Because literature and filmmaking are different disciplines that utilize different skills in order to create fear and dread in audiences, it is rare that a skilled artisan from one field can effectively transition into the other (anyone remember Stephen King’s directing on “Maximum Overdrive”). A rare exception to the case is that of novelist/screenwriter/director Clive Barker.
Barker’s career began in short stories and novellas, eventually working his way up to full novels. A big fan of dark horror and fantasy, there are almost no Barker stories that don’t have some element of the supernatural contained within them. His film career began with two short films he self-produced, and eventually his work as a horror novelist got him work scripting films such as “Underworld” and “Rawhead Rex.”
Barker’s dissatisfaction with the way his scripts were handled brought him to the director’s chair for the original “Hellraiser,” based on his story “The Hellbound Heart.” The film was a big success, and spawned one of the longest-running horror film franchises in recent history.
His follow-up to “Hellraiser” was another film based on a work of his, a novel called “Cabal.” The film was renamed “Nightbreed” for its theatrical release, and a terrible advertising campaign cost the film a possible successful run.
Barker directed only one other feature film in his career, “Lord of Illusions,” which is based on a short story from his “Books of Blood” series. The film was a bigger success than “Nightbreed” in theaters, but has had a harder time remaining in the limelight in subsequent years.
As unusual as it is for an author to find success as a film director, it is just as unusual for a popular author who created beloved films to make a mere three movies and to completely stop his filmic output. Though there has been talk of a new “Hellraiser” film that includes the presence of Barker as at least a writer and producer (and possibly director), one can only hope that those three films already in existence aren’t the end of the body of work from an extremely talented and visionary artist.