Halloween Special: "The Incompletely Complete Clive Barker Filmography!" or "Deconstructing Heroes, part 1"
The Halloween season is upon us. A time of masks and monsters, parties and candy. It's a time of macabre celebration, and only one man embodies that particular combination of words in my eyes: Clive Barker. It's time to sit back and prepare for a LOT of good ol' Clive. Now, before we even get started let me establish a few things. First off, I really, really like Clive Barker. From his paintings to his plays (how I first was introduced to him, believe it or not) to his movies to his action figures to his stuffed animal merchandise to his comic books to his underwear that periodically pops up on eBay, there's a lot to like about the guy. At the very least, he's got this creative overflow that I envy. Yet, there lies the problem. Too many people, particularly those in my social circle, believe Clive Barker can do no wrong. He lies on this pedestal that anyone who's been in a fan club can understand. Whether you follow every move made by Neil Gaiman, Tim Burton, Stephen King, Kevin Smith, that Jhonen guy, or whoever, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Part of what this article is all about is me being able to step back and admit that there might be something "imperfect" about some of Clive Barker's works. Clive would never say anything he's made was perfect, but the rabid fans might disagree. That's my point. Clive Barker's works have been a heavy influence in my life, but I think that's why I need to step back and take another glance at some of them. Or I just want to be spiteful and make fun of Clive Barker's films while I still can. The other issue here is why this is called the "Incompletely Complete" filmography. I don't KNOW if I've covered everything he's ever worked on, but I tried. I don't talk about the stuff that he's only produced, so you "Gods and Monsters" fans are out of luck. Below you can see short reviews or me just rambling about every movie and television show Mr. Barker's ever worked on personally.
That said, we're going to go the low brow route and start with a look at Clive Barker himself. That's right. I'm going to be very, very shallow and point out how weird it is to know that Clive Barker wore big 80's sunglasses and had a poofy almost-mullet while he was signing copies of Weaveworld. Don't believe me?
Nothing says "I'm trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator" like bringing an artist's appearance into the fray. That said, I think Clive Barker's appearance IS something worth talking about. You see, when Clive Barker first made his "mainstream" debut, he sported a, er, look very different from what he goes by now. Part of it is simply the fact that he's growing older (he's over 50, now) and another part of it is that he's started putting pictures of himself as a big gay pirate on his book covers. I'm not kidding, but I am getting ahead of myself. Here's a "classic" Clive Barker picture that's a pretty good example of the image Clive presented on the back of all his books:
Pretty standard for a horror cover, right? (I particularly dig the tiny demon on his shirt for some reason.) Clive Barker's not a bad looking guy, and most of his old covers featured him glaring at you with his piercing eyes. Many of them had photos of him wandering dramatically through graveyards or something akin to that. But in one of his latest books, the photo on the back is....different.
I have a lot of friends who are very big Clive Barker fans that will never forgive me for showing them this picture. It's from the back cover of his illustrated book "Abarat." Let's take a look at why this picture scares small children, or at the very least hardcore Clive Barker fans. First off: It's not the Clive Barker we grew up with. Sure, age has something to do with it, but there's got to be more to it than that. Since most of Clive Barker's pictures were in black and white, I don't know if he ALWAYS wore lipstick or it's just something that's he's gotten into in recent years. It might have something to do with him coming out of the closet during the mid-90's, but whatever. I wear lipstick (albeit not ruby pink) from time to time, so I can't throw any stones. This isn't about homosexuality....I think it's totally great that Clive Barker came out and is vocal about it. I will say that somewhere between the silk tank-top/vest, his gold pimp chain around his neck, the Michael Jackson moustache, and the unexplained rash/sunburn blotches that cover him, I really get a little creeped out by this picture. (The rash thing kind of freaks me out the most: He's MARRIED to the photographer who took this picture. Did neither of them notice the apparent skin condition?) Another explanation why THIS particular picture was used instead of the older ones may be due to Abarat's whole Disney connection (you read that right: DISNEY) or just the fact that this book was aimed at pre-teens and was NOT a horror novel. I'll simply leave it to the fact that Clive Barker marches to his own drum, even if that drum tells him to appear on his books dressed as a metrosexual pirate. Maybe he's trying to challenge the sensibilities of the norm. Or maybe he's made so much money he can simply AFFORD to be a pirate. I just don't know.
