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’ve never been to an analyst,’ proclaims Clive Barker, eagerly unpeeling the cellophane from one of the fat Havana cigars that have become his trademark. Moments later the end is aglow as he leans back in his chair; ‘But there have been quite a few analysts who’ve wanted to come to me,’ he adds, pursing his lips to offer a cool emphatic haze of tobacco smoke. For a man who makes a highly comfortable living flaying the mind with lash after lash of charnel house perversity, Barker looks sleek and contented, the black attire and spiky haircut lending him the air ofa young merchant sophisticate.

Actually, he has something of a right to appear . self-satisfied. Since the 1984 publication of his first gruesome short stories in the Books Of Blood series, Barker’s writing has attracted a wide readership and novels like The Damnation Game and the hugely elaborate Weaveworld have attracted not inconsiderable critical notice. The New York Times assessment of his collection The Inhuman Condition ‘Try to imagine The Texas Chainsaw Massacre with a screenplay by V.S. Pritchett and you have some idea of Clive Barker at his most effective’ typical in its admission (not

usually lavished on horror fiction) of the seriousness at the core of the author’s work. Suitably buoyed, the 38 year-old Liverpudlian now tends to talk of the fantastique a lot.

‘This stuff is very therapeutic, very healthy for me and my audience. It’s the stuff ofour subconscious, and the more we repress of our fetishistic urges, of ourdarker side, the more it comes out in bitter and twisted ways. The best thing is to admit that yes, I’ve got a bit of that in myself. . . and I’m proud of it.’ When he gets on a roll like this, you begin to notice the accent, the drawling vowels and strangled consonants. These days it’s not so much Penny Lane as mid-Atlantic. Clive Barker, you see, has gone Hollywood.

It had to happen. These things do. Especially when you happen to have turned out as startling a movie debut as Barker’s Hellraiser, the modestly-budgeted melange of aberrant sexuality and fiendish splatter which lived up to its maker’s pet title of Sado-Masochists From Beyond The Grave and gave the genre the most vibrant visual and thematic shake-up it had had in years. ' Flushed with the knowledge that in The Pinhead he’d created a true icon of the uncanny, Barker romped LA-wards to mine the deep wallets that


Writer, filmmaker, sicko, raconteur, CLIVE BARKER is a one-man apologist for the horror genre. As his

latest expansive and imaginative movie fantasy Nightbreed goes on general release, he talks to Trevor Johnston about monsters, morals and the men who count buttock thrusts.

4'l‘hel.is128 September -~ ll October 1990

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