Hellfire And The Demonation

The Nineteenth Revelatory Interview
By Phil & Sarah Stokes, 7th September 2007

Clive : "Good afternoon - let's talk!"

Revelations : "Great. A couple of main topics to cover this time - getting an update on things that are just about to come out over the next few months and maybe, in a Sergeant Pepper kind of way, revisiting the release of Hellraiser that was just about twenty years ago today...?"

Clive : "We can talk about what things are being talked about and what things are being done - I'm not sure how much of it will be realised, obviously, but there's the new edition of The Hellbound Heart which Paul Miller is doing and he has got the painting I made for the cover - it came out very well, I was a little worried about the shadows..."

Clive Barker - Hellbound Heart 2007

Revelations : "Because of the depth of the impasto?"

Clive : "It's staggeringly deep, but it came out really well. One would say it of all the paintings, but boy, this painting particularly is one which needs to be seen in the flesh - it's one of those pictures... You know, in places the paint sticks out an inch! So here's a picture I want people to see."

Revelations : "That's one aspect of recognising the anniversary, by reissuing the source book. Can we ask you about the actual opening weekend of Hellraiser - how did it go?"

Clive : "Well you're talking about twenty years ago - "

Revelations : "Yeah, but it must have been a huge weekend for you?"

Clive : "Well, I know it sounds silly but I had no comprehension of the importance of that. I was in England, I was writing Cabal - was it? I was certainly writing. I got a call on Monday from Chris Figg who said - Chris is a delightful man, a very English man, a very Oxford Englishman - he said, 'You know the movie was number one over the weekend!' And then of course once the LA Times came round then we started to get the calls: I got calls, Chris got more calls, obviously, being the movie's producer, 'God almighty, the picture made all this money and you're number one and boom-boom-boom' and you know what? It didn't signify anything to me - I wish I could tell you I was dancing in the street naked with a bottle of champagne in my bottom, but I wasn't! The world has changed radically since that time. I think now we know each weekend what's number one, we know what's happened to the picture that was number one and how much it fell off by. Now whether I could have had access to that information and just didn't know how to get to it, I don't know. My guess is that it was just not something that appeared twenty years ago, before the internet - I mean you were children..."

Revelations : "Just mere children!"

Clive : "Well, very very young adults, but do you remember ever caring whether a picture was at number one or not?"

Revelations : "I'm not sure I remember it being splashed across posters or anything. But I remember knowing which was the movie you 'had' to go and see."

Clive : "I agree with that, but that was play-up talk really. I remember when Psycho came out - you know my story about Psycho - that was, 'Oooh, Psycho!' It was on a double-bill with War of the Worlds, its second run - its first run was in 1960, so, by the time it had become a double feature of War of the Worlds with Psycho it had to be 1963, I suppose, at least. And again I had no knowledge that this was a movie of any significance, I didn't know who Hitchcock was, we didn't have a television, I don't remember Hitchcock's show on television - was it on British television?"

Pan's Labyrinth characters

Revelations : "Yes, but my memory is not that early."

Clive : "I think we were naïve. I don't mean that in a bad way, I think we were just a lot less informed and I've tried to continue that. It was Cronenberg actually, David was very useful; he was the one who gave me the advice not to get caught in that game, that it was a waste of time, I mean, if you were to ask me what was number one last week, here in America, I wouldn't have a clue."

Revelations : "So you've stayed very much outside that competitive system. It can only be destructive, really..."

Clive : "I think that's right. I have a curious faith that - call it fate, God, whatever - will put in my way the information that's needed. Most of the movies that pass through the multiplexes in America are irrelevant to me, you know? Pan's Labyrinth - and I could name four or five movies in the last year or so that have been of significance to me - these stand very much on the outer rim of general taste. The same with paintings: I never buy art magazines, you know, Art Forum, and I'm doing my thing the way I've always done it and I'm not competing with anybody, I wish everybody good luck and I hope they wish me the same. I know where I think I've succeeded and I know where I think I've failed and I take Abarat 2 and throw it into the shredder - that's my judge and jury. The rest is just fluff."

De Palma - The Fury

Revelations : "In getting the movie made and marketed though, you needed to be some part of the machinery - how involved were you in that aspect?"

Clive : "I went to America a lot during that period and I went to New World, to their offices and I was a thirty two / thirty three year old guy and I don't know, maybe they thought I knew a shitload more than I did, but they showed me a shitload more respect than I deserved! They would show me the TV spots and they all were cool to me. I sound horribly naïve, I realise - I was! But I don't need somebody to tell me bad things. As an artist you can really only get on with making art, the rest of it is just fluff."

