Interviews 1986

...If the new-found successes of The Books of Blood could so far have been passed off as some crazy dream, the same could no longer be said as the Barker world suddenly jumped into transatlantic mode. Berkley started to publish the Books of Blood in the States, as the much to be maligned Rawhead Rex began its 7 week shoot in Co.Wicklow. Dissatisfied with both Underworld and Rawhead Rex, Clive sought funding to direct one of two screenplays he had ready for a third feature film - one based on his novella of the previous year, The Hellbound Heart, the other based on Harry D'Amour's adventures in The Last Illusion. As The Secret Life of Cartoons began a new West End theatrical life, four years after the demise of the Dog Company, Hellraiser began shooting in North London. The Damnation Game demanded a paperback release in the UK whilst, in the States, The Yattering and Jack was transmitted. So, triumphs of varying degrees were happening on pretty much every type of creative front ...

Clive Barker

By Nick Hasted, Creature, No 5, 1986

"I don't worry about running out of ideas. I feel that there are always plenty - the newspapers are packed with them: thoughts and ideas. The question is whether you can push them to their limits and find out what they really mean. And the thing about good horror fiction, I believe, is that it doesn't just give you the story, it also gives you the subtext to the story. It also explains to you in part what it is about the notion that scares you. That's why some horror fiction, I feel, is a cheat - I feel all it does is present you with the image, and not with its meaning. Do you see what I mean? I don't mean that you should give the reader or the viewer everything on a plate, but I do think that you should be able to lead the reader onto some realisation of what the significance of the images you're presenting him with is.
"You can do that in lots of ways, but I prefer to do it in a kind of a 'between-the-lines' Creature, No 5, 1986
Creature, No 5, 1986
fashion, and sometimes in the jokes; I sometimes actually give clues to what I think is going on here in the jokes; that can be a method, I think.
"But I don't want to be taken to the same old places or, if I'm going to be taken to the same old places, let me be taken by someone who says, 'You think you know this territory, don't you? But - look what I've got here...!'
"There may be a sense in which there is no new story you can tell - anywhere. Whatever you think you're originating, somebody else has thought of it before. I think that what you can do is make new collisions of ideas, you can find new ways to put things. You can bring new characters and new insights to bear on old ideas. In other words, it wouldn't horrify me if the Muse were to appear in this room now and say, 'Sorry chaps, there's not a new idea to be had!', that wouldn't bother me terribly, because I would assume that you can still rework stuff, you can still find ways of making things work freshly. So the originality thing isn't a terrible drag. I think it's only bad if you give in to it and you say, from the beginning, 'There's nothing new to find, so therefore all I will do is rework old stuff.' That's defeatist. You've got to keep on looking... Striving..."

L'Ecran Fantastique, No 69, June 1986
L'Ecran Fantastique, No 69, June 1986
Fangoria, No 51, January 1986
Fangoria, No 51, January 1986

Meet Clive Barker

By Philip Nutman & Stefan Jaworzyn, (i) Fangoria, No 51, January 1986 (ii) as Les Visages De L'Ombre in L'Ecran Fantastique, No 69, June 1986 (iii) Clive Barker's Shadows in Eden, 1991 (iv) Fangoria : Masters of the Dark

"I thought it was a really exciting notion - that one could actually put so many kinds of stories in a collection and call it a horror anthology for want of a better word - and I thought I should have a go at that. I'll put on 23 different hats and I'll write some humour, some monster stuff, and I'll do everything I always wanted to do in horror fiction. I'll write some serious philosophical statements about sex, death and the meaning of the universe and put them together and see what happens."

Monsterland, No 8, March 1986
Monsterland, No 8, March 1986


By Stephen Jones, Monsterland, No 8, March 1986

"It comes from a love of film noir, a love of good monsters, a love of thrillers generally. I've always wanted to see a shootout between mobsters and monsters...
"This drug seems to be the answer to every criminal mastermind's dream, except it has unfortunate side effects... It's an anti-drug movie in that sense...
"I think one of the best things about writing genre work is that you are working in traditions. I love horror."

