Unmake me, unknit me, transform me.
And if you cannot do that for me, Agonistes, then let me be excrement; let me be nothing; less than nothing.
For I want to be the terror of my enemies, or I want oblivion.
The choice, Lord, is yours.
A line of action figures designed by horror master Clive Barker, released by McFarlane Toys in 2001. Despite being distributed by a toy line, these figures were most definitely NOT for children; they featured all of the Nightmare Fuel, Body Horror, and BDSM themes Barker's other works are famous for. In particular, they emphasized what he described as "the use of flesh as canvas". So be warned before you click any links!
The original six figures - Agonistes, the Scythe-Meister, Lucidique, Talisac, Venal Anatomica, and Mongroid - were all imagined as characters in the same story, and each toy was sold with a chapter of the short novella that Barker wrote to explain how they were all connected. The tale begins with the backstory of Agonistes, "The Secret Face of Genesis", and goes on to tell about his two newest supplicants: an assassin named Zarles Krieger, and Lucidique, the daughter of Krieger's latest victim.
After the popularity of the first series, Barker and McFarlane released a second set of figures, titled Tortured Souls 2: The Fallen. However, the new figures went for a much more raw, visceral look (less BDSM, more surgical mutilation), and weren't written with any kind of backstory.
The original novella has been transcribed here. It's typo-heavy, but at least you don't have to buy all six action figures to read it.
Tortured Souls contains examples of:
- Action Girl: Lucidique, especially after her transformation. By the end of the story, she's evolved into a Dark Action Girl.
- And I Must Scream: Agonistes transformation process that he uses on his clients is a painful, eight day process of various surgeries that is so painful, Agonistes even warns them before he begins his work.
- Asshole Victim: Most of the characters who do get killed by Lucidique and Scythe-Meister usually had it coming.
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Arguably, Lucidique's transformation. While she does go through horrific mutilations, they're not as immediately obvious as Scythe-Meister's. Her (very attractive) face is nearly unscathed, and she gets a new Stripperiffic outfit that shows off her shapely body. She even gets to keep her hair.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Agonistes only transforms people who come to him willingly, who want him to give them the strength and power to take revenge on their enemies. Once he agrees to help them, however, there's no going back: he will remake their bodies, in an eight-day process of nightmarishly painful surgeries, and they'll be irreversibly turned into monstrous living weapons.
- Belly Mouth: Mongroid has one, which sports More Teeth than the Osmond Family.
- The Bible: Among Agonistes's past supplicants were Pontius Pilate and Judas Iscariot (who was also the only supplicant Agonistes ever stopped work on - he whined so much that Agonistes finally hanged him to shut him up.)
- Bittersweet Ending: The Emperor, Cascarellian, and the three generals have all been punished for their crimes, but Krieger is dead, Lucidique has lost her humanity, and Primordium is still a pretty awful place.
- Black and Grey Morality: Unscrupulous Heroes Zarles Krieger and Lucidique, who are willing to commit a lot of murder to end the emperor's tyranny and avenge their loved ones; versus the vile, irreversibly corrupt Emperor Perfetto, and the brutal, xenophobic Generals who replace him.
- Blue and Orange Morality: Agonistes seems to follow this. He doesn't care why a supplicant comes to him, only that their prayers are genuine. Once he starts his work on someone, he won't release them from the agonizing surgeries, no matter how desperately they beg, but he will sing lullabies and medicate them with a taste of his own flesh.
- Body Horror: What Agonistes does to his supplicants, and Dr. Talisac does to himself. Since the series was created by Clive Barker, it shouldn't come as a surprise.
- BrotherSister Incest: Discussed. Lucidique wonders if her relationship with Krieger counts as this, since they're both "children" of Agonistes. Turns out Agonistes is fine with it, though - he even sent Krieger to be with her, knowing it would make them happy.
- The Caligula: Emperor Perfetto XI, who spends on decadent luxuries while his people starve, and has anyone who dares to criticize him assassinated. Most of his predecessors were like this, too.
