Meat Train or the sadistic sexual desires of Frank Cotton in The Hellbound Heart, his literary work has been littered with characters whose dark compulsions blur the line between man and the monster that lurks within. Often the figurative monster is far more evil than the disfigured antagonist that was initially depicted as the villain, with the real evil proving to be something fundamentally more human. In Cabal and its cinematic counterpart Nightbreed, the figurative monsters are the titular creatures from Barker’s big screen adaptation, but in reality the true monster is Decker, an intelligent man devoid of emotion who exploits Boone’s unreliable memory in order to manipulate him into taking responsibility for a series of murders that he did not commit. The weird and wonderful beasts that inhabit the mythical city of Midian have retreated from civilisation but it is Decker, a well-respected member of the medical community, that is the real monster of Barker’s story.
While supernatural forces and unearthly creatures have always been a staple of the horror genre, man has played a significant role in its cause. Whether as a result of science-run-amok as with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, or acts of violence bestowed on others as explored in Edgar Allan Poe’s The Pit and the Pendulum, man is often either the perpetrator or catalyst for the carnage. With Cabal and Nightbreed, the souls that occupy the secret domain of Midian fear humanity and remain detached from society, whereas the cultured psychiatrist is the one that kills without conscience. A desire to manipulate and hold power over others is also a recurring theme in Barker’s work, taking the core essence of the Faust legend, in which a man sells his soul in exchange for unimaginable pleasures and incorporates it into a fantastical landscape. The story of Faust, loosely inspired by the teachings of ‘George’ Jorg Fausus, who travelled Germany during the sixteenth century to share his scientific knowledge, causing many to speculate that he had made a pact with the Devil, had a significant impact on Barker. His second short film The Forbidden, shot with a group of friends in the mid-seventies, had been his first attempt to expand upon the Faust mythos and when he eventually embarked on a career as an author a decade later he returned to this concept with his debut novel The Damnation Game.
Some of the concepts that Barker would explore with Cabal had first been introduced in Underworld, a low budget creature feature directed by independent filmmaker George Pavlou. While Barker had joined the project under the pretence that he could develop a screenplay that depicted a world of monsters living under the city, the interference of overzealous producers resulted in a motion picture that melded elements of film noir and MTV sensibilities without any clear purpose. All of the themes and horrific ideas that Barker had wanted to indulge in were diluted in favour of a generic narrative and thus, when the film was finally released in 1985, it failed to find its audience. Despite the frustrating experience, Barker reluctantly agreed for Pavlou and the investors to adapt one of his short stories, Rawhead Rex, a fan favourite from his acclaimed omnibus Books of Blood, but once again the writer was disappointed by his experience in the film industry. Determined to see his own vision reach the big screen without being compromised by outside forces, he wrote a novella entitled The Hellbound Heart that would serve as the basis for his directorial debut, Hellraiser.
The tale of a womaniser and petty criminal that manages to open the mysterious Lemarchand Configuration puzzle box, calling upon the monstrous Cenobites that offer him extreme pleasure and pain in return for his eternal soul, the movie became an unexpected success when it was released on the same day as the highly-anticipated thriller Fatal Attraction in 1987. With its sadomasochistic undertones and its depiction of desire, infidelity and cold-blooded murder, Hellraiser seemed like the most unlikely of hits but as magazines began to publish photographs of the lead Cenobite, affectionately referred to by fans as Pinhead, the movie soon gained a cult following and its sudden notoriety afforded Barker the chance to direct a second picture. ‘Hellraiser was designed to be a showreel and that showreel became a big success,’ he would later recall. ‘It was a movie designed to be made for a small amount of money, to show people I could write and direct movies and turn their investment into a profit. I enjoyed the experience but it was inevitably because the budget was so small. Tony Randal had twice that amount to make Hellbound: Hellraiser II and I won’t say I didn’t envy him.’