Clive Barker

By William J. Grabowski, The Horror Show, Vol 4 Issue 2, Spring 1986

"What was I trying to accomplish [with the first three Books Of Blood] ? Well, from the technical point of view, my concern was with telling several kinds of story... Many of the stories are half-turns upon familiar narrative structures, of course: the haunted theatre story; the monsters underground; the doppelganger, the femme fatale. I would make no great claim to originality where most of the stories are concerned. But there are one or two tales, perhaps, which strike out into fresh territory, and I was certainly trying to create a few fresh images to add to the stockpile. I was also concerned that the genre is troubled by a polarisation. On the one hand we have the gore merchants, whose work may be The Horror Show, Vol 4 Issue 2, Spring 1986
The Horror Show, Vol 4 Issue 2, Spring 1986
excessive, derivative and badly written but will usually provide a quick frisson. On the other hand, there are many fine writers whose works are hymns to subtlety, intelligence and subtext. Now I find myself straddling these two schools. I love blood-bath fiction, but I also like subtext. I like my werewolves rapacious, my zombies corrupt, my monsters unapologetically carnivorous; but I also want to explore the subtleties, investigate the deeper resonances of the imagery we employ in the genre. Dostoyevsky on a ghost-train ride would be my ideal bedtime reading.
"So I try to push the material. Even the stuff which seems to be wrung out can be made to turn a few fresh somersaults if kicked in the right place; or such is my hope. This way, maybe one can uncover some new angle; find an undiscovered niche in imagery which seems thoroughly investigated...
"What, above all, do I hope to accomplish? I'd like to produce some stories of lasting value, stories that might have some influence not only upon the genre but upon readers - the way Poe and Bradbury and Machen influenced me. To be a part of the tradition of great imaginers - that's important to me."

New York Magazine, 26 May 1986
New York Magazine, 26 May 1986


By Eric Pooley, New York Magazine, 26 May 1986

"Horror fiction plunges its hand into the unconscious, and tugs something squirming out into the light. Then it drops the slimy thing back in, and one is healthier for it...
"My stories are a bit strong for some, and I do have a desire to write brighter ones. Of course, I'll always love mad-slasher stories. Don't you?"

Fangoria, No 55, June 1986
Fangoria, No 55, June 1986

Catching Up With Clive Barker

By Stanley Wiater, (i) Fangoria, No 55, June 1986 (ii) Clive Barker's Shadows in Eden (as "Horror in print: Clive Barker") (iii) Fangoria : Masters of the Dark

"The kind of pictures I paint of violence are simply part of an entire scenario which the stories offer. I don't disagree that there are many writers who are writing - or have written - in a response to repression, but the kind of repression may be the issue. And I certainly don't have repressive parents. I didn't have a religious upbringing. I was not repressed at school. I like to use the term 'celebration' in the kind of work I do; I like to think there's a kind of 'celebration of perversity' in the volumes of Books of Blood. That's a response, simply, to normality. What I cannot bear is 'normality'. What I'm trying to upset is not something hugely repressive - but something hugely banal, that is, the lives most people live...
"I'm trying to make people put down my book and say, 'That was totally WEIRD!!'"

Locus, No 306, July 1986
Locus, No 306, July 1986

Clive Barker: Banking On Blood

By [ ], Locus, Vol 19 No 7, Issue 306, July 1986

[Re: Dark Forces inspiring Books of Blood] "[I thought] I should have a go at that. I'll put on 23 different hats and... do everything I always wanted to do in horror fiction."

WB Authortalk

By [ ], Waldenbooks, July 1986

"I don't think that anybody can be the next Stephen King. Stephen King is Stephen King. What he does he does uniquely well. I'd like to think that just as the genre took a leap when King came along, it can take another leap - at least a step forward - when I come along. I think in the genres you have people come along who challenge the previous suppositions. Stephen King brought to horror fiction a kind of plausibility and a kind of accessibility, which the genre hadn't previously had.
"I think I am, in the literary sense, closer to Peter Straub than I am to King. But in the sense of subject matter, I'm much closer to King, because King also lets it rip when he wants to. Here is a man who says he will do anything to scare anybody - from the subtle undertow to the gross-out. I will do the same thing without apology. When people go to horror fiction, they go to it to be in the hands of somebody who says, 'I'm going to do something to you and I'm never going to say I'm sorry.' In that sense I feel I have a lot in common with King."

Ready Or Not, Here Comes Clive Barker

By Beth Levine, (i) Publishers Weekly, 4 July 1986 (ii) short piece extracted for 'Biography' in the US Damnation Game press kit, April 1987

"Horror is one genre where you overturn people's assumptions about mortality, sexuality and politics. It's a place where everything is up for grabs, which appeals to me because I abhor the safe, the conventional. Mainstream fiction explores the layers of the world in a realistic sense; horror fiction comes at it with a chainsaw, cuts reality into little pieces, and asks the reader to put it back together again. It's an aggressive way of redefining what you believe in about the world, and that's why it is rejected so often by critics and readers. It can be very rough with our world vision...
US Damnation Game press kit
US Damnation Game press kit
"These are not just fright things - it also has to do with exploring the subconscious. That's always fascinated me. I don't just want to explore the underbellies of cities, but the 'underbelly' of the mind as well...
"Most horror fiction starts off with life in a status quo which is thrown out of balance by the appearance of the monster. Once they get rid of the monster, everything goes back to normal. I don't think that's true of the world. We can't destroy the monster because the monster is us. Think about it - there are no bigger monsters in the world than the people we marry or work with or are parented by... I think my visions are optimistic, although I have to concede that most people don't share that interpretation. I think any story in which a character starts off in a dull life and ends up in a remarkable condition is positive, whatever route is taken to get there."