I accept that Clive Barker will never love me for what I just wrote, but, well, it had to be said. Sorry Clive. I'd venture a guess you know what I'm talking about, because your official site (clivebarker.com) has no pictures even remotely like this...they're all very dark and brooding, unlike the pirate/rash picture.
That out of the way, it's time for me to dive into that which made Clive Barker the household (shut up, it's true) name that he is today. I know it's not fair to judge the man only by his films, but, well, that's exactly what we're doing. His novels may be gold, but his movies...they're subject to deflation. Watching Clive Barker's movies and making an effort to forget that you LOVE Clive Barker is an interesting experiment unto itself.
Salome & The Forbidden (1973 & 1978): Clive Barker's Experimental Films
You'd think that I'd have a lot to say about Clive Barker's experimental films, since I did, after all, go to a film school focusing on film theory and experimental filmmaking. The sad truth is that I know that very few people want to hear about the Double Abyss structure found in his early films....and none of you want to hear me ramble on about film theory. There's a reason I don't show my own experimental films to people: Outside of a university or a Bohemian gathering, they're just really, really pretentious. That doesn't make Clive's early films terrible. They're very nice, in fact. But they are experimental narratives. Filled with sex, biblical references, imitated torture, and naked people climbing down from ladders, they're what you'd expect from an overly creative theater major who grew up in the 1960's and 70's.
The Forbidden, his second film has an interesting "gimmick." The technique behind The Forbidden was that it was shot in negative...but the subject was covered in make-up or painted so that it would look normal. Or ALMOST normal. It's very cool, but not for everyone. What IS cool for everyone is the fact that Pinhead the Cenobite technically makes an appearance. Ok, he doesn't, but during The Forbidden there's a board with nails in it that makes everyone think of Pinhead because the actor (Douglas Bradley) behind the Cenobite is also in The Forbidden. Same actor, same visual. Yet they wouldn't combine until Clive Barker would direct Hellraiser almost a decade later. Besides being filled with a lot of experimental film fun, the tape that contains Barker's early films comes with an added bonus. It's the kind of bonus that makes me think it was done on a dare. So what needed to be added to Clive's experimental films? Take a guess.
If you guessed "gothic lesbian softcore vampire porn," then your guess was correct. I'm not sure why, but Redemption Video (the company that distributes Salome & The Forbidden on VHS) thought they should or maybe just NEEDED to include some Victorian fetishist as 96% of the introduction to Clive Barker's films. When I rented this film, I wasn't sure I'd put in the right tape...or wasn't sure where I got a "HOT LESBIAN VAMPIRE" tape. Even funnier than how out of place this is, is the fact that while the lesbians are sucking each other's necks, there's a long monologue about exploitation in film. Don't ask. Experimental films and softcore vampirism. The hell?
Tales from the Darkside, The Yattering and Jack (1984): Clive's small screen debut
Ah, Tales from the Darkside. If the Twilight Zone got Tales from the Crypt pregnant, and Tales from the Crypt smoked pot and drank only tequila until the baby was born, Tales from the Darkside would be that diseased little spastic baby. I can't really convey how lame Tales from the Darkside is to me, when compared to all the better shows of the same genre that just unabashedly put it to shame. So when I got my hands on the fabled "Clive Barker" episode I thought I may have found a redeeming moment for the show, the diamond in the rough, if you will. Clive Barker wrote one episode of the show called "The Yattering and Jack." It's a Christmas story. A Christmas story where a midget with horns and covered with bronzer breaks things and chews on Christmas presents so that a guy will denounce God and be eternally damned. There's no suspense with the surprise ending (which was foreshadowed something fierce) when the demon midget becomes the slave of Jack, who turns out to be the son of a witch. Watching the episode, you really want to know if Clive Barker included EVERYTHING you see in the episode in the script. For example, I really want to know if Clive typed:
Scene 5: (Turkey carcass becomes possessed by a demon, dances around for a while before floating magically up to the top of the Christmas Tree while making gobble-gobble noises.)
Because that's exactly what happens in the episode.
I'm going to go out on a limb here, but I think that Clive Barker's written a few better scripts since the "haunted turkey demonic Christmas" episode of Tales from the Darkside.