At the centre of Cabal is an age-old conflict between good and evil, in which an ancient civilisation comes under attack from invading forces and war is declared. The monsters of Midian are outcasts that were unable to find their place in the living world and so retreated to the sanctuary of the city, buried beneath an abandoned cemetery, where they remain in hiding. Throughout his work Barker has often incorporated religious iconography, whether it be the death of John the Baptist in his first short film Salome or the Cenobites, named after members of a religious community and with Cabal there would be several references to Christianity. In the Book of Genesis, the land of Midian was located close to the Persian Gulf, its inhabitants allegedly descendants of Abraham. A war finally ensued when Moses raised an army, declaring them sinful against God. ‘And Moses spoke unto the people, saying, ‘Arm some of yourselves unto the war and let them go against the Midianites and avenge the lord of Midian,’’ declared Numbers 31:3. ‘Of every tribe a thousand, throughout all the tribes of Israel, shall ye send to the war. So there were delivered, out of the thousands of Israel, a thousand of every tribe, twelve thousand armed for war. And Moses sent them to the war, a thousand of every tribe, them and Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, to the war, with the holy instrument and the trumpets to blow in his hand. And they warred against the Midianites as the lord commanded Moses; and they slew all the males.’
If Decker represents the barbaric nature of civilised man then it could be argued that the citizens of Midian are the other, a culture different from our own and therefore one we instinctively fear. Whether it’s the depiction of Amazonian tribes in the cannibal movies of the seventies or the savagery of the natives in classic westerns, in fiction there has always been a very real fear of cultures that we do not understand. For those that still live on the surface, the Nightbreed are monsters that mean to do harm, while for those in Midian it is humanity that poses a threat, as it is in their nature to conquer and destroy. Much like how Decker overpowers and eviscerates his victims, he also wants to invade and obliterate the land of Midian. While Moses is regarded as a prophet and one of the first great teachers of the world, his determination to declare war on Midian and rid the land of its people can be seen in Decker. And while the latter may be consumed by narcissism and a need to consume and destroy, much like a parasite, his obsession with leading an army into Midian somewhat echoes the actions of Moses.
While the scope of The Hellbound Heart and Hellraiser was minimal, in comparison both Cabal and Nightbreed could be described as epic. His first feature film told of a love triangle between a man, his wife and her lover, the latter having deceived the demons he had pledged his soul to. But with Cabal he offered the tale of a serial killer, a young man offering himself to the unknown, a power-hungry maniac determined to destroy that which he cannot have and an army of outsiders willing to fight and even die to protect what they love. The novel was something of a course correction following the bitter disappointment of Underworld, finally allowing its creator the opportunity to make a statement on the nature of man and monsters without his vision belittled or molested by investors eager for a commercial product. ‘The idea for Cabal has been around for a long time,’ he explained in 1990. ‘What happened, however, was the book became bigger and bigger. And then I ended up with a mythology, or at least the beginning of a mythology, which was much larger than I ever thought it was going to be. That’s intriguing to me, that’s exciting because I have the chance of expanding that on the page and then maybe, if this picture is successful, expanding it in turn in another picture.’
Every love story must end tragically
The opening chapter of Cabal is awash with pain and loss and it is these themes that run throughout the story, from Boone’s initial pain of fearing that he has taken another life to his loss of leaving his lover Lori behind as he crosses over to the other side. In the first paragraph Barker states, ‘Of all the rash and midnight promises made in the name of love, none, Boone now knew, were more certain to be broken than, ‘I’ll never leave you.” Ultimately, Boone is the one that is willing to leave Lori in order to embrace the wonders of Midian and yet she follows him into the netherworld to save his soul. Yet Boone feels that his life is a tragedy and that even love must eventually come to an end. ‘Every love story must end tragically,’ claimed filmmaker David Cronenberg, whom Barker would cast in the role of Decker. ‘One of the lovers die, or both of them die together. That’s tragic. It’s the end.’ Boone seems to share this sentiment and even though he would die to protect Lori, he has no hesitation in giving himself to the Nightbreed. While he had been deceived by Decker into believing that he had committed murder, Boone still sees himself as a monster and having suffered a recurring nightmare that has drawn him to Midian, he knows that this is where he truly belongs.