By Don Swaim, (i) CBS Radio, 31 July 1986, (ii) unedited audio online at

"The idea was, and remains, that somebody enjoy these pieces [The Books of Blood] almost by contrast with each other; that you look at this stuff and you read through it and you see that horror fiction is not - as I did when I looked at Dark Forces - horror fiction is not limited to a number of, to two or three tones, it can go in lots of different directions and that's nice. It's always very nice when someone comes up - I've just been to a signing and people come up and say, 'I've read all six books,' and that's very nice...
"I think there is a general perception that horror fiction is something of a literary underdog, that it's the last refuge of a literary scoundrel and I don't feel that at all. I share with [King] the belief that horror fiction can be witty, elegiac, profound, sexy, funny, whatever else and I think we have those two things in common. We both desire to scare people and we both believe that scary material can be good material. You don't have to be a hack."

New York Daily News, City Lights section, 3 August 1986
New York Daily News, City Lights section, 3 August 1986

OmiGod!! - Meet Clive Barker, The Man Who Can Scare Stephen King

By Chet Flippo, New York Daily News, City Lights section, 3 August 1986

"The bug-eyed monster represents the beast which is to be thrown out, expunged. I don't tend to deal with that kind of beast because I don't think he can ever be exiled, expunged, destroyed, staked at the heart, shot with silver bullets. They're always around - because they're part of us. They represent anxieties that are unremovable as long as we are mind trapped in flesh. As long as we're locked inside ourselves, horror fiction is about ourselves."

Barker At The Fun Fair

By James Fallon, Women's Wear Daily, 6 August 1986

"I think of myself as having an active, heated, rich imagination, not a twisted one. What is twisted is banality, not the things I write about. 'The Love Boat' is twisted. Banality is the curse because it cuts itself off from imaginary experiences for fear of them."

The Future King Of Horror

By Laura Castaneda, (i) The Associated Press, 22 August 1986 (ii) (re-written and shortened as 'The Heir To King's Throne?') The Orange County Register, 30 October 1986

"In this kind of fiction, we are confronting fears which we feel very deeply, very intimately. I don't like to disgust: I like to disturb - to offer a little anarchistic free thought. I write to throw over the status quo. I try to avoid anything that is gratuitous...
"You won't find heroines running screaming into the arms of heroes in my stories. I try to avoid the cliches of boy meets girl while killer gorilla is on the rampage. In none of my fiction will you find any religious solution to a problem. Nobody ever whips out a crucifix and expects to keep a monster at bay with it. Those are old solutions. We have to find new solutions."

Meet Horror's Heir Apparent : Barker vs The King

By Matt Roush, USA Today, 22 August 1986

"[Stephen King's] stories are healing stories in a way mine aren't. All horror heals; it opens some wounds and shows you how to close them again. But King heals to a great extent by dealing with monsters as though they were alien. I heal by having characters realise that the monsters are part of themselves. My characters comprehend, 'Oh I understand now why that works, how those creatures operate, and they are part of my instinct, my desire, my heat, my sadness, my loneliness, my fear of old age, my madness. They're part of me.'"

The Horrible World Of Clive Barker

By Neil Gaiman, Today, 28 August 1986

"I don't write for critics. I write for people who buy books. The great thing about genre literature is that people pick it up because they want to read it - they want a thriller or a love story, they don't want something that was on the Booker short list.
"I love the lack of pretence that offers. And I love horror - the immediacy of the response, the conventions, the eruption of the fantastic into the workaday life. As for the gore... well, the question is whether or not you do it freshly. Blood and death and mutilation are part of horror fiction. I'd be short-changing the reader unless I delivered it."

Author Belies Horror Of His Writing

By Bruce Cook, Los Angeles Daily News / South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 21 September 1986

"There's another important difference between [Stephen] King and me. I don't generate wordage the way he does.
"The 50-page length fits me better. I like a headlong narrative. You get the puzzle stated in the first two pages, and then you're off.
"I come out of the tradition of playwriting, and that's the kind of writing that gets down to the nub of the problem right away. In the theater, you win or lose the audience in the first five minutes of the show, so that's what I keep in mind writing my stories. I have a terror of boring people. From the theater, I've also found out that dialogue can be made to do an incredible amount of work for you."

