Seasonal Salute

Happy 66th birthday to Clive Barker!

It’s only appropriate that this celebrated creator of the dark fantastic was born in October. Time and again, his scare fare has featured an autumnal holiday seasoning. “The Forbidden” in Barker’s The Books of Blood stretches from late October to Bonfire Night, and features the worship of the urban-legendary Candyman via chocolates and bloody razor blades. Every night is Halloween at the magical Holiday House in The Thief of Always; alas, the house-haunting/-embodying monster Mr. Hood plays a “terrible trick” on visitors, as the price of each day spent there is the passage of an entire year out in the real world. The opening of Sacrament is set on Halloween in a remote community near the shores of Hudson Bay, and a pair of masked/costumed half-Inuit children–“two mournful spirits, posed in the twilight”–form symbolic stand-ins for the novel’s joint antagonists, Jacob Steep and Rosa McGee. In “The Departed,” Barker’s most Halloween-centric narrative, a phantom mother longing to see the son she left behind dons a physical costume and lovingly intercepts her trick-or-treating decedent.

The multi-talented Barker has also lent his artistic hand to the Dark Bazaar series of Halloween masks (see video above), and has designed haunted attractions (“Harvest,” “Freakz”) for Universal Studios Hollywood. Unfortunately, what might have been the greatest holiday endeavor of all–the rumored Michael Myers vs. Pinhead monster mash (with Barker writing the script and John Carpenter directing)–never came about. But at least we’ll always have Nightbreed, where a masked slasher squares off against a group of underworldly (here more demonized than demonic) creatures.

Wishing many more Octobers to Clive Barker, who hopefully who keep producing works that thrill audiences not just during Halloween season but all year round.