Whether you like his books, plays, paintings or movies, Clive Barker is somewhat of a force to be reckoned with. Primarily affixed with the horror genre, Barker’s created some of the most arresting visuals ever in cinema, canvas, novels and short stories. And while all have sometimes been hit or miss, they have always been memorable in some way or another.
That said he’s had a big influence on me since I read “Books of Blood” in college and definitely since I saw “Hellraiser” in high-school (dear god did that movie keep me up at night… I loved it!).
I know, I read book after the movie, so sue me 😉 .
As far as cinema is concerned, his movies (mostly of which he’s written and NOT directed) have always ranged from mediocre (the “Hellraiser” series beyond part two, and even that wasn’t that great) to somewhat inspired (it gets knocked a bit, but I’ve always loved “Nightbreed”) yet, they’ve always been memorable. And, like his written prose and his art, his movies always leave a bit of a scar on you and it’s for that, that Clive Barker will always receive my respect. He is the king of creatively dark and disturbing visuals and to this day, a lot of his work inspires me.
Which brings me to this latest debacle in the film industry. Well documented at the site bloody-disgusting.com, the latest film adaptation of his short story “The Midnight Meat Train”, has received the oddest film treatment from a major film studio to date. Frankly, I haven’t seen a release like this in for, well… ever. What happened is that the film was picked up by LionsGate (whores to the SAW franchise, and who can blame ‘em), a studio that has done VERY well for itself as of late, and, after viewing it, they decided to release it straight to the racks of a Blockbuster near you. But then the fan-base (god-bless the interwebs) revolted and they decided to do a severely limited theatrical release… to the cheap seat theaters that barely dot the landscape of our great nation!
The aforementioned fan base then screamed an even louder “WTF”!!
And the real shame?
I may be wrong, (PLEASE, please, correct me if I am) but I believe it’s the “American debut” of a director that should be very dear to every horror fan’s heart: the Japanese maestro of the epic and zany film “Versus”, Ryuhei Kitamura.
Based on his past exploits alone, this guy is clearly talented and after being fortunate enough to catch TMNMT at a “cheap seat” theater near me ( Carmike Blue Ridge 14 Cinema, 600 Blue Ridge Road, Raleigh, NC, 27606 (919)828800) I can safely say that he really needs to be given a better/fairer shake at films in the US.
Is it the “Citizen Kane” of horror?
But it is some inspired film making and some of it is definitely polished and memorable enough to stick with you well after the credits roll. Which is well worth the usual arm and a leg you’d pay at the megaplex (Mel and I, embarrassingly, paid almost 20 bucks to see “Ironman” this summer) much less the buck or, in my case, buck fifty I spent to see TMNMT. Yes, near the end it does kind of go into “um… what?!”-ville, but if you’re a fan of Clive Barker’s cannon of works you’ll know that that, for most part, rings true to life.
With Barker, it’s often not about about the destination, it’s the f-ed up trip getting there.
So… what’s the point?
Well, if you love the horror genre, or you even “sorta” love it, you should make the trip out to see “The Midnight Meat Train” at a dollar theatre near you. It’ll totally be worth your time! If anything it’s worth it, to see a talented film maker (Kitamura) and a good film adaptation of a Clive Barker short story.
At least better than this….