A moment of appreciation for Clive Barker

Clive Barker was one of the writers that came genre fiction (in his case, horror) a much needed hard kick in the arse in the 1980’s. His Books of Blood are still among some of the most astonishing short stories I’ve read, with the story, In the Hills, The Cities having some of the most amazing, if horrific imagery I’ve read.

He’s probably best known for the film Hellraiser, but he’s got an amazing body of work and although his films afterwards haven’t quite had the same impact or success, he’s a talent still.  I’ve met him a few times in the 1980’s and early 90’s at conventions (including one where he shared a guest list with Alan Moore, and hearing the pair speak at the time was fantastic) and found him nothing less than wonderfully approachable. Indeed, the increasingly battered signed copy of the first volume of a first print Books of Blood is one of my most treasured possessions.

I’m reading the latest book of his, The Scarlet Gospels. It’s not his greatest book, but it’s enjoyably readable plus it’s clear he’s giving a shite about Pinhead, a character that’s been battered to death by film.

Here though is a couple of quite remarkable archive programmes. The first is an episode of Open to Question, a youth based chat show from 1987 that questioned celebrities and politicians of the day. Barker’s confronted by the most conservative young Scots they could dig up in 1987 and it’s quite remarkable how he manages to keep his humour and temper having to deal with some of the crap questions fired at him.

The next is a lovely South Bank Show from 1994. It’s sad this sort of programme isn’t on any sort of mainstream TV channel anymore, but this is a great episode.He’s even sort of still got his Liverpool accent in this.

So if you’ve not read Barker for a while do so again. It’s like getting to know an old friend again. If you’ve never read Barker then start with the first Books of Blood and enjoy the ride….


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