It’s been a few years since we’ve seen a film adaptation of Clive Barker’s work. That’s unfortunate, because he is and always has been one of the best storytellers in the business. There’s something about the size, scope and sheer imagination of his work that often makes it more difficult to adapt. That’s a strong reason why none of his full-fledged novels have ever made it to the screen.
As much as people want to see major hits like Weaveworld, Imajica and The Great and Secret Show, there are plenty of other works by the author that I think equally warrant adaptation. From novels, short stories, even down to his plays, there are so many unique creations from Barker’s mind that have yet to undergo any kind of screen treatment.
Because of that, I thought it would be neat to take a look back at some of Barker’s less popular works that I think could be ripe for adaptation. A few of these titles are things that I’m sure some people will have heard of before, but others just got lost in the shuffle.
There was talk of turning this into a film a few years ago, but that seems to have died down. You wouldn’t think that this short story would actually work on screen, given that it’s only a couple of pages long. But there’s something about the idea of a rich, corporate business man turning his building into hell on earth in hopes that the Devil will actually show up. The idea itself screams for a big screen treatment.
Coldheart Canyon is, exactly as the title promises, a Hollywood ghost story. It’s about life among the stars and the vanity of the movie business, but it’s also a sincere, creepy ghost story. And of course, in typical Barker fashion, there are other sorts of creatures that are far less well defined. It’s one of his longer novels, but I honestly think it would be one of the easiest to adapt, especially as a miniseries.
The History of the Devil
One of Barker’s early plays, The History of the Devil could make for an incredibly interesting feature, especially with the right cast. Someone like Dan Stevens would be perfect for this story, which is basically about the Devil being put on trial to determine if he’s ready to re-enter Heaven.
Perhaps Barker’s most personal novel, this epic metaphysical fantasy was also his first to feature a gay protagonist. It’s about magic and self-discovery, but it’s a very adult book that never skimps on the horrific elements Barker is known for. It’s very much about how the person who helps you to discover yourself might not always be the most positive influence on your life.
Other than Pinhead and Candyman, Harry D’Amour might be Barker’s most well known character. He’s certainly Barker’s most frequently reoccurring character. The occult detective has appeared in novels like The Great and Secret Show, Everville and The Scarlet Gospels. But he usually takes center stage in short stories like “The Last Illusion,” upon which Lord of Illusions is based. The short story “Lost Souls” is less well known, but was our first introduction to a lot of the major players in Harry’s life. It would be great to see this story on the screen, especially as the jumping off point for a TV series.
The Damnation Game
There have been a couple of attempts to adapt The Damnation Game, Barker’s first novel, into a movie over the years. It feels doable, it seems like it wouldn’t have the budgetary concerns of his later books. But that still leaves me to wonder why it hasn’t happened yet. It feels right for adaptation, but it’s never really made any movement. It’s a shame. As a fan, this was one of the first things by Barker that I read, and it definitely helped to shape my interest in his writing. It would be great to finally see it on the screen.
There have been many attempts to adapt Tortured Souls, the first collaboration between Barker and comic/toy creator Todd McFarlane, over the years. But the second collaboration, Infernal Parade, is just as cool and for some reason no one’s ever really tried to turn it into a movie. It’s pure carnival horror. Think Something Wicked This Way Comes, but pushing the same boundaries as Hellraiser. Everything about that sounds like a winning combination to me.