Underworld a.k.a. Transmutations (1985): Clive's 1st movie
Clive Barker wrote the script for a film entitled Underworld (Transmutations was a more catchy title and was used more commonly in my experience). The story's really about a collision of worlds: organized crime against drug addicted mutants in the sewers....and the mutants are the good guys. I think that's the thing I remember the most about Clive Barker's works: Being human is often the same as being the true monster. The whole plot's about a super drug that makes your dreams real but mutates your body in the process. The film is pretty terrible...but watching it you know it COULD be good. It's kind of dramatic (and really "gothic" in this weird way) until everyone grabs a gun and they start shooting each other for about twenty minutes. There's also a magical prostitute who makes people's flesh melt off their bones, but that's neither here nor there. This film was one of Clive Barker's first bad experiences where other people took over one of his stories. The fact that the story revolved around the fact that the humans were the monster (a device we'll see repeated in A LOT of Clive's films to come) was particularly ignored when you look at one of the movie's posters:
Oh yeah. I think the cover makes it pretty clear that you're supposed to empathize with the big mutant freak, don't you agree? I think there's not a person on the planet that doesn't feel that way towards a tiny scantily clad woman in a bottle. Funnily enough, when I was growing up I saw the cover for this movie and always thought it was part of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise....since that's pretty much Leatherface right there.
Tangent: When I was a kid, my parents didn't let me watch horror movies. I'd usually have to wait until Halloween rolled around and they started playing them 24-7 on television. I was already obsessed with horror and monsters even then. I have weird memories of reading the boxes of every horror movie in the rental place when I was 8 and even stranger memories of me convincing my father to tell me the plots of horror movies that I was too young to see...like Predator and American Monster. These were my bedtime stories for the longest time. Sort of explains a lot, doesn't it?
Rawhead Rex (1986): The film that sucked so bad it forced Clive to direct
I don't even know where to begin. I've read so many interviews where Clive Barker tells us what's wrong with this film that I don't want that to affect my opinion too much. First off: Rawhead Rex was a great and legitimately scary short story written by Clive Barker. Sadly, it translates to your classic "big monster in a rubber suit" when placed upon the big screen. For a person who loves terrible movies that are funny that way, this movie is a goldmine...and you can always blame Clive Barker for it. It's not his fault, as he was very distanced from the production...but you can pretend. Rawhead Rex is the name of this pre-Christian monster that gets reawakened and pretty much runs amok for the entire movie. There's implied baby-eating ("implied" is too kind a term), monstrous decapitations, women having their clothes ripped off before they're strangled to death, psychotic priests setting fire to Police officers, and well, a lot of crap that's the bread and butter of terrible monster movies. The inherent flaw is, of course, the monster itself. It's a guy in a rubber suit and looks like a guy in a rubber suit. The head doesn't move, the eyes don't blink, and, well, the animatronic mouth pretty much opens and closes. Oh, wait. The eyes DO blink...because they installed "evil flashing red lights" in the eyes of the costume. So whenever they want to make Rawhead look particularly evil, his eyes light up like it's Christmas time. It's a fun movie, but really, really cheap. Enjoy some highlights:
If you've ever wanted to see a rubber monster pee on a priest....and the priest LOVE it, then this may be the film for you.
My particular favorite thing is how the police don't believe the father who saw Rawhead Rex eat his son. They don't believe him until they're presented with the best proof: drawings from children. Look at the damn pictures. So very, very lame.
The only thing that can defeat Rawhead (and does) is the power of the Mother Earth/Druid Goddess....um...thing. Gaelic is involved somehow, but don't read too much into that. Really.
Rawhead Rex pissed Clive Barker off a lot. Enough to tell other studios to go screw themselves, because he was going to do it right. And he did.
