Bopping with Niall JP O'Leary

Niall O'Leary insists on sharing his hare-brained notions and hysterical emotions. Personal obsessions with cinema, literature, food and alcohol feature regularly.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

An Evening with Clive Barker

Well, 25 minutes anyhow.
Advertised as a chat with horror auteur, Clive Barker, with a few early short films thrown in, it soon became apparent, after a late start, that the emphasis was to be on the short films. Unfortunate as Barker proved to be a very amicable guest, and I'm sure I wasn't the only one who would gladly have spent the full 90 minutes allotted just listening to him. As it was even the interviewer seemed hell-bent on centering the chat around these two films, despite having this very rare opportunity to discuss a far more interesting oeuvre, and life, with one of horror's most respected practitioners. It was Barker himself who had to bring up his other work and other issues, such as contemporary Hollywood horror.
Needless to say he doesn't like the sanitised rubbish that is regularly issued as franchises (a very dirty word in his mouth). Instead, and despite his enormous success, he emphasised passion based work, ignoring the 'experts', and making movies with a washing up bottle and a piece of string as long as you make them (or indeed any piece of art; he himself is a director, writer, and painter). There were, as you can tell, a lot of platitudes spouted ("Follow your bliss!"), but he did seem sincere.
Apart from the entertaining conversation though, the years have not been kind to Clive Barker. At 58, he did not look a well man, hunched and apparently helped a little as he left. It's not very long ago that he hosted a BBC show on 'The A-Z of Horror' and looked remarkably youthful. Not so now.
Returning to his youth, we were then shown those infamous early works. 'Salome' and 'The Forbidden' were made with friends before Barker was twenty and for all their limitations have a lot of potent imagery. As with his later 'Hellraiser', we were treated to a man being flayed alive, though at a far more leisurely pace. Indeed, given that the films were silent, and often unintelligible, they were both a little too leisurely. And whatever I had planned for a Wednesday night, watching a young, naked Clive Barker spin his erection in every direction (a prominent dance scene from 'The Forbidden', I kid you not) was not really something I'd considered, nor particularly cared for. For curiosity value then, they were interesting if not especially satisfying productions.
If only they had let him talk!

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