The Arts

By Murray Cox, (i) Omni, October 1986 (ii) short piece extracted as "Clive Barker on Stephen King" in The Stephen King Companion, 2015 by George Beahm (note: interview took place in February 1986)

"I will never apologize for being gross. When people say 'stop' to me, when people say 'don't do that,' I begin to suspect them. I think they're scared or repressed. When people turn their eyes away, invariably it's because something exists that's just too much for them. The Stephen King Companion, 2015
The Stephen King Companion, 2015
Omni, October 1986
Omni, October 1986
And if something is too much for them, it's important...
"You can do just about anything to an audience as long as you put them in a place they've never been before and comprehend what has happened to them. We're so locked in ourselves. We are victims of our singularity. I'm saying, 'Look, you may not like this very much, but sure as hell you've never been here before.' That is a major part of the fictive thrill, as far as I am concerned. Sartre said that the only thing we can never know is our death, but I can show you lots of other things - beheadings, disembowellings, boiling oil. That's a bit cynical, I know. But sometimes I feel like someone who runs a ghost train: 'Roll up! Roll up! You don't have to buy this stuff, but if you buy it there are no limits.' I even put it on the jacket cover."

Cinefantastique, Vol 16 Nos 4 and 5, October 1986
Cinefantastique, Vol 16 Nos 4 and 5, October 1986


By Alan Jones, Cinefantastique, Vol 16 Nos 4 and 5, October 1986

"My major inspiration here was film noir. There is no denying the outright horror elements, but the notions in Underworld are a bit more complicated than your usual fright story. This is 1,000 miles away from stalk and slash, which is an aspect of the exploitation market I can't bear.
"I like low-budget novies - they are usually my favourites, necessity being the mother of invention and all that. We always knew that the film would have a low price tag, so we've kept the special effects in tow, and structured it in such a way that we aren't forced to compromise. I'm constantly startled by what we are squeezing out, considering the financial parameters."

Q, No 1, October 1986
Q, No 1, October 1986

Bloody Hell

By Charles Shaar Murray, Q, No 1, October 1986

"I love the collision between life as it is lived and the fantasy I'm creating on the page. It's far more textural and challenging to show zombies in broad daylight than at night...
"At its best, fantasy addresses the problem of being real. Horror should break down the old duality between inevitable good and inevitable evil, subvert the gung-ho attitude of, 'There's a monster, let's kick the shit out of the fucker.'"

Clive Barker - Is He The New King Of Horror?

By Gerald Bartlett, Publishing News, 3 October 1986

"There are attitudes I bring to my writing which come from working in the theatre. The worst crime in the world is to bore people. I strive not to indulge myself. If the person puts down £3.50 for the book, your job is to have them desire to read it...
"Good fantasy literature is not a literature of escape, it's a literature of confrontation. I set out to scare, sometimes to turn the world on it's head. I don't find my fiction shocking. I find it an outgrowth of what seems to be for me a perfectly reasonable and rational way to think. I don't have a strong sense of other people's parameters - which I'd need to be able to set out to shock. I'm scared myself by very ordinary things - movies, getting into small lifts, doing 103 on the motorway! There's no greater pleasure for me than confronting something that's a source of anxiety and finding it's a source of poetry."

Time Out, 15-22 October 1986
Time Out, 15-22 October 1986

Hell Hound

By Anne Billson, (i) Time Out, 15-22 October 1986 (ii) Clive Barker's Shadows in Eden

[Re.The Secret Life of Cartoons] "Might very seldom does it. It's usually wit that does it and imagination. So you get these characters using their abilities to change reality in some way, to snatch an identity from nowhere to overcome the bullies. The best cartoons are about making the world work without kicking the shit out of it. And I like that; it's very life-affirming."

Thank Heavens For Little Ghouls

By Tony Austin, Liverpool Echo, 18 October 1986

[Re. Hellraiser] "We're on schedule and on budget... As the innocent abroad, I'm more than willing to learn from them [the technical crew] and they respect the fact that I wrote the story and have a clear vision of what I want to achieve."

King Of The Gory Tellers

By Neil Gaiman, (i) Today, 19 October 1986 (ii) Clive Barker's Shadows in Eden

"Mainly I'm intensely curious. That's what I'd like on my gravestone: 'He Was Curious - Let's Hope He's Satisfied Now.' "

Tap Dancing Ducks And Hammer Murders, Or The World Of Clive Barker

By Michael Darvell, What's On, 30 October 1986

"On [The Secret Life of] Cartoons, we made certain that the characters in no way related to the Warner Brothers or the MGM or the Disney projects. The characters in the play are general portraits. All the studios created rabbits and mice such as Tom and Jerry and Mickey Mouse but we've tried to create characters that are the embodiment of the spirit of those cartoons rather than specific references to specific characters. It's about a whole tradition of American animation, that anarchic, life-affirming, outrageous tradition of the wise-cracking animal characters."