The first chapter also illustrates how much faith society has placed in psychiatry. Patients enter the office of a stranger and divulge deeply personal information, details they wouldn’t even share with family or friends. And we then believe that these professionals have our best interests at heart and would never do anything to hurt us. But what if in reality they wanted to learn our darkest secrets in order to use them against us, to manipulate us when we are at our most vulnerable in order to cater to their own insidious desires? What if our greatest threat is the one person we trust the most? ‘I thought you were getting better. I really did. We both did,’ Decker informs Boone, destroying the young man’s confidence that he was finally recovering from his paranoid delusions. ‘What I’m doing now is probably a crime in itself,’ he continued in the charade. ‘Patient confidentiality is one thing, protecting a killer is another. But part of me is still hoping to God it isn’t true.’ Without offering Boone any tangible evidence that he could be the one responsible for these deaths and refusing to allow him to listen to the recordings of their earlier sessions, Boone is forced to accept Decker’s claims as the truth and by the end of their discussion he has accepted responsibility for the murders.
Having been forced by his doctor to study the crime scene photos in great detail, in an attempt to conjure up repressed memories, Boone is left emotionally exhausted and mentally unbalanced. Withdrawing from the world, he begins to consume the medication that Decker has prescribed while praying for death, an end to the monster within. Eventually he decides to take fate into his own hands and throws himself in front of a truck, the images of his supposed victims haunting each second he waits for his violent end. But instead he would awake to find himself in the cold familiar surroundings of a hospital room, bruised and beaten but very much alive. Quietly from somewhere close by he hears a call to Midian, another patient as desperate for death as he, someone who knows the secret to Midian and now requests its counsel. When Boone approaches the stranger turns hostile, fearing that the Nightbreed will not come to claim him if there is a witness, but fascinated with the tales he has heard of Midian, Boone tries to source further information from the stranger. The man, Narcisse, offers directions to its location but claims that, ‘Midian’s on no map.’ But his demeanour changes as he begins to suspect that the Nightbreed have sent Boone to test his faith, to see if he is truly worthy of joining their tribe. In order to prove himself, the man presents two small hooks and slices across the side of his face, digging his nails deep into the flesh and tearing the skin from his skull, revealing what he claims is his true face.
‘One of the things I wanted to do with the book was to set up a classic stalk-and-slash psycho, the twentieth century monster on the loose – Decker – against the hysterical, mythological and fairy tales version of the monster, which is what Boone and the Nightbreed are,’ explained Barker. ‘I have not moral but aesthetic problems with Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees and the notion that these characters are the stuff of which anti-heroes can be made strikes me as both morally dubious and also not very interesting. I wanted to say, ‘Look, this isn’t really attractive.’ Do we actually like these people – not only Decker but the normal human beings who made up the lynch mob – do we really prefer these machismo-spouting bastards to the strange and the mysterious and the extraordinary? It’s very convenient that, in Aliens, the strange and the mysterious and the extraordinary just happens to be all-devouring and actually very ugly…The theme of acceptance, accepting even contradictions, ugliness and pain as part of life, is the most powerful theme in Cabal. Midian is full of monsters, but each monster is monstrous in a different way and their life, diverse as it is, is shown to be valuable.’
Both The Hellbound Heart and Cabal told of a broken man desperately searching for meaning to his life and, unable to find fulfilment in the world that he knows, reaches out to the beyond for some kind of connection. In the former it is a sinful man lusting for the ultimate sexual thrill while in the latter it is a lonely soul longing for a place to belong. The very essence of Cabal and Nightbreed could be perceived as this need for a place where one can feel at home, whether it’s Boone’s obsession with finding sanctuary within Midian or the Nightbreed realising that once the war with mankind comes they will need to find a new home. Only Decker feels disconnected from this need. His desire is not to belong but to destroy and in a twist of fate it is the sanctuary that both Boone and the Nightbreed desire that he seeks to obliterate. It was not enough for Boone to burden himself with the guilt of crimes that he did not commit but now Decker seeks to eliminate his only refuge. Boone may have suffered nightmares of monsters but in the end the only true monster was the one that he had allowed inside his mind. And as he finally arrives at the gates of Midian, he prepares to face judgement for his sins.
