A Bloody Good Time 06.26.14: Ten Clive Barker Adaptations I'd Like To See
Posted by Joseph Lee on 06.26.2014
Yes, it's another Barker column. Sue me.
Opening Logo courtesy of Benjamin J. Colón (Soul Exodus)
The results are in! Next month's edition of "Where Are They Now?" will be The Thing! It barely beat A Nightmare on Elm Street. Next time I'll throw together another random list of movies for the poll and just continue to let you guys dictate which movies I explore.
This week, however, I'm still talking about Clive Barker. I guess I have the guy on the brain. I've done lists of adaptations I'd like to see and Stephen King adaptations I'd like to see, but I've never tackled the bibliography of Barker, which should have just as many adaptations, good or bad. We're getting to the point where every Stephen King story will be adapted, some more than once, but you're telling me none of these have yet to be made? Shame on you, Hollywood.
As a caveat, I'm not including his Books of the Art. I just can't. I don't think, short of animation, there's any real way these books could ever be made into films. And I'm not just saying that because they were way too metaphysical for me. Consider this an honorable mention and if you disagree, make your case in the comments.
#10: Hell's Event.
Man, with the right people involved, this could be something special. The premise is that Hell and an unsuspecting humanity are battling for the right to the Earth. Satan sends his agents into a footrace among several human runners as part of a bet every one-hundred years. If Satan wins, he gets to rule the world. One of the runners eventually begins to catch on to what's going on in the middle of the race when he actually spots the runner from Hell.
It's not hard to build tension for a sports movie or any kind of race movie. The suspense is practically built in with a story like this. Make the entire movie about the race as runners are slowly falling out for no reason (Hell plays dirty) and our hero begins to suspect what's going on. If done right, the climax of the film should have enough twists and turns that any decent movie audience will be caught up right along with it. Our world is at stake based on how fast you run!
This has been rumored to be in the works for some time but I've yet to actually see anything so I'll say it's not for now. I'll also go ahead and say that I've yet to read any of the Abarat books. So why include it? Well it seems pretty obvious that this series is to Mr. Barker what The Dark Tower is to Stephen King. It seems to be the work he's most passionate about as by the time it is done there will be five books. He hasn't finished his Books of the Art. He hasn't written any more Cabal books (unfortunately). It's Abarat that he keeps working on.
From what I can gather, the first book is about a girl who gets caught up in the world of Abarat, a group of 25 islands with each for one hour of the day (I don't know what the 25th is). I think this should be adapted sight unseen because I know Barker's work is quite often imaginative and gets compared to Harry Potter by young adult readers. Maybe if Warner Bros wants a new magical franchise, they should look to this series instead of creating one out of thin air from the Potter universe.
#8: In The Hills, The Cities
This is just as unfilmable as The Books of the Art, in my opinion but I really want to see someone try. Imagine if you will, two towns form two different giants by strapping every one of its citizens in. As the giants they walk around and, do giant things, I guess. One of them makes a mistake and the giant collapses, brutally killing many of its inhabitants. The other town (the entire population) loses its mind and actually becomes the giant, causing chaos and destruction in the countryside. Caught in the middle are a couple who witness the craziest thing you can imagine.
Once again, no one's making a movie about a bunch of people who turn themselves into giants. I don't think it's going to happen ever. However, I would like to see it. There are just certain things that need to be seen and I need to see someone attempt an adaptation of something as out there and zany as this. I don't really think it'd be good (the story didn't have much to it, in my opinion) but the very idea of it is what makes me include it here.
#7: Human Remains
This one is about a gay prostitute who starts being followed by a statue doppelganger that begins to try to take over his life. As this process continues, he himself becomes cold and lifeless, like a statue. I think perhaps for a movie the story may have to be tweaked some, but probably not. The idea of a doppelganger of any kind taking over your life is pretty scary, but an inhuman one slowly taking away your humanity is worse.
This probably wouldn't work as a Hollywood type movie but with the way Barker's been attempting to get his short stories made into films I could see it working there. For one thing, a big studio would probably mandate lots of changes, starting with the fact that he's a gay prostitute because that wouldn't bring in as much money (you know some studio executive thinks this way). An independent release could see it adapted true to the story.
#6: Son of Celluloid
I've always had a soft spot for this story. The idea's a little out there but I think with the right director (my choice is always Guillermo Del Toro for these things, but I'm an admitted fanboy of him) it could really work as a spooky horror movie. The premise is that an escaped convict, who happens to have cancer, dies behind a movie screen. Somehow his body is never discovered and his tumor somehow gains sentiences from the emotions of the movie-going crowd. One night it begins to slaughter the people staying late at a theater by using illusions to trick them.
