I have seen the future of horror and his name is Clive Barker.
– Stephen King
For more than 20 years the name Clive Barker has been synonymous with the horror genre. But is there more to his work than simple guts and gore or things that go bump in the night? This Researcher believes there is. Although best known as a 'horror' author, Clive Barker has also written and directed plays and written fantasy for both children and adults as well as been successful as a screenwriter, director and artist. His strong characterisation and imaginative twists on archetypal themes such as the fairy tale prove to be thought provoking as well as leaving the reader with an urge to sleep with the light on.
Born near Penny Lane, Liverpool, on 5 October, 1952, Clive Barker realised early on he had a way with words, when by the tender age of ten he was terrifying fellow Boy Scouts with his stories by the campfire.
His early writing was mainly for the London fringe theatre company he founded and his several successful plays1 include The History of the Devil, Subtle Bodies, Frankenstein in Love and The Secret Life of Cartoons. The plays often delved into the horrific, the fantastical and the darkly erotic, these themes echoing his later literary work and being that which he would become best known for.
Barker's true love, however, was 'dark' fantasy and he spent his evenings away from the theatre writing short stories that he did not at the time hope to sell. In 1984, however, he approached publishers Sphere Books Limited, who were very excited by what they saw and published the best of his 18 months' of work (Barker's own choices) in six volumes entitled Clive Barker's Books of Blood.
The books were greeted with very high acclaim from readers, critics and fellow authors in the genre alike, particularly in the United States. They now appear in over a dozen languages worldwide.
Barker's first novel, The Damnation Game (published in 1985), went on to win similar acclaim to his earlier efforts as well as the prestigious World Fantasy Award a year later. Since then, Barker has penned numerous successful novels and graphic novels, including The Great and Secret Show, Weaveworld (a dark twist on the traditional 'fairy tale'), Tapping the Vein, Everville, The Thief of Always and more recently Cold Heart Canyon, a very satirical take on Hollywood's quest for eternal youth and beauty. His books for younger readers include Abarat and Days of Magic, Nights of War.
Today Clive Barker owns and heads his own film production company, Seraphim films, and has been in the director's chair for films such as 'Lord of Illusions and Nightbreed2. He's also written screenplays for films, such as Candyman.
The film he is best known for however is Hellraiser3. After being very disappointed by an earlier adaptation of his story Raw Head Rex, Barker began to work on his own screen adaptation of The Hell-bound Heart, securing modest funding and calling in a few favours from his old acting troupe, including the relatively unknown Doug Bradley. Hellraiser broke the mould of the British horror movie and is still highly regarded by fans and critics 20 years later. It is perhaps best remembered for the elegant performance of 'Lead Cenobite' (aka the iconic 'Pinhead') from fellow Liverpudlian Bradley.
As well as his writing, producing and so on, Barker also has a line of comics and action figures published by 'Marvel' under the name of Razorline.