Surrounded by a long-forgotten cemetery abandoned in the wilderness known as Necropolis, Midian is what Barker refers to in the novel as like ‘a ghost town. Never in his life had he felt such desolation.’ As dusk approaches he wanders among the tombs and mausoleums and as the futility of his search grows weary on him, he finds a dark corner in which to indulge in some much-needed rest. Sometime later, a strange noises pulls him from his slumber and he spies a small animals skulking in the darkness. But as he moves closer to investigate, an arm wraps around his throat and claws from a second hand press against his stomach. ‘Move and I gut you!’ it warns. Demanding to know his purpose, a figure slowly emerges from the shadows ahead, a beast-like man whose accomplice identifies him as Peloquin. Sensing that Boone is a natural and not a monster like them, the figure prepares to strike but Boone protests, insisting that he is a killer and belongs with the people of Midian. As the other man releases his hold Boone manages to escape, a deafening roar emanating from within Peloquin as he declares, ‘You’re not Nightbreed. You’re meat. Meat for the beast.’ As Boone attempts to navigate his way through Necropolis the beast gives chase, sinking its teeth deep into the young man’s flesh before Boone finally makes his escape.
From his first interaction with the Nightbreet it is established that only the sinful and the forsaken are welcome within the haven of Midian, that those who have not proved themselves as worthy are judged. For Boone, despite the fear that had overcome him as he was hunted by Peloquin, he knows that this is where he belongs. But what other kind of mysteries could be hiding in the city below? ‘I’ve always loved monsters. I think there’s a corner of us all that envies their powers and would love to live forever, or to fly, or to change shape at will,’ claimed Barker on his fascination with the fantastique. ‘So when I came to make a movie about monsters I wanted to create a world we’d feel strangely at home in. I’ve called it Midian, an underground city peopled with creatures from our darkest fantasies. Things that feed on blood, things that avoid the light of day, things repulsive and fascinating. Forbidden souls hiding from their cruellest enemy: man.’ This statement reinforces Cabal and in turn Nightbreed’s central theme, which is that while the weird and wonderful may populate Midian, the true monster is mankind.
‘There is a long tradition of underground adventures, going all the way back to the Greek heroes. There’s a classic convention of the quest into dark places, even Hell. Dante goes down into Hell. So for me, I like the imagery of the descent. The idea for the city itself came out of a desire on my part to find a place for my monsters to live,’ explained Barker to Toxic Horror. ‘It is much more specific about the creatures. The book is very impressionistic, merely postulates about the creatures. The film is more about the monsters, whereas the book is about the human beings, and I think you can tell that even from the difference in the titles…The challenge was that these monsters as supposed to be the good guys. The monsters couldn’t be chilly and remote like the Cenobites in Hellraiser. They had to be traditional, yet a half-twist on tradition. It took a lot of brainstorming, but I think we’ve achieved that. We’ve got monsters who change shapes. We’ve got children who can transform themselves into animals. We’ve got freaks and all kinds of shit.’
While Nightbreed would show Boone staggering from the cemetery, only to find himself surrounded by the law, fingers on their triggers, ready to exact vengeance for all the lives he had taken, in Cabal he makes his way to a nearby town, each house having long since been abandoned. As he tends to his wounds he hears footsteps outside and a large figure steps into view, Decker. As the doctor speaks he seems to have already decided Boone’s fate, that the young man will not come quietly and the police waiting outside will be forced to meet violence with violence. The words of Peloquin ring through his ears: ‘You’re not Nightbreed.’ Could this be true? After everything he had been led to believe is he really innocent? The truth is finally cast over Boone like the first ray of morning light. Decker, the man who had promised to care for him and protect him from himself, was the one responsible for all those deaths. He was the real killer, the monster who had butchered six families and many others. Attempting to escape from the maniac, Boone steps outside but as Decker declares the young man has a weapon, bullets begin to tear through his flesh, one-by-one until he finally drops to the ground, the life that he had never valued draining from him.