First of all, there are not nearly enough horror movies set in movie theaters. It's a perfect place for them, in my opinion. Secondly, the idea of some alien force using various hallucinations and illusions to murder people who have no idea what's going on could be a very fun idea for a movie. You would never be able to trust what you're seeing on the screen as anything you see could be a trick. It's kind of what Oculus tried to do earlier this year.
#5: How Spoilers Bleed
If this were adapted, it'd have to be considered "torture porn" (as much as I think that term is stupid) due to how gory it would be. A group of Europeans find a tribe in the Amazon who put a curse on them. One by one they get a condition which makes them incredibly fragile, even more so than Mr. Glass in Unbreakable. Dust can cut them open. Their leader, Locke, has to go back to the tribe and beg for their lives, but all is not what it seems.
The idea that anything can kill you at any time is scary. Seeing that play out on screen with a ton of bloody carnage would be great. This would probably work more as an episode of an anthology series but since those no longer exist, someone should make it into a film. Give it a hard R-rating, let the gore fans eat it up, make money. As long as the effects are practical (as much as they can be), it could be a decent B-movie.
#4: The Scarlet Gospels
This book is reportedly done (straight from Barker's own Facebook) and will be out some time next year. This book has been in development since I was in college (trust me, it's been a while) so to say I've been eagerly anticipating it is an understatement. Not only was this book written to kill off the Pinhead character once and for all, but it will explore the machinations of Hell and even include Biblical characters. Harry D'Amour from Lord of Ilusions is also present.
While I'm sure Hollywood would probably just turn it into another Hellraiser movie and forget that Lord of Illusions even happened, I'd still like to see it, preferably with nods to continuity. Get Scott Bakula back to play D'amour. Get Doug Bradley back to play Pinhead. Hollywood's had trouble getting that remake off the ground, so why not abandon it entirely and work on adapting this sure-to-be epic tale instead?
#3: Mister B. Gone
This book starts with an interesting idea. There is a demon living in the book you're reading. In spite of his attempts to tell you to burn the book or else he will eventually kill you. Since the reader is naturally going to keep going, he decides to tell his tale first. The idea of a living book is interesting but the story itself was actually kind of fun. It's not Barker's best but it was a good read. I think it would make for an equally fun movie, if a creative person could try to adapt it.
You could take the boring approach and have the movie be about someone who finds the book (and then his tales are presented as flashbacks in the movie about the person reading). I think a far more fun idea would be to take the general story Barker presented and adjust it slightly so that the demon is living inside of a film reel. Yes, ladies and gentlemen...the movie you are watching is alive. Play with the fourth wall a bit, throw in some laughs with the horror and you would have my money on day one.
#2: The Damnation Game
This should have been made into a film already. It's ridiculous that it hasn't. It's Barker's first novel and has been around since the 1980s. Are its themes a little too dark for mainstream cinema? Maybe. But it's a horror movie, it's supposed to make you feel uncomfortable. The story is about a man who continues to run from a demonic being with supernatural powers after the two made a deal during World War II. It's up to his bodyguard to save him in order to also save the life of his daughter, who is completely innocent.
It's described as a "Faustian" tale, but it's also described as a scary one. It is. It's one of his best books and I fail to see why this hasn't been made into a movie yet. How was Rawhead Rex one of the first stories chosen for a film but The Damnation Game hasn't been properly adapted once? It just doesn't make any sense to me. Maybe no one can get the story just right for a film. I don't know. I'm just tired of waiting for it.
#1: The Thief of Always
Whenever anyone asks me what my favorite book by Clive Barker is, I reply that it's The Thief of Always. It's the first book of his I ever read and in my opinion it's his very best. I went in totally blind, knowing that it wasn't like the movies I've seen (at that point, Hellraiser and Nightbreed) and ended it wanting to start it over immediately. So naturally, I want to see something this good turned into a film that I can also enjoy whenever I want.
A kid who is bored with his life is offered the opportunity to go to a magical location where all of the seasons of a year take place in one day. At first he has the time of his life, enjoying Christmas and Halloween all one in day and spending time with the other children. However, there's a sinister creature running this house and he has plans for the children who are enjoying time away from their regular lives.
It's a suitable enough tale for children but dark enough that adults would like it. I think it's the adaptation that needs to be made the most.
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