by Staci Layne Wilson
I guess it's no secret Clive Barker is one of my all-time favorite people. Even though we have a couple of mutual friends (actually, his friends… my acquaintances; the astonishingly witty writer Peter Atkins and the clever filmmaker Anthony DiBlasi to name a couple), I've never spent much time with him outside interview situations.
But I have to say, Clive is one of the most available, kind, caring and thoughtful people I've encountered — even when I didn't encounter him! Let me explain: a few years back, when we were both at the L.A. Times Festival of Books doing signings, I had to drop out of his line to attend to my own "15 minutes". So, my husband stayed to get my item signed and when he gave Clive my apologies and greetings, Clive took the time to ask all about my book ("Ghost Writer", which is actually blurbed by Atkins on the cover), made a point to get my web address, and then proceeded to write a long note for me and to draw an original illustration to go with it! He's a person who really gives his all, all the time. It's admirable, to say the least.
The first time I got to interview Clive was at the Stoker Awards in 2005 (click here to view the video), and aside from today, the most recent was at the San Diego Comic-Con, where he was on hand to talk about his movie The Midnight Meat Train before its release and the debacle that followed (interested? Click here - Open Letter From Clive Barker). I was really excited about the movie, since I got to see some of it being filmed and (Horror.com's exclusive Midnight Meat Train set visit report). I wasn't disappointed when I finally got to see it, and in fact chose it as one of the best horror movies of 2008.
Clive's currently talking about the movie in support of the DVD, which comes out on Tuesday (Feb 17). He did a conference telephone interview today, with just a select few journalists. We got lucky!
Part one (below) is just horror.com's stuff, but rest assured there is a lot more to come on his upcoming book "The Adventures of Mr. Maximillian Bacchus and His Traveling Circus", the Hellraiser remake, Dread, and a lot of other cool things (not to mention his most-welcome candidness on everything from sex to money).
It would be redundant for me to say I heartily recommend The Midnight Meat Train, but I'll have a fresh take on the unrated version, plus the fantastic additional release material, in my official disc review (posted here). The commentary is pretty damned good. I learned a lot, and was thoroughly entertained (it's a joint yack-track with Clive and the film's talented and most assured director, Ryûhei Kitamura).
In the days to come, please check back for more from Clive!
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Staci Layne Wilson / Horror.com: I want to talk about our favorite person just a little bit… Joe Drake. [Liongate's President]
Clive Barker: Oh, yeah!
Aside from Midnight Meat Train, he also buried my favorite horror movie of the year, which was Repo! The Genetic Opera.
Clive Barker: Yeah, what about that? I mean this guy… what's your question? Go ahead and ask.
Basically, what I want to know is — out of the four movies in my top 10 of 2008 for Horror.com, two can't get released (Parasomnia and Trick R Treat) and two were buried by Lionsgate (Repo!, and Midnight Meat Train) — they're all great movies, but eventually you've got to feel like Schrödinger's Cat or the tree falling in the forest. How valid are they if no one really sees them? What are your thoughts on that?
Clive Barker: Firstly, the world has changed. The DVD… [pauses] Oh my gawd. I have a flatulent dog. That's disgusting! How could you?
Only appropriate, as we discuss Joe Drake.
Clive Barker: Yeah, talk about a flatulent dog! I don't know what Joe's deal is. I've never met the man. I've only had one very unpleasant conversation with him, in which he claimed that his real problem was that they couldn't cut a trailer for Midnight Meat Train that worked, and so that's why they weren't releasing the movie. I don't think that really bears any [realism]. I mean, that's just preposterous to me. But that's all he was going to give to me. I mean, the thing with Repo! — and I agree with you, it's a superb picture — is made by a director who's made that company [Lionsgate] millions of dollars. I understand all he was asking for was five screens, and they weren't willing to give him that?! I do not understand this business. I do not understand.
I think even if Midnight Meat Train had been even half as good as it is… and yes, yes. I am prejudiced. Of course. But: I think it's a bloody good movie. If I didn't think so, I'd actually say so because I have said that about Hellraiser movies with my name on them. So I would be willing to say that about this, too. But I am here waving the flag for the picture because I believe in it. And I believe that Joe Drake left his company exposed, financially, for reasons of ego. The movie that he put into the slot that we were supposed to have was a movie that he produced. That's a little bit obvious, I think! It's a damn foolish way to run a railroad.
We need horror movies to be seen on big screens, because I think they have a lot of effect that way. But yes, DVDs are better than they have ever been, and there's Blu-Ray. The Blu-Ray of Midnight Meat Train is amazing. But: I still love to watch horror movies with a big audience and to have a damn good time.
It looks great both ways, thanks in part to Jonathan Sela who is such an amazing DP.
Clive Barker: Yep. And he gets the tonal range in the picture. He really gets it. He just has a lot of nice, nice things in it that are grace notes, really. And when it comes to movies that are made with very, very modest budgets like ours, they often barely tell the story — so to have a movie which has visual grace notes as well, I think it is just marvelous. I am very, very happy that the DVD will have a real life, because I think the picture deserves it.
Please forgive me for asking a totally selfish question [in a conference call], but I absolutely adore Coldheart Canyon. I listened to the audiobook, read it so many times, and so on. That's my favorite novel of yours and I always sort of dreamed about who could bring it to the big screen. I mean, directors like De Palma, Nolan, Argento, The Coen Bros., and Scorsese… and what a cast you could have! Since you listen to your dreams [re: Hellraiser], indulge me a little…
Clive Barker: Firstly, I would love to direct it! And you know who I'd really love — and this is going to sound really perverse, but I'd love Tom Cruise [to star]. And for the girl, Angelina Jolie, because she has that completely timeless quality. Katya Lupi was based on Louis Brooks, you know. One of the great beauties of cinema, you know?
Yes. I was just thinking about her yesterday, as a matter of fact!
Clive Barker: Oh, really? She's underrated. And the house itself is based on the house I'm sitting in right now, and live in. It's a book that doesn't um… respect Hollywood. And Hollywood doesn't like that. But one of these days it's a story that I would love to make [into a movie]. The thing about it is, it would be so vicious. Everybody would be based upon somebody — it would be a checklist of people I've dealt with [like The Weinsteins].
So you'd be the Jackie Collins of horror, in other words.
Clive Barker: I think I already am! [As for a cinematic adaptation] there is a lot of enthusiasm, but you know — enthusiasm is cheap. So we'll see what happens, but yeah: one of these days, I think it will get done. One thing, going back to the subject of sex and horror… the sexual scenes in that book… well, for every letter that I get that says, 'Yay, that's great,' there's a letter that says, 'That goes too far, man! You shouldn't be doing that.' They think it's too much. The whipping, and stuff. Am I alone, you know? What it makes me aware of, is that the U.S. is still a very Puritan country. We have a double standard. You know, the pornography business [brings in] $6 billion [to this country's economy].