AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Andrew Robertson

For those of y’all who don’t know Andrew Robertson, you are sorely missing out. He is one of my most favorite people of all time. He’s super talented in everything he does – writes, musician, lots of other things – and passionate about life and his role in it. I highly suggest you take a look at his short stories.


Meghan: Hey, Andrew! Welcome back. And good luck with the anthology release today (UnBreakable Ink). Hamburger Lady is definitely a story I NEED to be reading. I know you’re busy today, so let’s get started. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Andrew: I’ve always loved the fall months and the moodier days that come with them. I also think that cooler weather means a better wardrobe!

I was born in October near the spookiest day of the year, and I’m sure that contributes to how I’ve always been drawn to darkness and the most wonderful time of the year. As a kid, I would get spooky craft books from the Scholastic Book club and make paper spiders and masks and ask for Frankenstein and Dracula glow-in-the-dark models for my birthday.

When my family went to the Maritimes on a road trip, I asked them to stop at every roadside attraction once I realized they all had a wax museum with a House of Horrors.

I would say that most queer people also love Hallowe’en because dressing up gives you an opportunity to express yourself in ways you can’t any other day of the year. When you grow up queer with a bit of self-awareness, especially in the 80s, you realize the world is against you. Gay meant AIDS, and that only belonged to the queers then. You realize you’re a target almost every single day that you choose to shine, so you start to look for ways to express your true self in a subversive way.

So many movies in the 80s threw the word ‘faggot’ around without any concern for where it landed, or the violence it engendered, or the queer kids it affected. I took Hallowe’en as a chance to wear a ‘mask’, even metaphorically, and finally fit in. It was one of the few days I could be celebrated for my ‘creativity’ and not beat up for what I was wearing.

And in queer culture, Hallowe’en allows us to explore our identities. Lots of drag queens have tested their high heels for the first time on October 31st, and the whole art of creating a costume and exploring darker, deeper, or more revealing identities is very attractive to me as a queer person.

In my community, Hallowe’en is referred to as gay Christmas. The fact that I wasn’t born wearing black eyeliner is some kind of oversight. Essentially, everyday SHOULD be Hallowe’en.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Andrew: Scaring youngsters looking for candy.

It sounds mean, but hear me out – I don’t think that we need to sanitize Hallowe’en. It’s a pagan holiday that grew out of some really dark practices, and we don’t need to ignore that entirely. A little bit of fear is healthy. When I would go out as a kid, I’d be so disappointed when a house had all its lights on like a dentist’s office. I mean, that’s scary too, but it isn’t cool scary. Unless it’s Little Shop of Horrors, and then we can sing along to the pain!

For me, the night is not about the candy collection as much as the atmosphere and parading around in the dark as a little Dracula, a voodoo doll, or wee Witch. Even as a kid, I longed for the days when I would be old enough to spend Hallowe’en smoking darts, drinking rum, and looking tough in a graveyard by the full moon. I will tell you that the first time I did that, my friend Jessica and I almost ended up in an open grave running away from two giant poodles! Looking tough.

But Hallowe’en should be creepy and make you think about the necessary darker sides of existence. If you think your kid needs to be carried around on a pink cloud, take them for a happy meal. I’ll gladly take my kids to a haunted house or a corn maze one day.

When I was younger, my favourite part used to be dressing up and going to whatever haunted house was on the go. I love being scared and I love creating oogie boogie characters out of the make-up drawer and costume boxes Dinis and I have at home, but after we bought a house, my favourite part became giving out tons of candy and seeing what kids are dressing up as when they come to the door. Kids have this amazing ability to take an odd, creepy idea and translate it into a fun look. Halloween gives kids a reason to show their creativity instead of hiding it out of embarrassment or fear.

Dins and I also love decorating the porch with severed limbs, animated projections, dry ice and scary music, then watching some people avoid us on their candy crawl. That’s the best compliment a Hallowe’en House can get!

Meghan: If Halloween is your favorite holiday (or even second favorite holiday), why?

Andrew: Hallowe’en is the best day of the year for so many reasons. In the month of October, there are suddenly horror movie marathons on every channel, ghost stories become the norm, you get to decorate with skulls and ghosts, eat small versions of candy and pretend 10 isn’t too many ‘cause they are so tiny, and I love to be scared. All these haunted attractions open up…it’s heaven.

I just wish people would stop trying to make it all cutesy and spoopy or whatever that ridiculous term is. I know I’ll get some hate for saying it but, when someone says something is spoopy I assume they mean a diaper. Don’t @ me!

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

Andrew: I really believe in karma. I think every shit thing you do to someone else will come back to you, and even if it doesn’t, you know what you did and that makes it so much worse. Each nasty thing you do, every time you leave a friend hanging, that’s your own picture of Dorian Gray.

One of my favourite films of all time is A Christmas Carol. The Alastair Sim version. Back in Dickens time and long before it, ghost stories were a Christmas Eve tradition, something that is slowly making its way back into popular culture, and I’m glad for it. That story is the perfect example of what was and continues to be everything that is wrong with the world, and even though we have all seen the story in some form, we continue to reproduce the very conditions that the story condemns. We really are an awful species, with no regard for our own future or sustainability or each other, even though we can’t do it all on our own. Weird, right?

I try and be genuine with people, follow through on what I say I will do, and apologize for what I can’t. It’s the best way to not haunt yourself.

Meghan: What/who is your favorite horror monster or villain?

Andrew: My absolute favourite is Pinhead, a.k.a the Hell Priest from Hellraiser. I remember the very first time I saw Doug Bradley as Pinhead. I was at the Eaton Centre in Toronto going to see some awful comedy as a tween, and there was a standup of Pinhead holding the Lament Configuration and I was just in love. The nails, the sneer, the outfit…I was a future goth at that exact moment, and I’ve worn a few cassocks since, but nothing like that. There is something about the character that Doug Bradley created and the way he voices the lines that is just perfectly evil.

I had the absolute fanboy pleasure of meeting him a few years back at Frightmare in the Falls at Niagara Falls, which is an incredible horror convention, and we took a pic, then I got his book signed. He was so awesome!

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Andrew: This is a tie between ‘Salem’s Lot and The Haunting of Hill House.

I never understood what it meant to be really, really unsettled until I read the Shirley Jackson classic. Her writing just prints itself right into your brain with heated keys. Everything I have read by her has the same effect. It’s like the characters are right there, whispering the story behind you, warm breath on your neck as you turn the pages, and you just have to believe every word they tell you.

Stephen King has the same gift. Something about expertly creating the slow build and getting into the readers mind, that’s a gift. Then the author can use the simplest thing, the sound of walls settling, for example, to make you certain there’s a horrific vampire scratching away behind your favourite poster of Siouxsie and the Banshees. ‘Salem’s Lot was the first book I read that had me up all night waiting for someone to be floating outside my window.

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

Andrew: Hostel.

I had no idea what I was in for with that one, but it is absolutely relentless. I don’t want to say all that much because of spoilers but at one point my ankles turned to water, at another point, I wanted armour for my eyes. I haven’t ever done a rewatch. I felt polluted.

That movie hits on so many vicious things, but somewhere in there, I believe it’s a comment on capitalism, race, and our disregard for anyone else, much like The Purge. That’s the real horror in the world. I also want to point out that The Purge made the issue of race and systemic racism in politics, government and policing very clear, and it was a very important statement even if you don’t agree with the medium.

There’s very little empathy left in the world at this point, and to me both Hostel and The Purge are the platinum standard of what happens when people only want laws when the laws agree with their desires, and serve their gods, in place of what’s just and equitable, and we’ve seen a lot of that during COVID-19.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

Andrew: So, this is as far from scary as it can get, but I want to tell you about my GAYEST costume ever. When the musical Cats closed in Toronto, they auctioned of all the costumes and props to benefit Casey House, which at the time was an AIDS hospice in Toronto (and continues to be Canada’s first and only hospital for people living with HIV/AIDS).

I bought Demeter’s outfit, a spandex one piece that was painted in various stripes and had crunchy bits of ‘fur’ on the shoulders. It was $20 so a twelve-year old could afford it.

I tried to recreate the look from the musical then wore it to school. I guess I could have said I was a werewolf, but I didn’t. It still remains one of the most unapologetically queer things I have ever done, but I didn’t look at it that way back then. I just really loved that show as a tween, and figured every else would think it was cool too. #mixedreaction

Since then, I’ve lent the costume to a few people for a variety of functions, and as is often the case, the last one I lent it to never gave it back, so now it’s just a memory, all alone in the moonlight. I can dream of the old days, life was beautiful then.

But I shouldn’t dwell on that right meow.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

Andrew: I regularly listen to Elvira’s theme song, especially when I’m walking at night. I also love the Lydia Lunch version of Spooky. Her album Queen of Siam has a carnivalesque darkness to it, and I think her version of Spooky is the cutest love song ever for the maladjusted (by now the people who hated the spoopy comment are really vexed. I’m not sporry about it).

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween candy or treat? What is your most disappointing?

Andrew: A lot of people don’t like them, but I love the molasses kiss. It is a classic, and it’s comes back from the dead each year without fail. This is the candy in white, orange and black wrapper, printed with witches and owls and scary moons. They are my number one must have Halloween candy.

The most disappointing treats would be the ones with razors in them.


Boo-graphy:
Andrew Robertson is an award-winning queer horror writer and future spaceman. In December 2021, his short story Sick is the New Black will appear in the gay-themed, multi-genre anthology Pink Triangle Rhapsody: Volume 1 from Lycan Valley Press. He is currently working on a novelization of the same story, exploring themes of queerness, addiction, fame, anti-vaxxers and the toxic nature of post-pandemic life in a culture locked in the thrall of social media. Feel free to be his agent.

He recently launched his first monstrous children’s book and sticker set, And Then The Fart Happened, on the Great Lakes Horror Company Kids imprint with illustrations by LiZzDom, and colour and layout by his partner Dinis Freitas, the Most Handsome Man in All of Puppetland®. People seem to love putting the Fart sticker on their butts, which checks out.

He is also headed to the Moon, or at least his writing is! In 2022, his short story Sundowning from Klarissa Dreams Redux will be headed to Lacus Mortis with the Peregrine Collection as a part of the ULA/Astrobotic Peregrine launch. In 2023, Hamburger Lady from UnBreakable Ink will be headed to the Lunar South Pole with the Polaris Collection as a part of the SpaceX/NASA-VIPER/Astrobotic Griffin launch. These stories will be part of the largest single collection of contemporary artwork ever put on the Moon, and will fly there on the first commercial lunar flights in history.

Back here on Earth, Andrew’s fiction has appeared in literary magazines and quarterlies such as Stitched Smile Publications Magazine, Deadman’s Tome, Undertow, and katalogue. His work has also appeared in anthologies including Alice Unbound: Beyond Wonderland, A Tribute Anthology to Deadworld, and the Group Hex series.

UnBreakable Ink
Travel to the furthest reaches of space, traverse time, delve into the darkest parts of the mind and beyond in this collection of speculative fiction shorts.

Curated by Shebat Legion and presented by Indomitable Ink, Unbreakable Ink boasts twenty-nine stories and is the first installment in a series of anthologies designed to provoke the unbreakable imaginations in us all.

Halloween Extravaganza: Paul Flewitt: Clive Barker, Dark Dreamer Pt 6

Clive Barker, Dark Dreamer:
A Retrospective
Part 6

The Abarat series was several years in the making, conceived back in the late nineties with a series of epic-sized paintings. Barker had left the paintings hanging around the house, the collection steadily growing as other pursuits took his time. It wasn’t until the death of his father that Clive, surrounded by the paintings, decided that he had to do something with them. He had conceived the bones of the Abarat story as he painted; now he had to create the entire mythology.

Initially intended as a quartet of novels (since revised to five or six books), it is a tale with very familiar themes: the sea, the worlds beyond our own, and the sacred feminine. The difference here is that his storytelling is directed toward children, the creation of an epic story that would enrapture children and adults alike, in much the same way that Harry Potter and the Roald Dahl books had.

It was a story that would occupy him for many years, progress slowed by the need to create more paintings before the story could be written. The paintings would appear in the hardback copies of the books, captivating the reader as they read the tales. The undertaking is such that the work still isn’t finished today, its creation severely hampered by the coma and strokes of 2012 which left Barker significantly weakened (more on that later).

There were also other distractions as publishers and readers alike clamoured for new adult material. Barker had been working on a work entitled The Scarlet Gospels for years at this point, the story evolving and changing over the years before it reached its apotheosis.

Through all of this, for a decade, Barker’s attention was constantly taken by his new obsession: Abarat.

2002 – 2011, although movies and a separate novel appeared during this period, we shall forever think of as the Abarat years.

The Abarat Years (2002-2011)

Abarat, Abarat: Days of Magic, Nights of War,
and Abarat: Absolute Midnight

Due to the fact that the Abarat series is unfinished, I will here offer only a very basic outline, and not an “in full” analysis of the work, as I have done with previous work in this article.

Abarat is the story of Candy Quackenbush of Chickentown. Candy is bored and ill at ease with her life in the Nowheresville that is Chickentown, where nothing ever happens and the only ambitions achievable are to work in the chicken factory that gives the town its name or to get out.

When she is given an assignment by her teacher to write a report giving five facts about the town, Candy can have no way of knowing how her research will change her life. She cannot know the ties that Chickentown has with the fantastic, being as it was the former harbour and trading town of Murkitt on the sea of Isabella.