Revelations : "Well, art to some, fluff to others, but it's certainly stood the test of time, this one."

Clive : "Well, yes, it has and I'm grateful for that, but if you were to ask me why... and people have asked me why and I'll talk about hitting a certain moment with the body modification and so on - but being given a piece of genius in terms of the score from Christopher Young, a fucking extraordinary thing for a $900,000 horror movie - you know the kind of score I don't think a horror movie of that size had ever had before. And I remember bringing from my record collection a bunch of albums over to play for Chris, of things I liked, The Fury - do you remember that movie by DePalma?"

Revelations : "I know the movie but I can't recall the score."

Clive : "John Williams did the score and it's one of the great horror scores for me. It's the movie he did after Carrie, it's the one about the two kids with a mind connection. It's almost a Romeo and Juliet story."

Revelations : "Is that the one which ends with a great fire?"

Clive : "No, it ends with one of the greatest endings of all movies..."

Revelations : "Don't tell us - we'll go and watch it again - "

Clive : "You promise me you will though?"

Revelations : "Yeah, just don't tell us - we'll go check it out."

Clive : "You check out the last five minutes and you call me - literally the last shot is one of the most audacious things in a horror movie."

Revelations : "OK - it's clearly stuck with me!" Cast and crew photo - Hellraiser

Clive : "I played that, I played Bernard Herrmann and so on and it turned out he had all these albums in his own collection too! And he worked in a room - you know my writing room, I'm in there now - it was a tenth the size of this room and it had a piano, a record collection of nearly 200 records and ashtrays everywhere - all full! I hummed him things and he hummed things back! It was one of the most exciting creative experiences of my life - extraordinary! And he'd say, 'How do you want it to go, like this?' and I'd go, 'Well, more like this..?' and his generosity, his openness - it was the closest I'll ever get to the joy of making music. I really do love him. He was there at a certain time in my life and with all his genius and his eccentricity he brought a scale and a depth to Hellraiser."

Hellraiser soundtrack by Christopher Young

Revelations : "And he's another one who's gone on to great things."

Clive : "Great things - "

Revelations : "But you caught him really early in his career."

Clive : "Absolutely, like so many of these guys, and actually I've just got off from a long conversation with Oliver Parker. Lots of people - even if you go back as far as Jude Kelly."

Revelations : "Jude Kelly gave you a nice name check in the Liverpool Echo last night actually!"

Clive : "Did she indeed?"

Revelations : "A great opening line - 'Hey Jude, we let you down!' because she was passed over for organising Liverpool's Capital of Culture, and she talks about talented people in Liverpool back as far as her childhood and recalled directing Murder in the Cathedral with you and Les Dennis and Sue Bickley."

Clive : "Oh that's lovely, that is nice. Yes we were taught by an incredible quality head and masters as well (and they were all men in those days, I'm not being sexist, they were)."

Clive with Doug Bradley for Hellraiser promotion

Revelations : "You said that the opening weekend of Hellraiser was low-key for you. Thinking also of the time it was coming out, of course you'd finished shooting it several months before, Weaveworld was also just about to come out, you were onto writing Cabal and Hellraiser Two's first draft had already been written - "

Clive : "Whenever there's an earthquake here I never feel it. It's a running joke: 'Did you feel the 'quake last night?' 'No!' and I think it was a little bit like that with Hellraiser - something momentous, well maybe not momentous, it was just a movie - was happening without me noticing it, so it's a little bit like that."

Revelations : "In retrospect that's no bad thing - and it's always been that way, you've always been off onto the next thing."

Clive : "Yes, I think it's also a certain wilful blindness; I think there's a certain part of me that doesn't want to look back because I never want to feel that the last thing I did was - do you know what am I trying to say? I don't want the last thing I did to be so significant that it should have me take my attention off the thing I'm now doing."

Revelations : "You want to feel that you can go forward, improve, do something better or different."

Clive : "Yes, the place I trace some of this - and you guys have really made me pay attention to this - is the paintings and how they have changed. In that house there are what, five hundred paintings? That go back what, eight years now? And I think it was you, Sarah, that said that there was something different about them now - and I remember you saying that - "

Clive Barker - Untitled pastel

Revelations : "It was when we were digging through some of the older paintings and we turned up some that hadn't gone into Abarat but were of a style that was distinctive, but different - and you can see it even in the transition through from the first Abarat paintings to what you're doing now..."

Revelations : "Shall we talk a little bit about what's coming up then?"

Clive : "By all means!"