It was Decker that had informed Lori of his death and after identifying the body she set out to find Midian, somehow hoping to find some kind of closure. He had been missing for days and now Boone, the man that she loved and yet the authorities had labelled a cold-blooded murderer, had spent his final moments at an ancient cemetery. Arriving at the desolate landscape, all Lori finds are more questions. Why would Boone seek out this cemetery, what was he hoping to find? As she searches among the tombs, much as Boone had, she stumbles upon a fragile creature discarded on the ground, its body too weak to crawl to safety. As Lori watches in horrified fascination a voice calls from the shadows, asking for her help. Despite Lori informing her that the animal has died the mysterious woman, Rachel, insists that this is not true and pleads for its safe return. Against her better judgement she complies but as she cradles the being and returns it to the woman, the creature begins to undergo a wondrous transformation, shifting from the form of a feeble animal to that of a young girl. ‘She likes to play outside,’ the woman explains. ‘And I tell her, ‘Never, never in the sun. Never play in the sun.’ But she’s a child. She doesn’t understand.’ But then from out of the darkness steps Lylesburg, the elder of the Nightbreed and the protector of the law. He dismisses her need for answers and discards her back to the land of the living, having no wish to draw the attention of mankind to their hidden civilisation.
I have a problem with fiction that makes heroes of the man in the mask
Running from the cemetery with her life, Lori arrives at the car to find that Sheryl, her companion on this journey, has been slaughtered in much the same way as Boone’s ‘victims.’ Slowly a monster emerges, its face not that of a hideous beast but of a mask, one with buttons sewn on for eyes and a zip in place of a mouth. The monster reveals a large blade and begins to taunt her and as much as Lori tries to resist he continues to advance. But then the monster begins to talk about Boone and the murders, eventually pulling off its mask to reveal Decker. While the doctor’s penchant for slicing and dicing may have owed a debt to the slasher films of the eighties, Barker was determined not to emulate their distasteful morality. ‘If you are talking about a movie which is solely based upon psychos on the loose – for instance, the Jason movies, the Friday the 13th pictures – in which you take vulnerable teenagers and you just kill them one-by-one with machetes or whatever, I think that’s unhealthy,’ stated Barker. ‘I have a problem with fiction, particularly the Nightmare on Elm Street pictures, that make heroes of the man in the mask, the man with the machete.’
Escaping the clutches of Decker, Lori now faces two choices: to seek the help of the authorities or to return to the cemetery in the hope of finding Boone, whose body had disappeared from the morgue. Despite fearing for her life, she arrives once again in Midian. Now aware that there is an entire world below the surface, she slowly steps into the cemetery but even as she searches for salvation, death is not far behind. Within the walls of Midian, Boone pleads with the elders to allow him to save her, to finally destroy Decker once and for all. But the laws of Midian forbid it, for if Decker is aware of their existence then others would follow. Hiding behind the mask that has allowed him to take so many lives, Decker steps into Necropolis, his blade withdrawn as he desperately searches for his prey. Hunting her like a wild animal, Lori is eventually subdued but as he prepares to strike, death is presented before them. Boone appears and, determined to extract a confession from the killer, brings Decker before Narcisse, the man that the doctor had exploited at his most vulnerable in order to gain the secrets of Midian. With a flash of his blade Narcisse is subdued and Decker makes his escape, the truth about the Nightbreed and Midian escaping with him.