Her first inkling of something more exciting than chickens in Chickentown is when she goes to speak to the manager of the town’s hotel, hearing the story of Henry Mirkitt’s demise in that very hotel and the cryptic note and sextant that he left behind: “I was waiting for my ship to come in…”

Little did she know how her life would change when, in a rage after her assignment on Mirkitt is torn to shreds by her teacher and she is sent to the principal’s office, she goes wandering on some scrubland on the outskirts of town. Here she sees a man being pursued through the tall, dry grass, a strange man with antlers on his head and seven heads sprouting from the branches. John Mischief is a thief from the Abarat Archipelago, pursued to the place he calls the Hereafter by Mendelssohn Shape. In desperation, Mischief asks Candy to go to the lighthouse (a strange folly which stands amidst the grass in the scrubland, totally misnamed by Mischief since they were many hundreds of miles from the sea), and play the oldest game in the world. Confused, Candy does as the brothers ask her and sets off for the lighthouse while they distract Mendessohn Shape.

She enters the tower and climbs the rickety stairs, listening keenly for the sounds of pursuit which meant that Shape was following. Only when she reached the room at the top of the stairs did Candy understand what John Mischief meant when he said it was the oldest game in the world. In the centre of the room, there is an inverted pyramid, and a strange ball in the cracks on the floorboard. Now she knows what must be done, but she hears Shape on the stairs. As Shape reaches the top of the stairs, which crumble under his every step, Candy throws the ball at the cup and runs out onto the balcony which runs around the outside of the tower. Shape follows and grabs her, but the balcony collapses and both fall and lay unconscious at the foot of the tower.

Candy is awoken by Mischief and his brothers. Shape is still unconscious nearby, but he’s stirring and there is little time to lose. They take her to see what it is that she has called forth by throwing the ball into the cup. A little way from the lighthouse, lapping up against a jetty, is the sea. Before Shape can catch up with them, Mischief asks her one final favour, to look after something that he brought to the Hereafter with him. He explains that the sea will carry him to the Abarat and safety, but that she must stay in the Hereafter where she belongs. To his dismay, Candy demands to go with the brothers to the Abarat. There is little time to argue: Shape appears and both the brothers and Candy jump into the sea and the currents take them away from the shore to the islands of the Abarat… and Candy’s life is forever changed.

The Abarat Archipelago is a collection of twenty-five islands, all of them associated with a different hour of the day and the twenty-fifth hour, the time out of time. The story follows Candy on her travels around the islands, and tells of the changes she goes through and chaos that she brings in her wake wherever she goes. We meet Jimothy Tarry and his army of Tarrie Cats; Rojo Pixler, the nefarious chairman of the Commexo Corporation and his demonic mascot, The Commexo Kid; Mater Motley and her army of Stitchlings; and Christopher Carrion, the Lord of Midnight, whose greatest ambition is to bring perpetual night to the Abarat.

We follow as Candy tries to understand the politics and struggles of the people of the islands, while trying to understand how she herself fits into the fabric of this fantastical world. It is a journey of change, discovery of self, of friendships, and loves found and lost.

The Abarat series is planned to stretch over five books in total, with only three currently published (hence my reticence to write a full summary at this point, but offer only a tantalising synopsis). What Barker has already presented is a work of young adult fantasy which rivals anything written by C.S. Lewis, Lewis Carrol, or Roald Dahl. Once again, Clive Barker proves that even in darkness, there is beauty.

Mister B. Gone (2007)

As implied earlier, Abarat is not the only work that Barker has produced in the Abarat period, although most of his time has been taken by Abaratian works. In 2007, Barker spoke about taking a break away from work on a novel called The Scarlet Gospels, writing a short novel called Mister B. Gone. Clive was living in the darkness of the Hellraiser world with Scarlet Gospels, and felt that he needed some brief respite. Mister B. Gone is still a very dark, sinister book, but not as epic in scale as Scarlet Gospels was conceived as being.

“Burn this book…”

That’s how the story begins, with the narrator imploring you to burn the book that you are reading. It is a demand that is repeated throughout the work, and many people have been tempted to do just that. Read on, though, and you find the history of a minor demon and “vicious little bastard,” Jakabok Boch. We read of how he was raised and abused in the shit piles of the lowest circles of hell, and how he came to inspire the printing of the first book… and how he came to be trapped within the pages of his own.

It would be impossible to give a full and in depth rundown of the entire story, as it is the transcribed ramblings of a tortured soul without a story, per se. It is the collected memories of the demon, Jakabok Boch, and must be read to be truly understood. Mister B. Gone would have worked very well as a Books of Blood story, although a little long in my opinion to have been included in a collection. Some fans deride Mister B. Gone as a throwaway scribbling that should have remained unpublished, but I feel differently. This book creeped me out. I read it in one reading while lying in bed, my wife sleeping beside me, and my baby daughter in the room next door. As the demon becomes more desperate, his demands more nasty and threatening, it feels that he is talking directly to you… whispering in your ear. I admire the book for that quality of writing.

Mister B. Gone was a Halloween release in October 2007, and quite fitting that it was published for that season, being as it was a welcome return to Barker’s horror roots. At the end, Jakabok Boch gives up on his imploring to burn the book, and just leave him on the shelf to gather dust… or pass it onto a friend. I know of several readers who have done just that and mailed the book to random addresses. To my knowledge, there are at least three copies of the book in the mail system, being passed from address to address, although I haven’t read of their whereabouts for several years… maybe they’ll turn up one day. Maybe one might drop on your doormat?


2007 and 2008 were busy years for Barker in the movie world. He worked on three adaptations of Books of Blood stories, with The Midnight Meat Train appearing in 2008, and Book of Blood and Dread in 2009. Barker worked as advisor on The Midnight Meat Train and Book of Blood, appearing on set throughout filming to assist the directors in capturing the story. Both are very faithful adaptations of the stories, with a career best performance from Vinnie Jones as Mahogany in The Midnight Meat Train.

It was a welcome change to have quality, faithful adaptations made from his work. They restored the audience’s faith in Barker as a creator of horror after the thievery and raping of the Hellraiser franchise since Hellraiser 3, but to date these are the last movies to appear adapted directly from Barker’s own work and involving him in production.

Maximillian Bacchus & His Travelling Circus (2009)

Originally written in 1974, The Adventures of Mr. Maximillian Bacchus and His Travelling Circus was finally published in 2009, with illustrations by Richard Kirk. Although he initially denied that the stories were based on anyone in particular, he did finally admit that Bacchus was based on himself, the ballet dancer Ophelia was based on Ann Taylor, and the perfect prince was based around Graham Bickley, who Barker described as “the most beautiful of people, a wonderful looking 18 year old.”

The book itself is very short, comprised of four stories which connect to each other. We join Maximillian Bacchus as his circus travels across the country to play at a King’s castle. On the way, the circus give other performances and fall into adventures, which Barker tells of in his trademark, darkly fantastic manner. They are each classic fables in the style of the The Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Anderson, and just totally wonderful.

With its illustrations and succinct storytelling, Maximillian Bacchus sits very well alongside The Thief of Always and the Abarat books as children’s literature.


And then, very abruptly, everything stopped.

2012 was possibly the worst year in the life of Clive Barker, the year which began with the ending of a court case that came about through an acrimonious split with long-term partner David Armstrong, and ended with Barker in hospital and close to death.

The court case and all the rumour I will leave alone, as tabloid and salacious as that subject is. I will, however, go into Clive’s illness as it continues to be a source of rumour and speculation among readers. It is strange that Clive’s long time absence from the public stage is still the subject of rumour and supposition, since Barker has been very open about what happened and the impact that his illness has had upon him.

Clive was busy at work on The Scarlet Gospels and the fourth Abarat book when he became ill. He attended what was a routine appointment for dental surgery, a routine procedure that millions of people will undergo each year. For Clive, it became a nightmare. He returned home following the procedure and collapsed unconscious. He was rushed to Cedars-Sinai hospital and diagnosed with toxic shock, which had caused him to have a stroke. He remained in a coma for a while, enduring three more strokes which left him debilitated and extremely weak. Clive being Clive, almost as soon as he regained consciousness he demanded to be unhooked from the machinery that had monitored him and wanted to get back to work.

Barker’s debilitation has been a source of great frustration for him since then. He is left pretty frail and struggled to leave his home in LA for several years. His usually prolific attendances at signings and conventions ceased, and his output of books also stopped. Abarat was hit the hardest, since he could no longer manage the huge canvases that were required of him. Interviews did appear from time to time, and the occasional photograph where he appeared thinner and far more frail than he had ever been.

None of this meant that he had stopped working. Quite the contrary. He still did what he could to complete Abarat (a project that is still ongoing) and The Scarlet Gospels. He was still selecting artwork to create the Imaginer series of books, which collects his visual art in book form. He also authorised the release of several Books of Blood stories in deluxe edition form.

At long last, after six years of absence, Barker made his first public appearances at conventions in 2018. Fans were glad to see him up and around, though were shocked to see him so frail. He has made further public appearances this year, and appeared briefly on a panel alongside Barbie Wilde, Doug Bradley, Nicholas Vince, and Simon Bamford. He may have been down for a while, but Barker is certainly not out.


Amidst his illness, there was much speculation about whether Barker would ever release another book. The general consensus among his hardcore fans was that they wouldn’t expect too much, such was the concern for his wellbeing. It was a welcome surprise in 2014 then, and one that was met with much excitement, when Clive began talking about The Scarlet Gospels on his Facebook page. A release date was soon announced for 2015.

Of course, Barker had been talking about The Scarlet Gospels for many, many years. The writing of this book was ongoing for around twenty years and had gone through many evolutions in that time. He first described it as a sprawling, epic history of religion and mankind… and hell, of course. What was delivered was something quite different: a horror-noir which charted the end of Barker’s most popular creation: Pinhead.

The work was met with mixed reaction from readers. Some applauded Barker’s return to horror fiction, his visceral approach to the work, and intent to shock. Others lamented the patchy quality of writing, with some positing the theory that parts of the story may have been ghost-written (a theory that I do not support). For certain, The Scarlet Gospels isn’t Barker’s best work, but it is still an enjoyable enough story and well worth reading for any Hellraiser fan.

The Scarlet Gospels (2015)

The last true magicians alive in the world are gathered together, resolved to face their doom together. They have been hunted and pursued, most of their colleagues already killed by one who thirsts for their knowledge. They argue over the best way to proceed, to fight or submit, but it is already too late. They hear the tolling of the bells and smell the sickly sweet fragrance which precedes his coming… and then he is there in the room with them. Pinhead.

The Hellpriest finds new and inventive ways to massacre all but one of the gathered mages, tearing them apart and even impregnating one with a demon-baby which is birthed within moments of its conception. The only survivor is reconfigured and remoulded to play Pinhead’s dog for the rest of eternity.

Harry d’Amour is drinking himself into oblivion after the end of a difficult investigation. He is reliving his first liaison with hell, and for that he really needed to be drunk.

As d’Amour is drinking away his sorrow and regrets, his partner and guide, Norma Payne, is visited by the spirit of a lawyer who had left behind a house of sin that he wasn’t too keen on his family finding. Beyond this sketchy detail he would tell no more until both Harry and Norma agreed to sign an NDA. Norma admonished the man, telling him that she would sign no such thing and nor would Harry, but the man displayed just enough humanity for her to want to help him. She agreed to set up a meeting between Harry and the dead man, and so Harry found himself in New Orleans.

Harry travelled to the house of the dead man, and in the investigation, discovered a library of the arcane. While in the library, he discovers an ornate box which draws him in. He knows precisely what this is and senses the power within the box, finding himself absently toying with it until the thing is solving itself. He hears the distant tolling of bells as his protective tattoos begin to burn a warning. Soon enough, the Hellpriest’s god appears and attempts to apprehend him, but Harry is well versed in the arcane and utters an incantation which will seal the divide between the world and Hell. Before the portal closes, Pinhead apprehends him and offers him a deal: kill his dog and he will make him an offer he cannot refuse. Unwillingly, d’Amour does battle with the dog and is close to being bested before a phantom comes to his rescue. He flees, leaping through a window and breaking bones in the fall as the house tears itself apart.

D’Amour is helped by the man who has guided him this far, his hurts treated by a voodoo mage. He experiences a day of delirium after drinking some potion that the mage gives him, but awakes more or less cured, although still in pain. He returns to New York to heal his hurts, but is soon disabused of any notion of rest.

He sets off to visit Norma at her apartment to update her on all that happened on his trip to New Orleans, but is stopped by a stranger who shoves a crumpled piece of paper into his hand before disappearing into the crowds. Harry finds a quiet place where he won’t be seen before unfolding the paper and reading the note, knowing that it is from Norma. He reads the words which immediately chill him to the bone: “Don’t go to my apartment. Its bad. I’m in the old place. Come at 3am. If you itch, walk away.”

D’Amour goes to a bar and waits, drinking until the place closes. He takes a cab and heads to the place that Norma directed him to. He knows the place, of course. It is the place where he and Norma first met. He gets out of the cab a block or two from the place, making sure that he hasn’t been followed before heading to the empty office block which was once home to his psychiatrist. He breaks in and heads up to the old office, but finds no sign of his old friend. He searches through the reception area and into the former consulting room. He is about to give up when he goes to the en-suite and finds the message that Norma has left: an arrow scrawled in ash on the window, pointing downwards. In the basement was a gentleman’s club, and that is where Harry heads next.

