Through an interview on his website, prolific horror author Clive Barker has announced that he and showrunner Brannon Barga have been “going forth, speedily” with an apparent adaptation of Barker’s Books of Blood collections to the small screen.
Published in the 80’s, these short story collections are among the best of Barker’s work. They have some camp and weirdness but are tight and surprising stories normally offering some level of humanity to their characters. I think Barker generally works better in shorter forms (The Hellbound Heart, the basis for Hellraiser, is only 164 pages long), and I look forward to seeing these stories get retold in an equally brief fashion.
One of my personal favorites from the collection is “Jacqueline Ess: Her Will And Testament,” which is a strange tale of a bored housewife who attempts suicide, and though she fails, this brush with death gives her the ability to will people’s bodies into destroying themselves. She kills her therapist and husband this way and then becomes a prostitute (as you do) who gives men great pleasure before death using her powers. One man, obsessed with her, tracks her down, and the two make love as their bodies meld together and they die. It’s neat and was supposed to be turned into a movie at one point, but that project never seemed to get off the ground.
Some of Barkers Books of Blood stories had better luck, though, and have been adapted to feature-length films, such as Rawhead Rex and The Midnight Meat Train, but it doesn’t seem like Barker will avoid retreading old ground for the series.
“What I’m trying to do is at very least match, and in some cases surpass, the intensity of the original Books of Blood,” he said and then name-dropped Rawhead Rex as an example of a story he’d “want to revisit.”
That’s cool with me. Even though the Rawhead Rex we already have is a good deal of fun, it would be nice to see a more intense version. I just hope Barker doesn’t tamper too much and spoil his classic stories. His most recent work has been hit-or-miss for me (The Scarlet Gospels was garbage), and I’m a bit worried that he may have lost his touch over the past few decades.
I’m crossing my fingers he’s still go it, though, as he also mentioned that he has “about thirty narratives which I have developed which you could call ‘Books of Blood stories’” and that he and Barga will “probably turn at least some of those into episodes for the television series.”
So, we’ll see how all that goes. Right now there’s no network attached to the series, but my money would be on Netflix, Hulu, or Shudder to snatch it up. This is a project that has streaming written all over it, to me. Let’s just hope it doesn’t land at a network that lacks the leeway to allow the series to be as gory and gruesome as possible.