Hellraiser (1987): THE Clive Barker Film (for better or for worse)
Is it even remotely possible that you haven't seen this film? If internet forums are to be believed, the answer is yes. It's so sad that there're actually people who don't recognize Pinhead, the lead demon pictured above. Hellraiser was Clive Barker's debut as a director as he brought one of his novellas (The Hellbound Heart) to the Silver Screen. Upon rewatching it, I find it so surprising that, even though it's almost twenty years old, it's one of the best horror films out there. I say that because most horror films don't survive the test of time...either they themselves become a cliche (see Friday the 13th) or the market gets saturated with clones that cheapen the original (see Halloween and a bajillion slasher film knock-offs). Here's the story in a nutshell: There's a mystical puzzlebox that opens up a gate to evil S&M demons called Cenobites that pretty much take you to hell. Of course they're not the TRUE villains in the movie...that belongs to Frank. Dear, sweet SKINLESS Frank. God, I love this movie. Frank opened the box and gets carted to hell, his brother's wife who's in love with him starts murdering bachelors to bring him back to life and...um....screw it. Just understand it's an infernal soap-opera where brothers skin brothers and steal their appearance and all other types of nastiness. Hellraiser is pretty much STILL the best of the best when it comes to horror meeting art. And by art I mean Art. There are so many hauntingly beautiful shots in the film...but let me stop myself before I chatter on and on. Just because the film's great doesn't mean there's not some questions to be raised.
Just so you know, people open the box because it is supposed to open up a whole new realm of pleasure to whoever does so. The sad matter of fact is that what you do get is an entire world of hurt and potentially a redefinition of pleasure.
Advice 1: If you need to be ripped apart to find sexual satisfaction, might I suggest going to a therapist before summoning demons.
What you're looking at here is right at the end of the film, but what you're seeing is pretty much what happens to everyone who opens up the box. Chains with hooks on the end bite into you and pull you apart. Whatever gets you off, I suppose. The Cenobites are supposed to be masters of pleasure and pain, but really just come across as bondage demons who want to do horrible things to you. Of course, I suppose that is part of bondage. That might explain why Clive Barker got a note from one of the attendees of the film's screening that read: "The guy with the pins in his face is damn sexy." It might. Still would you want the following guy to bring you an eternity of "pleasure you had not known before"?
"Have you been good, slave?"
Kirsty: "Look, I'm really tired. I had a long day at work and I really don't have time. I have a headache."
"You will make time flesh bag. Who's your daddy?"
I don't know if I could take an eternity of sexual domination, when that includes being ripped apart by meat hooks. But that's just me.
Oh yeah, there were a lot of sequels to Hellraiser too. Clive Barker wrote the sequel's story (but not the script) and pretty much let other people run with it after that. I'm not including full explanations of all the sequels (that's for another article), but I will give you brief rundowns of the ones that I've been able to hunt down. These are a little terse, so if you're a huge fan, I apologize in advance:
Hellraiser 2: Hellbound (1988): This sequel takes place a few minutes after the first film ended and, while it goofs around (or establishes, depending on your perception) with the Hellraiser mythology, it's just not as a good as the original. Also, Pinhead the lead Cenobite (as well as all the others) DIES. For real.
Hellraiser 3: Hell on Earth (1992): Hollywood figures out that Pinhead was damn cool and brings him back from the dead (again, seriously) via a sculpture that's bought by a sex-hungry goth club owner who feeds it foolish women. Pinhead also creates a new batch of Cenobites (none of which are seen or heard from again). These include an evil bartender who breathes fire, a guy with a camera built into his head that has a telescoping lens that pierces people's skulls, and a human stereo that throws cds like shuriken. All kind of cool and goofy/lame at the same time.
Hellraiser 4: Bloodlines (1996): Pinhead in space. I don't want to talk about it too much, but there's a zombie dog and a long flashback that explains where the box came from. Did I mention that Pinhead gets killed with lasers in this one?
Hellraiser: Inferno (2000): If Clive Barker fans hate any of these, this is usually the one they choose. I'm not sure why, because, barring the original, it's my favorite. This is the first Hellraiser film where you get to see what the Cenobites do to people all the time, and the whole "the ancient evil is defeated" plot trend is avoided. I don't know why in every film where the characters stumble upon an "ageless enemy that's been doing this since the beginning of time" they are almost always the first people to defeat/survive the experience? Keep an eye open for the cowboy ninjas that are lurking in the film too.
Hellraiser: Hellseeker (2002): Taking a nod from Inferno, this one is all about a cheating husband and his girlfriend, and, well, it's very much a remake of "Carnival of Souls." If that makes sense to you, you're more scholarly when it comes to film than most.