At the top of the steps which lead to the club, Harry’s tattoos begin to tingle. He flicks on the lights and heads into the place, calling out a challenge. The room before him seems deserted and silent, and he moves further in before things begin flying at him. He runs to the stage, trying to get some height and see who… or what… is attacking him. He threatens the poltergeists with an incantation, and begins to recite the words when Norma’s voice cuts through the air. The ghosts attacking d’Amour are hers, and they are present at her command. She calls them off, but tells them not to stray far in case Harry has been followed. She leads him into the back room and Harry sees that she has been living there for some time.

Norma explains that the lawyer led them into a trap and that she was fooled. “There are highways open that should be closed… and there’s something coming down one of those highways – or all of them – that means you and me, and a lot of other people, harm.”

It isn’t anything that d’Amour hasn’t already guessed, but his first priority is to get Norma out of the cesspit that she has chosen as her hideout and get her somewhere more comfortable. With that in mind, Harry leaves her to arrange her accommodation.

The Hellpriest was busy also, setting his plans into action. He was in the Monastery of the Cenobitical Order and arranging the first phase of his scheme. He had been summoned to the chamber of his superiors for judgement, and it was a prospect that didn’t please him. He turned to his dog and told him that, if the judgement went against him, all of his endeavours must be destroyed. The dutiful servant understood and promised that he would do his duty.

Together they made their way to the Chamber of the Unconsumed, where the leaders of the Order were gathered. Pinhead was accused of heresy, of researching human magic. Such behaviour was outside of the system, and the Cenobite Order was built on rigid systems. They had found books which had aided his research and the evidence against him was incontrovertible. The judgement of the Unconsumed was that the Hellpriest be banished from the Order to the Trenches; his belongings had already been taken and destroyed. All Pinhead said in response was “Thank you.”

He left the chamber and walked across the courtyard, pointing to a stand of trees and ordering his dog to wait for him there. Once the servant was outside the gates, the Hellpriest went about his business. He went to a row of buildings which stood under the wall and entered the last one in the row. Here is where he had done his work and laid out his plans. In an upper room was a birdcage filled with origami cranes, the identity of a Cenobite priest written on each one. He wrote out the last few names on the last few cranes before placing them in the cage with their brethren. He whispered the incantation he had learned and watched as the cranes became animate, their wings flapping against each other. He let the first few cranes free, watching to see how they would act. After a moment of testing their new found freedom, they set off to do their duty. The Hellpriest released more cranes, not all of them for fear of being discovered, but soon enough the cage was empty and the endeavour was underway.

He climbed up to the top of the walls and looked out over the city, where there was a revolution underway. He watched as the city walls came under attack from people with rudimentary petrol bombs. After a few moments drinking this sight in, he heard screams from much closer at hand. Now he turned his attention back to the monastery, where his work was being done.

He walked back across the courtyard and made his way up the steps to the cells, where he found the priests, priestesses, abbots, deacons, and bishops in states of extremis. Most were already dead, but one or two were still in the process of dying. He was well satisfied with his work until a brother he knew called out to him, calling him a traitor. This one was obese with dark glasses, and he accused the Hellpriest of his treachery and murder. Pinhead denied involvement, but the fat Cenobite didn’t believe him and caught him by his vestments. Only then did a convulsion rip through the Cenobite and he expelled blood from his mouth in a torrent, soaking the Hellpriest in gore. He turned and left the scene, making his way across the courtyard to the gates.

He was almost out of the monastery when the Abbott who had meted out his judgement called out to him, accusing him. Pinhead turned and once again denied involvement, but the Abbott called him a liar. The Hellpriest took hold of the man and began tearing his vestments away from his body. The Abbott had ordered the inquisitors to come and take the Hellpriest, and time was too short to complete the atrocity that he was currently committing. He dropped the Abbott and left him to his guards, leaving the monastery, and heading to the forest to meet with his dog.

Harry d’Amour went to visit his tattooist, Caz, in hopes of finding Norma a more comfortable place to stay. He tells Caz about his trip to New Orleans and the trap that had been set for him there, and how Norma had gone into hiding. The big man listened to all of this, promising to find a place for Norma to lie low in Brooklyn. Harry agreed to Caz’s plan and returned to Norma with food and brandy.

Harry is sleeping, Norma talking to the spirit of a man named Nails, when Caz arrives at the club with Lana, a friend of both Harry and Caz with more protective tattoos on her body than both men combined. She was a magnet for the supernatural, and had agreed to have Norma stay with her and keep her under her protection.

On the way to Lana’s house in Caz’s van, Harry’s tattoos were worryingly quiet. They were less than a mile from their destination when he screamed at Caz to stop and jumped out of the van. He looked down to the corner of the street that they’d just turned into and saw what could only be a mirage: standing on the corner, as if waiting for the bus, was his saviour from New Orleans, Dale. Harry called him and approached, and the man explained that his dreams had told him to be on that spot, at that moment. Suddenly, Harry’s tattoos flared up and he dropped to his knees. Something was coming, something big, and all of his tattoos were screaming against it.

When the sensation in Harry’s tattoos subsided, the introductions were made between Dale and Harry’s friends, and they became aware of a vibration in the air which rose to a fever pitch as they listened. There was a force in the air which blew out windows and cracked pavements. Without further discussion, the group armed themselves and waited for what was coming.

A doorway of fire opened up in the street before them and the Hellpriest appeared with his pet dog. Pinhead approached d’Amour, making him an offer to be his witness as he carried out plans that he had been making for most of a lifetime. He would be denied nothing, and the Hellpriest’s gospel would be one of total honesty… all d’Amour had to do was witness and write down the events that occurred from here on. Of course, Harry’s response was a “fuck you,” but Pinhead was not here to be denied. Even as d’Amour pumped bullets into the Hellpriest’s head, his dog had quietly circled the group and now held Norma Paine, a curved blade held to her belly and threatening to gut her if d’Amour made the wrong move. Still, Pinhead was wounded and bleeding his acidic blood onto the floor. The Hellpriest whispered an incantation which turned his blood into vicious darts which flew at d’Amour and caught his arm. D’Amour wrapped his jacket around his arms and charged at the demon, grabbing his arms and forcing them downward. More blood-darts flew from the Hellpriest as he roared in revulsion and rage, destroying Caz’s van and causing it to explode.

The Hellpriest was not as adept at the use of this form of magic as he had thought – there were too many variables in the situation and it was throwing his calculations off. Knowing that this encounter was not going the way that he had hoped, the Hellpriest called his dog and retreated… but not without a prize… He took Norma Paine back to Hell with him. D’Amour was rendered immobilised as the associations with past experiences overwhelmed him and for a moment he was unable to act. Caz screamed at him to move, to do something, and at last Harry sprang into action. He sprinted toward the portal that Pinhead and his dog had disappeared into and followed, the doorway disappearing as he entered.

Harry’s friends follow him through the doorway, and they find themselves in Hell. Upon their arrival, the friends feel distrust toward Dale, since he appeared just before the Hellpriest. They begin to walk toward civilization, but Dale stops and tells them that something wonderful is about to happen and they will trust him. Just then Lana begins speaking with a voice that isn’t her own, and it soon becomes apparent that it is Norma. The Hellpriest has beaten her severely, and she is close to death, but she tells the friends where she is and how to get to her. Too soon, Norma’s body calls her spirit back… apparently there is more that she must do in the world of the living.

From there the story becomes a pursuit to rescue Norma. They follow in Pinhead’s wake as he travels through Hell to the sanctum which holds the body of Lucifer, the Morning Star, who Pinhead believes to be dead. There, Harry witnesses as Pinhead violates what he believes to be the corpse of the fallen angel, ripping away the armour which he believes gave the devil his power and wearing it himself. As he is leaving, the devil awakes and, realising the violation wrought upon him as he slept, goes after the Hellpriest.

Meanwhile, Norma is dying. Pinhead has violated her and she has only moments to live. Harry finds her with his friends, lying on a beach, and promises to see Pinhead dead before he bears her body back to the world. Pinhead also finds them, and renders Harry blind as Lucifer appears and attacks the Hellpriest.

A battle ensues with both demons unleashing their power upon each other and tearing Hell apart. The friends rush to escape as the ground opens up around them and both demons lay each other low. Lucifer tears the armour from Pinhead’s body and destroys him utterly before turning his attention to the realm that he made for himself so many generations past.

The book ends with Harry blind and moving into Norma’s old apartment. He is emptying his office and one of his friends find the puzzle box that he took from the house of the lawyer in New Orleans. He takes the box from the man and hides it once again, keeping it safe from inquisitive hands. Now, Harry will take over from Norma as the interpreter of the dead.


And so to the future…

Barker has already announced that he has a new novel close to completion: Scarebaby. He has said that this will be another return to horror, and that it is the scariest thing that he has written in a long time.

He has also announced that he is developing two new television series: one based around his Books of Blood stories, the other a Nightbreed television show. Of course, these are in development and may never be made (there have been a few series pitched for both books in the last twenty years), but the signs are hopeful.

Clive has also attended more conventions and has further appearances planned for conventions next year.

It seems that Barker still has the energy and will to create new worlds, while revisiting the old favourites from time to time. What will he create next? Only time will tell, but what I hope this (rather long) retrospective proves is that he has already cemented his place as one of the most influential dark fiction authors of our time, as well as the greatest imaginer of the last thirty years. I’m sure there are many writers who feel, as I do, that we owe him a huge debt of gratitude for showing us that there are no limits to our own imagination.

“You have to trust your own madness…”
Clive Barker

Thank you for joining us through this 6-part retrospective. I hope you have enjoyed the work that author Paul Flewitt has put into this. Thank you, Paul, for sharing this with us.

Paul Flewitt is a horror/dark fantasy author. He was born on the 24th April 1982 in the Yorkshire city of Sheffield.

Always an avid reader, Paul put pen to paper for the first time in 1999 and came very close to inking a deal with a small press. Due to circumstances unforeseen, this work has never been released, but it did give Paul a drive to achieve within the arts.

In the early 2000’s, Paul concentrated on music; writing song lyrics for his brother and his own bands. Paul was lead singer in a few rock bands during this time and still garners inspiration from music to this day. Paul gave up his musical aspirations in 2009.

In late 2012, Paul became unemployed and decided to make a serious attempt to make a name for himself as a writer. He went to work, penning several short stories and even dusting off the manuscript that had almost been published over a decade earlier. His efforts culminated in his first work being published in mid-2013, the flash fiction piece “Smoke” can be found in OzHorrorCon’s Book of the Tribes: A Tribute To Clive Barker’s Nightbreed.

2013 was a productive year as he released his short story “Paradise Park” in both J. Ellington Ashton’s All That Remains anthology and separate anthology, Thirteen Vol 3. He also completed his debut novella in this time. Poor Jeffrey was first released to much praise in February 2014. In July 2014 his short story “Always Beneath” was released as part of CHBB’s Dark Light Four anthology.

In 2015 Paul contributed to two further anthologies: Demonology (Climbing Out) from Lycopolis Press and Behind Closed Doors (Apartment 16c) with fellow authors Matt Shaw, Michael Bray, Stuart Keane, and more.In 2016, Paul wrote the monologue, The Silent Invader, for a pitch TV series entitled Fragments of Fear. The resulting episode can be viewed now on YouTube, but the show was never aired. The text for the monologue was published in Matt Shaw’s Masters Of Horror anthology in 2017.

Paul continues to work on further material.

He remains in Sheffield, where he lives with his partner and two children. He consorts with his beta reading demons on a daily basis.

You can find more information on Paul Flewitt and his works here…

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Halloween Extravaganza: Paul Flewitt: Clive Barker, Dark Dreamer Pt 3

Clive Barker, Dark Dreamer:
A Retrospective
Part 3

In 1990 Clive Barker once again teamed up with Chris Figg, this time to make the movie adaptation of Cabal: Nightbreed. The pair teamed up with Morgan Creek to make the movie, who financed them to the tune of $11m due to Barker’s rising stock as a writer and director after the successes of Hellraiser and The Great and Secret Show. Barker had spoken to Geoff Portas at Image Animation, and together they had drawn up plans for the monsters that would appear in the film, producing a bible to explain the mythology of the Breed. Barker convinced legendary cult-film director, David Cronenberg, to jump on board to play psychopathic psychiatrist, Decker, as well as recruiting Hellraiser alumni Doug Bradley, Nick Vince, and Simon Bamford.

Almost immediately after shooting began, the financiers started getting cold feet about the project as costs spiralled due to a prosthetics team that had grown from thirty members to fifty-one, a crew of monsters which had increased from fifty to almost two-hundred, and twenty-five sets at Pinewood Studios in London. The $11m budget had swollen to a reported $20m and Barker wanted more… a dispute which cost Chris Figg his job.

Morgan Creek agreed a deal with Twentieth Century Fox for distribution, and they expressed reservations about the movie when they saw Barker’s cut. They had invested in Barker as “the future of horror,” but Nightbreed was neither a horror movie nor the natural successor to Hellraiser that they had expected.

In post-production, Fox insisted on enhancement shoots, extending filming for three weeks. They told Barker this was to film three new monsters, but was actually to enforce their own changes. They filmed a cameo with John Agar, as well as a new ending which would set-up a possible sequel. They overdubbed several of the actors’ voices, including Doug Bradley and Oliver Parker.

Barker and editor, Richard Marden, flew to Hollywood and met with Fox for a meeting and were told that the movie had been totally recut. Instead of the epic monster fantasy that Clive had intended to make, they had cut it by 30 minutes to two hours and informed Barker that they wanted to cut it even further to 90 minutes, with the focus of the new cut being Decker, not the Nightbreed. At this news, Richard Marden quit the movie and flew back to England.