With Lylesburg having decreed that the actions of both Boone and Narcisse have put their society at risk, he orders for them to be banished but Boone, defiant in his will to remain, insists on gaining audience with Baphomet, the Baptist. Yet another Biblical reference, Baphomet has often been misinterpreted as a symbol of evil and once had an association with the Knights Templar, but in truth its origins came from the Old Testament. ‘One of the most misunderstood symbols throughout history, Baphomet holds a deep and important meaning,’ noted author Ramesh Nathan in his analysis The Arcanum of Baphomet. ‘Incorrect ideas from the past have continued on today about this mysterious symbol. Many people claimed that Baphomet is Satan and evil. This is nonsense. Baphomet is featured Biblically, in the Book of Genesis, although not by name and is related to the mystery of the serpent. The mystery of the serpent is in the staff of Moses. One the right side of the staff is Baphomet, which is a word supposed to be read backwards as, ‘Tem-o-h-p-ab.’ It is Latin and means ‘Templi Omnuim Hominum Pacis Abbas,’ peace of the father to all men in the temple. We have to understand that when we address Baphomet, we are addressing the Cherubim that is mentioned in the Book of Genesis as the guardian of the gate of Eden.’
Whatever promises he had made to the people of Midian, Boone and Lori had once made a promise to each other and one she intended to keep: ‘I’ll never leave you.’ Taking her lover in her arms, Lori turns her back on Baphomet and the Nightbreed and carries Boone back out to the land of the living. Now fragile to the unforgiving glare of daylight, Boone hides his eyes behind the shelter of Lori’s sunglasses as they attempt to escape both Midian and Decker, to start a new life somewhere far away from all the blood and violence that has begun to engulf them. Much like Boone, Baphomet had suffered at the hands of its enemies but following the great war it had risen again like the phoenix through the Trial Fire. Now Boone too was in an endless suffering, haunted by Decker, the personification of all his darkest thoughts and desires. As they returned to their hotel to gather her things Boone can smell the one thing that has come to dominate his life: blood. Six bodies lay slain, their flesh violated beyond all recognition by the same monster that had butchered all those families and even as they process the devastation before them, the halls gradually begin to fill with the familiar melody of police sirens. As the beast within him starts to take hold he pleads with her to leave but she relents, begging him to keep a hold of his humanity and not give in to the trap that Decker has set for them. With the police finally surrounding them Boone submits, this time allowing the authorities to take him alive.
With the monster having retreated back inside, Doctor Decker, the respected psychiatrist, pleads with the police chief to accompany him to Midian, where they will find many more like him. Dismissive to his fantastic tales of freaks and grave-robbers, Chief Eigerman agrees to entertain the doctor’s own delusions and orders four of his deputies to conduct a search of the cemetery. At first their mission appears to be little more than a waste of time but finally they locate one figure hiding inside a tomb and drag him out into the cool air. Tearing a hat from off the man’s head, as the sunlight touches his skin he begins to scream, smoke rising from his body as his flesh burns and melts before their very eyes. By the time that his lifeless form had hit the ground, his remains had blown away in the calm breeze. The realisation that there was a society living under the earth that needed to be conquered was enough to convince Eigerman that the people of Midian were to be feared and therefore dominated, much as Moses had reacted in the Old Testament.
And if Midian had an army then so too should man. Eigerman ordered his men to assemble a hunting party, any citizen of the town with a weapon and a desire to bring these alleged grave-robbers to justice. Fearing that this new enemy may be beyond human understanding he also recruits the services of Ashbery, a disgrace priest that could be used as an instrument of God. It is at this point in the story that Barker presents a clear conflict between civilised man and the other. ‘One of Clive’s greatest strengths as a storyteller is his ability to take contemporary situations and invest them with mythological resonance,’ said Charles Haid, the actor cast as the corrupt Eigerman. ‘It’s a classic clash between the forces of order and a counterculture. That’s the way I’ve been looking at the subtext and it works very well. You could go as far as to draw parallels in the story to the clashes between student hippies and the authorities in the sixties. I’m sure most viewers don’t want to go that far. But whatever you want from the story, there are rich mythological underpinnings to his movie.’