Just For Variety

By Amy Archerd, Variety, 31 October 1986

"Hellraiser is unapologetically a horror film, but with more style and more intelligence... not with virgins being machete'd but certainly aimed to scare."

US, 3 November 1986
US, 3 November 1986

Coming Up

By Ruth Hunter, Us, Volume 3, No 36, 3 November 1986

"Fear is a place where you just tell the truth."

Jackpot For The King Of The Gory Tellers

By Peter Grosvenor, Daily Express, 24 November 1986

"Horror should always be at the limits of taste. If you lose the sense of shock, you lose everything. I want to leave the audience sweaty-palmed wondering what Barker will do to them next. Always, you've got to stay one jump ahead. When Hitchcock's Psycho came out a quarter of a century ago it was condemned as distasteful: now it seems quite mild..."

Raising Hell In The Village

By David Aldridge, Video Week, 24 November 1986

"It is not incredibly gory. It is not exploitative in the sense that we cut to close-ups of wounds just for the sake of it. However, where the horror of the story requires us to be graphic, we are certainly graphic... If you get too gory, a film can so easily seem funny: it's the law of diminishing returns. Hellraiser has its humorous aspects, but they are all intentional. So, yes, it is gory up to a point - but only up to the point where the gore and effects remain pertinent to the drama."

KCRW Interview

By Tom Vitale, KCRW National Public Radio, 24 November 1986

"The more preposterous the basic notion is, the more difficult it is. You've got to coax - seduce - the reader in and say, 'Hey, look, you believe page one. Okay, now try page two. You believe page two, now try page three.' So by the time you get to page 30 and something utterly ludicrous is happening - ludicrous if you apply the reality principle, that is - the audience says, 'Fine, I accept that. I embrace that...'
"Whatever happens, their lives are fundamentally changed. They can never be the same again. And, in a world in which we are sold a kind of blissful banality in which ordinariness is raised to the level of the heroic, actually being extraordinary, plunging one's hand into one's imagination and finding out its depths and heights, finding out the devils and angels that haunt it, is actually far more important."

Horror Story For Publishers?

By [ ], Publishing News, People, 28 November 1986

[Re. auction for the rights to Weaveworld] "This is a very important book for me and I want to meet the editors involved because I'm very keen that the book should be promoted in the right kind of way. I shall be looking for the right measure of enthusiasm."

Raising Hell In Dollis Hill (1)

By Stefan Jaworzyn, NME, 29 November 1986

"My feeling is that this is not an exploitation film. It's not being made to give people cheap thrills. What we have is several characters with whom it is possible to identify - Julia and Kirsty are only two; one of them commits Hammer murders. The only problem is whether you NME, 29 November 1986
NME, 29 November 1986
continue to identify with the lady in question once she's started to knock men's jaws off. We're not slaughtering virgins in showers - everything we're doing is narratively motivated.."

Raising Hell In Dollis Hill (2)

By Edwin Pouncey, NME, 29 November 1986

"I'd like them to go out moved but having been imaginatively excited in the way that a Cronenberg picture is imaginatively exciting. The best Cronenberg not only delivers substantial visceral thrills but also leaves you with a little nugget of something to chew over when the picture's ended and that's of interest to me too. We are not dealing in Cronenberg areas however, we're not dealing in the ethics of science or anything like that, we're dealing in the ethics of passion which is a completely different and, for me, far more interesting area...
"I'm enjoying this experience greatly, I've got material waiting in the wings to direct and that's going to pre-occupy me. Obviously I'm not going to turn my back on writing books, but movies beckon and it's a very attractive offer."

Fear Is The Key

By Colin Dunne, Daily Record, Glasgow, 8 December 1986

[Re. visit to a mortuary] "A pathologist pal of mine asked me along and I couldn't really refuse, could I? The first three minutes were a bit tough. They were sawing the top of a man's skull and it made a very unpleasant noise. But after that, it was really very serene and poetic."

Business Diary

By [ ], The Business Of Film, December 1986 / January 1987

"I like being scared and I like scaring other people. Horror is a way of applying the imagery of profound subjects in a popular form. My fiction - both on the page and in the picture [Hellraiser] - is nowhere near as simple as the simple dichotomy between good and evil."

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