Mark Goldblatt and Alan Baumgarten took over editing the final cut of the movie, and it was an act of butchery. The cohesion of Barker’s vision was destroyed under the committee-style production. Even after the re-edit, there was more insult to add to injury, as the MPAA did not like the idea of a movie where the monsters were the heroes and humanity were the real monsters. They cut a further seventeen scenes from the movie, saying that they were being hard on the movie due to the heroic monsters aspect.

The final nail in Nightbreed’s coffin was delivered by Fox’s promotional campaign, which totally misrepresented the movie as a slasher flick instead of a fantasia. Nightbreed was not received well, and disappeared from the cinemas shortly after release.

The shame of all this is, of course, that Nightbreed is far from a terrible movie. Even in the butchered theatrical cut, there is a lot to like. Underneath the incoherence, you can sense the movie that Barker had intended to create and characters, such as Narcisse, Ohnaka, and Babette, are still lovable, just as much as Decker is hated. The edit destroyed the relationship between Boone and Lori, so that it is more ambiguous than Barker ever intended.

This was an episode which broke Barker’s heart, telling friends upon his return to England that it would be a long time before he directed another movie. He was drained, both physically and emotionally, after the battles he had to fight to just get Nightbreed made. He realised that he could not be successful in Hollywood unless he could be a part of the fabric of the city, to be involved in the politicking and the business. In short, he had to leave for America on a more permanent basis.

That could have been the end of matters for Nightbreed, but it wasn’t. It seems only right and proper that we take a moment to fast forward to the mid-2000’s and rumours that the lost Nightbreed footage existed. No one was exactly sure where they were or what condition they might be in, but they did exist. Mark Miller, VP of Seraphim Studios, decided to track down the footage to see if anything could be done with them, but was told by Morgan Creek that there wasn’t the audience to even make a bu-ray enhancement worthwhile. There the story may have ended, but for a fortuitous event… In June 2009, Mark Miller announced that he had found VHS tapes in Seraphim’s offices which were labelled “Nightbreed.” Unfortunately, these tapes were not compatible with VHS players in the States, so were sent to Barker archivists, Phil and Sarah Stokes. They digitized the tapes, and what they found was a treasure trove of footage containing pieces that could be reconstructed to reveal Barker’s original vision. It was a start. There was a thread on Revelations, asking fans what they thought of a possible director’s cut being produced, which generated 1200 responses, a number which continued to grow for a couple of years.

In 2010, there was an authorised one-off screening of the digitized workprint at HorrorHound convention, a very rough and unedited version of the tapes that had been found which generated some enthusiasm from those who attended, but momentum slowed amidst Morgan Creek’s refusal to do anything with the tapes because demand did not justify spending the money on a restoration. In July 2010, Morgan Creek told Revelations that a search of their archives for lost footage had turned up nothing, so it had to be assumed that the only material available was on the Seraphim tapes. All seemed lost at that moment, and fans despaired of ever seeing the director’s cut coming to fruition.

Once again, events took a turn in 2011 when Russell Cherrington, Senior Lecturer of Film and Video Production in Derby, UK, and long-time friend of Barker, saw the workprint tapes and saw potential in them. They were grainy and needed some work, but he believed that something could be salvaged from them that Barker might be happy with. Using an early draft of the Nightbreed script, Cherrington and editor Jimmi Johnson set about piecing together a coherent version of the movie. The result would become known as The Cabal Cut.

The Cabal Cut was an ongoing project, with at least 8 different versions as the restoration evolved. Clive Barker offered insights, notes and direction for the project as it finally became the movie that he wanted to make. Upon first viewing of this cut, Barker was reportedly tearful at the result and has said many times that his dream of seeing the film as he envisioned it might soon be realised. Still, Morgan Creek remained unreceptive to the idea of a full restoration.

In 2012, The Cabal Cut was screened at Mad Monster Party, which included a panel with Anne Bobby (Lori) and Craig Sheffer (Boone) from the original cast. In attendance was Ryan Danhauser of the Clive Barker Podcast, who was there to report on the event for the podcast. It was in a recorded conversation with Danhauser for the podcast that Anne Bobby said that fans should “Occupy Midian,” and thus a movement was born. It was a slogan that she would repeat during a Q&A, urging fans to campaign to get the damn restoration made.

Also in attendance at Mad Monster Party was producer, Michael Plumides. He was a guy with contacts within Morgan Creek, and he heard that Barker was still struggling to get permission from Morgan Creek to actually screen The Cabal Cut at Mad Monster Party. Plumides made a call to Morgan Creek president, David Robinson, and urged him to get behind the project. In one phone call, Plumides succeeded where others had failed and the screening went ahead.

Following on from Anne Bobby’s “Occupy Midian” clarion call, Ryan Danhauser and Roger Boyes decided to act. That very night, a Facebook Group was created and they began to lay the foundations of a movement. Meanwhile, Cherrington bought the domain name for occupymidian.com. the movement grew quickly as news of The Cabal Cut screening spread, and a Twitter account was also set up to spread the word that the Tribes of the Moon were being called home. An online petition was set up, which garnered 14,000 signatures (mine among them, I’m pleased to confirm), and a letter campaign to Morgan Creek ensued from fans urging the company to make The Cabal Cut available. The question was: what to do next?

The next step was to host further screenings in 2012, this time at The New Beverly Cinema in LA. One screening sold out, and a second had to be arranged to meet demand. Clive Barker was ecstatic with this response, publishing a series of tweets thanking the fans for their support. Next, The Cabal Cut went on tour, with over 40 screenings worldwide with panels including Russell Cherrington and cast members.

Occupy Midian and Russell Cherrington had proven that there was indeed an appetite to see Nightbreed restored, but they needed distribution. Cue Michael Plumides again, who was introduced to Cliff Macmillan of Shout Factory. He jumped at the chance to release the movie and the deal was done.

In 2014, Shout Factory announced that, in conjunction with Warner Bros, they had managed to find the original film of Nightbreed in over 600 boxes. Not only had they found the missing masters, they had never before seen footage too. It was beyond the wildest dreams of anyone involved in the Occupy Midian movement, and Barker especially. Finally, a high quality restoration of the Director’s Cut of Nightbreed could begin.

Shout Factory’s release was originally set for 5000 copies, but demand meant it was quickly upgraded to 10,000. In less than a week, 2000 copies had been pre-ordered… and it was only available in the US! In November of 2014, the Director’s Cut was on Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, and in December it was streamed on Netflix and Shudder, where it went to number one in horror. Finally, after so many years and the heartache the original project had caused Barker, Nightbreed was a smash hit. In June 2015, The Director’s Cut won a Saturn Award for Best DVD or Blu-Ray Special Edition Release.

Barker had won, after 24 years… but the war was not yet over. Licensing and rights issues meant that the Director’s Cut could only be released in the US. Despite distributors being eager to bring Midian to shores worldwide, Barker’s hands were tied. All of that changed earlier this year, with an announcement made by Arrow Video that they would be releasing Nightbreed in the UK on Blu-Ray for the first time and pre-orders have proved very popular even after five years of waiting. Barker’s vindication is complete at last.


1991 saw the release of Barker’s most epic, ambitious, and dense work to date: Imajica. Perhaps this was a reaction to the butchery of Nightbreed, as Clive let loose with his imagination and pushed himself to the limits of his abilities.

Imajica was written at a time of upheaval and change in Barker’s life. He was dealing with the fallout of Nightbreed and a move to Los Angeles, which is reflected in the book. Parts of Imajica read like a love letter to the London that he had lived in, and to the UK. There are moments of self-reflection within the pages; the main character is an artist, making his way as a forger. Could this be a comment on himself, writer of horror and expected to rehash familiar themes for paymasters who demanded blood and gore, rather than the more progressive material that Barker offered? Because of this, Imajica comes across to his readers as the most personal of Barker’s work, a story that you see a lot of Barker laid bare and examined as we witness the fall and rise of the main character; John Furie “Gentle” Zacharias.

Some readers consider Imajica overlong and flawed, an opinion that I would disagree with strongly. To me Imajica is Barker’s magnum opus, the storytelling and structure sweeps the reader away in much the same way as Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. It is a novel which challenges the reader, asking existential, moral, and theological questions in the guise of an epic fantasy. For me, Barker rarely exceeded the powers that he showed with Imajica.

Imajica (1991)

The book opens with a typically Barker treatise on drama, written under the guise of Pluthero Quexos. Here, he determines that true drama can only ever be based around two or three characters. Okay, more might wander on and off stage, but by the end of any play the cast is whittled down until the spotlight falls on two or three characters. It is an opening salvo which sets the stage very well, and is a rule which Barker observes as he whittles down the cast in this story from many, to just one.

John Furie “Gentle” Zaccharias is an artist plying his trade as a forger, and confirmed lady’s man. The beginning of Imajica finds Gentle between conquests and without work for the first time in an age when he receives a mysterious letter from the husband of an old flame, Jude. The husband, Charlie Estabrook, a rich businessman, has paid for someone to kill Jude after the breakup of their marriage and now he is getting cold feet. Gentle goes to meet the man and agrees to go to New York to warn Jude of the threat to her life.

In New York, Gentle tracks Jude’s apartment and saves her when the assassin makes an attempt on her life. He chases the mysterious man and fails to catch him, but does have a strange frisson when he makes eye contact with the would-be killer… a feeling that he knows this person. Bemused, Gentle returns to Jude’s apartment but she asks him to leave; there are too many bad memories associated with him.

He goes back to his hotel room and goes to sleep, but is roused when Jude appears in his room. In the throes of passion, the phone rings and Gentle knocks it off the bedside table. The receiver falls from the cradle and he hears Jude’s voice on the other end of the line. Confused, he snaps on the light and sees that Jude is not the woman he is in bed with… it is the assassin. He flees again, and this time Gentle cannot give chase. Confused and agitated, he can do nothing more than return to London.

Back in London, Gentle cannot simply forget all that happened in New York. The memory of the assassin plagues him, and he tries to catch the likeness of the man on the canvas, exhausting himself as he paints obsessively. Eventually, defeated, he returns to Estabrook and demands to know where the man met the assassin. Estabrook tells him about the travellers’ campsite, and Gentle tracks it down. When Gentle reaches the camp, he finds it in flames. Enraged, he rushed into the flames and catches sight of the assassin, but loses him as he is overcome by the smoke. Once again, Gentle is forced to admit defeat and return to his studio empty handed.

Meanwhile, Jude returns to London. She is contacted by old friend Clem, letting her know that his partner, Taylor, is dying and that they are holding a New Year’s Eve party. He asks her if she could find Gentle and bring him along. Of course, she agrees and does take Gentle along to the party, but he has to leave early when he is taken sick. Jude drives him home to his studio and leaves him there.

Jude goes to Estabrook’s house to collect some of her things, hearing that he is in hospital after a suicide attempt. While taking some of her jewellery from the safe, she finds a mysterious blue stone which she takes as a memento. Back at her apartment, she finds the blue stone in her pocket and studies it, becoming entranced by it. Soon enough, she is taken out of her body and transported across the city to a tower, where she is shown the mummified body of a woman trapped behind a wall. She is returned to her body, but the visions that the stone has showed her continue to haunt her and she decides to go to see Gentle… if anyone would believe her extraordinary story, it would be him.

Gentle is still ill when the assassin arrives at his studio, explaining that he is a being from another world, a mystif of the second dominion. There are five dominions, the creature tells Gentle, from which the Earth has been sundered. Gentle asks the mystif, Pie’Oh’Pah, to take him to these dominions, and the creature agrees.

Jude arrives at Gentle’s apartment in time to see the pair leave, their forms entwining as they left the world she knows. Bereft, she realises that the only way for her to untangle the mystery of the stone (and now Gentle’s disappearance) is to meet with her estranged husband. She goes to visit Estabrook in the hospital, where he tells her that the stone was a gift from his brother, Oscar Godolphin, but will tell her little more. The two brothers did not get along after Estabrook was passed over for inheritance by their father, so Godolphin became the owner of the family estate and Estabrook denounced the family and gave up its name. Jude threatens to track the brother down and ask him directly, but Estabrook begs her not to, telling her that Oscar is dangerous and not to be trusted… he will show her what she wants to see.

A few days later, Jude is taken to the derelict Godolphin estate by Estabrook. They walk around the grounds and Jude enters the ruined house, the sight of the grand hallway bringing forth images of balls and parties which may have been held there. He takes her to see The Retreat, a folly built by one of Estabrook’s ancestors as a gateway to the dominions. They step inside when Oscar appears… and Jude falls instantly in love. Estabrook tells her to leave them, to get away from Oscar, which she only does reluctantly when Oscar tells her to. The brothers are left alone inside the Retreat, and after a time, Oscar comes out with a wound, telling Jude that Estabrook is dead and that he had to kill him or be killed. Jude leaves with Oscar, becoming his lover… and prisoner.

Meanwhile, Gentle is travelling the dominions with Pie’Oh’Pah. He discovers that he has magical powers in these worlds – pneuma. Wherever he travels in the dominions, it seems drama and destruction follows in his wake. In Yzorrderex there is uprising; in Beatrix there is massacre. The pair soon discover that they are being tracked and hunted by the Autarch’s soldiers. They decide to travel over the mountains to a portal out of the dominion, and Gentle frees goddesses that were trapped in ice by the god, Happexamendios. On the journey, the pair marry after a sickness that Gentle contracts from a near drowning.

