Has Sharpened The Cutting Edge Of Modern Horror
From his Books of Blood to The Damnation Game, Weaveworld, and The Great and Secret Show, to scores of short stories, bestselling novels, and now major motion pictures, no one comes close to the vivid imagination and unique terrors provided by Clive Barker.
The Hellbound Heart is one of his best, a nerve-shattering novella about the human heart and all the great terrors and ecstasies within its endless domain. It is about greed and love, lovelessness and despair, desire and death, life and captivity, bells and blood. It is one of the most dead-frightening stories you are likely to ever read.
The basis for the for the film Hellraiser, which resulted in far too many sequels, featuring the demonic, other-dimensional Cenobites, beings that thrive on the suffering of those who summon them by solving a Chinese puzzle box.
I prefer Barker’s short stories to his novels, although I must confess that I haven’t read anything published after The Great And Secret Show. With that work, despite some horror elements, he drifts deeply into fantasy territory.
This book, however, is pure horror. It’s not bad but, in my humble opinion, it isn’t as good as his shorter works. I would’ve preferred a full novel, as opposed to the novella that it is, with more character development and a bit more background given for the mysterious puzzle box & the dimension that’s opened when it is solved. Having things pop out of nowhere is fine for a B-movie that banks on blood and makeup but I don’t want that much left to my imagination in a book.
As for the characters, give me a reason to care about the antagonist other than the fact that she’s just not as greedy, rude or sadistic as the others in the story. Beyond physical descriptions and superficial desires, the only character that is reasonably fleshed out (pun intended) is Frank… and Frank spends most of his time locked in a room, a bloody mess.
Okay, that’s too much negativity. I actually enjoyed the book more than I’m letting on. It’s not as if it takes too long to read and it has helped wipe out the memory of those goofy movies. The dialogue is not nearly as bad as the film and, as vague as Barker can be at times, the story rolls along with enough hooks and chains to make up for not knowing who or what is ultimately responsible for the beasties causing the mayhem.
- Pinheads return this February in new Hellraiser series from BOOM! (robot6.comicbookresources.com)
- Clive Barker’s Weaveworld Available Now from Earthling Publications (battlegrip.com)
- [Bea’s Reviews] Hellraiser (1987) (supermarcey.com)
- Clive Barker gets murdery with his own version of Edward Gorey’s Gashlycrumb Tinies (io9.com)
- Clive Barker AIDS case dismissed (hollywood.com)