The Forbidden

As she prepared to leave the sun went in, and the bands of light faded. She glanced over her shoulder at the boarded windows, and saw for the first time that one four-word slogan had been sprayed on the wall beneath them. “Sweets to the sweet” it read.

I’m currently reading Christine but as I mentioned before, it’s quite the sizeable tome and hasn’t been the quickest read. I felt like taking a quick break from Uncle Stephen for a moment to read this short by his horror contemporary, Clive Barker. In fact, the anthology that houses this story – Books of Blood: Volumes 4-6 – features a cover blurb from the man himself: “Clive Barker is so good I am almost literally tongue-tied.”

Cute, huh?

The Forbidden in case you weren’t aware, is the story that inspired (and was adapted into) my favourite horror movie of all time, Candyman (1992).  So no prizes for guessing why I wanted to read it. The novella is based in England rather than the Chicago of the film which really intrigued me – and tells tale of Helen, a post-grad student doing her thesis on urban graffiti. When she visits the rundown Spector Street Estate to take some photographs for her project, she learns about a horrible murder and becomes just a little bit too involved in the sinister goings on.

Her weary body understood. Her nerves, tired of jangling, understood. The sweetness he offered was life withoutliving: was to be dead, but remembered everywhere; immortal in gossip and graffiti.”Be my victim,” he said.”No…” she murmured.

*Spoilers*

I loved it. The Candyman of the story is every bit as seductive as my boo Tony Todd but he’s terrifying in such a visceral way. The way he’s described is so different and heinous, yet there’s still something appealing about him, like giving into the death he’s offering would be the sweetest relief and delicious to boot.

Some of the names are the same as in the movie (Trevor, Anne-Marie, Bernadette) – even patronising shit-bag Purcell makes an appearance – and I loved his little segment but they are quite different characters. Trevor is still a cheating bastard but this time Helen turns a blind eye, claiming not to give a single shit when he disappears for two nights straight. The setting is very similar, even if the locations are not, right down to the rotten public toilet in which an  alleged attack is made on a young man with learning disabilities.

The crime surrounding Anne-Marie and her son is far more sinister and graphic however and I find the realism of the estate much creepier than I do Cabrini Green. Maybe it’s just how normal and mundane Anne-Marie’s life seems, how can such horror live side by side her tiny maisonette, while she makes tea for Helen and moans about the council?

A must-read for any horror fan and I’m quite keen to read the rest of the stories now. Barker writes beautiful prose that sure as hell suits the elegance of the Candyman. I’ll keep you updated on my progress.

 

Book details:

The Forbidden (from Books of Blood: Volumes 4-6)
Publisher: Sphere (1 Feb. 1988)
ISBN-10: 0751512257
ISBN-13: 978-0751512250
Borrowed

What are you reading?

Nightbreed (Film) Review

nightbreed-directors-cutJill and I are big fans of Hellraiser, arguably Clive Barker‘s most recognisable work to date, and so I was pretty stoked to be dipping back into his world with this, a film I’d never seen before. (He also wrote Candyman (1992) which I bloody love with all my heart).

I don’t really want to give too much away in the first paragraph but I found myself scratching my head a few times and I don’t mind telling you I haven’t a scooby about what I’ve just seen. That’s not to say there aren’t moments of pure wonderment.

Barker’s imagination is quite something and one dodgy flick from the 1990’s can’t take that away.

Or can it?

*Spoilers* – although if you ain’t seen this in the 26 long years that have passed since its release, I would say you can’t really be that precious.

Nightbreed (1990)

Director: Clive Barker
Stars: Craig ShefferDavid Cronenberg, Anne Bobby

IMDB Synopsis: A troubled young man is drawn to a mythical place called Midian where a variety of monsters are hiding from humanity.