It is here that Gentle discovers that he is a powerful man, a reconciler. Pie’Oh’Pah tells him that it was his servant when he, as the Maestro Sartori, attempted to reconcile the domions two hundred years previously. He failed in the attempt, and begged the mystif to make him forget the failure and its tragic consequences. He has lived in ignorance for two hundred years, shedding identities like old socks and moving on, never remembering who he was. Unbeknown to Gentle, the Autarch is his doppelganger, a being of his creation around the time of the reconciliation. The Autarch has taken over the dominions and shaped them into his own empire. Everywhere Gentle looks, he sees how he has been responsible for the desecration of the Imajica.

Soon Pie’Oh’Pah is injured in a battle, and is close to death when they reach The Erasure, a sacred place in the Imajica where the dominions are divided by their god, Happexamendios. When the mystif dies, Gentle loses himself to despair and destroys the encampment around the Erasure before returning to the Yzzorderex… to destroy his creation, the Autarch.

While Gentle is busy exploring the Imajica, Jude is distracted by Oscar. She tells herself otherwise, but she has become enslaved to the man. On a trip to the opera, Oscar has to stop off for a meeting. Waiting in the car, Jude realises that the place they have arrived at is the tower that she saw in her vision of the woman. She explores while Oscar is distracted and meets a woman called Clara Leash, who tells her of the Tabula Rasa. The Tabula Rasa is a secret group that for centuries has been committed to eradicating all forms of magic from the Earth. The group is comprised of members of seven families, and that Oscar is a member of that group. Jude tells Clara about the woman in the basement, and she agrees to meet again to try and free her.

A few days later, Jude returns to the tower to meet with Clara. They search around the perimeter of the place, looking for a way in, when they meet Dowd, Oscar’s right hand man. Dowd kills Clara and takes Jude back to Oscar’s house. Now she really is a prisoner. She confronts Oscar and he agrees to take her to the Retreat and to show her the Imajica; he really has fallen in love with her and wants to keep her by his side. He does take her, but while crossing over to the Imajica, Dowd interferes. Jude sees Oscar’s face covered in blood, then Dowd leering at her before she loses consciousness.

She wakes up in the home of Peccable, a merchant of curios from her domino who had worked for a long time with Oscar. Peccable is not home, but his daughter, Hoi Polloi, is. There is civil war raging in the city, and Hoi Polloi is afraid. There is a storm coming, fighting in the streets, and the girl has to shut up the house. For the moment, Jude is trapped in the house with Dowd.

Once the storm passes, Dowd decides to leave the city and means to take Jude with him. Jude tries to persuade Hoi Polloi to leave with them, but she refuses to leave without her father. So it is that Jude finds herself wandering the broken streets of Yzzorderex in the company of Dowd, with unrest raging all around her. In the midst of all of this, Jude is passed by a great procession of soldiers bearing a palanquin. When the curtains part as the palanquin is dropped, Jude comes face to face with her mirror image. The woman she fleetingly encounters is Quaisoir, the Aurarch’s cruel paramour, on her way to view the day’s executions. Jude resolves to meet this woman who has her face, and discover all about her sister.

In the tumult on the streets, Jude is parted from Dowd and she decides to climb the hill to the Autarch’s palace. Once inside, she finds her way to Quasiour’s apartments and the woman herself, a drugged and paranoid harridan. She falls asleep in Quaisoir’s bed, and is woken by Gentle. They make love on the bed, neither lover knowing that the other is not the person they think.

Here it is that Quaissoir is blinded, and in her weakened state she explains how Jude came to be. Two hundred years before, Quaisoir had been married to Joshua Godolphin, but a man named the Maestro Sartori had become enchanted with her, and she had fallen in love with him. In return for his part in the Reconciliation, Sartori had requested Godolphin’s wife. Being a fair man, Sartori had created a double which would love Godolphin for the rest of his life. Jude was that double, but there had also been an unintended consequence of the working: Sartori had also created a double of himself, the Autarch.

Quaissoir persuades Jude to take her into the city, to find her “Man of Sorrows,” but instead they find Dowd. He tries to kill Jude, but Quaissoir kills him. They return to the palace and Quaissoir retires to a room between the Pivot Tower, a receptacle of prayers which a monolith within the tower collects from all over the dominion and the source of the Autarch’s preternatural ability to know all the goings on in the Imajica.

Meanwhile, the city is in uprising and the people are marching on the Autarch’s Palace. Gentle arrives and finds himself in his brother’s palace, where he seeks the Autarch out. They find each other and battle through the palace, but the Autarch flees. Gentle finds the Pivot… and both Jude and Quaissoir. Now, Gentle resolves to destroy the Pivot and does so, breaking it with pneuma. In the midst of the destruction, Quaissoir refuses to leave the room under the tower and is killed as the Pivot Tower falls. With Gentle bereft, injured, and exhausted, the pair return to their own Dominion at last.

Jude takes Gentle back to his studio before returning to her own apartment. After sleep, she is invited to another party at Gentle’s old employer’s house, Chester Klein. When she arrives, Gentle is there and looking rested and much the better for sleep. They leave together and return to her apartment together. After a night of passion, Gentle leaves on business; he is ready to build an empire now and begins to act very strangely, but Jude overlooks this. Upon returning, he finds the blue stone and takes it from Jude. This is when Jude knows that this Gentle, who she has taken into her heart and into her bed, is not her Gentle, but the Autarch Sartori… and that she is now pregnant with his child.

While Sartori is out on his empire building business, Jude meets Oscar Goldolphin and returns to the tower. They go straight to the basement in search of the goddess trapped behind the walls, but are disturbed by the sound of an intruder. Oscar goes off to investigate, and Dowd appears, back from the dead. He kills Oscar and advances on Jude, not knowing that there is a being of power in the basement with them. The wall begins to dissolve to reveal the goddess, and he makes a fatal error… he touches her. In a rage, the goddess kills Dowd and asks Jude to find her son, Sartori.

Meanwhile, the real Gentle has returned to a place he barely remembers, a house he once occupied when he was the Maestro Sartori. The house on Gamut Street is filled with ghosts from his past, and all of them confront him as he tours the rooms of his old home. At last, he is met by a demon called Little Ease, an emissary of Gentle’s twin sent to waylay him. In one fell swoop, Little Ease opens Gentle’s mind and all of Gentle’s memories of his past lives, which have been forgotten, flood back in and makes him crazy. Little Ease sends him on his confused and shambling way back into the world.

Alone and addled, not knowing even his name, Gentle wanders the streets of London and falls in with a group of homeless people. Among their number is a boy who draws with charcoal; Gentle takes them and begins drawing on the walls, the floors… every surface he can find. He is drawing a map of the Imajica, if only he could remember what it was.

While all this is going on, Jude and Gentle’s friend Clem is searching for the real Gentle. Taylor has returned from the dead and told Clem that Gentle has returned and he is going to do something wonderful. Clem volunteers with a soup kitchen in the evenings. On one of these evenings feeding the homeless, Clem finds pictures drawn in pastels all over the pavement and walls, pictures that could only have been drawn by Gentle. He follows the trail of artwork and finds the man himself, and realises that he has lost his mind… or rather, rediscovered too much of his mind. They walk together, Clem trying to find Gentle in among the ramblings as the night draws on. Eventually, at dawn, they come back to the camp and hear giggling from one of the sleeping vagrants. Clem’s partner, Taylor, is in the light and speaks through the boy, Monday. It Taylor is that reminds Gentle of who he is and what it is that he is made to do; he is all of the things that he remembers, and he is the Reconciler. Together with Monday they return to the house on Gamut Street, where Gentle confronts the ghosts and embarks on his first reconciliation, that between his past failures and fallen friends, before making plans for the rite that will realign the Imajica.

Jude also arrives at Gamut Street with the ailing goddess Celestine. Gentle is preoccupied by the preparations for the reconciliation, but is persuaded to talk with the woman. She tells him a story that she told him as a child, the take of Nissi Nirvana. It is, of course, her story. Gentle comes to understand his own nature from the story: he is the son of Happexamendios himself, who raped Celestine and left her in her madness. Celstine tells her story, then passes away with her son in her arms.

As the time draws near, Jude begins to have reservations about the reconciliation, and decides that she must stop the working, finally siding with Sartori against Gentle. As Gentle is preparing for the rite, he finds that Jude has sabotaged the working and throws her out before finding the stones that will form the circle that he needs to perform the deed. He throws his mind out and visits the other maestros in the other dominions, making sure that the working is safe before they begin. Then, they begin the reconciliation, imagining themselves as the dominions that they represent. All seems to be going well until Gentle is pulled from the circle and attacked. Sartori has found his way to Gamut Street and is intent on destroying both the reconciliation and Gentle. A fight ensues, and this time Gentle is victorious and kills his brother. The reconciliation has taken on its own momentum, restructuring the Imajica and opening doors to bring the dominions back together.

In dismay and disgust at her own actions and anger at Gentle for being the man that he was, and is, Jude returns to Yzzorderex and finds it much changed. The goddesses have taken over the Autarch’s palace, and they take Jude in as one of their own.

In the aftermath of the Reconciliation, Gentle realises that he has one more task before him. The First Dominion, the home of his father, is still separate from the rest of the dominions. To be truly reconciled, he must tear down the walls that his father has put up. Once again, Gentle travels through the Imajica and enters the first dominion, finding his father in a city forgotten. Happexamendios reveals himself to Gentle, forgetting his own shape as he manifests himself and appearing as a mismatched and hideous thing. In the confrontation between father and son, Gentle reminds Happexamendios of his sins against Celestine, and the god becomes enraged. He sends out a killing fire across the dominions to destroy the woman, but he has forgotten… the Imajica is a circle, and so the killing fire returns and strikes the god down himself. At the death of Happexamendios, the First Dominion is revealed as a rotting, disease infected place… and in the ruins of this hell, Gentle is reunited with his love, Pie’Oh’Pah.

At the end, Gentle resolves to travel and make a map of the Imajica, a work of art that can never be complete, and will be ever changing… at last, he has purpose.

Imajica was a story that stretched Barker’s ambitions almost to breaking point, the one story that Barker thought he may not have the skill to complete. It has stood as his Lord of the Rings for many readers in the years since its publication. Still, Barker didn’t see this as the peak of his creativity… there were still many more stories to tell, but he had regained control that he felt he had lost with his foray into Hollywood, and now he decided it was time to move back into that circle.


1992 would see Barker move back into Hollywood circles, but not before he took another gamble with his literary career and stuck a further thumb in the eye of critics and readers who still mistakenly labelled Barker a horror writer. This time, Clive decided to release a children’s tale, The Thief of Always, written as he was also creating Imajica.

Barker did have history of writing children’s stories, although none of them had seen publication. The Candle in the Cloud and The Adventures of Maximillian Bacchus… had been written years before, and very much directed toward young adult readers, but his publishers wouldn’t know that. It was indeed a huge gamble for a writer known for writing erotically charged, dark tales to branch out into children’s fiction, but that is precisely what Barker was proposing. It was perhaps a testament to the level that he had risen to that his publishers did not dismiss the idea out of hand; they purchased The Thief of Always for a single dollar, which offered the author much more in the way of royalties. As Clive himself quipped earlier this year to a fan at a convention: “It turned out to be a terrible business decision; it is now available in forty languages… it just shows that the experts don’t always know everything.”

His publishers didn’t skimp on the release, making 100,000 hardback copies available in the US alone. In the 27 years since its publication, The Thief of Always has enchanted a great many younger readers (including my own daughter, who still counts it as one of her favourite books), and has been optioned for movie rights many times, although a finished movie has yet to emerge.

The Thief of Always is also notable as the first book to feature Clive Barker’s artwork within its pages, belying an ambition that would reach its apotheosis with the Abarat series. Of course, Barker’s artwork adorned later printings of Books of Blood and books by other authors, but this was the most extensive use of his artwork yet… and proved to be a talking point and attraction of the book for many years to come. The positive reaction to his artwork led to more work being exhibited in 1993, and a tentative step into the world of art in general. It was a world that Barker mistrusted, and so chose his exhibitors with great care, but was also a pursuit that he found fulfilling over the years.

So it was that The Thief of Always became an important entry in the Barker canon for many reasons: an illustration of the creative freedom that he had won, proof that Barker could sell books in many genres, and that his visual art also had an audience. In one book, Barker had cemented himself as a true visionary and dreamer.

The Thief of Always: A Fable (1992)

Like Weaveworld and Imajica before it, The Thief of Always opens with a line that could hook even the most sceptical of readers: “The Great Grey Beast February had eaten Harvey Swick whole…”

It was a line which evoked the childhood desperation of boring, rainy days in pre-spring, when there is little to do but watch the rain dripping down the windowpane and dreaming of summer. This is precisely what Harvey Swick is feeling in the opening pages of the book, and like many parents, his mother offers him the same advice that my mother often gave me: “Don’t dream your life away.” Like the opening line, it is a statement which speaks of the whole while seeming an everyday, throwaway comment.

In the midst of his boredom, Harvey is visited by the strange and oddly reminiscent of Shadwell (Weaveworld) Rictus. The man flies in through Harvey’s window and offers him the trip of a lifetime to the Holiday House. Harvey accepts the invitation readily, and travels across town with the man. He is confronted with a high wall which disappears into the February mists, but is really a portal into another world. On the other side of the wall is Wonderland, a place where all of his childish wishes come true. At the Holiday House, Harvey is met by the jovial Wendell, the more serious and melancholy Lulu, and the homely cook, Miss Griffin, and her three cats.