Revelations : "Now, we're still six or seven weeks away from publication on Mister B. Gone, but presumably all the promotional wheels are turning and HarperCollins are in full swing?"

Clive : "Yes - and they're doing a good job with it. And the game [Jericho] is coming out at the same time as the book - it's two radically different kinds of fantastication. I think the game looks extraordinary, and it's visceral as hell - very much for a mature audience - and I think, I hope, that Mister B. Gone is something that will have a strange place to play in people's imaginations. Because they've never been addressed that way by a book before and so I kind of like the idea that they are two completely different things."

Revelations : "And everything we read and everything we've seen of Jericho seems to bear your stamp on it - you've been very closely involved, haven't you?"

Clive : "Very closely. And I felt that - this is a medium that people get a lot of pleasure from - it is a medium which allows you to create worlds, it's a medium where the technology is picking up with such speed that who knows what tomorrow is going to provide? And I like the idea of having fifteen hours of yes, mostly battle, in Jericho. I'm told it's great fun to play; I am now a voyeur of games, I just sit on my butt and watch but it's fun as hell to watch people play it. And it's very intense and very gross and dark and unrelenting. By contrast Mister B. Gone, I hope, has fundamentally a lighter spirit to it - I mean, the rage is there but it's a rage of somebody - a demon with a sense of humour, albeit a dark sense of humour. I enjoyed playing with that voice and speaking that voice on the page."

Clive Barker - Jericho

Revelations : "I think we're a little bit like you, we're not so good at the game play, but we've watched people playing and it looks like a very immersive and adrenaline-fuelled experience, as compared to Mister B. Gone which I found a very personal and intimate kind of horror."

Clive : "I think that's right, I'm not sure I'd even really use the word horror about it, not in the tired old horror novel sense. But I see it as a novel about a character who happens to be a demon, you know, and I think it's - I think it invites a take on that wonderful sense that Machen had of playing with delicate issues lightly. Take a book, take a few hours to read a book which would be about a war between Heaven and Hell, you know, there's something provocative about saying that, OK, this is a little book but... You know H.G. Wells' A Short History of the World? I've always loved that - that's perfect! And I wanted this to be a short history of the way that Heaven and Hell deal with each other."

Revelations : "Yes, it hints at so much more than it contains - "

Clive : "Exactly right. Absolutely. It's the reverse of what very often I've done - Imajica, if you will, puts in everything; this time I'm playing lightly but I think if one's open to it, or if one follows the track that the sentences lead you off on, it's very near to the scale of the issue which is being addressed in that book. I hope that this book is more acceptable for readers who can't face a 900 page book like Imajica! A lot of people would never pick up a book like Imajica. But I think people will pick up Mister B. Gone and I hope will find some provocation in it. I mean, as the fundamentalists in the world become ever more fundamental, I don't think it's a bad time to play with people's ideas as to what's right and what's wrong."

Revelations : "The inclusionism you talk about of Imajica, actually the opening scenes of Mister B. Gone strike us as describing a very well realised landscape and setting, which is presumably off the back of working for so long on Scarlet Gospels?"

Clive : "Yes."

Revelations : "Because there are teasers of what we're going to see in Scarlet Gospels that are skated over, almost as given knowledge, but very beautifully realised as you describe what's there."

Clive : "Thank you - that's nice. And that's exactly what I wanted - this is not a grand symphony, it is a chamber piece but it takes themes from several fictions. I mean, Doug [Bradley] recognised The History of The Devil and you know, the debate between what's good and what's bad, the business of that. You know, I've talked to you before about the soldier I've been mentoring for a while now - he's here safely back from Iraq having done two tours of duty - and he talks a lot about the business of war, about how much he has seen and how much he could tell of how people use war to make money - and we're not talking about small amounts of money, we're talking about large amounts of money they're making..."

Tommy-Ray, the Death Boy

Clive : "I'm doing another collective project with IDW because I really liked what they did with The Great And Secret Show. I think they did a great job on a very difficult project."

Revelations : "And you both dug your heels in at the beginning to stop it being a short run when it needed the full 12 issues."

Clive : "Oh, it would have killed it - I wouldn't have put my name on it. You know I think it worked out nicely, everybody's made a profit on it, and it hasn't twisted the story out of true."

Revelations : "No - it certainly stays true to the narrative - you lose some of the grace notes along the way, of course, but you're always going to do that in an adaptation."

Clive : "And you gain things; there's a shot of Tommy-Ray driving manically with the ghost hoard gathered behind him which is just a magnificent image - somewhere around issue nine. And the issues are peppered with extraordinary images."