Hey everyone! Check out my pumpkin:
Yes, I did indeed paint my pumpkin to look like a Douglas Bradley (the actor who plays Pinhead) and proceeded to hammer well over 100 nails into it. I have too much free time.
Last tangent before I get on with the remaining films of Clive Barker:
In 1996, Doug Bradley, dressed as Pinhead the Cenobite, was a regular host/celebrity guest during MTV's Spring Break. While I have no official images to show you, Doug Bradley confirms the fact in multiple interviews and is even proud of it. I was watching television far too much then and distinctly remember the whole thing. You have no idea how surreal it is to see Pinhead telling you how your suffering will be legendary while hordes of bikini-clad girls shake their cookies all over him. I wish I was joking.
By the way, you're about halfway through this mammoth of an article. Now might be a good time to get some popcorn or check to see if that porn site you were waiting to load has finished yet. Done? Let's continue...
Nightbreed (1990): Clive Barker + Danny Elfman + Lots of Monsters = Vampire the Masquerade?
So. Clive Barker had an incredible success with Hellraiser and was now free to do pretty much what he wanted. Thus, Nightbreed was born. Similar in a lot of ways to Underworld and based off his story Cabal, Nightbreed was all about a race of super-powered mutants living in the shadow of mankind's civilization. I know the word "super-powered" cheapens the whole thing, but I don't know a better word to describe the sheer variety of magical "gifts" that are used by most of the cast. There are guys that shapechange, others that can survive a knife to the chest, a chubby goth guy that has tentacles living inside him, a woman who runs around naked stabbing police with poisoned quills, another woman who can turn into mist and burn your flesh off, and a lot of others that do weird but nifty stuff. I don't even want to talk about the naked woman who rubs blood over her nipples in the middle of a fight scene. Gah. What am I saying? Nightbreed's so much cooler and honestly MEANINGFUL than how I'm presenting it here. :sigh: To the average movie-goer there are lots of special effects, great costumes, and did I mention the music? Danny Elfman goes hog-wild for director Clive Barker. While the music is still killer (though sadly reminding you of every Tim Burton film ever made), the special effects suffer through the ravages of time. What might have been cool in 1990 just doesn't fly today...or maybe it's just the sheer number of monsters and explosions in the film. If you've got so many special effects, eventually a few will suck. I keep wanting to pretend that I love this film for more than the monsters but let's be honest: I first fell in love with this film for the monsters and that's what I remember. Enjoy:
See? Monsters. Don't forget that these guys, despite the horns and fangs and glowing infernal retinas, are the GOOD guys.
An important thing to point out is simply the fact that there are so many monsters/characters in the film that many only get a handful of lines to read (if any). Above you see my particular favorite: a chubby goth guy who's got these weird eye tentacle things living in his stomach. He's in the film for about 60 seconds all told...but scroll back up and look at the poster. There he is waving at you. So cool. Don't ask me why. I really don't know.
Probably the most memorable "lesser" character in the film is the "porcupine girl" who runs around butt-ass naked for most of the film. Clive Barker obviously had a lot of fun playing with the audience by making the "sexy" character of the film a monster covered in spines. There's a pretty good bit of symbolism there, but this isn't the time or the place. Just remember, if the porcupine girl lures you into a dark corner by flashing her breasts at you....
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DON'T GO (unless you like having poisoned quills all up in your face).
I don't want to say too much about the "Beserkers," but it's hard to not at least poke a taunting finger at giant mutants who are built like professional football players. Hell, they even grew their own shoulder pads. Nifty.
Remember how I said this film was kind of similar to Underworld? What you're looking at isn't a monster...but it is THE monster of Nightbreed. You're looking at Dr. Decker, played by DAVID CRONENBERG, in his super spooky serial killer mask. Decker is a psychiatrist who ends up getting pulled into the world of REAL monsters and pretty much brings the apocalypse to the creatures of the night by enlisting the aid of drunken hillbillies with flamethrowers. I know I say it a lot, but I'm not kidding on the last part. In all seriousness, David Cronenberg does an amazing job as he plays this morally detached murderous psycho. Imagine if Patrick Bateman (American Psycho) decided to start killing the gothic X-men. That's pretty much what you have in Nightbreed, albeit with a lot more disposable cops dying left and right. Damn it. No matter what I type, I can't make this film sound as good as it seems to me. Maybe I should just keep posting pictures of the naked porcupine girl.