It soon becomes apparent that the Holiday House is truly a place of dreams where the mornings are spring days, where the daytime is all summer, evenings are autumn days and Halloween parties; night time is winter, with Christmas dinners and Thanksgiving suppers. Harvey tests the claim that all his wishes can come true here, and wishes for a long lost toy ark to be returned to him. That night he is given a Christmas gift, and unwrapping it finds the toy that he wished for, exact in every imperfect particular. The Holiday House was everything that Rictus had told him it was… and much more.

Exploring the Wonderland, Harvey discovers that the place isn’t all about pleasant dreams. Beyond a gnarled hedge, Walden, Lulu, and Harvey discover an old pond filled with fish that Harvey instantly dislikes, swimming round the pond as if waiting for one of them to fall in. He loses his toy ark in the depths of the pond, but doesn’t mourn its loss for long. Harvey also meets Rictus’ nightmarish brothers: Jive, Marr, and Carna. He is told that the owner and builder of the house, Mr. Hood, only wants special children in his Holiday Home, and that Harvey is one of them.

That night, Marr turns Harvey into a vampire as a joke to be played on Wendell. Harvey delights in his newfound powers of flight, swooping down on the frightened Wendell, but rebuffs Marr’s suggestion that Harvey should taste Wendell’s blood.

Harvey is disturbed by these events, realising that happiness and fun comes at a price. He understands that the fun cannot last forever, embodied by Lulu, who has been at the House the longest and is quickly turning into one of its own creatures. He begins to see similarities between Lulu and the fish in the pond, resolving to escape as soon as possible.

Together, Harvey and Wendell follow one of Mrs. Griffin’s cats and find a way through the misty wall and back into the real world. They are pursued by Carna, but he cannot follow them far as reality injures him. Harvey wanders home, but the town feels somehow different to him after his experiences in the Wonderland. He arrives home and finds that his parents are grown old and sad; he has been missing for thirty years! It is only then that Harvey realises the terrible trick that has been played on him, that his time in the Holiday House has stolen time from his life, and the lives of all the other children that visited the place.

Harvey resolves to return to the Holiday House to reclaim that which has been stolen from him. He goes into the cellar and finds Mrs.Griffin in a coffin; she was the House’s first child victim and condemned to remain as housekeeper by her wish for immortality. It is Mrs.Griffin who finally tells Harvey of the nature of the House and its occupants. After freeing Mrs.Griffin, Harvey tracks down and destroys Marr, Jive, and Carna by showing them the nature of their own creation. Now he confronts Mr. Hood in the attic. Here it becomes apparent that the man is the evil of the house incarnate, a reflection of his own darkness. What ensues is a battle of wishes, as Harvey offers wish after wish, which Mr. Hood is bound to grant, and is destroyed. Hood’s destruction frees the children, all of whom were the fish in the pond which Harvey disliked, and all return to their own times.

Harvey returns home and finds his parents restored to youth. He tells them his fantastic story, but they don’t believe him. Desperate to be believed, Harvey takes them to the wall that had been the portal into the Wonderland where he meets and old man who confirms Harvey’s tale. The old man is Lulu’s husband, sent by her to thank Harvey for her release so many years before.


1992 also brought the world a new monster to rival the Freddies and Jasons of the horror world; a monster far more eloquent, intelligent, and darkly-scary than any of them: Candyman.

Based on “The Forbidden” from Books of Blood, Candyman is transported from the run down council estates of Liverpool to the Chicago projects and Cabrini Green. Usually, such transportations are a mere Hollywood flippancy, borne of a belief that audiences couldn’t possibly handle any scenario or story that doesn’t take place in America (because the US is, of course, the centre of the known world…). In the case of Candyman, it does add the dichotomy of a middle-class white woman exploring a largely African-American, lower class area of a big city which simply wouldn’t have been the same if it was set in Liverpool. This aside, and some embellishments to flesh out the characters a little more and offer the possibility of sequels, Candyman remained largely faithful to the original material. The addition of music by Phillip Glass in the soundtrack was a masterstroke; the haunting piano playing in counterpoint to the action lending increased atmosphere to each scene is truly remarkable and fitting with the tale being told on screen.

Clive Barker took a step back and relinquished control to Bernard Rose, who wrote and directed the movie. Barker acted as executive producer, offering his insights whenever they were requested. Rose remarked at the support that Clive gave him and the project, being open to changes that Rose wanted to make. Barker would say later that their minds were very similar, crafting fiction in much the same way, so it isn’t a surprise that they worked together so successfully.

Virginia Madsen plays Helen, the white, middle class university student writing a thesis of modern urban legends. It is her researcher, Bernadette, who recounts the tale of the hook-handed Candyman (reminiscent of Bloody Mary, for any British person who grew up in the 70’s and 80’s), who would appear and kill you if you looked into a mirror and uttered his name five times.

Helen continues her research, despite the dismissals of her lecherous and philandering husband, Trevor. During her research, she learn that there is a serial killer haunting the streets of Cabrini Green. Of course, Helen decides to investigate further.

On a drunken dare with her researcher, Helen looks into a mirror and utters Candman’s name five times, laughing it off as ridiculous horseplay.

In Cabrini Green, the pair discover an apartment where one of the murders allegedly took place, finding the slogan “sweets to the sweet” daubed on the wall. Investigating further, they discover a room given over as a shrine, the image of a screaming man painted around a door and offerings of bedsheets, chocolates, and bloody razorblades on the floor. When they leave the apartment, they meet one of the residents, Anne-Marie, who tells them about the killer they have dubbed Candyman.

That night, Helen holds a dinner party and tells her guests about her research. The overbearing and condescending Professor Purcell pontificates on a paper that he wrote a decade before on the subject of Candyman, detailing the character’s history. Legend tells them that in the 1800’s, a wealthy landowner commissioned a talented young artist (who happened to be a black man) to draw a picture of his daughter. Unfortunately for the artist, he fell in love with the girl. Hearing of the artist’s infatuation, the wealthy man hired a bunch of villains to exact revenge. They took him and sawed off his hand, daubing him with honey, and leaving him to be stung to death by bees. The artist’s body was burned and his ashes scattered on land that Cabrini Green is built upon, and remained to haunt the place ever since.

Helen isn’t convinced by the professor’s dismissal, and returns to Cabrini Green to photograph the graffiti in the apartment. While there she meets Jake, a young boy who lives in Cabrini Green. She asks the boy about Candyman, and he takes her to a public toilet where, according to stories in the area, a disabled youth was unmanned and left for dead. Inside the toilets she finds more Candyman-inspired graffiti and a toilet bowl filled with bees. She is disturbed by four youths, one of them wielding a hook, who attack her and leave her for dead. Later, she identifies one of her attackers in a police line-up and he is charged with the murders that have taken place in Cabrini Green. On a return visit to the estate, she reassured Jake that the Candyman isn’t real; that he is just a made up monster like Frankenstein. On her way home however, walking through a car park, Helen is disturbed by a shadow who calls her name, his deep voice silky and hypnotizing. “Helen… I came for you,” he says.

Out of the shadows steps the Candyman himself (played magnificently by Tony Todd), wearing a long coat over nineteenth century shirt and trousers. In her mind, Helen pictures the graffiti which she now understands are not simply memorials and shrines to an urban legend, but faithful representations of the man. He tells her that he had to meet her, because she wanted the truth behind the myths being told. He brandishes the hook and asks her to be his victim.

From here on, we are not in the realms of a straight-forward horror flick. Candyman’s eloquence and intelligence demands more, and he sets out his mission in the movie with one of the best speeches in horror cinema: “I am the writing on the wall, the whisper in the classroom. Without these things, I am nothing. So now I must shed innocent blood… Come with me.”

Helen faints, and wakes in Anne-Marie’s apartment with the severed head of a dog and a meat cleaver beside her. Anne-Marie attacks her, screaming about her missing baby and demanding that Helen return the child. In the fray, Helen wounds Anne-Marie with the meat cleaver, just as police burst into the room and see Helen with the weapon. Of course, they arrest Helen and take her to the jailhouse.

She is bailed out of jail by Trevor and returns home, where she is again confronted by Candyman. Now he tells her that either she must die, or Anne-Marie’s baby will be killed. He wants Helen to become legend, just like him, to be immortal. Bernadette interrupts the conversation, and Candyman kills her, leaving the knife behind to incriminate Helen once again. Now the police confine Helen to a mental institution, but she isn’t safe from the Candyman even there. He lavishes her with more seductions, promising that she will always be remembered if only she will become his victim.

Helen wakes from sedation weeks later, finding that she has been charged with the murder of her researcher. She tells her story to a psychiatrist, who confirms that she is crazy. The Candyman appears then, cutting the man open, and telling Helen that she is his before freeing her.

Helen shambles home, still fuzzy headed from sedation and finding that Trevor has moved one of his young students into the house. They are redecorating, wiping away any trace of Helen’s existence in the place. Trevor attempts to justify himself, but Helen tells him that it’s all over; meaning both their relationship… and her life.

She returns to Cabrini once more, back to the abandoned apartment with the graffiti and the shrine. She finds the place much changed, now adorned with frescoes which tell the story of Candyman on every wall. She finds the man himself, sleeping on a bier in one of the rooms and attacks him, but only awakens him. She offers herself in return for the child, and Candyman accepts

With a kiss, Candyman disappears with the child, the walls now adorned with the words “It was always you, Helen,” and a portrait of his dead lover… who looks almost identical to Helen herself. From outside, she hears the cries of the child and rushes to a pile of detritus that has been built in the middle of the estate. She fights her way into the pile to retrieve the child, but the people of Cabrini Green douse the pile of rubbish with fuel and set it ablaze, believing that Candyman is inside. She realises now that she has been betrayed by him, and fights to save the child before the flames reach it. Candyman appears, and she impales him with a flaming stake, fighting her way through the inferno to get the baby out. Burned, her hair gone, she finally bursts from the flames and lays the baby at Anne-Marie’s feet before she falls to the floor dead.

In typical Hollywood fashion, the way must be left open for a sequel, and Candyman does not escape from that tradition. At Helen’s graveside stands Trevor, Purcell, and Trevor’s new girlfriend. As they lower Helen’s coffin into the ground, the residents of Cabrini Green arrive at the graveside to pay their respects to their fallen hero, and Jake throws a scorched hook… Candyman’s hook… onto her coffin.

Later that night, Trevor is in the bathroom mourning Helen. We see his new girlfriend in the kitchen, chopping up steak with a sharp knife, and she calls to her lover. Trevor turns to the bathroom mirror, sobbing as he calls Helen’s name five times. Helen appears behind him, hook in hand. She guts Trevor and leaves his corpse for the girlfriend to find, and for the police to find her.

Candyman was Barker’s return to horror, and much like Hellraiser it was a success. Bernard Rose was approached to write a sequel, for which he decided to recall another Books of Blood story, The Midnight Meat Train. In Rose’s version, the audience would be transported to London’s Whitechapel where murders oddly reminiscent of the Jack the Ripper killings were happening again. The movie would flash back and forth from the original 1880’s killings to the present day events, ending with the main characters on a train full of human meat. The producers hated this pitch, and Barker himself was convinced that The Midnight Meat Train could be made into its own standalone movie, and so that version of the Candyman sequel was never made. Instead, Candyman 2: Farewell to the Flesh was made in 1995, with Candyman 3: Day of the Dead appearing in 1997.

Barker had returned to Hollywood, although not as director, and proven that his stories could make successful movies if treated faithfully and with respect. To a degree, it was vindication after the hell that he had experienced with Nightbreed.

Candyman was not Barker’s only work in Hollywood in 1992. Hellraiser 3: Hell On Earth was also released in that year, as was Stephen King’s Sleepwalkers, which is notable for a certain cameo scene involving King, Tobe Hooper, and Clive Barker at a crime scene. It lasts only seconds, but is a wonderful thing to behold for any lover of 80’s and 90’s dark fiction.


Come back tomorrow for Part 4 of this fantastic retrospective on Clive Barker.

Paul Flewitt is a horror/dark fantasy author. He was born on the 24th April 1982 in the Yorkshire city of Sheffield.

Always an avid reader, Paul put pen to paper for the first time in 1999 and came very close to inking a deal with a small press. Due to circumstances unforeseen, this work has never been released, but it did give Paul a drive to achieve within the arts.

In the early 2000’s, Paul concentrated on music; writing song lyrics for his brother and his own bands. Paul was lead singer in a few rock bands during this time and still garners inspiration from music to this day. Paul gave up his musical aspirations in 2009.

In late 2012, Paul became unemployed and decided to make a serious attempt to make a name for himself as a writer. He went to work, penning several short stories and even dusting off the manuscript that had almost been published over a decade earlier. His efforts culminated in his first work being published in mid-2013, the flash fiction piece “Smoke” can be found in OzHorrorCon’s Book of the Tribes: A Tribute To Clive Barker’s Nightbreed.

2013 was a productive year as he released his short story “Paradise Park” in both J. Ellington Ashton’s All That Remains anthology and separate anthology, Thirteen Vol 3. He also completed his debut novella in this time. Poor Jeffrey was first released to much praise in February 2014. In July 2014 his short story “Always Beneath” was released as part of CHBB’s Dark Light Four anthology.

In 2015 Paul contributed to two further anthologies: Demonology (Climbing Out) from Lycopolis Press and Behind Closed Doors (Apartment 16c) with fellow authors Matt Shaw, Michael Bray, Stuart Keane, and more.In 2016, Paul wrote the monologue, The Silent Invader, for a pitch TV series entitled Fragments of Fear. The resulting episode can be viewed now on YouTube, but the show was never aired. The text for the monologue was published in Matt Shaw’s Masters Of Horror anthology in 2017.

Paul continues to work on further material.

