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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Hump-Day Harangue: What the Hell Is the Industry's Problem with Clive Barker?

As if I don't rant enough already up in here, I'm kicking off a new very special section in which to unleash my vitriol in print form. And in this case, the source of my frustration is the apparent complete lack of confidence that film producers and distributors seem to have in one Clive Barker. Yes, Clive Barker, the man who is one of the finest writers of horror literature of the 20th century, the man Stephen King wishes he could be. And yet, for some reason, this guy can't seem to get arrested in Hollywood.

First came last year's Midnight Meat Train debacle. Based on one of Barker's stories, the film was one of the most original, daring and visually stimulating pieces of horror cinema in 2008. And yet at the last minute, the theatrical distribution got pulled. The masterpiece of a horror flick was destined for the direct-to-DVD pile, but thanks to a grassroots campaign started up by an outraged Barker himself, it was at least released to rinky-dink second-run houses in a few select markets. A far cry from what should have been.

I suppose the feeling was that a film with such a hard R rating would have trouble raking in the bucks. But come on, there are plenty of hard R flicks out there that do quite well without pandering to the coveted high school demographic. I mean, here you have a horror film that is actually imaginative and interesting, as opposed to the slew of derivative garbage that seems to get carte blanche out there in the market these days. I just don't get it.

And now, the latest Barker-related controversy has to do with what is, for my money, one of the most underrated horror films of the 1990s, Barker's Nightbreed. The picture marked the return of Barker to the director's chair for the first time since the original Hellraiser, and was another truly original and arresting vision. And yet as great as it was, there was always talk of lost footage that was cut against Barker's wishes, and the fact that a true director's cut would prove to have been an even better film.

So obviously, the recent news that, contrary to previous beliefs, the supposedly lost extra footage of Nightbreed actually exists, was met with some excitement from Barker fans. Excitement that was quickly squelched when it was learned that the studio had no desire to dig up the footage and do anything with it, since they felt there isn't enough of a market for it to justify the expense. Not of creating a director's cut--not even of remastering the film for Blu-Ray release.

What gives? Why the lack of support for the work of one of the most beloved authors in the horror community? The Midnight Meat Train thing was bad enough, but this Nightbreed situation is really a slap in the face, both to Barker and his fan base. Don't forget, we're talking about two excellent, innovative and truly unique horror films--not the PG-13 pablum that gets spoonfed to us on an almost weekly basis (the bad-assery of Drag Me to Hell being a major exception, obviously).

But fear not, gentle readers. Because once again, everyone's favorite openly gay horror writer is back on the case, and we can all help him. The footage does indeed exist, which is very good news. And which means that all it will take is a good swift fanboy kick in the ass to these studio execs to make them see that there indeed enough freaks out there willing to plunk down their hard-earned ducats for this bad boy.

The excellent website Clive Barker Revelations is working with the author on another grassroots campaign. If you're a Nightbreed fan who'd like to see the flick get the director's cut, special edition DVD and/or Blu-Ray release it deserves, email these guys here or send a Tweet to @philandsarah. The full Twitter page is here. The support has already reportedly been rolling in. You can also read a lot more about the whole mess, including comments from Barker himself, right here.

There's nothing we can do about the Midnight Meat Train stupidity, what's done is done. But we can take a stand and see to it that Nightbreed gets the treatment it really deserves. And that the visionary Clive Barker actually gets shown a little bit of respect from an industry that seems content to spew out the likes of Prom Night remakes and Final Destination part 27.

12 comments:

BJ-C said...

Hey, Final Destinations may suck, but you gotta admit, the openings are always badass.


Kudos to Clive. I love Clive Barker, maybe he should redeux Hellraiser EXACTLY like the written version, maybe I'd love it :D

However MMT. Orgasmic.

B-Sol said...

Final Destinations are definitely a guilty pleasure. I just wish that wasn't most of what was out there.

And apparently, that's close to the plan with the Hellraiser remake. I'm totally open to the possibility of it being better than the original, which I was never the hugest fan of either.

BTW, Midnight Meat Train got the big-time thumbs up from my Dad (aka "Obi-Wan") last night. :-)

Ed Brock said...

Clive Barker is not only one of the best Horror writers, but one of the best writers...period. Clive's imagination knows no bounds & I am always impressed, entertained & inspired by his work.

Unfortunately, we're talking about Hollywood here. Imagination is not one of their better qualities anymore. They'd rather bleed dry old ideas with their endless re-makes & franchise sequels than mine the wonderful literary world (or just some new script ideas) for good material.

I'll support any Clive Barker project, because I know I'm getting something worth while.

Bonehead XL said...

Don't forget that the next Barker movie, "Books of Blood" is skipping theaters and going straight to the Sci-Fi Channel.

Al Bruno III said...

Nightbreed is one of my heartbreakers. The film had so much potential and it really anticipated the monster-superhero genere (Like Angel and Forever Night and all those Anita Blake-style books my wife loves so much...)

I wouldn't mind seeing Nightbreed remade and I really wish Barker had written the two sequel to CABAL.

And speaking of Barker hasn't SHOWTIME been hemming and hawing over a Weaveworld mini series for 20 years or so?

B-Sol said...

Oh Jesus, Bonehead, is that true? I rest my case.

Scott said...

B-Sol,

I fucking hate the people in charge of Hollywood...they are an unimaginative, uncreative bunch of fucktards. Nightbred is a damn fine film, and I'd love to see any unreleased footage. Whew, OK, end of angry rant.

Al Bruno III said...

You know I'm beautiful when you're angry...


:)

But seriously folks... I have to say CABAL and NIGHTBREED were both huge infulences on my dark fantasy tales. Every time I describe a weird city I pray I am getting things just a shadow as cool as things are in Midian.

And even if I feel I have managed to do that, I think about China Mieville's Perdido Street Station and weep tears of blood.

B-Sol said...

The movie completely captivated me when it first came out. I remember I saw it two or three times in the theater, which was a big deal on the slave wages of a summer camp counselor. I also remember I was almost compelled to break up with my girlfriend at the time when she told me she fell asleep on it...

Lord Vader said...

I don't know how many times I saw 'Nightbreed' when it played in theatres, but it would have been at least three. I've recently been giving Danny Elfman's score (one of his best and most under-rated) repeated listens. The notion that it is actually possible for an extended version of the film has me salivating. Consider that email sent...

RayRay said...

Excellent post, B. Yes, the potential of Barker's writing has been ignored by Hollywood. And I love Nightbreed the movie.

As a kid I read all the Books of Blood, The Inhuman Condition, Cabal, and several novels. I always thought that Barker was slightly superior to King, in that his endings were better. King has a problem ending most of his books.

That said, damn Hollywood, damn them to Hell.

B-Sol said...

Yes, King is terrible at tying up all his loose ends. I always preferred Barker too. And apparently BJ was telling me how Books of Blood is being adapted straight to cable. So the tragedy continues...

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