Revelations : "And the new project is something original?"

Clive : "Yeah - I can't talk about it right now - well, just because the contract isn't signed, and I'm always a little superstitious... But Chris and I are going to do something - I gave him an idea which addresses the life of the story. People never talk about the politics of it as opposed to the, well... let's just leave it that way. But I feel, strongly feel, the urge to address the political issue of why are we telling this story..."

Revelations : "As well as Mister B. Gone and Jericho, there's the new art exhibition and the Books of Blood movies. People are commenting on what an exceptional period it is; there's always a sense that you're very busy but it can go long periods of time without things actually coming to public view, whereas now there's a whole heap about to strike all at once."

Clive Barker - Mister B. Gone promotional booklet

Clive : "Yes."

Revelations : "They're coming along like buses!"

Clive : "Yes, exactly, exactly! Or porn stars! You can't get one and then they all come at the same time - "

Revelations : "Hmmm, maybe we'll stick to the buses analogy for that one! "The other thing we need to ask is, with all this going on, are people going to get to see you in person?"

Clive : "Yes, I'm going to do an, I think, seven city tour in America, something in England - given that we're shooting in Glasgow, I'm sure I'll do something in Glasgow... you know, I'm going to be in Glasgow, Liverpool and London, so - you know, I'm hoping that HarperCollins organise signings for me."

Revelations : "And that'll be this side of Christmas, obviously."

Clive : "Yes, because if the schedule goes - of course all of this is 'if...' you know, it's the movies! I don't believe a movie's a go movie until all the money is in the bank - we've spent most of it, but there's a few things... but if everything is set then the [Book of Blood] movie will have been shot by Christmas. You know, we'll be back over here editing."

Revelations : "The next in the long-held dream of a Hammer-style film industry around your stories."

Clive : "It still remains the dream, my hope, if we get to make a lot of these movies, to package them up so that we will have a lot of the Books of Blood as full-length movies. John Harrison's doing the Book of Blood - the Ur story, the root story - you know the story of an older woman's love for a young trickster and it's just the right kind of story - "

Revelations : "Well it's a simple story and that's part of why it works."

Clive : "Yes - and we have a concept for the dead, for the ghosts, which is without precedent..."

Revelations : "And is Pig Blood Blues still progressing well?"

Clive : "Anthony DiBlasi is writing and directing and he is an extraordinary man... [he's currently] doing final amendments on The Damnation Game, the Poe Project and Pig Blood Blues..."

Revelations : "And the art exhibition? Is it as big as the last Bert Green one?"

Clive : "Yes, the exhibition is as big as the last one, all new material. There won't be so much of the 'forbidden' material - a lot of that was taken in the last pass and I've been painting less graphically (and photographing more graphically), so there's a lot of very avant-garde things for me, things that are very far from stuff I've ever done before - I'm definitely going in lots of different places. I don't want to give too much away again..."

Clive Barker - Untitled tree painting

Revelations : "Is there a theme?"

Clive : "I hope not! No, I've always tried to find titles, since my earliest days, that are so generic that..."

Revelations : "That you could slide anything under..."

Clive : "I remember exhibitions by Hockney, Bacon's exhibitions - I think painters don't have themes. I suppose you could say well, they're all figure drawings, you know nearly always they are - I love painting figures and when I paint landscapes, I paint trees. It's fantastical and it's bold, as I've always been, in the sense that the colours are all very intense and celebratory."

Revelations : "And even your trees have souls so maybe you could say they're paintings of souls..?"

Clive : "Thank you. Is there any chance you can get there?"

Revelations : "Not sure yet."

Clive : "Well I will make sure I get a video walkaround - "

Revelations : "Oh, people loved the last one so much - that's gone down so well - it would be great if you could do that again. It just reaches so many people who don't have a hope of getting there in person."


Clive : "I'll make sure that happens again. We're going to have a nude accompaniment to the first night."

Revelations : "Like the zoomen?"

Clive : "Exactly, we're going to do that again, that was so much fun."

Revelations : "More girls this time please!"

Clive : "Oh boy, OK, I'll try to get more girls this time... Are transsexuals any good..?"

Revelations : "I'd prefer girls..! And not too old... but not too young either..!"

Clive : "Sarah - can you slap him..?"

Hellraiser's twentieth anniversary
The Book of Blood movie
The Scarlet Gospels
Mister B. Gone signing tour
Mister B. Gone
Midnight Meat Train
Planned dates for original art exhibitions
2005 gallery video tour
IDW's Great & Secret Show

previous home search contact Interviews next