He remains in Sheffield, where he lives with his partner and two children. He consorts with his beta reading demons on a daily basis.

You can find more information on Paul Flewitt and his works here…

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Halloween Extravaganza: Paul Flewitt: Clive Barker, Dark Dreamer Pt 1

When I invited Paul Flewitt to take part in this year’s Halloween Extravaganza, I never could have expected the guest post that he sent me. We discussed it several times over the past few weeks, and every time he would tell me that it was almost done, send me over a small portion of it, and ask me what I thought. When I received the final copy, I immediately sat down to read it – a retrospective on one of my all-time favorite authors? – and could not believe just how good it was. Weighing in at 69 pages, 40,227 words… it’s definitely the largest, most researched blog post I have received in my seven plus years of being a blogger. I have broken it up into six days, so sit back and enjoy.


Clive Barker, Dark Dreamer:
A Retrospective
Part 1

Hi everyone, and happy belated Halloween. Thanks to Meghan for inviting me to write this, admittedly rather lengthy article.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that, given the opportunity to do so, I would write an article about Clive Barker. I have never made a secret of the fact that I love his work, and that I hold Barker in high esteem as a writer, artist, director and human being. I think every interview I have ever given has included Barker in some way or another – how could it not? He is a huge influence on my writing, as is reflected in many reviews of my books and stories. It would be utterly remiss of me to refuse to celebrate him in any way that I can. So when I discussed with Meghan the kinds of spots she wanted for her Halloween Extravaganza, and a Barker retrospective came up in the conversation, I leapt at the chance to be the one to write it. I do hope that you take as much pleasure in reading it as I have in researching and writing it.

I have tried to be concise, to keep this from becoming an unauthorised biography running into many thousands of words, but there is a lot of ground to cover. Clive has been an insanely prolific artist over the last 40 years, and to fit absolutely everything into a blog article in the detail that each project deserves would be inadvisable. I have written here a potted history of his books, some selected movies, and mentions for plays he has written. You might see this post as a jumping off point for further research. I recommend Douglas E. Winter’s authorised biography The Dark Fantastic, Clive Barker’s own The Essential Clive Barker, and also the Barkercast and Revelations websites for further examination of his wider work.

So, all of this said… shall we begin?


Liverpool, UK in the 1950’s and 60’s was a city in transformation. The year of Clive Barker’s birth, 1952, came seven years after World War 2 ended; Liverpool was still rebuilding and regenerating after being gutted by bombing and the docks, which once provided the lion’s share of the city’s economy, were slowly dying. It was a city catching up with the modern world, and was a hotbed of artistic creativity. From this soup would be fermented bands like The Beatles, The Merseybeats, Gerry & the Pacemakers, and writers like Phil Redmond and, of course, Clive Barker.

The young Barker was a creative, artistic boy. His bedroom was filled with scribblings, doodles, and models half-built. He created for himself different worlds to inhabit and take him away from one that made very little sense to him, which probably gave a clue to the man that he would become. He was an intelligent child; was one of only ten children in his primary school to pass his eleven-plus exam and be admitted to Quarry Bank Grammar School. The headteacher of Quarry Bank was William Pobjoy, a man forever remembered in history as the guy who allowed a young lad named John Lennon to form a little sciffle band while at school and play during lunch periods; The Quarrymen would pretty soon become The Beatles. Pobjoy was described as a “pompous prick” by Barker, so he clearly didn’t enjoy the same rapport with the man as Lennon did. Of course, Clive also described himself as a “snidey little bastard,” so his criticism is not only reserved for his headteacher, but turned upon himself too.

In his first years, Clive was absent from lessons more than he attended them, a fact that was mourned by one teacher who remarked that the class was “lesser for Clive’s absence.” He hated sports, and the class system which pitted child against child. The enigma to teachers was that Barker was a talented pupil, far from a dunce. He performed well in exams and in class… when he deigned to show up. Put simply, academic pursuits held little relevance to the young Clive Barker; the arts and words were where the world made sense to him. In time, he came to a compromise with his parents that he would knuckle down at school, if he could also pursue his art. As long as his mess was confined to his room, a deal was struck.

Clive’s English teacher, Norman Russell, immediately saw something very different in the young Barker, famously refusing to mark Clive’s assignments because “he had moved beyond the curriculum and could not be marked.” Russell was the man who encouraged Barker’s exploration of his imagination, supporting his endeavours on stage. Clive was cast in school plays throughout his time at Quarry Bank and was permitted to put on his own fringe plays, many of them written by him and his friend Phil Rimmer. This was also where Barker first met a boy two years his junior, but would become a lifelong friend, Doug Bradley. Most memorable of these self-produced plays was Neongonebony, a play entirely improvised by the students.

In these plays Barker and his fellow actors showed a forward-thinking and almost revolutionary philosophy toward the arts, seating the audience on stage while the play was enacted on the floor, lit by candles held by the actors and with horrific special effects designed by Clive and Phil.

Clive left Quarry Bank with the intention of attending Liverpool College of Arts, but at the insistence of his father who wanted him to get a proper education and some possibility of gainful employment, he went to the University of Liverpool instead. This dismayed his English teacher, Norman Russell, who had hoped to see Clive accepted into Oxford or Cambridge, but as Barker himself concedes “I lacked the application… I didn’t want to be an MP or justice of the peace…” University did not stop the young Barker from creating; writing plays and even a short novel, originally entitled “The Company of Dreamers;” later released as “The Candle in the Cloud” and dedicated to his friends: Julie, Sue, Anne, Lynne, Doug, and Graham; his fellow actors from school.

Throughout his years at university he continued to act, forming his own theatre company with Doug Bradley, Peter Atkins, Phil Rimmer, and others. The company started out as The Hydra Theatre Company after Clive and Phil Rimmer made a series of experimental short films, which included Salome and The Forbidden. The company occupied much of Clive’s spare time throughout the 70’s, mutating into The Theatre of the Imagination. Under both guises, Barker put on a number of plays. At this time he also wrote The Adventures of Maximillian Bacchus and His Travelling Circus, a short novel for young adults which was eventually released in 2009 and loosely based on his theatre company and friends. The theatre became more of a full time focus when he graduated from university in 1974, and they built a solid reputation for themselves.

Liverpool could not contain Clive Barker for much longer, however, as travel to cities like Paris and London showed him the wider world. It took some persuasion – Barker believed that living in Liverpool offered a unique mystique that being in the London scene would not afford them – but he was persuaded and was first of his friends to move, with his partner, John Gregson, to London in 76. Doug Bradley moved in 78, as did Phil Rimmer and the rest of the company. The troupe morphed as new members joined, becoming The Dog Company and performing several Barker-penned plays including “History of the Devil,” applying for funding from The Arts Council and touring to places like Edinburgh and Holland to perform. Barker and John were never particularly well off, but got by on John’s salary, Clive’s welfare checks, and whatever small income he received from performing. He also supplemented his income writing for a small S&M magazine, copies of which were seized and burned, much to Clive’s delight. It was these stories and articles that would later inspire, in part, Clive’s most famous creation, Pinhead.

More plays followed in the early years of the 80’s, with “Paradise Street,” “Frankenstein in Love,” “The Secret Life of Cartoons,” “Crazyface,” “Subtle Bodies,” and “Colossus” being written and performed in 81, 82 and 83. By now Clive had withdrawn from acting, taking on the role of stage director and principle writer in pursuit of more singular recognition for his writing.


1983 and 84 proved pivotal years for Barker as he began working at night on short stories. His days were still spent on plays and the theatre, the stories being more a distraction and something to share with his friends from the company. He explored his imagination in a much deeper, unreserved way in these stories, giving no thought to publishing any of them. That was, until he saw the Dark Forces anthology in a bookstore, containing short stories by Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, and Ramsey Campbell. This anthology set off a lightbulb for Barker and he immediately set about, with his theatrical agent, to find a publisher for his stories. It was a tough sell; the industry opinion was, and still is, that anthologies don’t sell. Sphere Books took a chance on them however, and Clive Barker’s Books of Blood were published. A new Imaginer had arrived, and took the world of horror and dark fantasy by storm. Ramsey Campbell wrote; “I think Clive Barker is the most important writer of horror fiction since Peter Straub,” and Stephen King wrote; “I have seen the future of horror, and his name is Clive Barker.” It was a phrase that Barker says “changed my life forever…” but also proved to be something of a curse.

Books of Blood (1984)

Of all Clive Barker’s works, Books of Blood is the one I see most frequently recommended in online groups to initiates into the world of Barker (or The Barkerverse, as I term it) these days. I can see why too; Books of Blood gives an overview of everything that might be expected from Clive’s work. There are claustrophobic horrors and epic fantasies, peopled by monsters of both the human and distinctly non-human variety. If you’re going to like any Barker at all, you will like a lot of what’s contained in these volumes.

There are a number of releases of Books of Blood: individual volumes and omnibus editions which collect volumes 1-3 and 3-6, all with differing cover art. Really, Barker is a collectors’ dream when it comes to interesting cover art. Like Pokemon; you’ve gotta catch em all.

Stand out stories for me here would be: Pig Blood Blues, Rawhead Rex, Dread, The Forbidden, Book of Blood, The Body Politic, Jacqueline Ess: Her Will and Testament, Son of Celluloid, and In The Hills, The Cities. Honestly though, there isn’t a bad story in the whole bunch. As an introduction to Barker’s work, you really can’t go wrong here.


The release of Books of Blood proved something of an anomaly in publishing circles; for a writer to debut with a short story collection was unheard of in the modern era, for them to be a critical success unprecedented. It wasn’t an astounding commercial success, but sold enough for Sphere to want more from Barker: a novel. It was a daunting prospect for Clive to write a full length piece, but he set to work and produced a synopsis entitled “Out of the Empty Quarter.” This was proposed to begin in the Arabian desert; an explorer discovers the ruins of Eden inhabited by a lonely angel. The explorer returns to England and unleashes a horrifying force, which turns out to be more angelic than demonic. Sphere rejected this idea, finding it more akin to fantasy than horror. Unperturbed, Barker came up with something else: “Mamoulian’s Game,” but we would come to know it as “The Damnation Game.”

The Damnation Game (1985)

The story begins with a thief wandering through the ashes of the Warsaw Ghetto, searching for a legendary card player. Stories have been told of the European, the greatest card player they have ever heard of who never loses, and the thief is skeptical. Of course, he wants to meet this man himself and disprove the fable… and play him himself. He has tracked the European to Warsaw, and here he will find him… and win. The prize for winning against the European is wealth, fame, and long life, a prize that the thief accepts eagerly.

Years later, Marty Strauss is in prison for armed robbery, closing in on parole and determined to see out his sentence in peace. He is summoned to a meeting with the governor of the prison and is greeted by William Toy. Strauss is soon made an offer he could scarcely refuse: early release, in return for his services as bodyguard to the hermetic millionaire, Joseph Whitehead.

Strauss is taken to Whitehead’s Sanctuary by Toy, where he will live as Whitehead’s right hand man. He meets Whitehead and, quite frankly, cannot believe his luck. He is paid well for his services, lives in a grand mansion, and can live his life again. All is going better than Strauss could have possibly dreamed… until Mamoulian comes to call.

The Damnation Game is a Faustian tale of redemption and… well, damnation obviously. Marty Strauss is portrayed as a normal guy, thrown into some very unusual and terrifying circumstances, used by a man who considers himself above the common. Mamoulian, the Last European, is characterised as an eloquent, melancholy, and ill-used antagonist in the piece. There is a lot to like in this story, as bleak and morbid as it turns out to be. It is certainly a great debut novel from a writer finding his feet and discovering his style.

Once again, Barker’s work was praised by the genre critics, but wasn’t so much a commercial success. Sphere marketed it as a middle-ranked book, giving it a little marketing and hoping that Clive could sell it in personal appearances. They were hoping to sell movie rights, but they never materialised. It certainly engendered a response, with one critic calling it “spiritually bankrupt,” while another said it was “Zombie Flesh Eaters written by Graham Greene.” Characteristically, Barker revelled in these critiques. “What you can’t do to most of the images in my books is ignore them…”

If nothing else, Barker had announced himself on the scene as a major writer of dark fiction, and his contribution was recognised in 1985 by the British Fantasy Society and World Fantasy Society, awarding him Best Collection award for 84’s Books of Blood.

Now it was time for Barker to cement his place in the pantheon of British horror writers… but not before a little distraction in the form of movie-making.


1985 also brought Barker’s first feature film through Green Man Productions: Underworld. A futuristic horror, it was doomed from the beginning by interfering producers which led to a disjointed affair. Barker wrote the script and friend, George Pavlou, directed with a shoestring budget; neither was in control of the money and Pavlou was even barred entirely from the editing suite during post-production. A second writer was brought in to rewrite Barker’s scripts (which began as unfilmable since Clive had previously written for stage and had no experience of writing for the screen), but the new writer turned it into a more 80’s themed, low budget action romp. Pavlou tried to sew the two scripts together in an effort to create a coherent script… and ultimately failed. Barker saw the movie in the theatre and couldn’t watch, seeing the butchery that had been committed on his vision, which gave a preview of themes that he would revisit in Nightbreed.

Barker had sold the rights of first refusal to Green Man Productions for five of the stories from Books of Blood: Rawhead Rex; Jacqueline Ess: Her Will and Testament; Confessions (From a Pornographer’s Shroud); Sex, Death and Starshine; and Human Remains.

Pre-production on Rawhead Rex would begin in January 1986.

