Interviews & Profiles

Hellraiser’s Clive Barker – a Profile

As Hellraiser prepares to return, Adam Massingham profiles its creator, Clive Barker...

Born in Liverpool in October, 1952, Clive Barker established himself as a leading writer in the mid-80s with his Books of Blood, a series of short stories that led legendary horror writer Stephen King to exclaim “I have seen the future of horror and his name is Clive Barker!”. Not exactly the worst endorsement a horror writer could receive so early on his career. That said, Barker has listed Edgar Allan Poe, William S. Burroughs, William Blake and Herman Melville among his influences.

Of course, most will know Clive Barker through the adaptations of his work; the classic Hellraiser (the first of which he penned and directed) and the Candyman series. These sit alongside other adaptations of his work, 1986’s Rawhead Rex, 1990’s Nightbreed and 1995’s Lord of Illusions. Although not as universally acclaimed as Hellraiser and Candyman (indeed, Nightbreed was a total flop on release), they still have a cult following the world over.

More recent film adaptations include 2008’s The Midnight Meat Train, 2009’s Book of Blood and Dread. Barker has also worked as a producer, most notably on the widely acclaimed, award winning 1998 film Gods and Monsters, staring Sir Ian Mckellen as James Whale, director of 1931 classic Frankenstein. An adaptation of Christopher Bram’s novel, Father of Frankenstein, it is a speculation on the final days of the film maker.

What might surprise film fans, however, is how prolific he is as an author. His first proper book was The Damnation Game in 1985 before following it up with The Hellbound Heart (which is what Hellraiser is based on and where we got our first glimpse of infamous horror villain, Pinhead). Subsequent books included Weave World, Cabal, Imajica, Sacrament, Coldheart Canyon and The Great and Secret Show, among others.

His collections include the Books of Blood (1984-85), The Inhuman Condition and In The Flesh, which continue to explore his vivid imagination where fantasy and horror mix. But among his best selling work is his Abarat series of novels. A fantasy adventure, The Abarat is a mystical otherworld made up of twenty five islands – one for each hour of the day. It has been described as Barker’s Narnia or Neverland.

Also an artist, Barker has released books chronicling his art work which is as dark and fantastical as you would imagine if you are familiar with any of the above books and films. As well as this he has released books containing plays he has written including Incarnations and Forms of Heaven.

Clive Barker currently lives with his partner Johnny Ray Raymond in Beverly Hills. His recent work includes another Hellraiser novel, The Scarlet Gospels, and there has been talk of a Hellraiser remake for the past few years. He has also taken the time to show appreciation for other horror writers, giving British film maker Alex Chandon (Cradle of Fear, Inbred) the thumbs up and repeating Stephen King’s famous endorsement but with Chandon’s name in place of Barker’s.

Whether that Hellraiser remake will eventually happen and if Barker will even get involved remains to be seen but given his consistent output over the years, I’m sure Clive Barker will be back to tear our souls apart soon enough.

Are you a fan of Clive Barker? Will you be watching Hellraiser’s anniversary re-release? Let us know.

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