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Clive Barker is one of the most celebrated minds in the world of horror. From his written work to his personal art pieces, to his adaptations for the big and small screen, Barker has cemented himself as a horror legend in the field. Several of Barker’s written works, both novels, novellas, and short stories, have been translated to the medium of film. Here are 5 of the best Barker adaptations, plus a list of honorable mentions.
Horror Legend: Clive Barker Adaptations
Nightbreed, Dread, Books of Blood (2020)
5) Book of Blood (2009)
In the mid-1980s, Clive Barker broke through with his collection of short stories titled ‘Books of Blood.” Several of the stories have been adapted into films, but it was the 2009 film ‘Book of Blood’ that did something unique. Using the wraparound stories ‘The Book of Blood’ and ‘On Jerusalem Street,’ the ‘Book of Blood’ combined both into one larger film.
It tells the story of two supernatural experts who team up with a man named Simon McNeal, who has the ability to communicate with the afterlife. Though an 80 percent Rotten Tomatoes critics score (though the review count is low), the film didn’t fare well with audiences (a 30 percent audience RT Score.) The ‘Book of Blood’ directed by John Harrington deserves a second look.
Rating: 3 out of 5
4) The Lord of Illusions (1995)
Taken from the short story ‘The Last Illusion,’ ‘ ‘The Lord of Illusion’ is the last of three films directed by Clive Barker. Following the success of ‘Hellraiser’ and the moderate response of ‘Nightbreed,’ Barker took his final stab at the director’s chair in 1995. The story follows private eye Harry D’Amour as he works to piece together the clues of the fanatical religious cult and a mysterious illusionist. Though ‘Lord of Illisuions’ is far from a perfect film, it flies under the radar and is a solid finale to Barker’s directorial efforts.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Horror Legend: Underrated Gem
3) The Midnight Meat Train (2007)
‘The Midnight Meat Train’ first came to the life in Volume One of the ‘Books of Blood’ with a short story of the same night. The story follows a photographer named Leon (played by Bradley Cooper) who attempts to track down a serial killer in the subways of New York City. Directed by Ryuhei Kitamura and produced by Barker, ‘The Midnight Meat Train’ is a mostly faithful adaptation of Barker’s story, with stellar performances, mostly from Bradley in the lead, and Vinnie Jones as the “Subway Butcher” Mahogany. The film has gained steamed as a cult classic and is highly recommended to seak out.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Say His Name
2) Candyman (1992)
In Volume 4 of the ‘Books of Blood,’ Clive Barker penned the short story titled ‘The Forbidden.” The story follows Helen, a university student who is doing her thesis on graffiti. She picks a rundown estate in the United Kingdon as her thesis soon evolves into an urban legend study. The film focused on the social commentary of England’s class structure. In 1992, ‘Candyman’ was adapted to the big screen with Benard Rose as the director and Barker signing on as producer.
Virginia Madsen played the lead role of Helen, while Tony Todd took the first steps toward his iconic career playing the titular character. The film moved the story to the Cabrini-Green housing projects in Chicago and used race as its core social commentary. The film was well-received by critics, holding a 78 percent RT score. Three sequels followed, including a legacy direct sequel in 2021.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Horror Legand: Pinhead is Born
1) Hellraiser (1987)
In 1986, Clive Barker wrote ‘The Hellbound Heart,’ which told the story of a man named Frank Cotton. Frank purchased a mysterious puzzle box that opened a door to another realm of pleasure and pain. After opening the box, however, Frank’s desire called upon entities known as Cenobites who proceeded to tear his soul apart. Sometime later, Frank’s brother Rory (known as Larry in the film) moved into Frank’s home along with his wife Julia. Julia is soon revealed to have her own dark desires and motives. One year later, Barker adapted the film himself as its writer and director. Some aspects were changed, but the core of the story remained the same.
Doug Bradley played the role of Lead Cenobite, who would later become known as the iconic Pinhead. The franchise has since titled nine films, with a remake on the way from Hulu. The later sequels have received mixed to negative reviews. However, the original ‘Candyman’ still stands as one of the most important horror films ever made.
Rating: 5 out of 5