Clive Barker (born October 5, 1952) is a British horror and dark fantasy author responsible for over a dozen novels, several movies, a few graphic novels, some artwork, and a couple of video games as well. His works almost always feature sexual overtones that are graphic, disturbing, and disgusting in nature. His stories are usually set in a contemporary urban setting, but with Another Dimension or many dimensions. On the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism, his stories lie pretty far on the cynical side, with heavily flawed but sympathetic protagonists and an overall dark and gritty tone, although some of his novels have had happy and magically enchanting endings, and have featured themes such as love and redemption.
Barker's paintings and illustrations have been featured in galleries in the United States, as well as within his own books. He has also created original characters and series for comic books, and some of his more popular horror stories have been adapted to the medium.
Some of Clive Barker's works include:
- Books Of Blood: Volumes 1-3 and 4-6
- The Hellbound Heart (the novella on which the first Hellraiser was based)
- Cabal (the book on which Nightbreed was based)
- The Damnation Game
- The Thief of Always
- The Book of the Art Trilogy (So far consisting of The Great And Secret Show and Everville)
- Coldheart Canyon
- Mister B. Gone
- The Scarlet Gospels
Tropes featured in Clive Barker's body of work include:
- Antihero: Most of his protagonists are flawed.
- Anyone Can Die: Indeed, in the second novel of Abarat, it seems that Barker can only keep a certain number of characters alive at any given point, so for every new character introduced, another is cleanly hacked away.
- Author Appeal: A few of his stories feature men getting raped by other men, and then realizing that they like it.
- Author Tract: Some of Clive Barker's works serve as this for his feminist and environmentalist views, respectively. Imajica and Sacrament are this in particular.
- Bedsheet Ghost: The protagonist of the short story "Confessions of a (Pornographer's) Shroud" is a straight-laced Catholic man framed as a porn kingpin and murdered, who possesses the shroud covering him in the morgue to take his revenge. The story is a Black Comedy based on the ridiculous visual gag of a bedsheet ghost murdering people in increasingly graphic fashion.
- Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Barbarossas and The Gearys in Galilee
- The Blank: The Engineer in The Hellbound Heart.
- Blood Bath: Mister B. Gone, the demonic Villain Protagonist from the story of the same name, bathes in a tub full of blood from dead babies. He complains of how difficult it is to keep them alive long enough so the bath would be warm when he empties their blood into the tub.
- Body Horror: So, so much Body Horror.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Most of the monsters in his works, such as Pinhead of Hellraiser, are antiheroes or tragic beings, human or otherwise, that are feared for their powers despite being on the side of good. However, in Cliver Barkers works, when Dark Is Evil, angry, or at the least doesnt play nice with others, run.
- Doorstopper: Weaveworld, Imajica, The Great and Secret Show, and Everville.
- Fantastic Noir: His films Candyman (which was based off Barker's short story "The Forbidden") and Lord of Illusions qualify, however, the latter really falls into the Film Noir territory in comparison to the former.
- Gender Bender: Happens to the protagonist of "The Madonna".
- Genre Deconstruction: The Midnight Meat Train, at least in its film incarnation, is a huge deconstruction of slasher movies. Every single slasher movie trope used or referenced in it is either subverted or justified; the protagonists are responsible adults instead of rowdy teens, the authorities are useless because they're working with the killer, and the supernatural slasher turns out to be upholding an Ancient Conspiracy to keep an Eldritch Abomination out of our world.
- Good Is Boring: Jack Polo in The Yattering And Jack. So much so that the Yattering is nearly driven insane trying to corrupt him. It's one of his funnier stories.
- Gothic Horror: His works are definitely overtly gothic, right done to the imagery and themes mixed in with explicit sexual and graphic violent content.
- Hell Seeker: In the short story "Down Satan!", a wealthy businessman becomes convinced God doesn't exist, and decides to find out whether the devil does by building a literal Hell on Earth.
- Humans Are the Real Monsters: Stories combine fantastic and supernatural evil with the evil and cruelties that humans perpetrate against each other. Consider, for example, that the true villains of the novella The Hellbound Heart (basis for the Hellraiser movies) are Frank and Julia, wretched excuses for human beings (Frank even moreso than Julia), not the Cenobites.
- In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: (Clive Barker's Clive Barker's Jericho, by Clive Barker, Clive Barker's Razorline (a short-lived imprint of Marvel Comics))
- Magical Land: Most of his novels deal with an alternate reality or more than one realm, which maybe be accessible through paintings, rugs, complex toy boxes or the like.
- No Accounting for Taste: A lot of marriages have long since gone sour after the couple has been together for many years, whereas romantic relationships where the man and woman have just met will be full of love and the two will struggle against all odds to come together. This isn't always the case, but it's common enough in his stories to be worth mentioning.
- Also worth mentioning is that an old couple doesn't even need to be officially married to fall apart. In Mister B Gone, the two demons who are described as having a relationship similar to an old married couple end up separating.
- Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here: Both The Thief of Always and Abarat open with the child or pre-teen protagonists in towns like these. Abarat begins in a town called Chickentown, for Christ's Sake, where the place's entire purpose seems to be to make Candy Quakenbush miserable.
- Older Than They Look: He's sixty years old and looks about ten years younger. Of course, if you go back and look at photos when he was younger, he always looked older than he was, so it's starting to even out.
- Purple Prose
- Sealed Evil in a Can: In the Hellraiser movies, as well as the novella that they are based upon, The Hellbound Heart the only way the Cenobites will come after you is if you open the puzzle box known as Lemarchand's Box.
- So much so, in fact, that, at least in the novella, the Cenobites make and honor a deal with the protagonist (who has accidentally opened the box, and has no idea what it is or does) to spare her if she can lead them to the novella's REAL villain, who has escaped their clutches.
- Self-Adaptation: Clive Barker was exclusively a horror writer before becoming a film director. He has based several of his films on his earlier stories, such as Hellraiser (based on his novella The Hellbound Heart) and Lord of Illusions (based on his short story "The Last Illusion").
- Something Blues: Short story "Pig Blood Blues".
- Spiritual Successor: He can be this to filmmaker Ken Russell, especially when comparing Russell's work Altered States to Barker's works.
- Summoning Artifact: The Lemarchand's Boxes, and especially the Lament Configuration.
- That Poor Cat: Barker really dislikes cats, and it shows. If a cat appears in a story (e.g. The Yattering And Jack), it will meet a horribly gruesome demise.
- Too Dumb to Live: Frank in The Hellbound Heart. He tracks down the Lemarchand Box because he thinks the Cenobites (who he assumes will be beautiful naked women) will teach him new methods of attaining pleasure. However, he's disgusted to see that they're all heavily pierced and mutilated, and even at this point it doesn't occur to him that their offering of "sensual experiences" may not fit the classic English definition of the word. But he learns. Quickly.
- The Verse: "The Last Illusion," The Hellbound Heart, Weaveworld, The Great and Secret Show, "The Lost Souls", Everville and The Scarlet Gospels all take place in the same universe due to the crossover between Harry D'Amour and the Cenobites in the latter work and the prominence or cameos of either in all of the others. Other works may also share the universe, though this is not confirmed.