“All I ever wanted to do is darken the day and brighten the night.” – Clive Barker (from Internet Movie Data Base)
Where to start, where to start? The novelist Clive Barker has had his hands in just about every artistic medium from theatre to film to novels to comic books and he’s even an accomplished playwrite and created several video games and toylines. Is there nothing this jack-of-all-trades from England capable of? I could spend my time discussing each of these mediums and his contributions to each but I’m most concerned about his work in the film medium, which will be the focus of this article.
Barker’s short stories and novels were the inspiration for many films prior to his directorial debut. After the dismal response of the adaptations of his work in such films Transmutations (1985) and Rawhead Rex (1986) that he decided to tackle his own properties next (he couldn’t do any worse then those films). He had written and directed two short films Salome (1973) and The Forbidden (1978), but it wasn’t until Hellraiser (1987) that audiences were able to experience his unique and horrifying vision.
Hellrasier was unlike anything that had ever been seen on screen and it changed the face of what was truly horrifying to genre audiences. Other than having a small budget, Barker’s debut created a cultural icon from the film’s unique creations the Cenobites lead by the enigmatic Pinhead (Doug Bradley, a childhood friend of Barker’s from when they did theatre together). The film went on to gross approx. $14.6 million domestically.
Barker would Executive Produce and provide the story for the 1988 sequel Hellbound: Hellraiser II but would have little input for the franchises further six sequels (although he has provided the first draft script for the proposed remake of the first film).
Three years after Hellrasier Barker would again sit behind the seat as director for the monster epic Nightbreed (1990). Like his first film, Nightbreed is populated with a plethora of unique creatures and monsters. The studios had no idea how to market this film to mainstream audiences opting instead to sale it as a serial killer film. The film failed to ignite at the box office (which grossed approx. $8.9 million) and died a quick death before becoming an oddity on home video where it finally found its audience.
Barker took a long hiatus from directing after that experience. He instead continued to have his hands in several films based on his properties including Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992), Candyman (1992), and Candyman: Farewell To the Flesh (1995), for which he Executive produced all.
1995 also saw the release of Barker’s third film as director with Lord of Illusions, based upon his own novella “The Last Illusion.” This film about cults and magic and a private investigator (all the hallmarks of a Barker property) yet was also dismissed by most audiences especially fans of Barker’s looking for him to return to something more in vein of his debut film.
Although he has not been busy directing films, Barker, nevertheless, has been very busy making films. He has Executive produced several productions both original and based on his works which include Gods & Monsters (1998), Saint Sinner (2002), The Plague (2006) and most recently Midnight Meat Train (2008).
Barker is currently busy on many projects including his own next possible directorial project Tortured Souls: Animae Damnatae, based on his toy line, as well as a series of films based on his novella series “The Books of Blood” of which Midnight Meat Train is the first.
Even though Barker is not one of the most prolific directors that the horror genre has it is always a treat to discover what unique horror he devises for us next.
All box office grosses are Domestic and provided by Box Office Mojo (www.boxofficemojo.com) with additional back ground information provided by Internet Movie Data Base (www.imdb.com).