In the end, Midian (the cemetery that's been the home of the Nightbreed for centuries) burns to the ground and the refugees are left hunting for a new home. David Cronenberg (who died) gets resurrected as a monster...and the film ends. Some films leave themselves open for a sequel. Others contain endings ASSUMING there's going to be several sequels. I really wish this film had done better...then we'd get to see where the hell the ending of this film was leading us. As it is, there's only a temporary conclusion to the whole mess. Clive Barker himself assumed that Nightbreed would be successful enough to warrant a trilogy and even plotted it out that way. Sadly, such would not come to pass.
I'm ready to talk about the only man who can, the one and only:
Candyman (1992): Say his name five times and win a prize!
Candyman, Candyman, Candyman, Candyman, Candyman. That's what you say to make Tony Todd (with a hook for a hand) appear behind you and kill you twice before you can even notice he's there. Whenever I see Tony Todd (who's recently appeared in CSI Miami and "24") my reaction is always "Holy Crap it's the Candyman! Get the hell out of there!" It doesn't matter if it's a drama or romance....Tony Todd = one scary son of a bitch with a meat hook for a hand. Hollywood admits this and has him slated to play all sorts of nightmarish roles in the coming year. Clive Barker didn't direct this film, but funnily enough it still did rather well. Apparently, once you're really famous, directors will start respecting your script.
Candyman is about a few graduate students studying urban legends and they dive so deep into the "Candyman" myth that he ends up showing up and declaring his love for one of them (while he kills whoever else may be around). She ends up going crazy (you can't blame her...she is, after all, being haunted by freakin' Tony Todd). There's not a lot to mock or ramble on in this film....it's all pretty crisp and the lack of many special effects means the film doesn't age poorly. Oh, and did I forget to mention that Tony Todd (I should be typing the Candyman, but I can't help it, Tony Todd is scarier) is filled with Bees?
Tony Todd vomiting up a swarm of bees is one of the few things I could have lived my life not seeing. Speaking of things I'd prefer not to see....
You really have to love how the typical and required "sexy scene" ends up getting played out in Clive Barker movies. Instead of a wet t-shirt contest, we get to see our heroine crying as the most masculine female police officer ever forces her to take off all her clothing that's totally soaked in the blood of her dead friend. I'm sure the above picture is making some fetishist out there happy. Ick.
They also ended up making two sequels to Candyman. Since Tony Todd makes me submissively wet myself, I can't bring myself to review them. Suffice to say that if you liked the first one, you'll dig the others. I need to purge myself of images of Tony Todd. Only one man can save me. Scott Bakula to the rescue!
Lord of Illusions (1995): Please Don't Poke the Monster.
Clive Barker, the director, returns to bring us a movie that's really got a lot more to do with his novels than anything previously. Sure, it's a stand alone film...but many aspects of the movie pay tribute or are literally characters from his previous books. That's not what I'm here to talk about, so here's the plot: Scott Bakula (you know, that guy from Quantum Leap) plays a private investigator/free lance exorcist who stumbles into the magical world of, you guessed it, illusions. The movie's really about how a guy named Swann, who has great magical power, refuses to embrace his gift (using it to become a stage magician in L.A.), and how he binds his mentor (who's apparently the End-Bringer) in iron shackles and buries him alive. The Puritan (the now entombed mentor) returns to pretty much bring holy doom upon the world. There are brainwashed cultists, Vegas-style magic acts, Scott Bakula having a sex scene, and a baboon (NOT in the sex scene, you perverts) thrown in for good measure. Clive Barker even reinforces the "all police stations are filled with hookers" stereotype as, during the one scene in the police station, we get a pretty constant stream of prostitutes. I don't know why it's the case, but the more films Clive Barker directs the "worse" the special effects get. Maybe worse isn't the right word. In Hellraiser there were relatively few special effects when compared to Nightbreed. Lord of Illusions doesn't have as many special effects as Nightbreed, but what it does have hasn't aged very well in the past decade. Goofy computer animation and simply the fact that the "finale" special effect is Scott Bakula being pulled around on a string sort of hurt me in ways I can't express. That's not to say the film isn't good or interesting...far from it. There is, however, the whole issue of casting Eddie Munster as the bad guy for about 85% of the movie.