- Circling Monologue: Inverted - Lucidique, the closest thing the story has to a hero, circles Krieger while she tries to convince him to join her cause. It probably helps that she's naked at the time.
- Crapsack World
- Dark Is Not Evil: Scythe-Meister and Lucidique are antiheroes who are out for revenge.
- Agonistes, despite looking like a cenobite expy, turns people into monsters in a gruesome eight day process to grant them power and he is a neutral character who lives in solitude. He even warns those who come to hin for help about how agonizing the transformation process is.
- The Don: Duraf Cascarellian, top crime lord of Primordium and Krieger's former boss.
- Expy: Dr. Talisac and Venal Anatomica share many similarities with Frankenstein and his creation. Agonistes and his creations also resemble the cenobites from Hellraiser.
- Eye Scream: Lucidque ends up blinding Venal Anatomica with her scythe. Agonistes also appears to have nothing but scarred-over slits where his eyes should be.
- Groin Attack: Lucidique takes pleasure in castrating Duraf Cascarellian before she kills him.
- Humanoid Abomination: Agonistes.
- The Igor: Camille, Dr. Talisac's dwarf assistant. She's far more sane than Talisac, though, and ends up pulling a Screw This, I'm Outta Here!.
- In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: The toyline is trademarked as Clive Barker's Tortured Souls(TM).
- Ironic Name: Emperor Perfetto (Italian for "perfect"), whose corrupt, murderous rule is running Primordium into the ground.
- King Bob the Nth: Emperor Perfetto XI.
- Little People Are Surreal: Camille, Talisac's assistant and translator.
- Mad Scientist: Dr. Talisac.
- Mister Seahorse: Talisac, who installs a bio-engineered womb in his gut so he can become a Truly Single Parent. It's even more horrifying than it sounds◊.
- Naked on Arrival / Full-Frontal Assault: Lucidique makes her first appearance when she charges out of the bath, naked, and threatens Krieger at knifepoint.
- Nightmare Fuel: An In-Universe example. Agonistes deliberately makes his creations as terrifying as possible, the better to destroy their enemies.
- Pay Evil unto Evil
- Pyrrhic Victory: For Lucidique. By the end of the story, she's brought down the imperial dynasty and avenged her father, but the love of her life is dead, she's hated and feared by the people of Primordium, and the city she tried to save is still falling into ruin.
- Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Lucidique. After her transformation, she becomes an Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette, with her hair turned into Predator-esque dreadlocks.
- Royally Screwed Up: The current emperor is just the latest in a long dynasty of cruel, corrupt rulers.
- Self-Made Orphan: Mongroid - five minutes after he's born, no less! Since Talisac considered him a failure and planned to vivisect him (though Mongroid didn't know this), it's hard to feel bad about it.
- Sinister Scythe: Zarles Krieger's weapon of choice, especially after Agonistes turns him into the Scythe-Meister. Lucidique starts using one too after her own transformation.
- Slasher Smile: Agonistes, the Scythe-Meister, and Venal Anatomica all sport one. To be fair, they're not really capable of making any other expression.
- Son of a Whore: Krieger remembers his mother prostituting herself to "the guards of the emperor's guards".
- Stripperiffic: Lucidique's post-transformation outfit. Although, since parts of her skin have also been stripped away, it's more frightening than sexy.
- Time Abyss: Agonistes is said to have been made by God on the seventh day of Creation; instead of resting, the story goes, God worked Himself into a frenzy and created monsters and demons. This would make Agonistes nearly as old as the world itself. Even if it's not true (no one knows for sure), he has been around for at least 2,500 years, which is still pretty ancient.
- Truly Single Parent: Dr. Talisac, who dreams that his offspring will be the Second Coming.
- Urban Fantasy
- The Worf Effect: In his introductory chapter, Venal Anatomica easily delivers a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on the Scythe-Meister, and would have killed Lucidique too if she hadn't blinded him.
- Wretched Hive: The city of Primordium.
- You Killed My Father: Played with. Lucidique holds no grudge against the assassin who murdered her father (she even falls in love with him), but she takes eager, bloody revenge on the man who hired the assassin.