My Review:

Our hero, poor man’s Angel (even though Buffy/Angel came later) dreams of a place called Midian, where monster dreams come true. Not really, but monsters do try to live there together in their version of sweet harmony.

nightbreed-boone-lori
“I loved you in Buffy. Uh, a TV show from the future…”

He’s a bit distant and messed up, so his girl Lori (Bobby) has him seeing a psychotherapist called Dr Decker (Cronenberg). Dr Decker is pretty much the worst psychotherapist of all time as he convinces Angel, real name Boone (Sheffer) that he’s a serial killer. The kicker? It’s actually Decker doing the killing, and brutally at that! Clever, non?

To drive his plan home, he drugs Boone and persuades him to hand himself in. Things got confused for me quite quickly but if I recall correctly, Boone gets hit by a truck, there’s a hospital scene, we meet our first monster, Narcisse (Hugh Ross) and his face gets torn off. (Narcisse btw harvests dead men’s faces to wear over his own apparently grotesque features). Seems legit.

Boone flees the hospital and heads to Midian which is basically a crappy underground village beneath a cool graveyard. Here he bumps into some monsters that aren’t that happy to see him and one of them bites him. He gets away from them only to run into the fuzz and Decker, who pretends Boone has a gun. You don’t have to ask the pigs twice to draw their weapons and poor Angel is cut down fast in a hail of bullets.

anne-bobby-nightbreed-cabal-cut-clive-barker-terror-in-the-aisles-11-chicago
“What do you mean I’m not a patch on Kirsty from Hellraiser?”

So that’s that then. Lori is devvoed but suspicious about the circumstances in which Boone dies, and frankly she has a right to be, especially since Boone’s become the walking dead. She travels to Midian herself to work shit out (though at this point she doesn’t know Boone has resurrected).

She meets the best character at a bar on the way and her new friend agrees to accompany her to Midian the next day. When they get there they split up (always a good idea). Lori goes skipping through the catacombs, while her friend gets brutally murdered – nooooooooooooo! Seems Decker is tracking Lori and he thinks she’ll make pretty good Boone bait (seems he’s figured out that Boone isn’t dead).

Decker wears a ‘Kid from The Orphanage/Trick ‘R’ Treat‘ style sack cloth mask and I dig the aesthetic frankly. He’s also rather stab happy. Lori, meanwhile, finds a very odd looking creature that turns into a ginger kid and meets a bunch of monsters.

nightbreed-1990-still
Zip it, Button Eyes

You get the impression that the brain storming (thought cluster?) sessions for the monsters must have been fun, though as we get to the end, we meet Hand Chin and I’m not sure how much work went into him.

Lori meets Boone again, much to her delight; Decker runs rampage, there’s a lot of monster politics, I got lost, we meet a priest. There is a story in here about a prophecy (Boone saving the day) and then a battle between good (Midian and the monsters) and evil (?) (the priest, the babylon). It’s very confusing and a shambles, sorry. The monsters are cool though.

In the final fight, led by Boone, there are lots of casualties and imaginative deaths. There’s a happy ending of sorts and one of the most manipulative scenes in cinematic history, in which Lori tries to kill herself so Boone has no choice but to ‘turn her’ immortal, so they can live happily together forever.

I’d have refused on principle.

nightbreed1
Tribal is so done

My Thoughts:

Confusing (maybe it’s me), not very linear and boring in places, this has some great creatures and a nice philosophy about peace loving monsters driven out of society by non-humans (fucking non-humans). It’s a tale as old as time and it does try. It’s nowhere near as strong as Hellraiser, but I had a soft spot for Decker, whose motivation I can’t even be arsed to work out. And the porcupine lady.

I’m being kind here but I should add that I had to read Wikipedia to fill in the blanks on all the bits I lost track of, which was most of it. Call it my heart not being in it, but it just made me want to go and visit Pinhead and Julia again.

My Rating: 2/5. Messy. Points given for the gory deaths.

nightbreedgroup
This year’s Christmas card was going to be well edgy

What did Wifey think ? Was she willing to live in sweet harmony with the monsters or would she prefer to take a carving knife to the whole thing? Find out here.