The only thing you can't see here are Eddie Munster's incredibly tight & shiny gold pants. Lil' Munster here's one of the Puritan's followers who's trying to bring him back to life...and since he doesn't succeed until the last reel of the film, you need to get used to seeing a feminine guy with a bad Bela Lugosi haircut and a limp wrist play the role of the main antagonist. Go Clive for playing up gender issues in a mainstream movie.
Remember kids, even if the monster is a really crappy computer-generated effect, please try to resist the urge to touch it. Don't ask me why, but the love interest of this picture walks up behind the monster (as it's setting Scott Bakula on fire) and gently gives it a nudge. I think it has something to do with seeing if the crappy animation I mean the "nightmarish vision from another world" was really there. I'm not sure. All I do know is that people who sneak up on magical ghost/monsters usually pull back a stump.
Quicksilver Highway (1997): Shame all around.
I don't want to talk about Quicksilver Highway. It was a three-part made for TV movie that pretty much sucks on toast. Only one third of the whole thing is Clive Barker's fault, so I'll break the shame down into three different ways, only one of which refers to Clive Barker:
One-third of the shame goes to Stephen King, who somehow sold someone on the idea of flesh-eating novelty wind-up teeth. Look at the picture and gaze into the face of lame. Quicksilver Highway feels a lot like Tales from the Darkside. Sure, it's a decade and a half later...but the "trying to be scary while at the same time being goofy and trying to be funny" vibe shines through. God damn it Stephen King, you probably made more money off this crappy idea than I'll make in the next decade. Bastard.
Another healthy dose of shame goes to Christopher Lloyd who puts on a black dress, a bondage collar, and a very bad wig before playing the role of "host" for most of the movie. Christopher Lloyd prances about trying to be macabre and serious. He does make you feel uncomfortable....as it's Christopher Lloyd in a dress wearing a bondage collar. He's like that creepy guy that wants to explore alternate sexual avenues not because he's adventurous but because he's lonely and is willing to try anything. Moving on:
Clive Barker appears for the first time (excluding his old experimental films from the 70's) in a film version of one of his stories. Even worse, it's a comedic thing based off his short story "The Body Politic." It's kind of a cute story: A surgeon's hands rebel against the body. The left chops off the right hand so that it can run off and raise an army of hands so the "hand revolution" can begin. To put it much simpler: If you want to see a Clive Barker story that also has a lot of poorly animated walking hands in it, then you'll love this film. Clive Barker plays the anesthesiologist. What's kind of interesting (and I'm referring to the very, very begining of this article) is that you get to see what Clive looks like in 1997. Oddly enough, I'd have to say his lipstick is far more subtle here than in recent photographs....if he's wearing any at all. It still makes me sad that this is really the only recent work of his that he appears in. Was it on a dare? Or is the story of computer-generated hands leading a revolution his favorite story of all time? Only Clive knows.
While I know I haven't been covering what Clive's been up to in other mediums (like his short stint with Marvel Comics), there is one exception that at least needs to be mentioned here.
Undying (2001): Clive Barker wants you to 0wnz0r b1tch3z! (or something to that effect)
A few of Clive Barker's films and stories have been turned into video games (mostly for your home computer). In 2001, EA games got Clive to write and help design a horror/action game called Undying. The weirdest thing about the whole mess is that it's a first-person shooter. Sure, there are some puzzle aspects in there, but the game ultimately comes down to firing bullets, spears, and explosive bird eggs (no joke) at tribal cavemen and land-roving piranhas called Sleed. Oh, and you know it's dark and edgy because Clive Barker made sure one of your attacks was being able to throw skulls at your enemies. It's so subtle with its macabre nature...or not. To be fair, Clive Barker was really just behind the story (but also plays the voice of the character Ambrose) and that's where the game shines. I will say it's a unique first-person shooter, but, well, yeah. It's a first person shooter. It's kind of surreal to be lobbing bombs at monsters in a Clive Barker story. It just is.
