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.
"QUITE SIMPLY, THE BEST HORROR-THEMED BLOG ON THE NET." -- Joe Maddrey, Nightmares in Red White & Blue
**Find The Vault of Horror on Facebook and Twitter, or download the new mobile app!**
**Check out my other blogs, Standard of the Day, Proof of a Benevolent God and Lots of Pulp!**