If Clive thought that Rawhead Rex would be a happier, more successful experience and that Green Man Productions would have learned from the errors made with Underworld, he was mistaken. From the outset it became apparent that this would be another difficult production. First, the producers re-set the movie in Ireland instead of the south of England, then announced a budget of £3m, but the reality was rather less. Barker wrote the screenplay, which director George Pavlou loved… and that was essentially the end of Barker’s involvement in the project. He was never invited to the set, nor was he even called for advice. Clive presented the artists with sketches for the Rawhead character, but the producers had other ideas. The make-up artists designed an elaborate twenty-piece suit for Rawhead which would take seven hours to dress, but these were also rejected for being too expensive by producers. Instead, they went with a single piece suit which took fifteen minutes to dress… and it showed. Shooting took place during the worst storms Ireland had seen for years, meaning filming was a torturous experience. The movie took seven weeks of eighteen hour days to make in terrible conditions.

Needless to say, Rawhead Rex was far from the movie that it could have been, and once again Clive was disappointed with the result. What could have been a fine inclusion into the pantheon of monster horror was resigned to the B-movie comedy bin. Barker was not bitter about the experience, however; he had been taught an important lesson: if you want something done right, do it yourself.

1986 also saw Barker’s work return to the stage, and this time in the West End. The Secret Life of Cartoons had been received well at the Edinburgh Fringe in 1982, and now there were producers who wanted to put it onto the bigger stages in London. So it was that Tudor Davis directed the play at the Aldwych Theatre in October of 86. Barker expanded the play to two hours from its original one, and the play starred Una Stubbs (Worzel Gummidge), Derek Griffiths (Play School), and Geoffrey Hughes (Coronation Street). Unfortunately, the critics were not kind to Clive’s venturing into farce and the run was a short one.

1986 was a year of learning harsh lessons indeed… but 1987 was a year where everything would change and Clive Barker would put the lessons he had learned into action.

The first seeds of Barker’s rise to prominence on the world stage were sown in 1986, when he began writing the novelette that would kick his career into the stratosphere. So far, while his written work and stageplays had been moderately successful, his movies could only be viewed as interesting failures. 1987 would be the year that all of that changed… but Clive had to raise some hell first…


The Hellbound Heart (1987)

Clive Barker’s next release came with little fanfare: a novelette published in the Night Visions 3 anthology. This was a small press release, and very limited, so Barker could not have known the impact that this small (only covering around 100 pages) Faustian tale could have on his future. Night Visions was re-released in 1988 as The Hellbound Heart; the story itself not released individually until 1991, at the height of the movie’s success.

The Hellbound Heart begins with Frank Cotton, a man fuelled by excesses which are no longer sated by normal human pursuits. He travels in search of the next experience, the next excess with which his desires might be relieved. He is given a small, plain black box in Dusseldorf by a man named Kircher, who promises that to open the box is to travel… or something very like it. Of course, Frank wastes no time in finding the solution to opening the box and summoning the Cenobites of The Order of the Gash, explorers of the outer reaches of pleasure and sensation. They take him to their realm, to discover the limits of his own desires.

Barker takes inspiration for the Cenobites appearance from the homoerotic S&M magazines that he had written stories for previously; their scarred and disfigured appearance, bound in leather recalling the most extreme body modifications. He is here calling to outsider culture in the most direct terms possible, and perverting their activities as only Barker can.

Rory and Julia Cotton move into a house left to Rory by his missing brother following his disappearance, helped by their old schoolmate, Kirsty. Julia has grown to dislike Kirsty, her dour demeanour and endless fawning over Rory, and isn’t exactly happy in her marriage either: her thoughts are often drawn back to the day that she had succumbed to the advances of his brother, the irrepressible and missing Frank.

Rory cuts himself on a nail during the move and blood drips onto the floor of the house, unwittingly inviting a visitor into their new home. That night Julia is drawn to a room at the top of the house, the wall peels back to the sound of tinkling bells and a strange, flayed form is revealed; Frank is back.

What follows is a tale of love and lust. Julia agrees, reluctantly at first, to bring men back to the house so that Frank can feed. This she does and, over the course of the next few days, Frank grows stronger and ever more persuasive… what he needs next is flesh, and there is a donor living in the house with them.

Rory has asked Kirsty to look in on Julia, concerned by her suddenly erratic demeanour and distracted mood. When Kirsty does, her curiosity overcoming her. She explores the house and finds the puzzlebox that had undone Frank and the husks of Julia’s victims. She comes face to face with the skinless Frank, who lusts after her and sees her ripe for corruption. Kirsty escapes the house with the puzzlebox, fully intending to warn Rory before it’s too late, but she faints on the street outside the house.

She awakes in a hospital and notices the puzzlebox on the table beside her. She studies it to pass the time, her fingers moving across its lacquered surfaces. Unwittingly, she solves the puzzle, the box begins to open, and the Cenobites arrive. Of course, Hell’s servants must take Kirsty back to their domain, but Kirsty manages to persuade them to take another in her place.

Kirsty returns to Julia’s house, hoping to save Rory from a fate similar to the men whose remains she had seen. When she gets there, she finds Julia and Rory, with blood on his face, drinking brandy. Rory tells her that he has killed Frank, and knows all about Julia’s actions of the last few days. He then utters a phrase which betrays him – “Come to Daddy…” he says, belying the man who really lived beneath the borrowed flesh. Kirsty argues against him, and Frank gives chase through the house until they reach the upper room. There, Frank unwittingly names himself and bells begin to toll as the Cenobites arrive to take their errant pupil.

While Barker didn’t write the story with any thought toward making a film of it (it was written to exorcise the ghost of his ended relationship with John Gregson after ten years), he soon realised that it would translate very well to a low-budget film. Clive first approached George Pavlou, but was also introduced to Chris Figg, who was interested in making a horror movie and had ambitions toward production. Learning from past mistakes, Clive insisted on directing the movie. Figg knew that insistence meant that the project would be small scale, low budget – no one would offer cash to a first time director. So, they set about trying to convince financiers to invest. Barker set about writing The Hellbound Heart as a screenplay and, via a circuitous route they came to Hollywood. After a deal with Virgin Films fell apart, New Line Cinema stepped into the breach and committed $4.2m to the project. Filming began in 1987, less than a year after Clive had conceived the story.

The movie version of Hellraiser was approached in much the same way as Barker approached his work with The Dog Company: it was a family affair. He drafted in Doug Bradley to play Pinhead and his cousin, Grace Kirby, played the female Cenobite with Nick Vince and Simon Bamford as Chatterer and Butterball. Clare Higgins was enlisted to play Julia, with Andrew Robinson as Larry and Ashley Laurence as Kirsty.

The movie is fairly faithful to the book, aside from the relationship of the principle characters being changed: Kirsty is now a teenage firebrand daughter of Larry (Rory) and Julia Cotton, not the dowdy old school-friend. The roles are perfectly played, particularly Kirsty, Julia, and Pinhead. Doug Bradley particularly understands the understated quality of Barker’s invention; equal parts Karloff’s Frankestein’s monster and Christopher Lee’s Dracula, he presents Pinhead as an aloof figure, intensely eloquent and with a quiet aura of threat and promised violence. Andrew Robinson, too, provided two improvisations which have proved to be iconic moments in the films; as he chases Kirsty through the house, he growls “Enough of this cat and mouse shit,” and as the Cenobites deliver their coup de gras, the tortured Frank utters the famous line “Jesus wept” moments before he is ripped apart by the hooks and chains which bear him up. It is these improvisations which show the spirit of collaboration that Barker brought to the project and work to make Hellraiser one of the most faithful and best adaptations of a horror story ever produced.

Much to Barker’s surprise it was not the character of Julia or Frank which captured the imagination of the audience, but the monster, Pinhead. The striking appearance of the Hell Priest gave rise to tee-shirts, jigsaws, comic books, a short story anthology and several more movies (declining in quality as they move further away from Clive’s initial intention,) models and trading cars. What Hellraiser ensured was Clive Barker’s equity as not only a writer, but a director and imaginer.


Hellraiser was not the only creation that worked to cement Barker’s reputation in 1987; the year also saw the release of Barker’s second novel. Amidst the praise and furore which surrounded Hellraiser, Clive released Weaveworld.

Back in 1986, Clive had signed a lucrative new publishing deal with HarperCollins, and they were keen to capitalise on the exposure that Clive had received with the movie. The PR department went into overdrive, putting everything they had behind the UK release and were rewarded with a number one bestselling book. They eschewed the “horror” tag and marketed the book for what it was, not for what Barker had become known for. There was a nationwide tour, television appearances, and the commissioning of a carpet from the Royal College of Art.

In the US, Simon & Schuster were more reserved, preferring to cling to the horror angle. This led to critical confusion and a more lukewarm reception from critics and readers alike. The Stephen King quote, “I have seen the future of horror…,” became a millstone around Clive’s neck, rather than the lifechanging gift that it once was. It is an issue that has plagued Barker ever since, as new readers on discussion boards the world over mistake Clive for a linear horror writer, not the fantasist that he really is.

Weaveworld certainly sold in the States upon its release, but was not the phenomenon that it was in the UK.

In the UK, it made Clive Barker a household name.

Weaveworld (1987)

Cal Mooney is an accountant yearning to dream, and for his dreams to come true. He has returned to Liverpool following the death of his mother, to care for a father who isn’t dealing well with his sudden widowhood, and his beloved racing pigeons. It is a setting familiar to anyone who, like me, grew up in the north of England.

When one of the pigeons flies off for adventures of its own, Cal chases the bird and tracks it to a house being emptied to pay for its occupants’ nursing costs. In the backyard is laid a rug from the house, its design facing upwards toward the sky. Cal corners the bird on a window ledge, climbing up on a wall to catch the errant creature. Cal falls while reaching to retrieve the pigeon, falling onto the carpet and catching sight of another world in the warp and weft of the rug. It is a sight that changes Cal’s life, and colours the future events of the story. He meets the grand-daughter of the occupant of the house, Suzanna, a potter with a free-spirit and memories of her grandmother’s tales of other places and magic. She has a book of fairytales, passed down to her from her grandmother, and strangely evocative of the world Cal has seen in the carpet.

Shadwell is a salesman, the emissary of dark witch Immacolata the Incantatrix, and her horrific sisters. He wears a dazzling jacket which has the power to produce the wildest wish of whomever views its lining; all you need do is look and your dearest wish can be yours. Shadwell’s greatest wish is to find the Weave and to sell it. This puts him at odds with his mistress, whose undying ambition is to exact revenge on the people inhabiting the carpet, the Seerkind, for rejecting and fighting against her ambitions to rule them and exiling her from their world, The Fugue. Together, Shadwell and Immacolata steal the carpet, tearing it in the process.

Cal and Suzanna find a deep attraction to one another, and make love. While they sleep, the fragment of the carpet unravels, releasing three inhabitants from The Fugue… and so the story proper begins.

Weaveworld is an ambitious work of fantasy, epic in its conception and execution. Barker introduces us to a Liverpool instantly recognisable and relatable, before taking us on a flight into his own imagination. Weaveworld involves themes that will become familiar in Clive’s subsequent work: magic being shunned by a world grown banal and ordinary, the fantastic hoping to live side by side with the ordinary, the struggle for the acceptance of difference, and the wonder of the weird. Like Books of Blood, Weaveworld is a book that I see recommended frequently to readers new to Barker’s work, and one that most Barker fans have taken to their hearts as a true modern classic.

1987 was a pivotal year in Barker’s progression as a writer, seeing the success of Hellraiser and the release of his first bestselling novel. As we know, Barker is not one for resting on his laurels and the need to move forward was as strong as ever.


Come back tomorrow for Part 2 of this fantastic retrospective on Clive Barker.

Paul Flewitt is a horror/dark fantasy author. He was born on the 24th April 1982 in the Yorkshire city of Sheffield.

Always an avid reader, Paul put pen to paper for the first time in 1999 and came very close to inking a deal with a small press. Due to circumstances unforeseen, this work has never been released, but it did give Paul a drive to achieve within the arts.

In the early 2000’s, Paul concentrated on music; writing song lyrics for his brother and his own bands. Paul was lead singer in a few rock bands during this time and still garners inspiration from music to this day. Paul gave up his musical aspirations in 2009.

In late 2012, Paul became unemployed and decided to make a serious attempt to make a name for himself as a writer. He went to work, penning several short stories and even dusting off the manuscript that had almost been published over a decade earlier. His efforts culminated in his first work being published in mid-2013, the flash fiction piece “Smoke” can be found in OzHorrorCon’s Book of the Tribes: A Tribute To Clive Barker’s Nightbreed.

2013 was a productive year as he released his short story “Paradise Park” in both J. Ellington Ashton’s All That Remains anthology and separate anthology, Thirteen Vol 3. He also completed his debut novella in this time. Poor Jeffrey was first released to much praise in February 2014. In July 2014 his short story “Always Beneath” was released as part of CHBB’s Dark Light Four anthology.

In 2015 Paul contributed to two further anthologies: Demonology (Climbing Out) from Lycopolis Press and Behind Closed Doors (Apartment 16c) with fellow authors Matt Shaw, Michael Bray, Stuart Keane, and more.In 2016, Paul wrote the monologue, The Silent Invader, for a pitch TV series entitled Fragments of Fear. The resulting episode can be viewed now on YouTube, but the show was never aired. The text for the monologue was published in Matt Shaw’s Masters Of Horror anthology in 2017.

Paul continues to work on further material.

He remains in Sheffield, where he lives with his partner and two children. He consorts with his beta reading demons on a daily basis.

You can find more information on Paul Flewitt and his works here…

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