With Lori lost and alone she comes across Narcisse, who seeks to make amends for bringing death to Midian by finding some kind of redemption. He explains to her that Boone had been manipulated into believing he was a killer and that the bite he had endured from Peloquin is what had allowed him to transcend death and return to the Nightbreed. It would prove to be a relatively trouble-free affair to rescue Boone from his prison. Narcisse had successfully overpowered the first guard but when a second had stood his ground, Rachel had materialised in front of him, the beauty of her face and naked breasts having seduced him into submission. When Lori finally reunites with Boone she finds a broken man, a fractured soul that believes the world is better off without him, echoing the depressed sentiments he had expressed when he was still among the living. ‘I won’t let you deny me,’ she insists as she slowly coaxes the beast out from within, lust consuming him and awakening the Nightbreed that he had tried to repress from himself. With Boone finally accepting his true nature, they prepare to return to Midian and save the land from annihilation.
As Boone finally arrives at the cemetery he finds a world in chaos. Eigerman’s bloodlust has led to a massacre, with Ashbery voicing his protest against the violence while Decker, his own conflict between man and monster raging within, struggles to allow one personality to dominate him. Finally, the desire to destroy both Boone and the Nightbreed grow too strong to ignore and he opens his suitcase, revealing the mask that has allows him to express his true self. Meanwhile, in Nightbreed Boone is summoned to the chamber of Baphomet, who informs him that he has destroyed their home but that had been foretold and he now has the responsibility of finding the people of Midian a new home. ‘You will find me there and heal me. You are not Boone,’ it declares. ‘You are Cabal!’ As with both Midian and Baphomet, the word cabal also has a rich history, with the dictionary defining it as a group or sect that meet in secret and refuse to divulge its teachings to the outside world. ‘The term is often used to connote a small group of people who seem to determine the fate of the majority members of a larger society,’ detailed writer Emmanuel Oghene in God-Authored Cabal Concept.
There would be some notable differences between the climaxes of both Cabal and Nightbreed. In the former Narcisse finds his eventual fate at the hands of Decker, who slices his body in half before Boone finally strangles the doctor. In Nightbreed, Narcisse survives the war of Midian and accompanies his people to their new promised land, while Decker is impaled on a statue, only for Ashbery to use the fluid of Baphomet to bring the monster back to life. In Cabal Ashbery is found close to death and later forms an alliance with Eigerman, the two determined to unleash their vengeance upon the people of Midian. At the end of Cabal Lori, keeping her promise that she would never leave Boone, stabs herself with Decker’s blade and as death comes to claim her, Boone sinks his teeth deep into their flesh, bestowing her with the gift of the afterlife, much as Peloquin had for him. With Midian now in ruins, Baphomet destroyed and many of the Nightbreed slaughtered, the survivors set out for a new home, one in which they can rebuild their society and resurrect the soul of Baphomet. A home where they can once again belong.
‘The Knights Templar brought back from the Holy Land a god called Baphomet and they were burned at the stake for worshipping him,’ explained Barker. ‘He was a very ambitious god, no one really knows where he came from. Some say it was the severed head of John the Baptist brought back by the Knights. Others suggested it was some kind of Islamic god. It’s weird, but it does have a sort of Biblical feel. I always think the whole thing about the lost tribe is Biblical anyway, as is the idea of a lost tribe being found and led to safety or salvation – or attempting to but failing, as in this particular case – but also because there’s a kind of religious subtext, an iconographic thing going on. It’s the flipside of the morality which usually informs this type of movie, in that here the monsters are the good guys, the creatures are the sympathetic ones. They are humane. And humanity, represented by priests, cops and analysts – the three forces of authority – are absolutely, unreservedly bastards. Here we make a conscious attempt to make positive forces of various creatures who are usually spat on in life or in the movies. But, particularly, I’ve tried to get at something which I think is the subtext of an awful lot of horror and fantasy movies: that the forces of darkness, the things that are supposedly morally repugnant, are the things that we really like.’