At the time of writing this (and for the love of GOD I'm tired of writing about Clive Barker's films right now) the following entry is the latest cinematic creation Clive Barker was any part of:
Saint Sinner (2002): Time Traveling Vampires....from Clive Barker?
I'm so very sick of typing yet I don't want to cheat any of you of a pure moment of the cinematic genius that is Clive Barker. As such I will tell you the story of Saint Sinner (not to be confused with Clive Barker's comic book by the same name) in pictures. Clive Barker wrote and produced what you're about to see.
Meet Tomas Alcada. He's a monk from the year 1815. No, he's not supposed to be wearing a diaper. He's about to accidentally set free two Succubi (soul sucking demon/vampire women). How's he going to do that?
He'll free them by feeding them his brother's arm. Technically it's his brother's fault for fingering cursed artifacts. Suffice to say the magic ball that they're trapped in rips off his arm, freeing the two demons. So what's the first thing the gothic Succubi do?
Munkar and Nakir (the gothic vampire succubi) utilize the nearby time machine and travel to the present day. Don't ask me why there's a time machine (creatively titled "The Wheel of Time") but I think it has something to do with this all happening in a secret guarded room where the Vatican keeps all it's evil demons and time machines. Seems like putting those in separate rooms might not be a bad idea.
From then on the film's sort of a vampire hunter/"Just Visiting" kind of thing. The goth girls suck out men's souls by guzzling juice through an intestine-like tube while the monk desperately tries to hunt them down and avenge his brother's death/do the will of God. It's all kind of predictable, with everyone learning a valuable lesson by the time evil's been defeated. Other highlights include:
A far too long dream sequence where the two succubi rape the monk....
And who can forget the touching scene where Nakir (or is it Munkar?) gives birth to a Cthulhu-esque insect baby that eats its mother's face? I'm so including this movie on my "Films to show to friends who get pregnant" list.
I think my lady friend put it best: "Saint Sinner isn't a great film, but it was better than Lord of Illusions." I don't know if that's true, but after watching this many films adapted from Clive Barker's stories I can't really argue....with anything. I'm empty.
Ladies and Gentlemen, if any of you are still reading this, then your dedication to Clive Barker is a thing of legend. When I set out to write this thing I figured I'd do it quickly. Apparently "quickly" means typing up a 7,000+ word article. Jesus.
Whether it be his paintings, his books, his plays, his collectible action figures, or his films, Clive Barker is a master at instilling us with new perceptions of terror.
See? Truly a pioneer at inducing nightmares.
(I'm joking. Clive Barker is a creative dynamo that I really look up to. That doesn't mean I'm going to change my mind about his latest press photo. Like I said at the beginning of this behemoth of an article, you really need to be able to step back and look at your heroes sometimes. I've learned a lot about what I think of Clive Barker's films. I had a lot of fun sitting down and pulling a few marathons of watching nothing but Mr. Barker on my television. I learned that a lot of what I like about Clive Barker is hidden beneath a lot of crap when he's brought to the big screen and only shines through a few very special times. I hope a few of you enjoyed my rambling and seeing a descriptive list of all of Mr. Barker's films. To Clive Barker and his most rabid fans: My bad.
The MTV Spring Break Painting and the Pinhead Pumpkin are copyright 2005 Jared von Hindman. The remaining images are the property of their respective owners and are used here for Fair Use reviewing purposes. The color image of Clive Barker himself (you know, the one I made fun of) is the property of David Armstrong, or Disney or whoever the respective owner may be. The black and white images of Clive Barker seen at the beginning of this article were pulled from "Clive Barker's Shadows of Eden" edited by Stephen Jones and are the property of their respective owners. They are used for review purposes as well. If there's one single book that every Clive Barker fanatic should own, that's the one. It's got interviews with Clive Barker talking to Neil Gaiman and Tim Burton, as well as articles by Stephen King and Joe Bob Briggs. It's a collection of random press releases and articles about Clive Barker's films, books, and Art with nifty quotes from Barker and his critics on every other page. It was also originally published in 1991 so the "historic" aspect of it is sort of fun too. You haven't lived until you've read how excited Clive Barker is to be directing the remake of the Mummy (or so he thought) or how Nightbreed is going to be the start of his "Great Trilogy" of films. There's also talk of his current projects, such as Abarat. So yeah, don't sue me and check out this book if you can.)